Sunday, December 14, 2014

Macau 1 Day Free and Easy Itinerary for Non-Gamblers

My sister and I went to Macau 2 weeks ago, mainly because we bought our Piso-fare tickets last year, and they only cost us Php2,300 (US$50) per person, but the catch is we had to fly out on a Tuesday night and fly back home on a Friday, so we agreed, if our schedules didn't allow it, we could just throw away the tickets. It was around the time when there were rumors that you might need a visa to go to Hong Kong, so we didn't want to book tickets for there. 

My sister changed jobs recently, so for a while she wasn't sure if she could make it, but since I planned my leaves properly, I was all set to go - complete with my list of things to buy and eat. Ady was finally able to make her schedule work, but the requirement from her boss was that she needed to visit City of Dreams, her new employer.

Hi Doc - Ady said seeing it from the plane didn't count so I took pictures to
show we really did go! We even met UFO Santa!

The last time we visited Macau was at least 8 years back, because I remember Sofia being in my tummy then. We normally would go for a day or an overnight stay by ferry from Hong Kong and we would stay at Sintra Hotel (around US$100) very near Senado Square. It seems that since then, hotels in Macau have become very expensive! When I was looking for a place for us to stay, hotels like Sintra where going for close to US$200 a night, so we opted to stay at a smaller hotel with good reviews, also walking distance from Senado Square (but the back end of it this time). We stayed at Ole London hotel, right beside the Best Western, and for the price (around US$100), it wasn't bad.

Senado Square is an easy walk around 10 minutes away.
You'll walk through the old alleys that look like this.

Macau Itinerary Must Visit:
1. Senado Square 
Senado Square during the day.
Macau's main shopping avenue, Almeida Ribeiro where you see a fusion
of old and new buildings.
We changed money at one of the banks here
because they gave better rates than the airport.
Christmas at Senado Square

Senado Square at Night
I wasn't able to buy a local sim card because we only planned to stay in Macau for a day, so we spent a lot of time and a lot of walking, getting lost before we re-familiarized ourselves with the place.

2. St. Dominic's Church on Senado Square is a declared UNESCO Heritage Site.

If you turn right when you hit St. Dominic's, you'll find another shopping street.
There isn't much to buy in Macau (except food) so I was
happy to see this. So newly opened., they had no sign yet.
I bought enough to use my discount coupon!

Turning left when you hit St. Dominic's will bring you to
3. Rua de São Paulo while the destination is the Ruins of St. Paul, this busy street is part of the Macau experience that shouldn't be missed.

This busy street is where you should buy the local delicacies.
Must tries include Dried Pork Jerky
and the famous (but not really my type) Almond Cookies
The most famous local bakery is Pasteleria Koi Kei, with 6 or 7 branches
in the island.
This used to be our go to place for Portuguese egg tarts.
But this itinerary will include places which make Portuguese Egg Tarts
so much better in comparison.
All (around 5) the Pasteleria Koi Kei branches we visited were chaotic
and had really bad service. All I wanted to buy was walnut cookies,
and they kept giving me tins of "walnut" cookies but when I asked for samples,
they were giving me something else!
You should only attempt to buy from them if they have something that
other stores don't have - like the yummy Crispy Pork. (not displayed like this)
For Walnut cookies, you can get it from Choi Heong Yuen
instead. They have a branch across Senado Square
on Almeida Ribeiro, and their service is so much better too.
Our haul included regular Pork Jerky for my dad, Crispy Pork for us,
and Walnut Cookies for the house and for the office.

5. Ruins of St. Paul
At the end of the busy street, you'll see the Ruins of St. Paul. It was drizzling
so we found it funny that the Standee had an umbrella and we didn't.
The ruins is just the facade of what used to be the
Church of Mater Dei built in the 1600s and the ruins
of St. Paul's college destroyed by a fire in 1835.
It's very hard to get a picture with no photo bombers,
good things I got the best one!
You can get a nice shot of the Ruins from the balcony
of Forever 21.
Though with Ady taking the picture, I could only have
a better picture of me.
Or a better picture of the Ruins!

Now, if you want to go to the Taipa side of the island, you have 2 easy options. Either you jump into a cab, and he'll take you direct to your destination, or you can jump into the City of Dreams free shuttle from the Sintra Hotel.
We took the first shuttle that leaves Sintra Hotel at 11:00am.
There are buses every 15-30 minutes.

6. City of Dreams
We were really going to City of Dreams, for my sister's informal familiarization with her new employer, but if you plan on going to The Venetian, all you need to do is find the closest exit and cross the street.
Just look for the dragon, he will lead you to the exit.
There are a lot of high end stores lining the way
so we got distracted by the sale signs.
This is the City of Dreams tunnel leading to The Venetian across the street.
If you want to go back to the Main Island, your options are the same, just go down to the basement, and choose which free shuttle destination you want to go to.
They also have a Koi Kei branch before the shuttles,
but I've heard pricing is much more expensive.
This is a copy of the shuttle destinations, but the lines were long so we
opted to take a cab instead and it cost us around 50MOP.

7. The Venetian
Venetian from City of Dreams across the street.
It was raining in Macau, but The Venetian is so big, they dictate
their own weather.
It was snowing outside...
and perfectly sunny inside.
For some reason though, the main lobby reminds me
more of Versailles. 
Venetian Lift Selfie

Now, to the more important part of the itinerary, the eating front. Just a caveat though, when I was doing my research, I removed everything Portuguese because I am not a fan. I still remember staying in Portugal for a week and getting sick of eating their local cuisine which 80% of the time had some form of Bacalhau (cod)!

Two popular places to eat in Macau are located in Taipa Island... however, they also have branches at The Venetian, so when my sister needed to go to City of Dreams (and she's clingy, so she wanted me to go with her), I agreed because it would be easy enough to try the places we wanted to, just by crossing the street.

8. Tai Lei Loi Kei Pork Chops Buns
I never realized from past Macau trips how popular
Pork Chop Bun was. But because this pork chop bun place
was highly recommended, I started seeing it everywhere!
According to the blogs I've read, there is always a long line to enter Tai Lei
Loi Kei's original store, and the line moves fast, but at The Venetian,
there is no line at their stall in the food court.
Ady and I really liked the Pork Chop bun, which was served in a baguette type bun. It may be because we were starving (our first real meal in Macau, after getting lost and rained on), but it was only in comparison to our other meals in Macau that I found it to be quite pricey at 55MOP per sandwich. 
There are a lot of food options at The Venetian food court, so you can also
be more adventurous if Pork Chop bun is not your cup of tea.
The really irritating thing about The Venetian is it's so
realistic. Just like the real Venice, you need a map,
or you'll just keep on getting lost.

9. Lord Stow's Portuguese Egg Tarts
I love Portuguese Egg Tarts, and they are normally better in Macau, because you think that you get them fresh and all that. There are a few branches of Lord Stow's in Manila, and we buy from them when we get a Portuguese Egg Tart craving, but because I've tried it here, I didn't really have high expectations of from their Macau store. 
Though it was a bit difficult to find, Lord Stow's at The Venetian is nicely
located because you can sit and enjoy your food with a view of the grand canal.
Ady and I were a bit bitin from the Pork Chop bun but we resisted the urge to
order more because we had more places on our to eat list, so we just
had coffee with our egg tarts instead.
OMG! That was my reaction after I had one bite because it was just so good!
Seriously! Thin buttery crisp crust that went really well with the egg custard.
Definitely should be on the Must Visit Places in Macau!!!

After Ady and I ate at our Must Try places in The Venetian, and after she did her thing at City of Dreams, we headed back to the main island so we could have black pepper duck for our late lunch.

10. Chan Kong Kei Casa de Pasto for Black Pepper Duck
Chan Kong Kei is located on Rua do Dr. Pedro Jose Lobo but we discovered that it's so famous, it's easier to give the taxi driver the name of the restaurant (which he knows) than the English street name, which sounds Greek - or English to him!
We arrived for our late lunch at around 2:00pm and the restaurant was still
this crowded. Just get in line which moves fast, then you're given a table. 
Look at all the hanging ducks!!!
For a change, having the Roast Duck prepared with Black Pepper Sauce was
quite good. In Singapore, it's normally beef and crab they cook that way.
Black Pepper Duck with Rice was only 33MOP.

11. Shopping in Macau
Macau has almost all the normal chain stores, with similar stock as Hong Kong, but if you arrive when the stores have winter clothes in stock, there's not much to buy, so you can go to the side streets behind Senado Square where there are Outlet Stores for Branded Items.
We were able to buy a lot of branded export overruns.

11. Lojas de Carnes Assadas for the best inexpensive Roast Duck Lechon Macau in Macau
This place came highly recommended by my dad because it's their favorite eating place in Macau. The only catch is, it's a bit far from Senado Square (so you need to take a bus) and they do Take Away only, so you need to eat at the hotel.
There are 2 branches of this place near Avenue Horta E Costa
another main shopping street in Macau.
The one we went to was on Rua de Pedro Coutinho.
Look at all that roast goodness. We arrived around 7pm,
and there was a long line, and not a lot of stock.
You sort of order by gesturing how big a serving you want. 
We ended up with 20MOP worth of Lechon Macau that was so good,
and another 20MOP worth of Roast Duck, also so good, and 8MOP of rice.
I could not resist plating my food before eating for ambiance.
Yummy meaty Roast Duck pieces and Rice with Duck drippings!
Best meal in taste and value. 
I wasn't really able to shop around the jewelry stores,
but this was also one of the top things to buy in Macau.
There are a lot of jewelry stores along Horta E Costa,
information I am filing away for future trips. 

12. Margaret's Cafe E Nata for the best Portuguese Egg Tarts in Macau
You could say I'm saving the best for last, but in reality, our full day in Macau was Wednesday, and Margaret's is closed on a Wedensday, so we only got to visit it the following day before we caught the ferry to Hong Kong.
After trying our old favorite Koi Kei (which no longer
impressed us), Lord Stow's and this, this clearly wins
hands down! Watch out for my post on this.
Margaret's is located a block away from Chan Kei Kong, around 10 minutes walking distance from Senado Square.

We were so bored after one day in Macau doing everything on our free and easy itinerary (which does not include any museum visits, which you can opt to do if that's your cup of tea) so I'm really glad I convinced my sister to spend our last 2 days in Hong Kong instead.

We just took a cab to the Macau Ferry Terminal and jumped on the first available shuttle to HK.
You just need to line up to buy your tickets.
Since we were flying out of Macau, we already bought round trip tickets.
However, I didn't realize it would be more efficient to buy a HK-Cotai
return ticket as that is closer to the airport.
The ferry to HK was much cheaper at 153 MOP while the HK ferry to Macau
was 200 MOP.
The turbo jet ferry leaves every 15 to 30 minutes and takes 1 hour travel time.
Off to HK! Rocky seas can't keep us away!
We did the same drill on the way back the night after.
Our ferry was a bit delayed, so plan for buffer time.

It was a bit stressful because the cab queue was so long and not moving when we got to Macau, so we quickly jumped on a City of Dreams shuttle instead. They even have a luggage compartment.
It was so stressful because the traffic was bumper to bumper and not moving.
We were seriously at risk of no catching our flight!
We were on the bus for so long I even got to take pictures
of the Macau Tower.
and the Macau Tower with the skyline on the main island.
All the traffic was caused by this accident on the bridge. Tsk Tsk!

We arrived with enough time to repack because our bags were a bit overweight! That was a great trip, but I don't think I'd survive 3 days in Macau if I had to do it again, HK will definitely be part of the plan, but I'd book an open jaw ticket for the convenience factor alone. just saying.

Details for the recommended places to visit:

1. Ole London Hotel
Praca de ponte e horta. NO 4-6
Phone:  (853) - 28937761
Fax: (853) - 28937790

2. Pasteleria Koi Kei
visit link for branches in Macau

3. Choi Heong Yuen Bakery
209 Av. De Almeida Ribeiro
Telephone : 28355966

4. Tai Lei Loi Kei
The Venetian Macao
Estrada da Baia de Nossa Senhora da Esperanca 

5. Lord Stow's Bakery and Cafe
The Venetian Macao
Estrada da Baia de Nossa Senhora da Esperanca

6. Chan Kong Kei
19 Rua Do Dr. Pedro Jose Lobo 

7. Lojas de Carnes Assadas
 Rua de Pedro Coutinho

8. Margaret's Cafe e Nata
17a Rua Alm Costa Cabral
Avenida de Almeida Ribeiro

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