Our first ever Macau experience was a pleasant one.
We stayed on the Taipa side at the centrally located Sheraton Grand Cotai Central as we are into and interested in casinos, the interiors, architecture and service concepts. Hence, all these hacks apply to anyone visiting.
There are things that make your visit super smooth:
The Ferries to and from Macau
The Ferries make your visit to Macau super easy! Just take a ferry from the HK International Airport, Kowloon or HK Island side.
We arrived Macau by a ferry from HK International Airport (we took a ferry to the Outer Harbour as we didn’t want to wait for the Taipa ferry; took a taxi to Taipa) and after our stay left for HK on a ferry from Taipa. Ferries between Macau & Hong Kong sail more often than the ones from the airport.
When we arrived the HK International Airport, we followed signs to a ferry ticket counter. Just presented our luggage tags and the bags from the plane boarded the ferry without us having to pick them up. In Macau, we had the passport check, reclaimed our bags, walked through customs and da-daa! At the passport control we received our permits to visit, they were slipped between the passport. (Keep those, you’ll need them as you leave/arrive your return port. )
As we left Taipa terminal, we just bought the tickets, showed passports, boarded with luggage. No crowds on Thursday mid morning. In HK there was the passport control and the customs clearance check point (walk the green line if you have non).
The ticket counters for different ports at all ports are clearly marked and prices are shown clearly.
The Free Shuttle Buses
Exit the ferry or airport terminal and you’ll notice shuttle buses running to certain destinations. If you’ve booked the stay for a casino hotel, you’re likely to find a free ride – these are provided by the casinos. Just find the right line, the buss arrives, board your luggage, hop on and ride! They’ll tell in English when you’re supposed to leave the bus.
These buses run through the day from casinos, terminals etc. Clear signs tell which will be your bus. We often had a ride from Taipa casinos to Macau Ferry Terminal and took the next ride to the nearest stop from our next destination.
The taxis have a starting fare of MOP 17.00, not a bad option for some rides!
You can use the HK Dollar in Macau
Hong Kong and Macau are both part of China. Yet, both have their own currencies. But surprise: In Macau the MOP, the CNY and the HK Dollar are all accepted (in limitation). Often (not in shopping centers) you’ll see 1:1:1 signs telling the currencies can all be used.
Note 1: you’ll receive Patacas in some places. Note 2: Casinos only accept HK Dollars. These are also good places to go change for smaller notes at the cashier.
So if you feel you’ll need more Patacas (local buses etc..), you’ll have to change some.