Macau: Prepping for a Trip to Asia's Flashiest City

by  Alex Schechter | Nov 6, 2013
Macau / Sean3810/iStock

Planning a trip to China's gambling capital? With private, walled-in gardens, public beaches, and historic sites that reference the city's strong Portugese influence, you'll have plenty to do, whether you're hitting the slots or not. The best part: We're featuring a great deal this week that includes this destination, and saves more than $1000. Not bad. Now, what should you pack for your trip?

Pataca, or Hong Kong Dollars
Though the pataca is the official currency in Macau (1 pataca to $0.13 USD), most buses, restaurants, and shops accept the Hong Kong dollar (1 HKD to $0.13 USD). As many travelers have noted, if you are just visiting for the day, you will be perfectly fine just bringing along Hong Kong dollars. (In some casinos, even the Chinese renminbi is accepted as well.)

Comfortable walking shoes
Believe it or not, Macau is a great walking city. Similar to Singapore, whose multiplex shopping malls and towering hotels co-exist alongside historic neighborhoods best enjoyed on foot, a full day can be spent outside the casinos, walking around the Historic Centre (the ruins of St Paul in particular are worth a visit), snapping photos and stopping in at a cafe for an iced coffee.

A bathing suit
Yes, Macau has beaches – it's made up of three islands, and with some savvy bus- or taxi-maneuvering, you can end up spending a whole afternoon sprawled out on the sand at places like Hac Sa Beach, which even offers water-skiing and other fun activities. But even if you end up retreating to your hotel, you'll find plenty of use for a bikini or a pair of swimming trunks. Not only do most hotels offer indoor and outdoor pools, some even come with private pools right inside your room!

Evening attire
Most casinos are pretty lax about dress code (meaning, if you show up in a Hawaiian shirt and flip flops, you likely won't be turned away), but considering all the fine dining restaurants and after-hours entertainment options, you'd do well to include at least one dressy outfit during a visit to, say, Franco Dragone's award-winning cabaret spectacle, Taboo.

A good book
Lou Lim Iok Garden is just one of several secluded, lush green spaces inside the city that  offers an ideal setting for curling up under the shade of a tree with a novel (these gardens are also great alternatives to the often cigarette-smoke-laden caves of the casinos, though many are starting to  become smoke-free.) And while you're sourcing your reading material, why not check out a few books detailing Macau's rich colonial history?

For more travel tips, handy info, and transit schedules, check out the official Macau Government Tourism page here.

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