Ten things to do in Hong Kong and Macau for the first-time visitor

Ten things to do in Hong Kong and Macau for the first-time visitor

For many travellers, Hong Kong holds a special place in their hearts. It is arguably one of the easiest destinations for first-time travellers because of its culture (being a mix of the west and the east) and its scenic metropolis and mountain ranges. 

However, one often forgets Hong Kong’s little brother, Macau, a mere 62 km away from the island. Just like Hong Kong, Macau has its own diverse cuisine, products, and sceneries. 

If you’re planning to visit both, then this cheat list is for you!

  1. GO CASINO HOPPING

The Parisian Macau has its own casino, shopping mall, and an Eiffel replica for photo ops.

The Parisian Macau has its own casino, shopping mall, and an Eiffel replica for photo ops.

When one mentions Macau, the first things to come to mind are the dazzling lights of casinos, the high roller tables, and chips. Fair enough, Macau is known as the Vegas of Asia. But don’t let this stop you from exploring the grand architecture that these casinos possess. 

There are 33 casinos in Macau where you can stroll through via walkways. The most popular ones include the Grand Lisboa, The Venetian Casino, and MGM among others. And since most casinos are located in hotels, they also have free shuttle bus services between the ferry terminals and the casino hotels.

2. ENJOY A 360° VIEW OF HONG KONG VIA VICTORIA PEAK 

Capture the iconic panorama of the Hong Kong skyline at The Peak.

Capture the iconic panorama of the Hong Kong skyline at The Peak.

A staple view of Hong Kong, Victoria Peak provides some of the best skyline views of the bustling city. It is, after all, the highest hill on Hong Kong island, with an elevation of 552 meters. The Peak also has several attractions such as Madame Tussauds, Madness 3D Adventure, and the Sky Terrace 428.

The Peak Tram is an old-fashioned tram that still operates to carry passengers to the top. However, it can get too crowded with the waiting lines lasting for almost 2 hours. Fortunately, you can also reach The Peak by taking a minibus or a taxi. For a more challenging trip, you can also walk from the MTR Central Station to The Peak. The travel should take an hour and a half.

3. GAZE IN AWE AT THE RUINS OF ST.PAUL

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The St. Paul Church is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is easily one of the more famous landmarks in Macau. Located within Senado Square, the facade is the only remaining structure of what was known as St. Paul’s College and Church of St. Paul. 

You’d be hard pressed to find the place empty of tourist during the day. However, you have a better opportunity to photograph the facade at night as there will be less people roaming the place (plus you can have a different and creative take on the church during night time).

4. VISIT SENADO SQUARE

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Right across the Ruins of St. Paul is the paved town of Senado Square. Full of gorgeous pastel coloured buildings housing a bunch of shops and restaurants, one can get “lost” in a shopping frenzy. Short on local money? There are also money exchange shops in the area.

5. EAT AUTHENTIC DIM SUM AND MACANESE EGG TARTS

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What better way to satisfy your Chinese food cravings than to indulge in local treats? You can have authentic dim sum for as low as US$3! I suggest going to the local market and dine with local shops for added authenticity. 

And who could forget the glorious street food of Macau? The best place to hunt for Macau food is in Taipa Village where you can even sample many local favourites such as the famous Macanese egg tarts and pork buns (a fusion of Macanese and Portuguese flavors). 

I still think that the best way to understand the culture of any location is through their food, and you’ll certainly enjoy every bit of it in Hong Kong and Macau.

6. EXPLORE HONG KONG OCEAN PARK 

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Cheaper than Hong Kong’s Disneyland, one can enjoy thrilling rides and explore a vast island full of marine attractions such as an oceanarium and an animal theme park. It is situated in Wong Chuk Hang and Nam Long Shan in the Southern District of Hong Kong. 

For tickets, I suggest you get Klook’s Ocean Park Direct Entry promo for a much cheaper and convenient way to get into the park. Watch out for flash sales including buy one take one promos!

7. HIKE UP GUIA HILL

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Located at the highest point of peninsular Macau, Guia Hill features a chapel, an old military fort, and the iconic Guia Lighthouse. Oh and did I mention its built in the 1600s? If you’re looking for one of the oldest structures in Macau, look no further.

8. EXPERIENCE OLD MACAU AT RUA DE FELICIDADE

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Rua de Felicidade means “Happiness Street” in English as it was the city’s red light district back in the day. Today, however, it is now one of the most popular streets for discovering local delicacies. If the scenic street adorned with two-storey homes painted in red looks familiar, it is because the street served as backdrop in the Hollywood film, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

9. SHOP AT THE VENETIAN AND PARISIAN HOTELS

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From luxury stores to snacks for two, you can have everything here while enjoying the feel of Venice. The Venetian is an expansive mall inside the Venetian Hotel and Casino, with the “streets” made of cobblestones, the ceiling painted to look like the afternoon sky, Renaissance-inspired shops, and an actual canal with gondolas. To complete your European experience, why not explore the nearby Parisian Hotel and take a picture from their mini-Eiffel Tower? 

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10. RELAX BY THE POOL AT THE GRAND SHERATON HOTEL

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After a busy day of exploring, make a splash at the giant pools of the Grand Sheraton Hotel. Stay til dark and you’ll get rewarded with the beautiful view of the sparkling Eiffel Tower from the Parisian Hotel!

If you noticed, most of the things I listed here can be done for free (except for shopping areas and hotels), so don’t let this stop you from exploring and enjoying the bustling metropolis of Hong Kong and Macau!