Traveling to Macau from Hong Kong is pretty straightforward; the sister SAR is an hour away by boat and there are frequent connections. It's also well worth a visit. Whether you want to play high roller in the dozen or so casinos or just see the stunning UNESCO listed Portuguese buildings, Macau is a great day trip.
How to Get to Macau From Hong Kong
It's all about the ferries. There are ferries from Hong Kong to Macau 24 hours a day, and the boats run as frequently as every 15 mins during peak hours. The journey only takes between 60 to 70 minutes and costs less than HK$200. Most ferries to Macau end up in downtown Macau, although you can also take the Cotaijet ferries that head to the casinos on the Cotai Strip.
How Long Should You Stay?
There is plenty to see in Macau. At least enough to fill up a weekend, but accommodation options beyond the luxury hotels are poor. If you can snag a good Macau hotel at a good price, then stay over at least a night, otherwise, you can see the best of the city in a day.
Do You Need a Visa?
Most nations are entitled to a visa-free stay in Macau; nationals from the US are allocated a 30-day visa-free stay in Macau on arrival. European and Japanese nationals are allowed a 90-day visa-free stay, and UK nationals are allowed six months. The queues at immigration are short and the immigration officers speak English.
What's the Currency?
Macau's official currency, the Pataca, is pegged to the Hong Kong dollar at an official exchange rate. The official rate of exchange between the two hovers around parity, and you are unlikely to lose much if you deal only in Hong Kong dollars. Keep in mind small shops and restaurants will accept Hong Kong dollars, but change will be in Patacas. All Macau casinos work exclusively in Hong Kong dollars. If you have Patacas at the end of your stay, try and change them in Macau as they can be difficult to offload in Hong Kong.
Which Language Is Spoken?
Chinese and Portuguese are the two official languages and most signs are displayed in both. In reality, almost no one speaks Portuguese anymore, English is spoken widely, if not as widely as in Hong Kong. Cantonese is the predominant Chinese dialect, although staff inside hotels and casinos will also be able to speak Mandarin.
Which Casinos Should You Visit?
If you just want to see one or two casinos to get a taste of the atmosphere, there are a couple to look out for. For a little bit of local flavor with the high rollers head for the Grand Lisboa, while the mock canals and gondoliers at the Venetian are the best for a bit of American glitz and glamor.