Transportation options in Macao are cheap and easily accessible. This former Portuguese colony, now a Chinese Special Administrative Region, is much smaller than neighboring Hong Kong, only covering 45 square miles in total. While buses, taxis, and free hotel and casino shuttles have been the most popular forms of transport for years, the recently opened Macao LRT is now a popular option for both locals and tourists. Currently, it only has one line, but the master plan includes four more to come.
Many traveler's needs can be met by the Macao LRT and walking (though it can be hilly). For those that aren’t, a free shuttle, inexpensive bus, or taxi are never that far away.
How to Ride the Macao Light Rapid Transit
Fare rates: Fares are based on distance traveled. Traveling from one to three stations costs 6 Macanese pataca ($0.75). Four to six stations costs 8 Macanese pataca ($1), and seven to 10 stations is 10 Macanese pataca ($1.25). Concessionary half price tickets are available for children under 12, seniors 65 and older, and the disabled. Children under 1 meter (3 feet, 28 inches) ride for free.
Types of passes: The Macao LRT has two types of tickets: single journey tickets (prices listed above) and the LRT card.
LRT Cards: The two types of LRT cards are adult and concessionary. The initial fee for purchasing the card is 30 Macanese pataca ($3.75), and an additional stored value amount must be added when purchasing the card.
Adult card: Card holders ages 12 and older receive a discounted rate of 3, 4, and 5 Macanese pataca ($0.37, $0.50, and $0.62) for one to three stations, four to six stations, and seven to 10 stations traveled, respectively.
Concessionary card: The concessionary card is available for students studying in Macao and Macanese students studying abroad, seniors aged 65 or above holding a Macao Resident Identity Card, and disabled persons holding a valid Disability Assessment Registration Card. For those aged 65 and older and those with disabilities, travel is free with the LRT concessionary card. For students, the rate is 1.5, 2, and 2.5 Macanese pataca ($0.19, $0.25, and $0.31) for one to three stations, four to six stations, and seven to 10 stations traveled respectively.
How and where to pay: You can purchase LRT tickets and cards at ticket vending machines or customer service centers in the Macao LRT stations. All Macanese pataca banknotes are accepted, except the 1,000 note at the ticket vending machines. The customer service centers accept MOP cash, credit cards, and electronic payments.
Hours of operation: The Macao LRT runs from 6:30 a.m. to 11:15 p.m. every day, including weekends and public holidays.
Travel routes/subway lines: Currently, the Macao LRT only has one line, the Taipa Line. It goes from Taipa to Cotai and vice versa, linking the airport, many border checkpoints, and some casinos.
Accessibility concerns: The Macao LRT is accessible. The stations have elevators, wide gates, ramps, wheelchair-accessible toilets, and tactile pavement for the visual-impaired. There are also wheelchair-locking devices in the cars.
Lost property: Call (853) 8506-0000, extension 31403 during Macao LRT train service hours.
Use the trip planner on the Macao Light Rail site to plan your route and check for updates and service changes.
Other Transit Options
Besides the Macao Light Rapid Transit, you also have buses, taxis, and other forms of transportation to get around.
Free Shuttle Buses
Casinos and hotels offer free shuttle buses around the city. These free shuttles are sometimes restricted to guests only (like at the Grand Lisboa) but most are not. Free shuttles link the two ferry terminals, airport, and border-crossing points with the hotel or casino they service, though not all free shuttles have the same stops. (For example, some might go to the ferry but not the airport.) Most of the stops on their routes are not at non-casino tourist attractions. However, you can check each shuttle’s route individually, and see which ones would let you off closest to where you want to go.
Though you can save money, depending on how much time you have (especially if you are only on a day trip), it might be more prudent to pay a small fee for a bus or taxi, in order to have more time to enjoy the city, rather than waiting for the free shuttles.
Public buses are mostly air-conditioned, cheap, and stop frequently throughout Taipa, Coloane, and Macao Peninsula. Notifications onboard are in English, Mandarin, Cantonese, and Portuguese. Most buses follow a one-way circuit around the city, meaning you might need a different bus for your return trip.
There are no conductors to make change for tickets, meaning you will need to have exact change or purchase a Macau Pass (different from the Macao LRT card) at the port, pier, or a convenience store. For trips of one or two days, purchasing a card is unnecessary, and cash will be the better option. Rides within the Peninsula are 2.5 Macanese pataca. Riding to Taipa or Coloane costs 3 to 5 Macanese pataca. Most buses operate from 6 a.m. to 12 a.m.
Download the Bus Traveling System app to easily plan your route.
Taxis are cheap and plentiful in Macao. Fares start at 17 Macanese pataca ($2.12) and go up to 2 Macanese pataca ($0.25) every 260 meters (0.16 miles) after that. The longest possible direct ride in the region would be to go from the north to south or vice versa, which would cost well under 200 Macanese pataca ($25). Bags put in the trunk are an additional 3 Macanese pataca ($0.37) per piece.
Taxis are equipped with local maps in Chinese, Portuguese, and English, supplied by the Tourism Administration Bureau. Many taxi drivers do not speak English. Write down (or have your hotel write down) the name of address to where you want to go in Chinese to show your driver, should you need it, or point to your destination on one the map provided.
Rush hour is from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m and 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. on weekdays. During the evening rush hour, drivers might ask for an extra 50 to 100 Macanese pataca ($6.25 to $12.50) on top of the normal fare. You will probably have to wait a long time for a taxi during these times.
You can either take the sole line of the Macao LRT to the airport, hop on one of the free casino buses (running every 20 to 30 minutes), or take buses which run between the airport and the Peninsula. The non-casino buses all have a flat rate of 6 Macanese pataca ($0.75).
Also called triciclos or bicycle rickshaws, find them outside the ferry terminal, Hotel Lisboa, or the Grand Lisboa Hotel. Charter one for 350 Macanese pataca ($44) or pay per ride from these two pickup points for 100 to 200 Macanese pataca ($12.50 to $25), depending on how far you want to go.
You can rent bikes in Taipa near Pak Tai Temple.
Uber is not in Macao anymore. Didi, a Chinese rideshare app is available instead.
Renting a car in Macao is not a good option for many reasons: expensive parking fees, narrow streets in which you sometimes have to retract the rear view mirrors, and tons of one-way streets. If you insist, book with Avis. Driving is on the left side of the road, and cars are right-hand drive.
Tips for Getting Around Macao
- Taxis or walking will be your only options for transportation after 12 a.m.
- It’s safe to walk around Macao at night.
- Walking to a place will be the most efficient way to get there sometimes.
- You can use Macanese pataca or Hong Kong dollars to pay for the bus and taxis. Most transportation services and business will set the exchange rate at 1:1.
- Expect heavy traffic in the weeks before and during the Macau Grand Prix (held in November).
- If you want to ride one of the hotel shuttle buses that require a voucher (but you aren’t a guest there), simply go into its adjoining casino and ask one of the tables for a bus voucher. You don’t have to gamble to ask.