Surprisingly, Macau is not only about losing or winning money in casinos, dining out in posh restaurants, drinking cocktails and doing shopping. In fact, Macau has a lot to offer in terms of free sightseeing. Yes, it’s even ice cool for a budget backpacker as Agness and Jonny found out!
Yes, you heard right – you don’t have to be rich to spend a week here as Macau offers a lot of cheap spots to explore, affordable street food and great places to chill out.
Free things to do in Macau
A walk through Senado Square – it’s one of the most visited spots in Macau filled with coffee shops, small boutiques and food vendors. You can not only admire the wonderful and unique Portuguese architecture, especially wave-patterned mosaic colored stones, windows and walls.
If you start your day from seeing this place, don’t forget to grab a cup of coffee from one of local coffee shops.
Visiting historical Ruins of St. Paul – free and interesting, can’t be missed out. The ruins are currently listed as part of the UNESCO World Heritage site so this fact should make you want to go there.
There is a museum located at the bottom of the ruins with religious figures from 17th century. If you are a big fan of historical museums, that’s the place for you.
Monte Forte – from the top of Monte Forte you can see a panoramic view of Macau which is simply breath-taking. There is a lovely park, observatory and the Macau Museum – all free of charge and open daily from 9 am till 6pm.
Hac Sa Beach – a good place for sunbathing, volleyball playing, swimming and picnic. Take bus no. 25 or 26A and it will take you straight to the beach.
Macau Tower Bungee Jump – it may be expensive (around HKD2668 per person), but it’s an unforgettable experience. The platform is 233m high and you’ll experience a 4-5 second freefall before stretching the 50 meter bungee cord!
Eating on the cheap
Food vendors – not only the yummiest and healthiest food is served here, but also affordable for everyone.
Locals sell seafood dishes and plenty of boiled veggies in a bowl. One bowl of goodies costs around $3. You can order some eggs, crabs, oysters, broccoli, carrots and much more.
Portuguese restaurants – I would highly recommend a place called Cafe Ou Mun which is a typical small Portuguese cafe, restaurant and bakery. You can order here baguettes, Portuguese coffee, homemade sandwiches and delicious desserts. Good prices and great food quality.
Location: Travessa de Sao Domingos, No 12 R/C. Business hours: Tuesday to Sunday 08.00 – 23:00. Closed on Monday.
Local bakery: Cafe Free – a very famous in Macau local bakery from where you can grab a great variety of cakes and pastries. Must try goodies: ham and cheese croissants, garlic and basic bun, BBQ chicken sandwich and cheesy muffins.
Transportation on the cheap
Local buses cost only MOP 2.50 a ride, but you can simply walk everywhere.
Getting to Macau from Hong Kong
The best and cheapest way to get from Hong Kong to Macau is to take a ferry called TurboJet. It departures from 7 am to midnight every 15 minutes from Hong Kong Macau Ferry Terminal (3/F Shun Tak Centre, 200 Connaught Road Central, Sheung Wan). One way economic ticket costs HK$ 159.
Sleeping on the cheap
Macau is packed with budget motels, hotels and hostels. Here are top places we found great to stay at:
Vila Universal – great location, friendly staff and clean rooms. There was no Wi-Fi in the room, but you can use it at the reception.
Price: Around MOP360 ($46) per double room (weekend price).
Location: Rua da Felicidade, n.0 73, r/c e Kuoc-chai, Macau, China.
Ko Wah Hotel – very close to Senado Square. They accept cash in HKD only, Wi-Fi available at the reception, bad quality.
Price: Fridays for 350 HK$ ($45), Saturday 400 HK$ ($51) and weekdays 280 HK$ ($36) for single room.
Location: 3F, No.71 Rua da Felicidade, Macau, China.
Note: the room prices go up every Friday, Saturday and Sunday (+ 50% or more).