Cerebral Shangrila

Friday, April 20, 2007

Macau - Travel Diary (Travelogue)

They call it the " Las Vegas " of the east. I would say " Goa + Mumbai + Las Vegas = Macau". It retains the Portuguese looks of Goa , has the chawl like old city feel of Mumbai and has the ultra-glitzy casino trendiness of Vegas. An amazing amalgam. With Macau already overtaking Las Vegas in gambling revenues, it is set to attract huge investments in the near future.

GETTING HERE : Macau has an international airport on the Taipa island and is well connected to most Asian cities. The flying time from Singapore to Macau was 3.5 hours.

VISA DETAILS : Indian Tourists traveling for less than 30 days do not need a visa ( Wow !) . However if one intends to stay for a longer time, the visa needs to be obtained from the Country of residence.

WHEN TO GO : By far the best time to visit is in April or Oct-Dec. Jan-March is cold and May-Oct is humid and there are thunderstorms in Aug-Sept.

CURRENCY : The Currency of Macau is Pataca (MOP$). 1 Pataca is roughly equal to 1 Hong Kong Dollar.

POLITICS : Macau is a special administrative region (SAR) of China, like HK and benefits from the priniciple of "one country, two systems".

LANGUAGE : Portuguese and Chinese are the official languages. Cantonese is widely spoken. English is rarely spoken and hence carry a translation guide with you. Get hotels names, tourist place names translated to Chinese to make things easier or carry a map with all tourist place names printed in Chinese ( I did both).

LOCATION & AREA : Macau is located close to Mainland China and Hong Kong. It consists of the mainland peninsula ( which is just 3km by 2km) and the islands of Taipa and Coloane (which are even smaller). Taipa, Coloane are 15-20 mins by bus from Macau peninsula.


Buses: Plenty of buses ply the island. All name boards are in English (also) and the bus-stops have all the stop names. Since its a very small island , most places can be reached on foot.

Taxis : Taxis are cheap and available in plenty but remember that the drivers speak little English.

Ferries : There are ferry services every 30 mins to Hong Kong. It takes 1 hour to reach HK by ferry.

TIMEZONE : Macau is GMT + 8 hours.

FOOD : Macau cuisine is unique because of its mix of Portuguese and Asian cuisine. Being a vegetarian, I was a bit apprehensive before travelling ( Veggie food in a Chinese land ). However, I never had a problem thanks to the Pizza chains and Indian restaurants. Macau has three Indian restaurants.

Aruna is located close to the Sands Casino ( opposite to the Shell gas station on Avenida da Amizade) . Though its a small place, the food is tasty.

Indian Garden located on Taipa island ( close to the Macau stadium) is the best Indian restaurant on the island.Though a bit pricey, the food and ambiance is very authentic ( The bonus for me was that the owner hailed from Chennai !).

There is a Nepalese/Indian restaurant close to the Macau stadium ( in the complex to the right of gol chakkar next to the stadium). The food was quite good here too.

I can now claim to be an authority on Indian food in Macau, having tasted food at all the Indian restaurants on the island/peninsula !


Ruins of St.Paul's :
Its the definitive landmark of Macau. The ruins are the facade of the church that was destroyed by fire in 19th century. Wonderful architecture !

Senado square : The most popular meeting place and venue for celebrations. Very spacious and colorful !

A-Ma temple : The most famous Chinese temple in Macau. I was amazed to see so many people throwing money (dollar bills) into a bowl of water !

St.Lawerence and St.Augustine church : Beautiful architecture inside the church.

Fisherman's Wharf : Visit the Volcano, joy rides and thematic cities inside this entertainment park.

Kun Lam statue : The "Statue of Liberty" of Macau. Its a towering and graceful statue that stands on a podium in the sea.

Sands Casino : Its huge. Its awesome. Reputed to be the largest casino in the world.

Wynn Casino : Glitz and glamour combine to make this casino a "must visit" place. Its also a fashion mall with all marquee brand names. Don't miss the fountain show in front of the casino. The casino is quite huge and I have a special liking for Wynn since I won $100 while gambling here !

FINAL WORD : Macau is very unlike the other cities that you might have seen. Go with an open mind and enjoy the amazing amalgam of cultures !

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  • Ishu says....

    Great travelogue!!Credit goes to you for selecting such a wonderful place for our vacation!!Good job sir..
    BTW nan solli casino la velayadina vetri dane..

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:53 PM  

  • thanks..:-)

    By Blogger Cogito, at 12:59 PM  

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