Sue Whitehead, of the Macau Government Tourist Office, answers the top ten most frequently asked questions travellers want to know before visiting this little-known peninsula
Macau is a Special Administrative Region of China located on the south-east coast of China on the western bank of the Pearl River Delta. It is around 40 miles from Hong Kong. It has an area of 11 square miles, comprised of the Macau Peninsula (which is connected to mainland China) and the islands of Taipa and Coloane, which are linked by three road bridges.
Although there are no direct flights from the UK, Macau is very easy to reach via Hong Kong. Transfers by ferry from Hong Kong International Airport take just 45 minutes and luggage can be transferred directly without the need to pass through immigration or pick up baggage in Hong Kong. Macau also has its own airport served by flights from Thailand, Singapore, mainland China and other countries in the Far East.
Visitors holding a full UK passport can stay in Macau for up to six months without a visa. The passport must be valid for a minimum period of six months from the planned date of departure from Macau.
For the most up to date information, travellers should contact the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in London: www.chinese-embassy.org.uk.
No vaccination certificates are required. Vaccinations given for life in Britain should be up to date and Hepatitis A vaccination is usually recommended along with a mosquito repellent for sightseeing. However, advice does vary so visitors should consult their GP up to six weeks prior to their trip.
The city packs a lot into its 11 square miles – so much so that a day trip does not do it justice. With the list of world-class hotels, spas, shopping and other attractions growing all the time, there is plenty to justify a stay of two to three days.
Macau has a moderate to hot climate with an average annual temperature of just over 20⁰C and a yearly mean average between 16⁰C and 25⁰C. Humidity is generally high. Typhoons are possible from May to September; however, Macau’s infrastructure is well designed to cope when one blows in. The best time to visit is between October and December.
Macau uses the Macau pataca (MOP) which is linked to the Hong Kong dollar and has similar value. Hong Kong dollars are accepted in Macau, along with major credit cards. Foreign currency and travellers’ cheques can be exchanged at authorised exchange dealers and banks. ATMs throughout Macau will accept foreign cards to dispense local currency and will sometimes offer the choice to receive Hong Kong dollars.
Tipping is not customary and restaurants will routinely add a 10% service fee. However, even when there is a service already included, it is still common to tip waiters and waitresses in recognition of good service. Most bellboys, porters and taxi drivers will also expect a small tip, around MOP 10-20.
The official languages are Cantonese and Portuguese. English is widely spoken, but it is useful to travel with a note of your address written in Chinese for taxi drivers etc.
The city caters for all budgets, with a wide range of three and four-star properties as well as a fantastic range of luxury hotels. It has traditional Portuguese-style pousadas and beach-side youth hostels too.
Macau is generally a safe destination but visitors should take the usual precautions that they would take in any city, eg take extra care of passports, credit cards and money in crowded areas/late at night.