Although Macau is now regarded as a part of China, as a Special Administrative Region (SAR) like Hong Kong, it still maintains its own currency and border controls. Flights from mainland China to Macau are still treated as international flights. Perhaps it’s the black sheep of the Red Dragon. Being the only place in China where you can gamble legally – a place literally built on a bet – 50 percent of Macau’s revenue comes from gambling and 20 percent of its population are employed within its casinos. Want to know more about Macau? Here’s some essential info.
Although it is a part of China, Macau has separate immigration regulations. Australian passport holders do not require visas for visits of less than 30 days. In order to travel under these terms you must hold a valid passport for the dates you are travelling, however if you travel to Macau SAR from mainland China, you may require a new Chinese visa if you intend to re-enter mainland China. Please be aware this information is only a guideline. For up-to-the-minute information, contact the Embassy or Consulate of the People's Republic of China or the Macau Immigration Services. Always ensure you have at least 6 months’ validity on your passport.
The Macau Pataca is the currency of Macau. The exchange rate between the Australian Dollar and the Macau Pataca changes constantly, so keep an eye on the exchange rate and purchase your cash when the rate is at its best. For safe spending while overseas, consider using a credit or debit card.
A blend of southern Chinese and Portuguese cuisines, Macanese cuisine is unique to Macau. Famous dishes include galinha à Portuguesa (Portuguese-style chicken), bacalhau (dried and salted cod), Macanese chilli prawns, and stir-fried curry crab. Then there’s pig's ear and papaya salad, and rabbit stewed in wine, cinnamon and star anise. Tapas make an appearance in Macanese cuisine as well. Portuguese flavours come through in seasonings such as turmeric, cinnamon, chilli and coconut. The national dish is minchi – minced beef or pork cooked with potatoes, onions, soy sauce and occasionally an egg. If you’re after a snack, the pork chop bun is your man. Feel like something sweet? Hunt down a glass of ginger milk with a famous pastéis de nata (egg tart).
After dark, Macau is hard to compare with the hedonism of nearby neighbour Hong Kong. However, aside from the blackjack table and pokie machines there is nightlife in Macau worth dressing up for. The area to head out for drinks is Docas, on Avenida Dr Sun Yat Sen near the Kun Iam Statue. Perfect for a laidback night, you’ll find low-key but happening bars here. After 10pm, prepare for the onslaught of Canto pop (Cantonese pop music) as locals arrive. As in most of Asia, karaoke is a big hit with the younger generation –a night hamming it up for the microphone is considered a good night spent in Macau. While there’s not many clubbing options in Macau, if your heart desires the doof-doof of the dancefloor, head to the massive Club Cubic inside the AIA tower with international DJs and musical acts. Or check out Lion’s Bar – famous for its cover bands and crowded dancefloor.