Many people have compared Macau to Vegas: both are home to a vast number of casinos; both have a reputation of excess and luxury; both are popular destinations for stag dos.
As I happened to be in Hong Kong and hadn’t been over to Macau for several years, I decided to head over to Macau for a day trip to see what the fuss was all about.
(Unfortunately there were no helicopters available, so I had to settle for the ferry(!))
I started my trip by having dim sum at Lugar Dourado E Encantador, which was by far the best dim sum I have ever had.
Delightful 燕窝(bird’s nest) custard tarts, light yet intense durian filled puffs and smokey char-siu buns were only the tip of the iceberg. Everything we ordered was delicately prepared, fresh and incredibly tasty. And only at a cost of £13 a head!
After breakfast, Ariel and her mom kindly volunteered to show us around Macau.
We started off by visiting Senado square and immediately noticed how busy it was: the narrow streets were packed with tourists!
Before we headed through the throng of tourists, we stopped for a quick ice cream at Lemoncello Gelato to cool down.
I had the sesame/tofu combination whilst my sister had the honey-peach and green tea:
Both combinations were incredibly fresh yet intense, but the texture was quite grainy – suggesting that the ice-cream required further churning.
We then headed through Rua da Ressureicao to have a taste of local Macau delicacies: crisp almond cookies, sweet and savoury pork jerky, mouth-watering egg rolls were being handed out left, right and centre – all free of charge!
(The competition for customers is so intense that shops give out free tasters/discounts to persuade customers to buy gifts).
After passing through the crowds, we were met with a beautiful sight: the ruins of St-Paul’s cathedral. To this day, I am still surprised as to how the front of the cathedral remains intact while the rest of the cathedral burnt down (twice!).
After a couple of pictures, we headed up towards the Macau museum for some culture. The views were incredible too:
(I got laughed at by a group of girls for sitting on the cannon…..)
At this point, Auntie A (a family friend) suggested that I marry a Macanese girl. Her reasoning was as follows:
– Due to the history of Macau, most of the locals are mixed race, so tend to be incredibly attractive
– By being a local resident, the government of Macau will dish out 8,000 pataca a year to you in addition to contributing to your pension
However, she noted that the flats in Macau are super expensive: even two bed flats in total disrepair sell for over £500k!
After filling ourselves up with culture, we hopped onto a bus to visit the new part of Macau.
This part of Macau, known as 氹仔 (Taipa), is home to foodie street (Rua do Cunha). Here you can find all sorts of culinary delights. During my short stay, I tried:
– Durian ice cream from Mok Yee Kei: intense, creamy and ridiculously pungent. MYK’s (an institution in Macau) durian ice cream is the perfect dish for durian lovers.
– Almond cookies with pork filling from Fong Kei: Be prepared to queue for 30+minutes before you can get your hands on FK’s legendary sweet and savoury cookies. Make sure that you know what you want to order: the staff here don’t take kindly to time-wasters!
– Kafelaku coffee (also known as cat poo coffee): The unusual name comes from the fact that these coffee beans are picked from the faeces of civets. The unique method of obtaining these coffee beans also makes them super expensive – I paid HKD 49 for a single espresso! However, it was definitely worthwhile: the espresso was intense, complex and very aromatic.
– Crème Brûlée in egg shells: I spotted this unusual dish whilst walking past the Starbucks on Rua do Cunha. The idea itself is great, but the execution was lacking: the dessert itself had too much cream and not enough egg.
– Portuguese egg tarts at the Venetian (Lord Stow’s): similar to a really good Hong Kong egg tart, but with a caramalised aftertaste and puffier pastry. Mouthwateringly good!
After stuffing myself silly, I headed towards the City of Dreams to see the infamous House of Dancing Water.
Similar to La Reve, the House of Dancing Water consisted of a moving stage, gallons of water, beautiful costumes and incredible acrobats. However, unlike La Reve, the story line here was non existent and left us scratching our heads by the end of the show. Given the cost of the show (close to £100 a head), I would suggest giving this a miss and seeing La Reve in Vegas instead.
(Photo courtesy of DY)
I then headed back to the hotel (Mandarin oriental) for a quick shower before heading out to the casinos. For those of you planning to stay at this hotel, I would suggest asking for a room overlooking the bridge as you get views like this:
As with Vegas, each of the hotels have something unique about them. Given that I was only staying for a day, I only managed to check out the following hotels:
– Dancing water fountain at the Wynn:
– Porcelain China dress at the Mandarin Oriental:
– Crystal Horse at the MGM:
At each of the hotels we visited (Wynn, MGM, Starworld, Lisboa, Grand Lisboa, Rio, Holiday Inn), we played a hand in the respective casinos.
Some (such as Starworld) were very basic and focused mainly on baccarat (to target the Chinese market), whilst larger casinos (such as the Grand Lisboa) offered a wider selection of games.
We started off by playing roulette on the low limits table (HKD 50 minimum bet) and the Ng made a small gain of HKD 100. We then, unwisely, decided to play “the dice game” (also known as Sic Bo). Here, you bet on whether the three dice will roll a number higher or lower than ten, a specific number between 4-17 or trebles. We ended up losing HKD 2,000 in under 10 minutes.
Deciding enough was enough, we headed to the MGM for electronic roulette (minimum bet of HKD 20). Here, we quickly made a killing, with number 19, 1 and 0 coming in on numerous occasions. We left the MGM up HKD 900 in total.
Squash then felt an urge to bet at the Lisboa (home to ALOT of call girls) but ended up losing all his winnings on blackjack.
Sensing that the MGM was a good hunting ground for us, we headed back to the roulette table and continued with betting on our lucky numbers. By 4am, I had amassed winnings of HKD 1,000 and offered to pay for a midnight feast at…..McDonalds.
(Squash ate so much that he felt sick!)
For those of you considering trying your luck in Macau, I would suggest the following:
– Bring ID: If you don’t look at least 21 and don’t have ID, you are not getting in
– Dress smartly: Most of the casinos will not let you in if you are wearing tank tops, sandals and shorts
– Minimum bets can range from HKD20 to HKD 2,000. Most casinos have a low limits room, so have a quick scout before you blow your holiday spending money in one go!
Macau is a city that I could visit occasionally, but never live in. Although the local residents are super friendly and the pace of life is very chilled, the lack of activities outside of gambling would make living there very mundane.