Macau: A Perfect Destination for Gamblers, Foodies and High-End Shoppers

Updated: Oct 17, 2019

Macau is one of the earliest and last bridges of Western and Eastern societies. It's also known as the world's gambling mecca, but did you that it's also a great place for foodies, culture and high-end shopping?

Street signs in Macau, where do you wanna go? (Photo by Digital Nomad Foodie)

Short History on Macau

Macau is located just south of China. It has a sunny coast with plentiful fishing and a rich and very unique history that blends East and West.

A few quick facts:

  • Macau was once a territory of Portugal up until 1999

  • It is the most condensed area in the world (estimated population of 700,000 in about 12 square miles)

  • It has the 4th highest life expectancy in the world

  • It's considered the world's gambling mecca

  • It's home to China's oldest lighthouse (Guia Lighthouse)

You'll see many of these street signs in both Portuguese and Chinese all over Macau. (Photo by Digital Nomad Foodie)

As you walk around the Cotai Strip (Cotai is the blending of the names of two islands: Coloane and Taipa) you'll see many street signs in both Portuguese and Chinese. It's a very cool thing to see because it's rare to see any other country with this blend of cultures.

Think about it really quick. A European country full of history, food and culture blended with a land that is rich with Chinese history, food and culture. Just like Hong Kong's history with the British and Vietnam with the French, Macau is a unique product of a blending Eastern and Western cultures.

How do I get to Macau?

The way my wife and I got to Macau was by flying into Hong Kong International Airport, then taking a TurboJET. You can also fly directly into the Macau International Airport. Macau offers free entry to over 50 countries and if you come from a country that requires a visa, you can purchase a visa upon arrival at the airport.

You should have no problems following all the Hong Kong to Macau ferry terminal signs in Hong Kong International Airport. (Photos by Digital Nomad Foodie)

If you arrive via the Hong Kong International Airport, it has signs directing you to the water jet ticketing and staging area. You'll do a little walking, but after a long flight from San Francisco that's not an issue.

This is what the ferry terminal staging area looks like going from Hong Kong to Macau. (Photo by Digital Nomad Foodie)

Depending on what class you want to travel in (economy or super), the day of the week and time of day, you'll end up paying anywhere between $171 Hong Kong Dollars ($22 USD) to $391 Hong Kong Dollars ($50 USD) for one-way ticket from Hong Kong to Macau. Check the website for up-to-date pricing here.

Once you're on-board just sit back and relax for the hour long ride. (Photos by Digital Nomad Foodie)

It's a nice fairly smooth ride, but they have puke bags in case you have a sensitive stomach. The trip is about an hour, so enjoy the ride across the South China Sea.

The view atop the steps on the Ruins of St. Paul's in Macau. (Photo by Digital Nomad Foodie)

Welcome to Macau

Macau if you don't know already is a very small place (only 12 square densely packed miles). So, if you are here just for a weekend or a few days, you might want to have a good experience and stay at one of the ritzy hotels like The Venetian Macau.

The lobby of the Venetian in Macau - exquisite Italian details. (Photo by Digital Nomad Foodie)

The Venetian Macau

Our stay at the Venetian Macau was amazing. If you've ever been to the Venetian in Las Vegas then you should know what to expect: a luxurious hotel with fine Italian artwork.

A view from the taxi pick up/drop off area at the Venetian Macau. (Photo by Digital Nomad Foodie)

We booked our room using (we rack up a ton of free nights because every 10th night is a credit of the average of the past 10 nights). It's expensive, but not as expensive as you might think depending on a variety of factors like days of the week and holidays.

Checking into our Royale Deluxe Suite on the 24th floor at the Venetian Macau. (Video by Digital Nomad Foodie)

Check-in was busy, but they had plenty of staff working the registration so it was fast. We booked The Royale Deluxe Suite which was a massive 753 square feet of pure comfort.

The Royale Deluxe Suite at the Venetian is 753 square feet - a lot of space. (Photos by Digital Nomad Foodie)

It's a slight two-levels, basically one half of the room is a step higher than the other other which gives it an even bigger feel. We would definitely stay here again and recommend that you do to.

Check out this 12 second clip of walking around the casino floor at Venetian Macau. (Video by Digital Nomad Foodie)

Gambling in Macau is an experience

If you decide to gamble plan to bring a lot of money.

The minimum bet at most games is about $30 USD.

Macau is also unlike anywhere else I've gambled before (the Caribbean, Seoul, Australia, Europe, Cancun or Auckland).

Sic bo is the dominant game at Macau casinos. (Photo by Digital Nomad Foodie)

What I mean by that is the number one game that dominated almost every casino I walked around in Macau is a game called - Sic Bo or "big, small".

Sure you'll find some poker tables, craps, baccarat, etc...but the #1 game by far was sic bo.

You will see huge sic bo games with various set ups: everything from a simple table that about 20 people can squeeze in around, to video poker-type versions of sic bo all the way to gigantic circles of semi-private tables encircling the main table.

Some of the sic bo games even have trap doors on each betting space so when you lose, the trap door opens and gone is your money. It's a crazy thing to see and the sounds the games make will forever linger in your head.

One other thing I wanted to point out was that beware of loan sharks. If you are walking around the casino and have some random person speak to you in Chinese with a book bag, beware because these are loan sharks. Don't mess with them PERIOD.

Explore surrounding hotels like the Hard Rock Cafe Macau. (Photos by Digital Nomad Foodie)

Explore the surrounding hotels and casinos

Just like Las Vegas, you should get out of your own hotel and start walking around Macau.

If you want to avoid hordes of people, I would advise you to wake up early (we woke up at 6:00 AM) and explore other hotels and casinos. You not only avoid people, but you can take great photos.

A golden lion statue in the MGM Macau. (Photo by Digital Nomad Foodie)

When I compare Las Vegas to Macau and the amount of fancy details each place provides, I will say that Macau is leaps and bounds above Las Vegas when you compare them as a whole.

I wonder how much this salt water fish tank display costs to set-up and manage? (Video by Digital Nomad Foodie)

You can see what I mean with the photos above and below in the amount of detail these hotels and casinos put into their decor. Real flowers, expensive artwork, extremely clean floors and the list goes on and on.

My wife admiring all the fresh flowers inside the Encore Macau. (Photos by Digital Nomad Foodie)

Hard-to-find luxury brands like Kenzo are easily found in Macau. (Photo by Digital Nomad Foodie)

High-end shopping

A trip to Macau isn't complete without doing some high-end shopping. If you love designer brands both mainstream (i.e. Louis Vutton, Guicci, Chanel, etc...) and the hard-to-find brands (i.e. Kenzo, Aape, etc...) then Macau is a mecca for shoppers like you.

Navigating the various shoppes (which are interconnected) can be a challenge. It really does feel like a maze when you are walking around all the shops, so make sure you plan enough time.

I made the mistake of shopping at the last minute before we had to check-out of our hotel and was trying to remember a few places I wanted to buy clothes at. I found them, but I bought a few shirts that were too small, so I broke a sweat by running back to exchange them for a bigger size. Note to self, sizes in Asia run small!

Macau is a foodie haven

For all my fellow foodies, this is probably the section you were waiting for.

Macau has some great food options.

Have you ever had a crispy pork chop bun?

How about some Portuguese food?

Speaking of Portuguese how about some egg tarts?

Comfort food you ask? They have it.

And of course they have some fancy dim sum options.

Now let's get started shall we?

The infamous crispy pork chop bun at Tai Lei Loi Kei. (Photo by Digital Nomad Foodie)

The infamous crispy pork chop bun at Tai Lei Loi Kei (reported closed)

Tai Lei Loi Kei was located in Taipa Village. It's a very small restaurant, probably enough to sit about 20 people. This franchise has been in business since the 1990's selling their infamous crispy pork chop bun at 2:00 PM everyday.

Me excited to try their crispy pork chop bun! (Photo by Digital Nomad Foodie)

This sandwich is the so damn good I would fly back to Macau just for that. For about $4 USD you get hefty sized baked pork chop in-between a bun that's spread with pineapple curry.

I need to trying making these at home. (Photos by Digital Nomad Foodie)

Also, just an FYI, you'll also find other vendors selling the pork chop buns while you are exploring Macau. (Photos by Digital Nomad Foodie)

Andrew's Egg Tarts are simply a must-eat in Macau. (Photo by Digital Nomad Foodie)

Lord Stow's Bakery

Egg tarts anyone? If you've been to Portugal then you should know all about Pasteis de Nata.

A peek inside always busy Lord Stow's on Coloane Island, Macau. (Photo by Digital Nomad Foodie)

Lord Stow's Bakery has been in business in Macau since 1989 and have been known for their Andrew's Egg Tart (named after Andrew Stow).

This tiny shop is located on Coloane Island and as you guessed their main attraction is the Andrew's Egg Tart among other baked goods and simple sandwiches.

Make sure you come hungry or if you're not that hungry still come and grab a box to-go! (Photos by Digital Nomad Foodie)

Make sure to visit Riquexo for yummy Macanese comfort food. (Photo by Digital Nomad Foodie)

Enjoy minchi - a Macau comfort food at Riquexo

Riquexo serves up the ultimate Macanese comfort food called, minchi.

The owner, Aida de Jesus who is 102 years old and one of the last people to speak the native language of Patua, has been making locals and visitors worldwide happy they are able to eat this tasty mix of minced pork and potatoes with soy sauce and eaten over steamed rice.

My wife and I decided to go across the street to the grocery story to grab some lettuce to make lettuce wraps with our minchi when we got back to our hotel room.

RELATED POST: How to Make Comfort Food Using Your Hotel Room Kitchen

We brought back our minchi to eat with lettuce - super good. (Photo by Digital Nomad Foodie)

It's a special treat to enjoy. Maybe this is the secret to Aida's longetivity! Make sure you stop by here because it's one of the last original places to eat authentic Macanese food as it was designed to be served - in a humble location without fancy designs, just good comfort food.

Restaurante Espaco Lisboa offers a small slice of Portugal in a once Portuguese territory. (Photos by Digital Nomad Foodie)

Restaurante Espaco Lisboa

So when we were eating our way through Macau, we definitely wanted to try at least one Portuguese restaurant.

After doing some Googling, we ended up trying a place called, Restaurante Espaco Lisboa which is a two-story building with a Lisbon flair. It's a very cozy space like most places in Macau due to the limited real estate, but it was very welcoming and had some very good Portuguese food.

I loved the seafood rice in this hot ceramic bowl, especially the giant prawns. (Photo by Digital Nomad Foodie)

This flambe-style roasted Portuguese sausage was sizzling good! (Photo by Digital Nomad Foodie)

We tried a couple of dishes. The Arroz de Marisco a Espaco Lisboa is a seafood rice "Espaco Lisboa" style served in a ceramic pot, which had some big prawns in it that I loved. We also tried my personal favorite, chourico assado na canoa, which is a flambe roasted Portuguese sausage.

A view inside Canton, which is located inside the Venetian Macau. (Photo by Digital Nomad Foodie)

100% pure Cantonese cuisine at Canton

I wanted to save the fancy spot for you upscale folks. So if you love dim sum, then Canton inside the Venetian Macau fits your bill.

When you walk inside Canton, you are overwhelmed with all the fancy details. (Photo by Digital Nomad Foodie)

Canton was actually the very first restaurant we tried after arriving from Hong Kong.

It's what you would expect from a luxury hotel. A very modern, upscale venue that serves some very good Cantonese food from award-winning chef, Chef Mak Wai Ming.

Fine details galore inside Canton restaurant. (Photos by Digital Nomad Foodie)

When you enter this establishment you are welcomed with fine details, you almost don't want to touch anything, but unfortunately for them my wife and I were a little stinky and sweaty from our 17 hour plus trip from California through Hong Kong to Macau.

We were so hungry we ordered a bunch of dim sum and to be honest we had a very good first impression of Macau after we stuffed our faces. (Photos by Digital Nomad Foodie)

It's always fun to check out McDonald's in foreign countries. (Photo by Digital Nomad Foodie)

A sampling at McDonald's in Macau

I thought this would be fun to share.

If you are like me, it's always fun to check out McDonald's in foreign countries because there is usually a menu item or two that is unique to that country.

What I saw on the menu (the bowl of noodles, sausage patty with egg didn't look like the picture that's for sure. (Photo by Digital Nomad Foodie)

Macau was no different. After walking into a McDonald's and scanning the menu, I noticed a breakfast noodle soup. Various thoughts went through my mind, but I decided to order to see what it would taste like.

Compare and contrast this photo to the previous photo - big difference. (Photo by Digital Nomad Foodie)

I know for sure that I wouldn't order this item again. The only thing good about it was the sausage patty, the broth, noodle and egg didn't have much flavor. Maybe some sriracha would've helped!

Apartments and scooters in Macau. (Photo by Digital Nomad Foodie)

Macau's rich culture and the daily life of locals

It's not hard to miss how many locals live on a daily basis in Macau. Since it's a very small area, you will definitely see the daily living of it's citizens and see various cultural highlights.

I would also like to point out the scenery that Macau offers. You will see a mix of concrete, banyan trees (my favorite) and various coast lines. It's a blend of European-style buildings, Buddhist temples and luxurious hotels and casinos especially on the Cotai Strip.

The Wynn Macau. (Photo by Digital Nomad Foodie)

Make sure you take in the Ruins of St. Paul's in the History Centre of Macau. (Photo by Digital Nomad Foodie)

Check out the Ruins of St. Paul's

As a tourist you will want to check out the Ruins of St. Paul's. The only thing left standing is the facade which overlooks the remnants of old Macau and the burgeoning new Macau with it's glitz and glamour in the horizon. This area of Macau is called the History Centre of Macau and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

One of the various side streets around Rua de Sao Paulo. (Photo by Digital Nomad Foodie)

Rua de Sao Paulo & Red Market

If you love bargain hunting or just browsing at street markets then you should check out the Rua de Sao Paulo area and the Red Market. Both of these places offer you an authentic feel of being Asia.

If you like eating meat, you'll love checking out both Rua de Sao Paulo and Red Market. (Photos by Digital Nomad Foodie)

In these areas you will find almost anything from clothing to prosciutto even roasted pork fillet, which is very sweet and rich in taste. All of this is just steps away from the Ruins of St. Paul's so if plan on being in the area make sure you plan accordingly.

I love all the blue and white street signs both in Portuguese and Chinese. (Photo by Digital Nomad Foodie)

Senado Square

Senado Square is fairly large town square that is well decorated for various events throughout the year. This is where the Portuguese and Chinese people used to meet at.

As you can see Senado Square was built to hold many people for various events. (Photo by Digital Nomad Foodie)

According to Wikipedia, this area holds various large events such as flea markets, performances and festivals.

Ponte Cais De Coloane is a quiet part of Macau, perfect for walking around and enjoying the moment. (Photos by Digital Nomad Foodie)

Get your steps in by walking around Coloane

If you like dried salted fish, make sure you stop by Loja de Peixe Tong Kei.

If you love dried seafood, you might love Loja de Peixe Tong Kei in Coloane. (Photo by Digital Nomad Foodie)

This little shop, which is next to the pier (Ponte Cais De Coloane) offers the finest salted fish and other dried seafood. It's a cute little area with small shops where you'll see locals and tourists walking around enjoying the day.

The neighborhood is very cool to explore since there are many roads and alleyways.

If I lived in Macau, I would choose Coloane due to it's quieter life. (Photos by Digital Nomad Foodie)

If you start at Ponte Cais De Coloane and walk all the way down Avenue de Cinco de Outubro for about a mile you'll run into a temple called, Tam Kong. You can walk inside and say your prayers if you wish.

If you walk all the way down Avenue de Cinco de Outubro you'll run into Tam Kong temple. (Photo by Digital Nomad Foodie)

Well there you have it. I hope you were able to get some good information on how to get to Macau, where to shop, what to eat and to immerse yourself into the rich culture that is Macau. Have a great time!

Please comment below if you wish to add anything as your comments are greatly appreciated!

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#macau #taipa #coloane

About Digital Nomad Foodie

Digital Nomad Foodie is a native of the San Francisco Bay Area.  He was a paratrooper in the U.S. Army and has lived all over the world.  In addition to blogging, he is also a digital nomad working in healthcare.  He writes about his experiences and recommendations in various locations around the world.  His photos and reviews have helped over 79 million people learn about local & exotic destinations plus delicious food and can be seen on InstagramGoogle Maps and Yelp.


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