Easy Ways To Get Around Macao
By Eva Pavithran
Accessibility to public transport can make or break a city for vacationers. A city of blended cultures, Macao not only provides a feast for your taste buds, but also for your eyes. This small island with winding streets, where Chinese shrines sit on lanes laden with Portuguese tiles, is easy to explore thanks to a well-connected public transport system in place. From taxis and ferry terminals to a superb public bus service make sightseeing and wandering in and around Macao easy and fuss-free. Here’s our list of five ways to get around in Macao:
The best way to soak up the sights and smells of a place? Walking. Highly recommended while in Macao, as you’ll probably burn off those extra calories from all the baos (steam, filled bun), egg tarts and Portuguese cheese and wine. The Macau Peninsula is small, but comes packed with must-visit sights. Walking along the main street is a lot quicker than taking a bus or a taxi, as most of the vehicles must take detours because of roads that are one way.
Begin your day with a stroll along Senado Square, past Leal Senado, a historic building that has been a centre for Macao politics since the late 18th century. This large Portuguese-style piazza is surrounded by many heritage sites, as well as coffee shops, restaurants, market lanes and shops buzzing with people. Grab breakfast at Ou Mun Café, an authentic Portuguese eatery that’s a favourite with the locals and tourists alike. Nestled in one of the small lanes of Rua Sul do Mercado de São Domingos, is a small Chinese temple: Sam Kai Vui Kun (Kuan Tai Temple), dedicated to Kuan Tai (a Chinese god of war). Then, head to Santo Domingo Church (Igreja de São Domingos) a beautiful 17th century Baroque-style church with airy interiors and museums of mostly religious exhibits. A stop at the new city market on the street leading up to the church is recommended for those who love a good bargain. A flight of stairs further down, along the north of Rua de Sao Paulo will take you to Macao’s iconic landmark, the Ruins of St. Paul’s, the five-tiered façade of the 17th century Church of St. Paul. Wrap up the walking tour with a stop at the Macau Museum, which beautifully captures the cultures and achievements of China and Portugal through the course of history.
Buses are like veins that make a city run in an organised fashion. Like many metros around the world, locals and travellers in Macao rely on public buses as their main transportation. Transportes Urbanos Macau (Transmac) and Sociedade de Transportes Colectivos de Macau (TCM) are the two main bus companies offering public transportation between the Peninsula and the surrounding islands of Taipa and Coloane. Route numbers dictate the destination and stops in-between, and fares are displayed next to the fare box. Top-of-the-line hotels and casinos offer free-shuttle services to and from Macau Ferry Terminal and the airport.
Taxi rides are very affordable in Macao. However, language may pose a problem, as most of the cab drivers speak very little or no English. Get the hotel desk to write a few destinations down in Cantonese or have a hard copy map in tow. It’s important to keep in mind that most are known to take a Sunday off, the red sign at the front is indicative of the availability of the cab. Besides, there’s almost always an additional surcharge for a ride from the airport and each piece of luggage!
Macao is a city of contrasts. Where else can you witness a psychedelic hybrid of a tricycle and rickshaw parked in front of a best-in-class hotel? A visit to the Peninsula is incomplete without a ride in this fun, albeit archaic mode of transport. Each of these trishaws come with ‘menus’ of their own: the tourists can choose an area of their liking to explore. They’re often inexpensive and you could get good deals. The menu can offer anything from packages to the most happening nightclubs, historic sites and busy casinos; you name it the menu usually has it!
By Bicycle Or Cable Car
Give me a bicycle and I’ll disappear and wander off to unknown places. The outlying islands of Taipa and Coloane are perfect for bicycle tours. Bicycle rentals are easily available. Tour the islands at a slower pace feeling the ocean breeze in your hair, surrounded with recreational hubs and lanes surrounded by a bountiful landscape. A word of caution: Bicycling is prohibited on all bridges spanning Macau Peninsula and Taipa. You can either stroll up to the Guia Fort, the highest point of the Peninsula offering stunning views of the Pearl River and the surrounding islands. We strongly suggest a ride with the Guia Cable Car instead, which provides an excellent panoramic view. The service is shut on Mondays and working hours are from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
BY AIR AND WATER
Helicopter Express is the quickest way travel in and out of Macao from/to Hong Kong with a travel time of just 16 minutes. The Heliports are located near the main ferry terminals in each of the cities. Macao is also just an hour’s ferry ride away from Hong Kong. Ferry prices are cheaper during the day and steeper at night. The fares go up during weekends and public holidays as well. You can take a ferry from Hong Kong Macau Ferry Terminal or from Sky Pier (for transiting tourists only) to either Macau Maritime Ferry Terminal or the Cotai Terminal.
Don’t forget to tag your photos with #MyMacaoMoments