How to Have the BEST Time in Macau

April 10, 2017
Last week we had three days off in a row for the Qingming Festival. In case you're not familiar, this holiday is Tomb Sweeping Day. During this time, Chinese people go to the cemetery to honor their dead relatives. Since we didn't have to work for three days, I thought it would be a nice time to get out of Shanghai for a bit and explore Macau. I had a really, really good time, even better than anticipated! Below you'll find my suggestions for your future trip to Macau.

Step One: Find yourself a fun-loving travel buddy with similar interests to go with you. When I brought up wanting to go to Macau, my friend Chris said that he'd like to go, too.  We had traveled together before when we went to Xi'an, so I knew that the two of us would travel well together again. Chris said he wanted to do some sightseeing but nothing too intense, and he mentioned that he didn't want to rush around. That is exactly what I wanted to hear because I'm not even physically capable of running now due to my bad back. Chris was a good partner in crime for our little excursion--we laughed a lot and wanted to do the same type of things.

Step Two: Maximize your travel time. We booked our flight to Macau right after we finished working on Saturday, had all of Sunday and Monday to explore Macau, and then flew out on Tuesday night since we had to work on Wednesday. It was a rough working day the next day, but I'm glad we didn't fly out early or else we would've had to cut something from our trip. Macau can be "done" in a weekend, but spending more time there was the right call for us since we used our evenings to swim in the pool and relax instead of sightsee.

Step Three: Get a good deal on a fancy hotel. Chris got us a discounted rate at the Altira through the Genius Program at The hotel was undergoing some construction, so Chris said we got some money off for that, too.

We LOVED the Altira. Our room had a waterfront view of the city, a massive bathtub, and there was even a tv in the mirror of our bathroom! The staff treated us like royalty. Just to give an example, one staff member ran ahead of us to press the elevator button so we wouldn't have to and then bowed at us as we were leaving. Everyone we came in contact with really seemed like they wanted to help us. We got some tea as a welcome drink, the soft drinks and beer from the mini fridge were complimentary, and every day we got some sort of little gift on our bed such as cooling foot gel or moisturizer for our face.

The best part of the Altira was the pool area! First of all, I love a good infinity pool, and that was just the kind of pool they had there. Plus, it's an indoor pool with a panoramic view and they play underwater music! It even made it onto the Forbes Traveler list of the top 10 pools in the world. There was no hot tub in the pool area, but both the male and female locker rooms had a hot tub inside.

On the last day, the other guests that were swimming left, and we had the whole pool to ourselves for a bit. I can't say I hated that!

Step Four: Visit the Portuguese area by Largo do Senado to take in some of Macau's most famous sights. From Senado Square, it's just a short walk to the ruins of St. Paul, Monte Fort, St. Dominic's Church, and the Macau Museum.

Tip: Link arms with your travel buddy here or just be super careful not to get separated. The walk up to the ruins of St. Paul was one of THE most crowded areas I have ever been in in my entire life. Chris and I got split up in less than a minute, but luckily he was able to spot me later because I'm so tall. If we actually got separated, that would have been rather annoying since I didn't have service on my cell phone.

Step Five: Walk the Cotai Strip. I would say to try to walk it one time during the day and one time at night to get the full experience. We made it to City of Dreams, the Venetian, the Galaxy Mega Resort,  and the Parisian.

We people watched, shopped, listened to a performer sing at the Venetian, saw a bunch of what Chris described as "Carnival people" at the Parisian (they were on stilts!), had coffee, ate macarons, and admired the various lobbies at the hotels.

Tip: Don't miss the Crystal Lobby or Diamond Lobby at the Galaxy. The best is when the robots go through the Crystal Lobby!

Tip: There is a free bus that does a loop and makes stops at several of the hotels if you don't feel like walking!

Step Six: Book a ticket for the House of Dancing Water at City of Dreams. I've only been to Vegas once and did see two shows, but I have to say that House of Dancing Water was on par with the shows I saw in Vegas! There was always something going on. Your eyes would be drawn to one area, and then other acrobats would come flying down from another spot. The motorcycle stunt scene will make you cringe in the best way possible.

Tip: Book ahead for this show. We didn't book until the night before and there were very few options left for seating. We were lucky there were even any seats available at all. We paid $580 Macanese Patacas each for our tickets (about $73 USD) and had to sit in the front where we got splashed with water from time to time. We were a bit nervous when we walked in because there were towels for us on our seats, so we thought we were going to get soaked, but hardly any water got on us and we were three rows from the front.

Step Seven: Eat at the Hard Rock Cafe. Twice. Stop reading now if you only want to try the local food. ;) We wanted to go because we live in Asia and were craving food from home. The reason why I said to eat there twice is because we were given a coupon for a free appetizer for the next day as long as we filled out a survey on our first visit. For our appetizer, we split the nachos which could have basically been a meal in itself. Also, they had cream soda (not commonly found in Asia) and free refills on soft drinks (again, not common in Asia).

Step Eight: Try your hand at gambling. We are both not big gamblers, so we stuck to the slot machines. Yes, I know, they have the worst odds and we lost, but we still had fun in the casino! I want to learn how to play blackjack well enough so that I'm confident to play at a table sometime in the future.

Tip: If you plan on gambling in Macau, know that you need to gamble with Hong Kong Dollars and not with Macanese patacas, at least that was the case at the Venetian where we gambled. You may want to bring some Hong Kong Dollars with you, or you can wait in line and exchange your money in the casino.

Step Nine: Don't miss the Taipa Village area. We went there on our last day and had an enjoyable time. Even though this area is still bustling and has its fair share of tourists, it is considered a more authentic part of Macau. There are plenty of bakeries, shops, and cafes to choose from, as well as places that sold Macau's famous beef jerky. The Taipa Houses Museum, featuring five pastel Portuguese style colonial houses, is there too. Near the Taipa Houses Museum, there is an artificial lake and a park where we strolled around for a bit.

Step Ten: Enjoy some egg tarts at Lord Stow's Bakery. We tried some at the Rua do Cunha location, but there are also other locations, such as the one inside the Venetian. I've had egg tarts in Shanghai, but I do have to say the ones from Lord Stow's Bakery were served warm and had a richer taste. The top was caramelized, but the inside was still creamy.

Macau exceeded my expectations, and I would 100% go back! The glamour and glitz mixed with the Portuguese and Chinese cultural attractions were a good combination.

What about Macau appeals to you?
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