Macau is renowned for being quite the casino mecca. Hence the name “Las Vegas of the East”. However, the real Macau is actually a unique cultural meeting of the East and the West; it is the first and last European colony in China and was an important trading post due to its proximity to Hong Kong. The cultural history that is still very much alive in Macau makes it a wonderful place to explore, even on a tight budget.
Even though the city is filled with luxurious hotels and casino resorts, there are plenty of affordable accommodations. Hotels, guest houses, and villas for groups that can be rented at a reasonable rate, and throughout the Inner Harbor there are quite a few 2-star hotels that are budget-friendly. Booking.com is a useful place to find affordable places to stay. Getting around can be relatively inexpensive, too, particularly if you make use of the free casino shuttle buses operating throughout the peninsula and the Cotai Island. The MGM Grand, Wynn Macau, City of Dreams, and the Four Seasons are just some of the hotels and casinos that can be found throughout the harbour. In September 2010, the Macao SAR Government introduced a free wireless broadband system in select locations, facilities, and tourist hotspots, so it’s easy to stay connected on the go throughout the city. For a complete list of the locations with free Wi-Fi GO!, maps are available at the airport and ferry terminals. Besides locations with free Wi-Fi, Macau has a lot to offer visitors who are strapped for cash as there is plenty to see and explore for free.
Visiting the famous casinos is a must for anyone, even non-players. The Venetian, the largest casino in the city, is a good place to start. It’s grandiose and luxurious East meets West architecture featuring hand-painted frescos in the lobby, Italian-inspired fountains and statues, and high-vaulted ceilings are particular highlights. Then there’s the avenue of shops and boutiques and the Grand Canal Shoppes, which will transport you back to the continent with its painted blue-sky ceiling. While sight-seeing the casinos, the spectacle of the City of Dreams on Cotai Island shouldn’t be missed! This glamorous casino resort plays host annually to the PokerStars Live Macau Tournament as well as countless events and conferences. The free shuttle bus service also means that you can casino-hop all day to really soak up the experience.
In addition to the glamorous resorts and casinos, Macau also offers plenty of culture to soak up if you take a free walking tour around the city. The Historic Centre of Macau, a World Heritage Site, features around 25 historically and architecturally important monuments that are free to visit. This is a must-see as many of these monuments will help you to appreciate the co-existence of the Portuguese and Chinese cultures.
There are also a number of museums offering free admission including the Grand Prix Museum, The Wine Museum, and The Macau Tea Culture House. Situated on Senado Square, you’ll find the Treasure of Sacred Art Museum, which houses a collection of approximately 300 aartefacts dating back to the 17th century. The Museum of Sacred Art, which houses a 17th-century oil painting of Archangel Michael, is the only one to survive the fire at the college in 1835.
Rich in culture both old and new, Macau is a friendly place to visit. It’s also a wonderful place to explore even on a tight budget. Although it has many glamorous resorts and casinos, it’s the small things like being able to sample local delicacies at markets that make it that much more enjoyable.