Macau on a Budget+ Back

This 3 day trip itinerary was specifically made for tourists who want to reduce costs in a city that can get very expensive to visit.  Like Hong Kong, Macau has a well earned reputation for being pricy, but with proper planning, it is possible to enjoy much of what the city has to offer for about $50 US a day.  The simple reason is because many of Macau’s best attractions don’t cost a thing.

Top Free Attractions/Places to Go

The Historic Quarter (UNESCO 25 sites, the Street of Happiness, Penha Church, Camoes Park)

The St. Lazarus Quarter (Old Ladies Home, St. Lazarus Church, St. Michael’s Cemetery, Tap Seac Square, Lou Lim Ieoc Park)

The Mong Ha District (Kun Iam Temple, Lin Fung Temple, Mong Ha Park, Temple of Bamboo, Ox Warehouse)

Taipa Village

Coloane Village

The Cotai Strip (Galaxy, Venetian, City of Dreams, Studio City, Parisian)

The best museums are very cost effective too, if not free of charge altogether:

Macau Museum ($15), Maritime Museum ($10), Grand Prix Museum (Free), Art Museum (Free), Handover Gifts Museum (Free), Holy House of Mercy ($5), Taipa Houses Museum ($5)

Food

 

To keep costs down in the food department, the solution is easy - take it to the streets!  From pig’s guts to pig’s noodles and everything in between, Macau’s got you covered, often for less than $30 a meal.  For a more in-depth review, please take a look at my handy street food guide here: Street Food.

 

Here are a selection of my personal favourites from that list.

 

Peking Dumplings (Rua dos Mercadores) - Their Pork and Cabbage dumplings are simply sublime.

 

Lam Kei (Travessa Dos Anjos) - Widely regarded as serving the best chicken buns in town, I couldn’t agree more.  And they’re only $26!

 

St. Dominic Market 5F Food Court (Travessa do Soriano) - Stick to the rice dishes at the first and largest stall - Comidas Ping Kei - and you can't go wrong.  

 

Hoi Un Sio Sek (Rua Do Patane) - A good breakfast or lunch option, and the one to choose if you're feeling adventurous.  Their Pig's Guts Noodles are wickedly good, and the best part is that they're not even made from pig's guts at all, but rather pork or seafood.  One plate of three rolls runs $12 and I'd imagine that most people would have order two servings to feel full.  Since Hoi Un Sio Sek's location near Camoes Park doesn't jive with other morning activites, I didn't specifically include them in any trip plan, but these Pig's Guts Noodles might be worth seeking out.

 

Restaurants: $24 to $40 per person

 

Restaurants need not be expensive either, if you stick to small local joints.  It probably won’t be the best food you’ve ever had, but it will be terrific value for money.

 

Dragon Mama (Street of Happiness) - One of my personal favourites, Dragon Mama never disappoints on the Street of Happiness.
 
Cafe Nam Ping (5th of October Street) - The first cafe to have air conditioners in Macau, Cafe Nam Ping has been open since 1965, and the prices are from that era too.

Hao Jing Fan Dian (Tv. dos Becos and Rua dos Mercadores) - Hao Jing serves classic Cantonese dishes like Chicken Rice, Duck Rice and BBQ Pork for only $34 a plate.

 

Lou Van Fai Kei (Rua da Cordoaria) - Low key Cantonese teahouse with a strong local following in sleepy Coloane Village.

Margaret’s Cafe (Patio do Cmte. Mata e Olveira) - Famous for egg tarts, Margaret’s is a good breakfast option located right off of San Ma Lo.

Jason Cafe (Rua Central) - An alternative to Margaret’s Cafe for a Western style breakfast, Jason Cafe is another good choice close to San Ma Lo. 

 
Restaurants: $50 to $80 per person

Long Wa Teahouse (Opposite Red Market) - Macau’s last standing original teahouse, Long Wa is a treat just to be in, whether you eat anything or not!
 
Crystal Lounge and Deli (Grand Lisboa) - Signature sandwiches are the reason to hit Crystal Lounge and Deli, and as an added bonus, it’s open 24 hours!

Tai Long Fong (5th of October Street) - Tai Long Fong serves up terrific dim sum near the old Inner Harbour.

And don’t forget - there’s no need to tip in Macau!

 

Transportation


As for how to get around, with some advance planning you can get to know the bus routes, which are quick, convenient and cheap, with the standard fare city wide only $6.  Have exact change ready though, since drivers don’t accept cash nor return change back themselves.

The casino buses are a tremendous resource too, offering free transportation to and from major transport hubs, such as the Gongbei Border Gate, the Lotus Border Crossing, the Ferry Terminals and the Airport.  They're also a great way to get between Macau Peninsula and the Cotai Strip too.  The Sands hotel will take you to the Venetian (and vice versa), the Starworld to the Galaxy, while Hotel Sintra services the City of Dreams.  Crossing between Macau and Taipa is often an issue because the bridges are very long and not pedestrian friendly (you’re not even allowed on two of them at all!) so these free casino buses are often your best option.  And remember - you don’t even have to gamble or be a hotel guest to use them! 

Perhaps the best thing about transportation in Macau is that you won’t need it most of the time anyway.  Macau is a walker’s paradise and like my Mother always told me - it doesn’t cost anything to dream… or to walk either!

 

Accommodation

Okay, now for the bad news.  You’re going to have to stay somewhere and in order to stick to my self made budget of $50 US per day (or $400 Mops), the only option is the San Va.  I’m sorry, but there’s just no other way around it.  The San Va is the cheapest place in town that doesn't double as a brothel, and it's not even that bad either, so long as it’s not summer.  When it is though, it's sometimes very difficult to get a good night's sleep there, given there's no air conditioning, only electric fans. 

 

For budget travellers visiting Macau between June and September then, I’d advise you to bite the bullet and stay at the Pousada de Mong Ha for $700 a night on weekdays.  I know it falls way beyond the parameters of what is normally considered budget, but in Macau, you don’t really have a choice.  It's an fantastic hotel anyway, full of enthusiastic students in training who aim to make your stay a memorable one from the second you walk through the door.  As an added bonus, breakfast is free there too, so that will help defray some costs later on as well. 

Should you be travelling between October and April though, then the San Va should do just fine, and it has an amazing location to boot, minutes away from many of the top sites on the beautiful and historic Rua De Felicidade (Street of Happiness.)

For first time visitors to Macau, who are on a budget of about $50 US per day, here is a 3 day travel plan I think you’ll enjoy.  Provided you stay at the San Va, you should be able to keep very close to the budget, while hitting many of the top sites that the city has to offer.  Of the Top 10 Things to Do in Macau, you’ll only miss out on fine dining, indulging, entertainment and shopping, which were never in the cards anyway on such limited funds.  Don’t feel too bad about it though, you can always cut loose on your next visit!

Very similar to the main 3 Day Travel Itinerary, the difference with this budget version is that it is more detailed in terms of bus routes as well as information pertaining to discount dining and hotel options.

DAY 1

UNESCO 25 Sites---Penha Church---Holy House of Mercy---Macau Museum---Camoes Park

 

 

Morning

-Arrive and take the free casino bus to the Sofitel.  If no Sofitel bus, try the Grand Lisboa.  Check in at the San Va ($220 per night, if from Sunday to Thursday.) 

-Do breakfast at Jason’s Cafe ($30-$40)

-Walk to A Ma Temple.  Also visit the Maritime Museum ($5)

-UNESCO 25 sites.  Also climb up to Penha Church from Lilau Square and then return back the same way you came. 

-More UNESCO 25 sites.  Check out the Mandarin House and St. Augustine Square.  After St. Augustine Square, walk to Peking Dumplings ($35) for lunch.  It’s right around the corner from the San Va.

Afternoon

-Continue with the UNESCO 25 sites, while also visiting the Holy House of Mercy ($5) and Macau Museum ($15).

-Be sure to check out Camoes Park when you get to St. Anthony’s Church.

-Dinner at Cafe Nam Ping ($25-$35)

DAILY EXPENSE: $130 + $220 for the San Va = $350.

DAY 2

 

St. Lazarus Quarter---Mong Ha Region---Art Museum---Handover Gifts Museum---Grand Prix Museum---Wine Museum

 



Morning

-Walk to Margaret’s Cafe for breakfast ($30-$40)

-Walk to the St. Lazarus Quarter and visit Old Ladies Home, St. Lazarus Church, St. Michael’s Cemetery, Tap Seac Square, and Lou Lim Ieoc Park.

-Lunch at Long Wa Teahouse ($65-$80)

Afternoon

-Visit the Mong Ha sites (Ox Warehouse, Lin Fung Temple, Mong Ha Park, and finish up at Kun Iam Temple.)

-Take the 28 C to the Border Gate ($6). 

-Take the free Sands casino bus to the Sands Hotel.

-Walk to the Art Museum ($5), then visit the neighbouring Handover Gifts Museum (Free)

-Walk to the Grand Prix and Wine Museums (Free)

-Take Bus 3 from the M241 Tourism Activities Centre stop ($6) to Ribeira Patane/Mercado.

-Walk to Hao Jing Fan Dian for dinner ($30-$40)

DAILY EXPENSE: $175 + $220 (San Va) = $395

DAY 3

 

Taipa Village---Coloane Village---Cotai Strip

 



Morning

-Walk to Tai Long Fong for a Dim Sum Breakfast ($60 to $70)

-Walk to San Ma Lo and Rua dos Mercadores.  Take Bus 26A to the M135 Galaxy stop ($6).

-Walk to Taipa Village.  Also visit the Taipa Houses Museum ($5)

-Go back to the road outside the Galaxy, catch the same 26A bus to the T366 Coloane Village stop ($6) 

Afternoon

-Lou Van Fai Kei is a good budget restaurant in Coloane Village, serving the same type of Cantonese soup, rice and sandwiches as Cafe Nam Ping on the peninsula.  Packed with locals everyday it obviously meets their approval, and the price is right, with dim sum $8 to $14, and most rice and noodles selections $22 to $27.  Afterwards, treat yourself to a couple of Lord Stow's famous egg tarts ($8 per piece).  All told, we'll call lunch an even $60.

-Visit Coloane Village

-Take the 26A bus back to the Venetian and the Cotai Strip ($6). 

-Have a look at the monster hotels on the Strip, and finish up at the City of Dreams so you can take the free casino bus back to the Sintra.

-Walk to Dragon Mama on the Street of Happiness for dinner ($35 to $45)

DAILY EXPENSES: $198 + $220 (San Va) = $418

Summary


Alright, let's total all of our expenses together, including another $100 for incidentals when you're out and about such as water and juice etc.

 

Day 1 ($350) + Day 2 ($390) + Day 3 ($415) + Incidentals ($100) = $1263.

If averaged daily, it works out to roughly $420 Mops, or about $52 US per day.

As you can see, Macau need not be so expensive if you can handle the conditions at the San Va and be willing to try small, local restaurants.  As I said earlier, the vast majority of the city's best attractions don't cost a thing.

 

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