Travelling Around Macao On A Budget: Tips and Tricks To Remember

Travelling Around Macao On A Budget: Tips and Tricks To Remember

Headed to Macao soon? Don't forget to keep these useful tips in mind!

Filled with the glitz and glamour of dazzling lights and casino action, it’s easy to see how alluring the “Las Vegas of Asia” is, especially when it comes to the nightlife. It’s not surprising that many have the impression that Macao would make an expensive getaway destination.

However, did you know that there is more to Macao than just its casinos? The other side of Macao is simply brimming with hidden gems that won’t burn a hole in your pocket, and are just waiting to be explored.

Yes, you heard us right! Macao can be explored on a budget and we’re here to show you how!

1. Fill your tummy up – choose street eats instead of dining at restaurants

Portuguese Egg Tart

Image credit: (left) fw42; (right) Travis

One simply cannot consider themselves to have visited Macao if you haven’t tried the wildly popular and iconic Portuguese egg tart! Luckily for us budget travellers, this perennial favourite costs only about MOP$7 (~S$1.20) a pop!

Rich, bruleed egg custard encased in a buttery, flaky pastry, these tarts are best eaten straightaway as they taste best when freshly baked! We won’t blame you though, if you pick up a few more to munch on while you roam the streets. Try them at Lord Stow’s Bakery in Coloane Village or Margaret Cafe e Nata at Nam Van area which is a 10-15 minute walk away from Senado Square.

Pork Chop Bun

Image credit: (left) Kevin Tao; (right) Wei-Te Wong

Another street favourite is the pork chop bun which features a crispy, juicy, well-marinated pork chop that’s held between two freshly baked bread rolls. Snack on these delicious sandwiches as you explore the streets or just order a few to go – grab a drink, and have a quick and easy picnic at a nearby park!

One popular stall that specialises in these delicious, greasy sandwiches is Tai Lei Lok Kei which is just a two-minute walk away from the Ruins of St.Paul!

Milk Pudding

Image credit: (left) Wei-Te Wong; (right) City Foodsters

Chinese Milk Pudding is a smooth, silky curd that has the consistency of a thick, creamy dessert pudding with a subtle hint of milk. Slurp up this delicious Macanese sweet treat hot or cold for a refreshing tea break, or a light dessert for when you’re too full to have anything else.

Have it plain, or with ginger juice for a little kick of spice that will warm you inside-out (perfect during the colder months!). If you’re up for an extra topping, you can opt to add a generous dollop of red bean paste or even some ginko nuts for some added crunch! Try it at Yee Shun Milk Company, which is just a two-minute walk from Senado Square! Although it’s often packed and the staff usually demand you to share your table with others, the dessert certainly makes up for it, we promise!

2. Indulge in food samples – try them out before purchasing for yourselves or as souvenirs

Meat Jerky

Image credit: City Foodsters

Another tip to keep in mind if you’re feeling hungry while strolling, is that you can snack for free as food samples are often displayed for curious tourists to try out, before making the decision on which to purchase! Some popular items laid out for sampling include delicious slices of barbecued, candied meat jerky. Take your time to sample from different cuts or types of meat jerky like beef jerky or chicken jerky before purchasing, so you won’t end up buying one you don’t like!

Egg rolls

Image credits: Mo707 (left); David Boté Estrada (right)

Another delectable Macanese snack that’s up for sampling is the egg roll that’s layered with pork floss and wrapped with a strip of seaweed. Similar to Chinese “love letter” biscuits but less brittle, these savoury egg rolls can get terribly addictive! Try not to wolf down the whole tin!

Almond cookies

Image credits: Fiona Henderson (left); sstrieu (right)

Almond cookies are another iconic Macanese snack that’s up for sampling! These fragrant, bite-size morsels will surely win you over from the moment you pop one into your mouth. Crunchy, sweet and chock-full of nutty goodness, trust us when we say one is NOT enough.

Tip: Get these as souvenirs for your friends and family back home!  

The best part about food sampling is not only the part where you get to snack for free, but the fact that you get to decide on what you already know tastes brilliant! Save your money, luggage space and stomach by sampling goodies first before you get them! A perfect place for cheap, traditional snack souvenirs would be Koi Kei Bakery where you can try out all kinds of cookies and tidbits from traditional egg rolls to cakes, sauces and brines.

Image credit: Ko Kei Bakery

They are famous for their almond cookies and peanut brittle, which are bite-sized candied peanut bars that are just oh-so-yummy! Ko Kei Bakery has outlets all over Macao too, so pop over for a treat whenever you’re near one!

3. Travel Smart – keep these transport hacks in mind

Make use of the FREE casino shuttle buses to and from the airport

Image credit: Galaxy Macau

This transport hack will definitely save you a substantial sum! Swap hopping on a taxi or joining hordes of confused tourists at the airport, by immediately getting on a free casino shuttle to one of the casinos in town!

From there, you can walk or take a cheaper ride to your choice of accommodation! Say goodbye to dragging all those pesky, burdensome luggages around. With your bags all safely stowed away, enjoy the ride into the city area on these comfortable casino shuttle buses!

…and to travel around Macao!

Image credits: David Woo (left); Ming-yen Hsu (right)

For instance, Galaxy Macao offers free shuttle services from a variety of locations including airport terminals, ferry terminals and different points of interest too, so you can travel the whole of Macao easily with these casino shuttle services!

Hop from hotel to hotel to explore a different location, or take a bus that alights you at a place that’s closest to where you want to go. For example, if you are heading to Senado Square, take the Galaxy or Venetian shuttle bus and alight at San Man Lo before taking a short stroll to Senado Square. Yes, with a little planning, it’s that easy to save on transport in Macao!

You can look at some of the various casino’s shuttle services here: Galaxy Macao, Venetian Macao, City of Dreams, Broadway Macao, Wynn Macao

4. Sightsee for FREE and do fun things on a budget

4.1 Be transported to Europe as you explore the casino malls

Even if you’re not into gambling, casinos in Macao have evolved to become entertainment centres of sorts, with ostentatiously magnificent decor and architectural splendour. Some examples include the miniature Eiffel Tower at Parisian Macao and the gondola boat ride that runs within the mall of Venetian Macao! Take your time to stroll through the gold-plated alleyways and dreamy painted skies on the ceiling surfaces – and take in all the sights and sounds these places have to offer!

A plethora of other entertainment options are also available for places like Wynn Macao, which boasts Performance Lake, their astounding water and light show and other dazzling displays and performances like Dragon of Fortune, Tree of Prosperity and Moon Jelly Aquarium!

4.2 Hunt down different heritage sites of the Macao Historic Centre

The Historic Centre of Macao is a collection of different locations around Macao, that are testament to the city’s cultural heritage of Chinese and Portuguese roots. These locations were chosen as they were witnesses to one of the earliest encounters between the East and West! Interesting, huh? Get out and explore by charting your own walking tour or try out the suggested walking tour routes by Macao Tourism to ensure that you see the best spots!

Image credit: NaidNdeso

Here are three of the sites included in the Historic Centre of Macao that should not be missed (there about 25 sites in total). Do take note that this is just one possible walking route, you can come up with your own little adventure trail to follow, depending on what you would like to see and do!

Image credit: China Tourism

This iconic structure of Macao makes the perfect start point for your walking tour! Pause to pose and take a photo with the Ruins of St Paul’s before carrying on!

If you continue down R.da Ressurreicao, you will soon reach St Dominic’s Church where you can admire the Baroque-style architecture that dates back to the early 17th century. There is also a museum adjacent to the building where you can learn more about the history of the church and this site.

Image credit: China Tourism

Continue on and culminate your short walking tour here at the ever-so-popular Senado Square, another location that is part of the Historic Centre of Macao. Here you can spend your remaining afternoon traipsing through the vibrant cobblestoned streets lined with brightly-painted buildings. Take your time to explore the variety of shops, heritage sites and snack vendors before making your way back to your hotel!

4.3 Play the real-life Temple Run: Macao edition

Image credits: China Tourism Website

Macao is also dotted with temples that the curious adventurer can explore. For instance, A-ma Cultural Village is an interesting space to visit. Here you will find the magnificent, colourful Tin Hau Temple and a giant statue of goddess A-ma herself, looking out to sea.

Image credits: Na Tcha Temple by China Tourism Website (left); Sam Kui Vui Kun Temple by Richard Mortel (right)

Na Tcha Temple or Sam Kai Vui Kun Temple are also worth a visit. Na Tcha Temple was erected to pay homage to the child god of war, Na Tcha. Located behind ruins of St Paul’s, this temple’s close proximity to a church just goes to show how multicultural Macao is. The Sam Kui Vun Kun Temple may be small but possesses interesting structural characteristics, like the traditional glazed yinshan-style roof and lingnan architectural structure. Both these temples are part of the Historic Centre of Macao too!

4.4 Museum hop till you drop

Image credit: Taipa Houses Museum by Taipa Village Macau

Another free thing to do that doesn’t involve money (okay, perhaps maybe a nominal fee for some instances) would be visits to the museums – of which Macao has aplenty.

If you think museum visiting sounds boring and dreary, a visit to any of them here would totally change your mind! Macao’s museums are highly interactive and engaging, you’ll be surprised at how fast the hours fly by while you’re visiting one!

For the official list of museums in Macao, click here!

5. Explore natural wonders that Macao has to offer

Last but not least, one of the best free things to do around Macao would be to slowly discover and savour the gorgeous natural sceneries and nature parks that are just waiting to be uncovered.

One good way to start would be to go via a plethora of hiking trails which litter the region. These trails also have side paths that lead to parks, fitness areas as well as other attractions. Here are some trails to get you inspired:

Grand Taipa Hiking Trail

Image credit: Nature de Macau

Hiking tip: Pack a picnic lunch to enjoy while you are on your hike! This trail goes past gardens like the Jardin de Cameleiras, which is a perfect place to lay out that picnic mat and enjoy a delicious lunch with a view!

This trail is about 4,000m and is located at the top of Grand Taipa Hill, which is the highest point of Taipa island. Hikers can enter from Grand Taipa Natural Park, where gorgeous panoramic sceneries await! Choose from a variety of side trails as well such as the Nature Education Walk, which features a beautiful landscape of trees and greenery, or the Ecological Walk which has a little pond that is used today as a native fish conservation zone!

Image credit: Nature de Macau

After a long walk, take a break by having a picnic at the gardens while admiring beautiful, blooms! It’s most definitely the perfect place to take a break, breathe in the fresh air and sweet fragrance from the flowers!

Seac Min Pun Ancient Path

Image credit: Nature de Macau

Hiking tip: Aside from being the perfect vantage point for viewing glorious landscapes, don’t forget to bring a pair of binoculars and go bird watching at one of the numerous pavilions perched on the lofty steps of the hills!

Situated in the valleys of Coloane lies this hiking trail which winds through east and west of the island. Seac Min Pun Ancient Path is actually one of the oldest and most historic trails of Coloane itself!

This path is unique because it is dotted with a number of cute little hut shaped lookout points like “Little Butterfly Valley” and “Sunset Mountains.” Take a break than at one of these resting points where you will be granted amazing views, and also if you’re lucky, get to see some rare species of plants and birds!

Image credit: MGTO

To conclude your hike with a bang, make a beeline for Seac Pai Van Park, where the Macao Giant Panda Pavilion lies. Catch a glimpse of the two adorable pandas as they chew on bamboo shoots or laze around, and you’ll find yourself melting at this immensely loveable sight. The park is also the starting point for two more trails, the Seac Pai Van Nature Walk and the the Seac Pai Van River Ecological Trail should you want to explore the area even more!

6. Shop at pocket-friendly places

Image credit: Marim68821

Apart from Senado Square, put these streets on your must-go list for cheap and affordable shopping. I mean, not everyone can afford branded goods at the casino shoppes, right? But hey, a smaller budget doesn’t mean you can’t afford to get nice things… Macao is brimming with small streets and alleys that sell really nice trinkets and the like for cheap. You just have to know where to look!

For cosmetics and clothing brands like Sa Sa, Angel and The Body Shop, head north from Senado Square to Rua S Domingo. For those looking to get unique art pieces and handmade glassware items, then Rua da Palha is your best bet! Some shops are duty-free as well, so keep your eyes peeled as you shop along!

7. Choose budget accommodations instead of staying at a luxury hotel

Image credit: Website

A trip to casino and hotel-saturated Macao doesn’t mean that you have to stay at those upscale, luxury accommodations. There are plenty of affordable options, such as 2 to 3 star hotels with equally gorgeous and comfortable rooms and amenities. Make sure to do your research or just use sites like Agoda or Trivago that can help you source out something that suits your budget needs!

After all, you won’t be staying in the hotel all day, so getting a reasonably furnished room in order to save more money for shopping, is definitely the smarter way to go!

8. Free WIFIGO

Image credits: Macau Wifi Go

For those saving on data charges, make use of the free WIFIGO you will find around main Macao attractions and other service locations like public parks, libraries, museums and even transport terminals!

After connecting to the WIFIGO service, simply launch the browser and accept the “Terms of Use and Disclaimer” on the portal and you are all set! Tap on the network to download all your maps and guides before continuing on your adventures!

For a list of all the WIFIGO locations around Macao itself, pick up one of the WIFIGO maps at the airport when you land. Alternatively, you can search in advance the places you’ll be going to, and take a screenshot of the location list here before you leave!

BONUS: Leave luggage for safekeeping at any hotel even if you’re not staying there

Image credit: Wing1990hk

Not quite time to leave for your flight yet, but don’t want to drag your luggages around after checking out? Fret not, you can leave your luggages at any hotel for just a small sum from MOP$10 (~S$1.70) per piece of luggage! How affordable is that?

Go out and get those last minute souvenirs or satisfy your last minute craving for Macanese treats, knowing that your valuables are all stashed away safe and sound!

With these handy tips and tricks, we guarantee that your vacation to Macao will be nothing short of amazing, despite travelling on a budget! All that’s left is to find yourself a cheap ticket outta here, and off you go! For more travel inspiration, head to Macao Governmental Tourist Office’s (MGTO) official website to check out their latest happenings. 

Brought to you by Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO).

About Author

Beatrice Tan
Beatrice Tan

Beatrice absolutely loves stargazing and often fantasises about going into space one day. However, since she won’t be an astronaut anytime soon, her heart is set on being a globetrotter instead. She is always craving for a new adventure, and believes that travel nourishes the soul. You can most likely find her strolling around the museum, or in a quiet café with her nose buried in a book, and a soy latte in hand.