Transportation+ Back

Getting Around Macau

Taxis

For tourists, the Macau taxi service might give you the most headaches.  I’ve personally never had a big problem with a cabbie in Macau, but my issue now is just getting one.  During weekends and peak periods, it's become all but impossible.  Now I just take the bus everywhere, or do what I probably should have been doing all along, and just walk.  

Local residents though are fed up with the situation, and have launched something called Macau Taxi Driver Shame on Facebook.  The main problem for them isn’t the lack of taxies, but the amount of dishonest drivers ripping people off.  To me it sounds like a case of simple economics, of supply and demand gone all wrong.  There aren’t enough taxies, the taxi drivers know this, so they’re starting to demand more money on top of the metre, something called fishing.  A typical example goes like this.  You’re lined up outside of MGM and want to go to the Venetian.  The typical fare is about $50 MOP, but the driver demands $200 up front, otherwise he won’t take you.  And neither will the next one, or the next one, or the next one, because they’re all in it together working the same angle. 

This practice seems to be aimed more at mainland Chinese tourists, since the guys driving the cabs themselves are from China and can’t speak English.  That often to leads to cabs not even stopping for anyone who looks non Asian, which is another reason why I think I’ve had more problems getting a taxi this year.

Another scheme I’ve heard about involves luggage.  The cabbie demands you store your bags in the trunk.  A couple of intersections later he’s stopped at a light, the trunk is popped, and your luggage is gone.  Whenever you can, try to store all of your things in the backseat. 

With that being said, I believe the majority of Macau taxi drivers are decent people, especially during the day.  I’ve never experienced fishing or been the victim of serious malpractice.  At worst I've been taken the scenic route somewhere and had to pay 15 or 20 Mops more than I should have, but so what?  That’s like $2.50 US, so big deal.  Your main issue will probably just be getting a cab, and if you do, these rules apply:


--Flat fare is $17 for the first 1600 metres, then it’s $2.00 for every 260 metres after that.
--A surcharge of $3 is added for each piece of luggage put in the trunk.
--When you board a taxi at Macau Airport, or go from Macau to Coloane, there’s a $5 surcharge.
--There’s a $2 surcharge when going from Taipa to Coloane.     

 

Update: With the steep decline in casino revenues this year, it's become a lot easier to get taxies, even in peak periods.  The simple reason is because the cabbies can't fish anymore, the lake is dry. 

 

Buses

First of all, let’s talk about the free buses, the ones provided by the casinos. 

Anytime you enter Macau, there should be a free bus waiting for you, no matter where you are, whether it’s Gongbei Border Crossing, the Lotus Border Post, the Macau Ferry Terminal, the Taipa Ferry Terminal or the airport.  If you’re looking to save money, just hop one of these buses to get closer to where you want to go, then proceed from there.  Since these buses only service the casinos however, there are a limited number of destinations you can get to. 

If your destination is on Macau island, near the Ferry Terminal, then try a Sands or Oceanus bus.       

If you want to get to downtown Macau, near the Lisboa or San Ma Lo, there are plenty of options to choose from here, including the Wynn, Grand Lisboa, Lisboa, Starworld, and Emperor Palace.

For the Inner Harbour on Macau island, look for a Ponte 16 at Sofitel bus.  This is the one to take for the Street of Happiness and all of the small hotels located in that area.

Taipa and Coloane are a little more tricky.  If your next stop is Taipa, try a City of Dreams or Galaxy bus, with Galaxy probably best.  A lot of principal locations in Taipa aren’t that far away on foot, like Taipa Village or hotels like Grandview and Taipa Square.  I guess it all depends on how much luggage you have.  For Coloane the closest you can get is the Sands Cotai or Studio City.  After that, you’ll have to take a bus or taxi the rest of the way to Coloane.  There is no walking that one my friends.

Another great way to utilise the free buses is to hop between Macau island and the Cotai Strip.  You can get to Galaxy from Starworld, while Hotel Sintra offers a City of Dreams line.  If you're up by the Macau Ferry Terminal, just go to the Sands and hop a bus to the Venetian.  Again, everything is free and no one checks anything.

When it’s time to leave Macau and get to Gongbei or the airport or wherever, the buses run free in that direction too from any big name casino hotel.

Public buses

I enjoy the Macau bus system because the buses are clean, cheap and run quite often.  Your biggest difficulty will be understanding the routes because a lot of them refer to streets, apartment complexes or gardens that you (and I!) have never heard of.  To make matters worse, everything is written in Portuguese and Chinese.  But don’t let that dissuade you.  Look, Macau is so small that all you need to do is get in the general vicinity of your destination, then you should be close enough to walk the rest of the way.  When I’m on Macau island staring at the litany of stops in a language I don’t understand, I just stick to these basic guidelines:

--If I want to get to A Ma Temple, or that general area, I just look for anything that says “Barra”, or of course, "A Ma Temple".


--If I want to get to the Inner Harbour, like somewhere around the Sofitel, I look for “Ponte Cais 14”, “Praca Ponte Horta”, or “Alm.Sergio/Mercado.”


--If I want to get anywhere central, like San Ma Lo or the Senado Square, I look for “Almeida Ribeiro” or “Lisboa.”


--If I want to get to Mong Ha Hill, or North of the city, I look for “Horta E Costa.”

For first timers to Macau or people who aren’t very familiar with the city, I don’t recommend going all cavalier and doing something like this.  Your best bet would be to plan in advance and know precisely which buses to take, where to get them and where to get off.  For help with that, just ask a question on the message board.  Alternatively, major bus routes are listed on every free Macau map, so maybe you can work it out yourself after you’ve arrived. 

Keep in mind that bus drivers only accept exact change, so have your coins ready.  Fares are charged according to distance, and will cost somewhere between $3.20 and $6.40.
 
Getting To and From Macau

By air

This one is pretty self-explanatory.  Get on the plane, get off the plane, hopefully it’s landed in Macau.

If airfare is too expensive to fly to and from Macau direct, you could possibly consider using Zhuhai, Shenzhen, or Guangzhou instead.  While prices will probably be cheaper, this would require the extra hassle of applying for a Chinese tourist visa.

If you land in Hong Kong, you can take a ferry directly from Hong Kong International Airport and pick your luggage up only after having arrived in Macau.  You also avoid having to clear Hong Kong immigration.  This same service is also available going from Macau to Hong Kong International Airport.  TurboJet and CotaiJet both offer routes.  

By helicopter

If you’re coming or going by helicopter, I’ll leave it to your personal assistant to work those details out for you.  

By sea

Macau has ferry routes linking 5 cities: Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Guangzhou, and Jiangmen.

 

Hong Kong

 

Both Macau Ferry Terminal and Taipa Ferry Terminal have a ton of ferries that service the China Ferry Terminal in Kowloon, the Hong Kong-Macau Ferry Terminal in Sheung Wan, and Hong Kong International Airport. 

 

Prices range from $150 to $200 for tickets depending on when you sail, with weekday tickets cheapest ($153), weekend prices in the middle ($180) and nighttime ferries the most expensive ($200).  Generally speaking, there are usually more than 4 ferries an hour leaving in both directions during the day, and about one per hour from midnight to 6 am.  The whole trip takes about 60 minutes and tickets can usually be purchased on the spot without much difficulty.  

 

For an idea of sailing schedules, here are links to the three principal ferry operators' websites.

 

TurboJet: www.turbojet.com.hk
CotaiJet: www.cotaiwaterjet.com/index.html

Chu Kong Passenger Transport: www.cksp.com.hk/eng/ship_schedule/main.html

 

Shenzhen

 

Turbojet mainly handles the Shenzhen routes, which service both She Kou and Shenzhen International Airport. 

 

There are 15 ferries a day on the She Kou line and 9 that go between Macau and the airport.  Cheapest tickets cost $235.

 

Guangzhou

 

I've never heard of anyone taking a ferry to and from Guangzhou, but apparently there are two ferries a day in both directions, 10:45 am and 4:15 pm from Macau, and 9:00 am and 2:30 pm from Guangzhou.  Tickets cost $180.  For more information, please visit the Turbojet website, here.

 

Zhuhai and Jiangmen

 

Yuet Tung Shipping Company handles these two routes.  For more information, please check their website, here

 

The place to board in Macau is the Yuet Tung Pier close to the Sofitel.  The ride to Zhuhai takes about two minutes and costs around 25 Mops.  The ferry operates between 8 am and 4:30 pm, with about about two sailings an hour.  During lunchtime however (11:30 am to 1:30 pm) there are no ferries.     

 

The Gongbei Border Gate in Zhuhai is actually getter better now after they enlarged it and opened a new wing.  For that reason, I think taking a ferry now is more trouble than its worth, 95% of the time.

By road

Kee Kwan Motor Road company offers bus service between Macau and large cities in Guangdong Province.  Their telephone number is (853) 2893 3888. 

I almost think bus service isn’t worth mentioning.  If you’re going to mainland China, cross the border into Zhuhai and get on the high speed train to Guangzhou.  From Guangzhou take another high speed train to wherever you need to go.  Buses are becoming obsolete in China now that the fast train network has become so comprehensive.