A Traveler's Guide to Macau On a Dime

Macau's skyline at dusk.
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Is Macau cheap? It depends on where you’re coming from. If you’re arriving from Thailand, Vietnam and, to a lesser extent, China it’s likely to leave you with a pain in your wallet. But if you compare the city to Hong Kong, and most people do, Macau is cheap – in fact, it’s a bargain.

Inexpensive Accommodation

Your greatest expense when in Macau will be a bed for the night. There is no shortage of accommodation in Macau but much of it is at the higher range of the market. While casino hotels in Macau, such as the Venetian, do offer good value, they aren’t cheap.

Here are some top tips on how to get cheap accommodation in Macau and also selections of the best, ​cheap Macau hotels. The Casa Real is a particular bargain for a gem of the city’s Portuguese heritage and warm service. Cheaper still are Macau’s hostels – although these represent a serious decline in living standards and quality. Budget accommodation in Hong Kong is cheaper still and offers a broader range of options – only an hour away by almost constant ferry it’s a viable backup option.

Sightseeing For Free

Almost everything. All of Macau’s best sights are completely free. Macau has done an incredible job in preserving its Portuguese heritage – an effort recognized by a listing as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Some of the highlights include the ruins of St Pauls and the Largo de Senado – but you can find the full list in the tour of Portuguese Macau.

Away from the Portuguese sights, there are also egg tarts, beaches, and a fantastic bustling market. Looking for other suggestions take a look at our 48 hours in Macau itinerary .

Food on a Dime

Macau is an easy place to pick up very good food at very cheap prices. Cantonese cuisine rules and the local neighbourhood restaurants serve up fantastic dishes for no more than a handful of change. It’s difficult to get bad Cantonese food in Macau but a couple of recommendations for good food include Nga Tim Café – where you’ll find Cantonese, Portuguese and Macanese – and authentic fast food– fast not low quality – at Wong Chi Kei.


No, not by gambling, that’s how you lose money in Macau. If you can resist the temptation to hit the blackjack table casinos are a good place to pick up a free drink or two – non-alcoholic – and take in the floor shows. The floor shows at Macau casinos are in no way up to the standard set in Las Vegas but they are a decent way to pass the evening mixed in with a trip or two to the slots. Keep in mind that if you do start shelling out for a pint or two or, god forbid, a cocktail or three you’ll find the bill stacks up quickly and stacks up high.

Getting Around Cheaply

There’s not much need for public transport in a small city like Macau. You will need to use the bus to get between the three islands, especially from the downtown over to the Cotai Strip and the casinos. Our tip is to ride the casino buses that ferry would be punters from the ferry pier and downtown to individual hotels. The buses are run by the casinos themselves but just because you ride the bus it doesn’t mean you need to visit the casino – there are no tickets.

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