Friday, July 15, 2016

Macau City Tour

Macau is only a 2-hour flight from Manila, so it's no surprise that Pinoys love to travel here. Since Macau was under Portuguese ruling for a long history, the mix of Chinese and Euro-Portuguese influence produced an interesting city filled with lights, luxury, cobblestones, tiny streets, and a unique destination all on its own. Come here when winter starts to brew, while the breeze is just enough to cool you, not freeze your soul.
Macau means St. Paul Ruins. You come here or you've never been to Macau. It's the ultimate landmark of the place. This lone structure is one facade of the church, perched on top of a hill, surrounded will live advertisements, commerce, and souvenirs. Manicured gardens, wide stairs, cobblestones and streetlights complete the ambiance. And it's a lovely sight. There are cafes and tiny shoppes nearby. Explore the narrow streets and you might find something rare and exclusively Macau. 
Senado Square is another must-see in Macau. It connects to the Ruins of St. Paul. Marvel at the very European buildings and featured shops within. 
Mind that there are hundreds of souvenir stores here, often same franchises (cookies) next to each other. Look for a market road parallel to the Senado Square fountain and there you'll see souvenir shirt stalls. 
The awesome energy and mass of people is fun to experience. You'll find tourists enjoying themselves and discovering new things. Exactly what travelling aims to accomplish. Almost all stores selling food will give out samples. They're used to people trying every variant so don't be shy if you want to grab samples from each tray. Bring water so you don't choke.
St. Dominic Church is located within the square. It's beautiful and solemn. We got to offer small prayers while we were there. Open to all.
St. Augustine Church nearby features a Tagalog mass every Sunday 10:30AM.
This is Patio de Chon Sau, near the bottom steps of St. Paul Ruins. It's being developed as the next high street of the area. Up and coming artsy, whimsy, and quirky stores fill the rows of shops. We actually got some luxury soaps here (super tiny but special). Bit on the expensive side, perhaps due to artistic tax. But explore this side for a more modern take of Macau. Use google map to find it.
We walked from Senado Square to our hotel, Best Western Hotel Sun Sun and strolled along the maze of side streets and small interiors. Most stores duplicate each other - like jewellery, noodle shop, mobile, medicines. Just like in Manila when every block has a salon, internet shop, laundry, sari-sari store.
Be sure to drop by the Macau Tower for a few hours. Click here for a complete review of  >> Macau Tower <<
Kun Iam Statue is one of the select stops for most tour packages in Macau. It comes in bronze and features the goddess of mercy in Chinese Buddhism. Overlooking the ocean, located at the wharf, there's a lotus-shaped dome below it which exhibits Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism. 
We visited Venetian Hotel on our last day in Macau as we plan to take the free shuttle from here to the airport. They have a luggage storage facility where you can leave your bags for around MOP10 each, I think. We had 5 bags with us so it was certainly convenient. We only left it for 3-4 hours. Am not sure how long you can leave your bags here, though.
We have similar canal at the Venice Grand Canal Mall in Taguig. Both were far from the real thing, but the details and intricate decor will make you appreciate the effort. Shops after shops line the hotel, with several wings and hallways to explore. When in doubt, use the directory maps to find fast food locations, food court, or some specific store you're seeking.
The grandeur will envelope you, as well as the endless flow of tourists taking photos and selfies at every corner. 
Even the drop-off looks carpeted. But it's tiled of course.
To kill time, we hopped on to one of the free shuttles going about the city. 
Each bus gets filled fast, then quickly leaves for destination, then back again. This one's going to the Galaxy.
We chose the Galaxy Hotel as it's about 5-minutes away. Inside, an elaborate showcase of themed decor, items, and colours entice guests to explore and take endless photos. Similar souvenir shops can be found here, but with about 2x the mark-up price compared to stores from Senado Square or city streets.
We took a cab to Rua do Cunha. It's a narrow commerce street near Galaxy Hotel which is famous for the concentration of souvenir shops in the area. There's actually a roofed walkway from Venetian Hotel straight to here, about 10-20 minutes stroll perhaps. From the shuttle terminal, you walk towards the road and on the right side, a pedestrian overpass can be found. This pass will go over some residential blocks and fields. Anyway, my folks didn't like to walk. 
It was great even with the pouring rain. We got even more souvenirs and trinkets here, and munched on some street food. 
You must never miss positioning yourself between Grand Lisboa and Wynn. As far as token travel photos go, this is the symbol of Macau. Glorious hotels and casinos. Open at all hours, lighting the sky even as you sleep. The Governor Nobre de Carvalho Bridge can serve as perfect backdrop for photos if you walk a few meters from here towards the waters.
Vegas style palm trees covered with festive lights illuminate the night. Add some red double deckers to complete the fancy sight.
Grand Lisboa is everything it seems and more. We were able to see various parts of the hotel when we met with a friend here, and it's all movie-style extravagance.
The Wynn Water Fountain has the Performance Lake, which plays synchronized ballet of water, and light show, along with some songs. People gather at every performance, but mind your place as some areas get soaked each time. It's also terribly hard to capture the whole thing in video (or maybe just on my crappy cam), as they would dim the lights to focus on the fountain. Water show is daily, with 15-minute intervals until 9:45PM; and until 10:45 on Saturdays only.
Night lights in Macau
The Grand Emperor Hotel is famous for having actor Jackie Chan as one of its owners. There are 78 pure gold bars inside, starting at the lobby. You can find them all over the floor.
Macau Fisherman's Wharf, located by the Marina, has no entry fee. You can find replicas of all sorts here, as well as varieties of restaurants, casinos, shops, and hotels.
The man-made attraction never really took off as expected. There are still developments in the complex, but people weren't as excited to include this in their itineraries. Perhaps if you stay in Macau for 3-4 days, this will definitely be on your list.
I would say it's a perfect place for photo shoots or prenups, with the numerous backdrop choices available. 

  • MOP has almost similar value to HKD. HKD is bit higher and also accepted anywhere in Macau. 
  • Taxis are quite easy to catch. There were always cab lines outside hotels and famous spots. Always bring a printed logo, photo, or Chinese name of your destination to avoid confusion. Most drivers understand English names of tourist spots, but not all do.
  • We didn't get to try the bus, but it's a much cheaper way to go. Be sure to check your map to not miss your stop.
  • Filipinos are everywhere, especially in hotels, casinos, airport, and in most restaurants. But try not to be too chummy, some like to practice strict professionalism at all times. Respect.
  • Pastelaria Koi Kei is in every corner of all Macau tourist spots. The lowest price of cookies would be somewhere in Taipa or smaller side streets. 

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