How I Made 600 EUR In Less Than 24 Hours While In Macau
A recent visit proved there’s so much to see beyond the casinos, in Macau, also best known as the Vegas of the East.
In case you never heard about Macau then find out that this tiny city used to be a Portuguese colony until 1999, and is one of the “special” administered regions of China along with Hong Kong. In fact, much like this one just mentioned, the city was run by the British, it was administered by Portugal from 1557, and because of this it has a distinctly European flavor, particularly in the old town.
To give you an idea, I’ll tell you that more than half of Macau's GDP comes from tourism and...gambling! In fact, Macau has exceeded the Las Vegas gambling revenue, and become the world's largest place of gambling. And although in recent years it has been transformed into a Mecca for gamblers (it’s the only place in China where casinos are allowed) you’ll find hidden gems and pedestrianized alleys, perfect for wandering and discovering colorful colonial buildings and crumbling mansions.
See & Do
To get to Macau, I took a ferry from Hong Kong, which has cost me around 30$ round-trip and it took about 1.5 hours. Romanian citizens do not need a visa to enter Macau, but you must have your passport because you will be stamped, which obviously means that for “better” passport holders, this will be even less of a hassle than it was for me. When you get to the port you will be welcomed by different people trying to attract you to one of the dozens of casinos; even more, they will most probably offer you a free car or a bus to that casino.
I walked the streets of the old town and those of the Portuguese area of Sao Lazaro early in the morning before the crowds arrived. As I wandered through the lanes of this beautifully preserved area, I started feeling like I was worlds away from China, in Europe!
As an advise: make sure to check out Senado Square, the Ruins of St Paul and the tiled fountains of Cathedral Square. If you’re into it, drop into a casino (even if just for an hour) to soak up some of the chaotic atmosphere. Go to the machines and also try blackjack. We got 21 from the first hand, and we had supervisors on top of the handler to our table in less than 2 minutes. The grandiose of the casinos and the richness around have the power to make anyone feel like they belong and it is so easy to lose more money than what one has planned. In our case, we had 50 EUR to spend, but luckily we managed to make 600. I will not say that it’s hard to stop, but it’s not easy either so you better know your limits!
Eat & Drink
Try Macanese (a fusion of Portuguese and Macau) cuisine at Cafe Nga Tim.
Don’t leave without trying a genuine Portuguese Egg Tart and of course, try Pastelaria Caravela.
Take in the ocean view with drinks at La Gondola.
Have brunch on the terrace at Panorama.
Grab a coffee on the rooftop at Quarter Square.
Actually, whatever you do you will be amazed, it’s such an impressive place to be! I loved it!
Good to know
Macau can easily be done as a day trip from Hong Kong, and it does not require you to spend that much time to visit, unless you want to laze by the pool in your resort. You can either get the high-speed ferry (1 hour) or take a helicopter if you want to splurge!
Casinos & Hotels
Many hotels are connected to each other through malls and you can walk from one hotel to another, stay anywhere in the casinos and play. We went in the largest casino in the world, which is located in The Venetian. Crazy! It was so huge and almost every table was occupied! There are indoor restaurants, a live band, many areas and countless vending machines. It’s like a huge indoor city, I would say.
Macau - the other side
This is the other side of Macau - not so colorful and clean, but more authentic and charming. The city center is full of tourists making a pilgrimage to the top of the ruins of St. Paul
As you walk through the "real" Macau, you no longer feel like you are in China; it could also be any major street in Europe due to the buildings. Even so, I admit that the Chinese characters can be pretty confusing.
Of course, as any traveler or tourist, we had to try the casinos, therefore, we stopped at the Venetian, as it’s super famous. We first went to the machines, I wasn’t planning to spend much, so I took a card for 20$, and after I tried a few machines I lost $15 which made me stop. Few minutes later I heard: “Let’s try the tables!” and when I turned around it was my boyfriend staring at me with his huge sparkling eyes like he was a kid with a new toy. What could have I said but: “Ok, let’s do it! But I have no clue how to play these games!” Finally, after walking for 10 minutes trying to figure out a table where we knew the game, we found Blackjack area. We went to a table where there was only the dealer and each of us had 20 dollars value of chips.
“I have no idea what I am supposed to do or how to win this game!” I said, and then with a huge excitement in his voice he said: “Get less but close to 21! If you get 21, you win for sure!” Sure, easy to say, difficult to do, but guess what, first hand – 21! “Oh, this is pretty easy!” I told myself while noticing another person was coming to assist the dealer. I don’t remember how long we played, but in the end, we cashed in 600 dollars and I went back to the machine, to spend my last 5 dollars, but no luck there. Investment: 70 dollars. Cash out: 600!
Not bad at all for a day!
Let me know your experience in the comments below!