Budget Macau Trip Plan

(Last updated: December 20, 2023)

This 3 Day Budget Macau Trip Plan 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 pricey, but with proper planning, it is possible to enjoy much of what the city has to offer for only $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, Xian Xinghai Museum)

-Taipa Village

-Coloane Village

-The Cotai Strip (Venetian, Parisian, Londoner, MGM Cotai, Grand Lisboa Palace)

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

Macau Museum ($15), Maritime Museum (Free), Handover Gifts Museum (Free), Holy House of Mercy ($5), Art Museum (Free)

Food

To keep costs down in the food department, the solution is easy – take it to the streets!  From pig’s guts to cow’s tongues to beef organs to everything in between, Macau’s street food has you covered, often for less than $30 a meal. 

For more information, just take a look at our 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, running only $30 for 12.
  • Lam Kei (Travessa Dos Anjos) – Widely regarded as serving the best chicken buns in town, I couldn’t agree more.  And they’re only $28!
  • 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 $13.5 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.

  • Cafe Nam Ping (5th of October Street) – Open since 1965, Cafe Nam Ping was the first cafe to have air conditioners in Macau.  Specializing in noodles and sandwiches, 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 $35 a plate.
  • Lou Van Fai Kei (Rua da Cordoaria) – Low key Cantonese tea house 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.  Sandwiches cost around $25 while salads are $40.

Restaurants: $50 to $100 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!  Dim sum is available for breakfast and lunch, costing $30 per selection.
  • Tai Long Fong (5th of October Street) – Tai Long Fong serves up terrific dim sum near the old Inner Harbour, with most of it only $18 to $28.
  • Niu Ji (5th of October Street) – Small specialty restaurant with sensational spicy curry beef and crab paste with wontons and noodles. 
  • 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.

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 Macao will take you to the Venetian, Londoner and Parisian (and vice versa), the Starworld to the Galaxy, Wynn Macau to Wynn Palace, MGM Macau to MGM Cotai, Grand Lisboa to Grand Lisboa Palace, while Hotel Sintra services the City of Dreams and Studio City.

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, since there’s no air conditioning, only electric fans. 

For budget travellers visiting Macau between June and October then, I’d advise you to spend a little more and stay at the East Asia Hotel or Macau Hotel S instead.  Perhaps only $250 more than the San Va, it’ll be worth every penny as you crank that AC up and enjoy your own private bathroom and bathtub.

The East Asia is far more historically significant, while Macau Hotel S offers all the cleanliness and comfort of a well maintained modern hotel. No matter which one you choose, it’ll be an excellent extra $30 US spent, particularly if you’re travelling as a couple.  Nocturnal activities do not play out AT ALL at the San Va, unless you like the whole hotel listening in. Besides that, if you feel like kicking it up a notch and doing it extra nasty, you’d probably break their beds too.

Barring that however, should you be travelling between November and April, 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, since 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.

Budget Macau Trip Plan: 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 ($40-$60)

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

A Ma Temple main worship hall
A Ma Temple

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 ($30) 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.

-End you day by visiting the Lisboa, which has become one of the most underrated tourist attractions in town.  Thirty years ago it towered over all, not only boasting the most famous hotel casino in Macau, but in all of Asia.  Almost reduced to an afterthought now, the two lobbies are endowed with so much art, beauty, class and charisma that you can’t help but wonder how they could get things so right in 1970, yet so wrong now.

Hotel Lisboa lobby
Hotel Lisboa

Simply put, no visit to Macau is complete without visiting the Lisboa, an opinion of mine that only grows stronger through the years.

-Dinner at Cafe Nam Ping ($35-$45)

DAILY EXPENSE: $140 + $220 for the San Va = $360.

Budget Macau Trip Plan: DAY 2

St. Lazarus Quarter—Mong Ha Region—Art Museum—Handover Gifts Museum

Morning

-Walk to Margaret’s Cafe for breakfast ($20-$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 ($60-$90)

Long Wa Teahouse jars of tea
Long Wa Teahouse

Afternoon

-Visit the Mong Ha sites (Lin Fung Temple, Mong Ha Park, Kun Iam Temple, and finish up at Xian Xinghai Museum)

-Walk straight through the new underground tunnel to the Art Museum.  It should take about 30 minutes.

-Visit the Art Museum (Free), then the Handover Gifts Museum (Free)

-Walk up near the Grand Prix Museum, then take Bus 3 from the M241 Tourism Activities Centre stop ($6) to Ribeira Patane/Mercado.

-Walk to Niu Ji for dinner ($35-$65)

Kun Iam Temple wall art
Kun Iam Temple

DAILY EXPENSE: $160 + $220 (San Va) = $380

Budget Macau Trip Plan: DAY 3

Taipa Village—Coloane Village—Cotai Strip

 

Morning

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

-Walk back to San Ma Lo and turn left.  The first bus stop you see should be the M143 one.  Take Bus 26A to the T364 Est. Baia N S. Esperanca/Quartel stop ($6).

-You’ll be let off right at the entrance of Taipa Village, so just walk right in!  Make sure to check out the Taipa Houses Museum, which is now free.

Taipa Village Macau
Taipa Village

-Return to the same bus stop you got off at, and catch the next 26A bus to the C660 Assoc. De M De Coloane stop ($6).

Afternoon

-Coloane Village time!!  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 under $20, and most rice and noodles selections $22 to $27. 

Afterwards, treat yourself to a couple of Lord Stow’s famous egg tarts ($11 per piece).  All told, we’ll call lunch an even $60.

-Visit Coloane Village, as well as the small adjoining Lai Chi Vun Village, so you can visit the newly opened Shipyard Museum (Free).

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

-Have a look at the monster hotels on the Strip, in particular the Parisian, Venetian and Londoner, which are destinations in themselves and big time bargains for walk in visitors.  I mean, it costs absolutely nothing to snap pics next to a Venetian gondola, the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben, or anything else that catches your fancy.  If you desire more high brow eye candy, then check out both the Grand Lisboa Palace and MGM Cotai, which are both awash in art, Ming Dynasty rugs, Secret Gardens and some gobsmackingly gorgeous lobbies and common areas.

Golden Jubilee carriage at Londoner Macao
Londoner Macao Golden Jubilee carriage

Afterwards, finish up at the City of Dreams so you can take the free casino bus back to the Sintra.

-Walk to Hao Jing Fan Dian for a delectable dinner of delicious roasted meat ($35).

DAILY EXPENSES: $178 + $220 (San Va) = $400

Budget Macau Trip Plan 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 ($360) + Day 2 ($380) + Day 3 ($400) + Incidentals ($100) = $1240.

If averaged daily, it works out to roughly $415 Mops, or about $50 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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