Macau (also spelt Macao) is a special administrative region of the People's Republic of China.
Macau or Macao may also refer to:
- Places 1
- Other 2
- See also 3
- Macau, Brazil, a port city
- Macau (microregion), in Brazil
- Macau, Gironde, a commune in France
- Mação Municipality, in Portugal
- Macău, a village in Aghireşu Commune, Romania
- Macao (film), a 1952 film
- Macao (novel), a spy novel
- The scarlet macaw (Ara macao), a parrot
- Macau (card game)
- Macau Esporte Clube, a Brazilian soccer club
|Currency||Macau Pataca (MOP), also Hong Kong Dollar (HKD) and Renminbi (RMB) are widely used|
|Population||598,200 (2013 est.)|
|Electricity||220 V, 50Hz (rounded 3-pin 5A and 15A plug and UK 13A plug)|
Macau (also spelled Macao, 澳門, Ou3 Mun4 in Cantonese, Àomén in Mandarin) is a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China and one of the world's most densely populated spots. Located across the Pearl River estuary from Hong Kong, until 1999 Macau was an overseas territory of Portugal.
Macau is best known as a major destination for gambling. This goes back to colonial times, when Hong Kong had tight limits on gambling — it was legal only at the horse racing track twice a week — but Macau had casinos. Macau overtook Las Vegas as the world's highest revenue gambling destination around 2008 and now has a substantial lead; several of the major Las Vegas casinos have built new establishments in Macau to cash in on the trend.
Macau is by no means only a gambling destination and other attractions include gorgeous colonial architecture, some of it on the UNESCO World Heritage List, a lovely climate and some fine beaches, and excellent food and drink.
- Geography 1.1
- History 1.2
- Read 1.3
- Districts 2
Get in 3
- Entry requirements 3.1
By boat 3.2
- From Hong Kong 3.2.1
- From Mainland China 3.2.2
- By plane 3.3
- By car 3.4
- By bus 3.5
- By train 3.6
On foot 3.7
- By helicopter 3.7.1
Get around 4
- On foot 4.1
- By bus 4.2
- By scooter 4.3
- By shuttle bus 4.4
- By taxi 4.5
- By cycle rickshaw 4.6
- By car 4.7
- Talk 5
- Heritage 6.1
- Museums 6.2
- Casinos 7.1
- Greyhound racing 7.2
- Adventure activities 7.3
- Swimming 7.4
- Hiking/Cycling 7.5
- Bowling 7.6
- Currency 8.1
- Banking 8.2
- Tipping 8.3
- Shopping 8.4
- Eat 9
- Drink 10
- Sleep 11
- Learn 12
- Work 13
Stay safe 14
- Severe weather 14.1
- Crime 14.2
- Stay healthy 15
- Respect 16
- Mobile phones 17.1
- Consulates 18.1
- Go next 19
As the first and last European colony in Asia, Macau has more visible colonial history than Hong Kong. The buildings and cobblestone or patterned brick streets in many parts of the city, particularly the center of the old city and Coloane, look much like somewhere in Mediterranean Europe. However, the people and the Chinese-language signage indicate Asia. The Portuguese and Macanese population continues to maintain a presence, but most of the population is native Chinese.
Besides the city itself (Macau/Peninsula), Macau includes the islands of Taipa and Coloane, which are connected to Macau by bridges and to each other by a causeway. The area between the two islands has been built up into the Cotai Strip; that has become an area of intense development with many new casinos and hotels.
The Chinese city of Zhuhai borders Macau to the north, and the border crossing carries heavy two-way vehicular and pedestrian traffic. The Zhuhai Special Economic Zone extends south to Hengqin Island, an area west of Taipa, Cotai and Coloane; the Lotus Bridge from Cotai connects to that area. There is significant movement by the local population of both Zhuhai and Macau across the border, making the two feel like twin cities.
|Daily highs (°C)||18.2||18.5||21.0||24.7||28.4||30.3||31.6||31.5||30.4||28.1||24.1||20.1|
|Nightly lows (°C)||12.5||13.6||16.2||20.2||23.6||25.6||26.2||26.1||25.1||22.6||18.3||14.0|
Macau is subtropical with hot summers and mild winters. Although winter is generally mild, there are occasional cold fronts which could make temperatures drop 10°C (18°F) in a day. See below for a discussion of typhoon risk.
In the 16th Century, China gave Portugal the right to settle in Macau in exchange for clearing the area of pirates. Macau was the first European settlement in the Far East. It was also the last; pursuant to an agreement signed by China and Portugal, Macau became the Macau Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China on 20 December 1999, ending over 400 years of Portuguese administration.
Like any port city, Macau has always had brothels and some rather dangerous bars catering to seamen. Like many other places, it has also had organised crime; in the 1990s there were gang wars sometimes involving automatic weapons in the streets. However, after the 1999 Chinese takeover the gangs were rather firmly crushed and today Macau is no more hazardous than any other major tourist destination.
China uses the slogan "one country, two systems" for relations between the central government and the two SARs, Hong Kong and Macau. Both are part of China, and neither can have an independent foreign policy or military force, but each has it own laws and legislative assembly and issues its own visas and currency. The governing systems are complex and some locals complain that they are insufficiently democratic and there is too much control or influence from Beijing.
In recent years, Macau's economy has bloomed rapidly due to the opening of the gambling licenses. Thousands of tourists are in Macau each day, mainly from mainland China and neighbouring regions. The standard of living in Macau has as a result grown significantly, and in many cases, is on a par with some European countries. The tourist industry has also diversified - as well as casinos, Macau is also promoting its historic sites, culture and cuisine.
A Macao Narrative (ISBN 0195920708) by Austin Coates. Great introduction to Macau's colourful history. You can buy this book at the museum in the Fortaleza do Monte which overlooks the Ruins of St. Paul.
Macau was geographically divided into three regions: the peninsula and two islands. However, reclamation of the area between the islands has created a fourth region called Cotai.
Macau Peninsula (澳門半島 O Mun Pun To)
The northernmost region connected to the Chinese mainland. It is the center of most tourist activity and is densely crowded.
Taipa (氹仔 Tam Chai)
The island south of the peninsula, accessible via three bridges. It is a major residential center and is the location of Macau's International Airport.
Cotai (路氹 Lou Tam)
A strip of reclaimed land between Coloane and Taipa, with vast new casinos rising up (such as The Venetian, the largest casino in the world).
Coloane (路環 Lou Wan)
The most southern island, it is considerably less developed than the other regions due to its mountainous terrain. It does have two beaches, several hiking trails and a resort. It is also the location of Macau's first golf course; a second one is on the Cotai Strip.
For many years, the usual way to get to Macau was to fly into Hong Kong and take a ferry across to Macau. Today, Macau is becoming a low-cost airline hub, and some are now arriving at Macau to later go to Hong Kong.
Minimum validity of travel documents
Macau has a separate immigration regime from mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. All travellers from mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and foreign countries have to go through immigration and customs checks on arrival in Macau. Therefore, if you want to re-enter the Mainland from Macau, you'll have to apply for another Chinese visa unless your earlier one is a multiple entry visa.
Holders of a Hong Kong permanent identity card or a re-entry permit can enter Macau visa-free for up to 1 year without having to present their passport. Holders of a Hong Kong non-permanent identity card can enter Macau visa-free for up to 30 days and must present their passport.
Chinese citizens from the mainland who are required to obtain a Two-Way Permit (中华人民共和国往来港澳通行证), and are also required to apply for a visa in advance. However, those in transit to foreign countries may enter Macau with their passport for up to 7 days.
Foreign nationals of the following countries/territories can enter Macau visa-free:
For up to 180 days: United Kingdom
For up to 90 days: All European Union member states, plus Andorra, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Cape Verde, Dominica, Egypt, Ecuador, Iceland, Israel, Japan, Lebanon, Liechtenstein, Macedonia, Mali, Mexico, Mongolia, Montenegro, Norway, South Korea, Switzerland and Tanzania
For up to 30 days: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, India, Indonesia, Kiribati, Malaysia, Monaco, Namibia, New Zealand, Philippines, Samoa, San Marino, Seychelles, Singapore, South Africa, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, the United States and Uruguay
In addition, all foreign visitors who intend to enter Macau for less than 48 hours for the purpose of travelling onwards to another destination via Macau International Airport are exempt from obtaining a visa.
If you require a visa, it can either be obtained from a Chinese embassy or consulate or on arrival in Macau (Macau visas are separate from visas valid for travel to Mainland China). A visa on arrival costs MOP100 (individual), MOP50 (children under 12; per person for groups of 10 or more travellers with a collective travel document) or MOP200 (family passport). A visa issued on arrival is valid for multiple entries within 30 days of the issuing date.
However, Bangladeshi, Nepalese, Nigerian, Pakistani, Sri Lankan and Vietnamese citizens cannot use the visa on arrival facility (unless they hold a Hong Kong identity card) and must apply for a Macau visa at a Chinese embassy in advance or at the Commissioner's Office of the Chinese Foreign Ministry in Hong Kong if they live there. The application form for a Macau visa if applying for one at a Chinese embassy or at the Commissioner's Office of the Chinese Foreign Ministry in Hong Kong is available online and the application fee is USD30 (plus USD20 if the embassy has to refer the application to Macau). The standard service takes 5 working days to process the visa application (if the embassy needs to refer the application to Macau, the application takes 3 weeks). An express service (3 working days) is available for an additional USD20, while an 'extra express' service (same or next working day) is available for an additional USD30 (the express/'extra express' services are not available if the embassy needs to refer the application to Macau). More information is available at this webpage of the Macau SAR Public Security Police Force.
All travellers who enter Macau (regardless of whether visa-exempt or not) may be required to show they have a minimum of MOP5000 to fund their stay and possess a valid return or onward journey ticket. The only exception to the return/onward journey ticket requirements is for residents of Hong Kong or mainland China, but not if they use a Hong Kong SAR or Chinese passport to transit through Macau to a third country/territory. Immigration is generally "no questions asked" but there have been reports of Indian nationals being targeted by immigration officials. It may be wise to be ready with credit cards or access to a bank account with sufficient funds.
Lost/stolen travel documents: If your travel document is lost or stolen while you are in Macau, you should follow the procedure detailed at this webpage of the Macau SAR Public Security Police Force. There are different forms for a lost/stolen Hong Kong identity card/travel document, Australian passport/travel document and any other country.
Detailed information about immigration requirements is available from the website of the Macau Public Security Police Force.
This is still the main way in which most visitors get to Macau. The main ferry terminal in Macau is the Macau Ferry Terminal (Terminal Marítimo) at the Outer Harbour (Portuguese: Porto Exterior, Chinese: 外港). This is a busy terminal handling most of the sea traffic between Macau and Hong Kong as well as the Chinese ports of Shekou and Shenzhen International Airport. Getting there/away: Buses 1A, 3, 3A, 10, 10A, 10B, 12, 28A, 28B, 28BX, 32 and AP1 run from the ferry terminal. The bus stop is on the main road to the right as you walk out of the building. Pick up a free bus schedule in the tourist information centre in the building. If you are heading straight to a casino or hotel, most of these establishments provide free shuttle buses. They gather to the left of the terminal building; step out of the arrival-level of the building and turn left. Next to the bus stops is a taxi rank. Taxis to Largo do Senado are less than MOP30.
There is a lesser known ferry terminal, located at Pier No. 11 at the Inner Harbour (Portuguese: Porto Interior, Chinese: 内港). This is a new ferry terminal building after its former Pier 14 site was given to developers by the Macau Government. It is very near to the Macau city centre and can be easily reached on foot. This terminal mostly services boats to Shenzhen, Jiangmen and Wanzai across the Inner Harbour in Zhuhai.
A third temporary ferry service serves Taipa, Cotai and Coloane connecting to Hong Kong and Shekou. The Taipa Temporary Ferry Terminal is adjacent the Friendship Bridge (Portuguese: Ponte da Amizade) on Estrada de Pac On, and is served by bus AP1 from the city to the airport, but not the other way around (unless you go around the entire loop). There are also free shuttle buses to the Venetian, the Wynn, COD. A larger permanent ferry terminal is being constructed between the temporary terminal and the Macau International Airport, scheduled for completion in 2011.
Immigration is very fast except at peak times and you do not need to complete an arrival card.
From Hong Kong
Ferries to Macau operate from several points in Hong Kong, including the Hong Kong International Airport where you can bypass Hong Kong Immigration and transfer directly into a ferry to Macau.
- Macau-Hong Kong Island: Ferries from Hong Kong's Macau Ferry Terminal in Sheung Wan on Hong Kong Island operate 24 hours a day at frequencies of every 15–30 minutes by day and hourly at night. In Macau, they dock at the Macau Maritime Ferry Terminal. The cheapest one-way ticket from Hong Kong is HK$142 (HK$20 extra per bag for luggage) and the trip takes one hour. You can buy tickets online in advance to ensure you secure the sailing you want at busy times. On weekdays, you should be able to get on the next service, but on weekends and holidays you should either book ahead or be prepared to wait. Weekend fares are more expensive. Ferries are operated by TurboJet (Tel: +853-7907039 in Macau, +852-28593333 in Hong Kong). Another frequent ferry service is operated by Cotai Jet directly to Taipa from Hong Kong, and there are free shuttle buses to The Venetian from the Ferry Terminal, for quick and easy access to Taipa and Coloane.
- Macau-Kowloon: You can also get ferries from the China (HK) Ferry Terminal on Canton Road, Tsim Sha Tsui in Kowloon, Hong Kong. Ferries are less frequent compared with services from Hong Kong Island, running every half-hour from 7AM-10:30PM. Fares start at HK$133 and the trip takes about 90 minutes. The ferry operator is New World First Ferries (Tel: +852-21318181).
- Macau-Hong Kong International Airport: There are also ferries from Hong Kong International Airport to Macau. These are less frequent but they allow you to bypass Hong Kong immigration and customs by transferring directly to the ferry in the airport's transfers hall. If purchasing a ticket online in advance, your airline may be able to check your luggage all the way to Macau for you. You board the ferry at the airport SkyPier. The fare is HK$254 and services are operated by TurboJET (to the Macau Outer Harbour Ferry Terminal) and Cotai Water Jet (to the Macau Taipa Ferry Terminal).
The price of ferry tickets differ based on the time and day of the week of the ride. Ferry departures at night (between 6PM and 6AM) and on weekends are more expensive.
Especially at the HK Macau Ferry Terminal, keep an eye out for ticket touts. Some offices here resell legit bulk tickets at a small discount, but an altogether slimier species sells unused tickets for ferries that are about to leave — you may catch them if you run, but will be out of luck (and money) if you don't. Be wary of anyone outside the elevators who enthusiastically beckons you to an agents office - and shows you tickets for future sailings, only for you to end up with tickets for ferries that are departing in the next few minutes. A few touts even pose as "inspectors" and, with practiced sleight of hand, swap your ticket. Don't let anybody not in uniform take your ticket! The official ticket booths (there are also self-serve terminals) are well-marked and the staff speak English and you don't need to show anyone your ticket until you enter the immigration area.
From Mainland China
Several ferry companies run to Macau from mainland ports including Jiangmen, Shekou (in Shenzhen) and Fu Yong Ferry Terminal (next to Shenzhen Airport).
- Macau-Fu Yong (Shenzhen Airport): TurboJet (Tel: +853-7907039 in Macau, +86-755-27776818 in Shenzhen) runs several ferries daily between the Macau Ferry Terminal (Outer Harbour) and the Fu Yong Ferry Terminal. Journey time about one hour. Fares start at $171. There are shuttle buses connecting the Fu Yong Ferry Terminal with Shenzhen Airport.
- Yuet Tung Shipping Co (Tel: +853-28574478) runs a ferry service departing from the Macau Inner Harbour Terminal at Pier 14 on Rua das Lorchas (near intersection with Av Almeida Ribeiro) at 10AM, 2PM, 5:30PM and 8:15PM. $129, $78 for children. From Shekou, boats leave at 8:15AM, 11:45AM, 3:45PM and 6:30PM. Journey takes about 80 minutes.
- Shenzhen Xunlong Shipping Co operates from Macau's two other ports: 10 times per day between 9:45AM and 8:45PM from the Macau Ferry Terminal and 3 times per day between 11AM and 7PM from the Taipa Temporary Ferry Terminal (¥170 in 2011).
- Macau-Jiangmen: CKS has a daily connection with Jiangmen from the Macau Inner Harbour Terminal at Pier 14 on Rua das Lorchas.
- Macau-Wanzai (Zhuhai): Yuet Tung Shipping Co runs boats between the Macau Inner Harbour Terminal at Pier 14 on Rua das Lorchas, and the Wanzai Customs Port in Wanzai, Zhuhai. Journey time is about 30 minutes. $12.50. Boats start at 8AM and end at about 4PM. You can catch connecting buses to Gongbei and other places in Zhuhai from Wanzai.
A more frequent and cheaper option is to catch a ferry to/from Zhuhai's Jiuzhou Port, which is only a few kilometers from the Macau-Zhuhai border. Take a short taxi ride (¥10) or a No. 4 bus from the border crossing to the ferry terminal. The bus ride should be included in your ferry ticket. Ferries from Shenzhen Shekou Port to Zhuhai run every 30 minutes. ¥90.
Macau International Airport (MFM) is off the shore of Taipa Island. It has basic facilities and a couple of aerobridges, but it is possible that you will park on the tarmac and take a bus to the terminal.
Macau's home carriers is Air Macau. While nowhere nearly as well served as Hong Kong, the airport is popular among low-cost airlines thanks to its low landing fees. AirAsia flies to Macau from Kuala Lumpur, Kota Kinabalu, Kuching, Penang and Bangkok while Tiger and Jetstar serve Singapore, Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines serve Manila and Clark, Thai AirAsia flies to Bangkok.
Bus AP1 plies a route between the airport and the Barrier Gate. Its route passes through several points on Taipa Island, and it stops at the ferry terminal on the peninsula on the way. It costs $4.20 per passenger, $3 per bag. It has limited provision for baggage, and can be very crowded (you may not even get the first bus to arrive). Change at the ferry terminal for other destinations, the frequent number 3 bus runs from the ferry terminal and passes the Lisboa, Landmark Hotel, and Holiday Inn, or catch one of the hotel/casino shuttles which go the ferry terminal. The buses do not give change, but there is a currency exchange just inside the terminal that will change foreign currency into low denomination MOP.
Alternatively, take a metered taxi straight to your destination, but there's a $5 airport surcharge plus $2 for the bridge and $3 per bag. Fares to the city center are around $40–50, the trip taking 15–20 minutes.
If you are bound for Hong Kong, Zhuhai or Shenzhen, you can use the airport's Express Link special bus service to connect directly to the ferry or the Zhuhai border without passing through Macau immigration. However, the bus schedule is limited (11AM-6PM only), which limits the utility somewhat; depending on your flight, if you don't need a visa for Macau, it may well be faster to go through immigration twice. If you have a same-day ticket, you can also use this service in the return direction to transfer directly to the airport.
Connections to mainland China are no longer limited, with services to many cities. Air Macau flies daily to Beijing, Nanjing, Ningbo and Shanghai. They also fly several times a week to Chengdu, Chongqing, Hangzhou, Hefei, Nanning, Wuhan and Xiamen. Xiamen Airlines flies to Fuzhou, Hangzhou and Xiamen. Other airlines include AirAsia, Cebu Pacific, EVA Air and Spring Airlines. It is usually cheaper to fly to Zhuhai and cross the border by land as flights between Macau and the mainland are considered to be international flights.
There are two vehicular entry points into Macau from China. They are the Portas do Cerco (關閘 Guan Chap in Cantonese, Guanzha in Mandarin) at the extreme north of Macau Peninsula which connects you to Gongbei in Zhuhai, and the Lotus Bridge (officially the Cotai Frontier Checkpoint) which links the Cotai Strip with the Wanzai district of Zhuhai.
You can only enter if your vehicle (cars only, no motorcycles) has both Macau and mainland China number plates and the driver carries both Macau and China driver's licenses. Note that you have to switch sides of the road; mainland China drives on the right, Macau on the left.
- Portas do Cerco: This is the usual entry point into Macau from Zhuhai and is very busy. It is open from 7AM-midnight. The crossing will bring you directly into Gongbei in Zhuhai. Getting there/away: The best way to approach the crossing from anywhere in Macau is to use Avenida Norte de Hipodromo which continues as Avenida da Ponte da Amizade, or Avenida Comendador Ho Yin from the western part of the peninsula. (See Zhuhai section on details to get to the Chinese side of the border.)
- Lotus Bridge: Much quieter than the Portas do Cerco, this crossing involves you driving over the Lotus Bridge over the narrow channel between Cotai and Hengqin Island (China). The crossing is open from 9AM-8PM. Getting there/away: The Cotai frontier checkpoint can be accessed via the Taipa-Coloane Istmus Road (still known as the Taipa-Coloane Causeway) and turn off at the Flor de Lotus roundabout about halfway between Taipa and Coloane.
You can take the coach from Guangzhou. The trip takes about 3 hours and costs around ¥80. Buses are available from the Guangzhou airport at regular intervals. The bus takes you within walking distance (200 metres) of Portas do Cerco - the usual entry point into Macau.
There's direct coaches from Shenzhen, both from the airport and the long distance bus station, taking about three hours. Dongguan also has services to Macau Airport for also taking three hours and costing ¥100.
You can also get a bus from either place to Gongbei bus station in Zhuhai. That puts you right across the street from the border facilities so you can walk to Macau (see next section). This can save you a bit of money; the bus is about the same price either way, but food and hotels are cheaper in Zhuhai.
Macau has no train service of its own but the newly opened station across the border in Zhuhai is next to the Portas do Cerco (Barrier Gate), the northern entrance to Macau. There's hourly service from Guangzhou which in turn is connected to the national high-speed rail network.
You can cross from mainland China to Macau on foot at the above mentioned Portas do Cerco (Barrier Gate) crossings at the extreme north of Macau Peninsula. In fact, thousands of Macau and Chinese citizens do it daily, making it an horrendously busy crossing. Depending on the time and day of the week, expect long waits to get processed. The crossing on the Chinese side is called Gongbei. Getting there/away: The massive underground Portas do Cerco bus terminal is beneath the pretty garden in front of the border checkpoint plaza. You'll be able to find buses to most parts of Macau, including Taipa, Coloane and the Cotai Strip from here. From downtown Macau by taxi, the border is about 10 minutes and $30.
As most people crossing the Barrier Gate are either mainland or Macau residents, foreign passport holders may get a short queue at the Zhuhai immigration clearance as they do not pass through the same counters as Chinese nationals. However, Macau's immigration divides entrants only into Macau residents and visitors, without further differentiation, and foreigners have to queue with an overwhelming number of mainland residents. There is a separate, usually much shorter, queue reserved for diplomats, senior citizens, disabled people and pregnant women.
There are money changers at the Barrier Gate that give very good rates so you can change your money into Chinese renminbi before crossing the customs.
Although you are not allowed to walk on the Lotus Bridge between Wanzai and Cotai, you can board a bus to cross it.
The Sky Shuttle helicopter service operates every 15–30 minutes between Macau's Terminal Maritimo and the Hong Kong-Macau Ferry Pier in Hong Kong, as well as five times a day to/from Shenzhen airport. The trip takes just 16 minutes, but weekday/weekend tickets cost a whopping HK$3700/3900 one-way.
This is arguably the best way to get around the Macau Peninsula, which is small, compact and full of things to discover. Many roads are also one way so there is quite a chance that it won't be slower than to take road transport which may need to make a long loop to reach the destination. Most streets have a pedestrian sidewalk making walking easy, although you will have to fight the crowds going in all directions. Traffic rules are not very well adhered to, so ensure that you look both ways before crossing and be careful of large vehicles in narrow roadways. In and around the Senado Square, the pavements will be made of hand-laid limestone pieces made into simple designs, something that will surely catch your attention. Macau is also hilly, be prepared to struggle up and down steep lanes and steps.
Especially in the old city, the city streets do not seem to run in any particular pattern and you'll most likely get lost at some stage, which is part of the fun of exploring Macau.
Don't bother trying to get around the Cotai area on foot though, as the huge long streets with nothing much on them except the outside edge of new hotels and giant building sites will eat up time you could better spend elsewhere in Macau.
Macau and its districts are served by three bus companies - Transportes Urbanos Macau (Transmac), Sociedade de Transportes Colectivos de Macau (TCM) and Sociedade de Transportes Públicos Reolian (Reolian). The bus system in Macau can be difficult to use. It is often difficult to gauge which direction the bus is heading and the routes through the city center are very curvy, often making a long ride out of a short distance. Bus drivers usually only speak Cantonese, very little English or Mandarin and certainly no Portuguese at all. Most bus stops contain no English, although you can sometimes figure out the destination from the Portuguese bus stop names. Some bus stops have route maps on a rotating pole at the stop and a small coloured dot indicates the stop (including which direction on the route the stop serves). The ferry terminal is "Terminal Maritimo" while other mentions of "Terminal" indicate the terminus (end) of the route.
Nevertheless, the websites of all three companies have good route guides. The TCM website is only in Chinese, while the Transmac website depicts routes schematically. The Reolian website is the best as it has English pages and all Macau bus routes, including those not operated by Reolian, and bus stops are clearly shown using Google Maps. The tourist information desk at the ferry terminal has free maps with bus routes on them and can provide advice on how to get to a particular destination.
There is a flat fare of $3.20 for rides within the Macau Peninsula, $4.20 between the Peninsular and Taipa, $5 between the Peninsula and Coloane village, and $6.40 between the Peninsula and Hác Sá (Coloane). But like the buses in Hong Kong, your fare is according to the bus stop you board, not by the length of the journey. Fares are displayed next to the fare box, at the Macaupass card reader, so get your destinations written in Chinese if you need to tell them where you're going. You should pay the exact fare as drivers do not give change if you overpay. Macaupass, a debit card similar to Hong Kong's Octopus Card system, is now widely used by Macau citizens as it provides discounts on paying bus fare. However, it may be hard to purchase one as the distribution points are limited. Buses accept Hong Kong coins (but not the $10 Hong Kong coin).
Scooters are a very economical and fun way to see the sites of Macau, they are also the primary mode of transport for locals due to Macau's narrow streets and lack of car parking space. Hire Macau Scooter provides scooters for rental from a few dollars. Licenses from most countries covering mopeds or motorcycles are accepted.
By shuttle bus
If you've got more time than money on your hands, you can travel around Macau for free simply by hopping on and off the complimentary shuttle buses operated by all major casinos and hotels. Virtually all serve the Terminal Maritimo, with buses every 5 to 10 minutes, while the big boys (Venetian, Wynn, City of Dreams, Galaxy etc.) also shuttle to the Border Gates, the Taipa Ferry Terminal and the airport. The buses to Hotel Lisboa, for example, drop you off just a few blocks from Largo do Senado. Most of the casinos and hotels offer totally free shuttle buses, with the Lisboa Casino being an exception.
Taxis are cheap and convenient. Taxi ranks are spread around the city but at peak times you will have to wait a bit for a taxi (you can also hail taxis on the street but it is even harder to find them there). Starting from September 2008 taxi fares start at MOP13. Largo do Senado to the border is about MOP40. The longest possible taxi ride (from the Border Post at the extreme north of Macau to Coloane in the south) would be well under MOP200.
It is a good idea to have difficult destinations, such as small hotels, written in Chinese as many taxi drivers only know Cantonese well. Most know enough English to understand the major attractions and destinations and some of them may speak good Mandarin or English, though it is not wise to count on your luck, and almost none speak Portuguese. Most taxi drivers carry with them a list of casinos and other important places, so in case there's a communication gap, just look for it on the sunguard of the front passenger seat. Should you leave from a casino/hotel, a bilingual English/Cantonese speaking employee will generally be there to tell the cab driver where you want to go.
Like in Hong Kong, every bag placed in the boot of the taxi will have an additional surcharge.
Many taxi drivers are off duty at Sundays and use their cars privately. Those taxis have a red sign in the front window. Expect some waiting for a free taxi on Sundays.
By cycle rickshaw
As in Hong Kong, cycle rickshaws (triciclo or riquexó) are a dying breed, although a few still lurk around tourist haunts like the ferry terminal and Hotel Lisboa. Prices are negotiable, but a few hours of city touring by triciclo might cost around MOP200.
Car rental is not a popular option in Macau given the territory's high population density and small size. Avis provides car rental services in Macau and you have the option of renting the car with or without a driver. Roads are generally well maintained and directional signs are in both Chinese and Portuguese. Unlike in mainland China, international driving permits (IDP's) are accepted in Macau, and traffic moves on the left side of the road with most cars being right-hand drive (as in neighbouring Hong Kong).
If you wish to drive in mainland China, your vehicle must have a second set of number plates issued by the Guangdong authorities, and you need to carry an additional Mainland license, as the Chinese government does not recognise Hong Kong, Macau or foreign licenses. You would also need to change sides of the road at the border.
Vong or Wong?
One of the oddities of Macau is that some Cantonese names and words that are pronounced with what in English is a "W" sound, and that in Hong Kong are transliterated with a "W", are transliterated with a "V" instead, such as in Cheoc Van (which in Hong Kong would be Chuk Wan). This can also be seen in the surname Vong (in Hong Kong Wong). No doubt Portuguese pronunciation has had an influence on this choice of transliteration. To complicate things further, this has not been done consistently so there are both Vongs and Wongs in Macau - both written with the same Chinese character.
Macau's official languages are Cantonese and Portuguese. Mandarin is becoming more widely spoken, and most locals are able to comprehend it to some degree. Staff working at major hotels and tourist attractions will usually be reasonably competent in Mandarin.
English is spoken by most front-line staff in the tourism industry. Nearly all museums and casinos have some staff with excellent English, as do many hotels, shops and restaurants, especially the up-market ones. General English comprehension is similar to that of Hong Kong. It is useful to keep your hotel's name card for Taxi drivers.
Speakers of Portuguese won't find it very useful when talking to local residents as it is no longer compulsory in schools, but it helps a lot in understanding place names and signs. As Portuguese continues to be an official language of the SAR, government offices are required by law to have Portuguese-speaking staff on duty.
All official signs in Macau are bilingual in traditional Chinese and Portuguese. Note that under the "one country two systems" policy, Macau continues to use traditional Chinese characters and not the simplified Chinese characters used in Mainland China.
Although best known for gambling, Macau is extremely rich in attractions and oozing with atmosphere, thanks to hundreds of years of fusion between European and Chinese cultures.
Macau is a fascinating place to just walk around as the place is packed with churches, temples, fortresses and other old buildings bearing an interesting mix of Portuguese and Chinese characteristics. Besides buildings, there are also hundreds of narrow alleyways forming a maze in the old part of Macau where the people of Macau carry out businesses and work. If the sheer density of humans gets to you, take a break and enjoy several pretty gardens or head to the island.
One of the interesting things to see in Macau is a statue of the Bodhisatta Avalokitesvara (known as 觀音 kwoon yam in Cantonese) located next to the sea near the Sands Casino and MGM Grand. Despite being a Chinese deity, the statue is distinctly European in design and resembles the statues of the Virgin Mary you can find in Europe.
And if history is not your thing, there is the Macau Tower of awesome views and adventure sports, or Fisherman's Wharf to enjoy some theme-park activities and shopping.
You'll find most of the attractions in Macau Peninsula, but Taipa and Coloane, each with a pretty village, also draw hordes of visitors. Visit the Cotai reclaimed land area to see its transformation into the "Las Vegas Strip of the East". The Venetian is the most famous with its Venice-styled shopping mall with rivers running through, and is also currently the largest casino in the world.
The City of Dreams is a giant casino with high end fashion shops, a free video 'bubble' show, three hotels and the world's most expensive theatre show. The 'House of Dancing Water' costs US$250 million and the stage holds five olympic swimming pools worth of water. Ushers give the front few rows of the audience towels. Free shuttles from the main ferry terminal leave constantly.
A large section of Macau Peninsula has been designated a Unesco World Heritage site and 25 buildings and sites within the area have been deemed to have cultural and historic significance. One of the best ways to cover the sights is to do the Macau Heritage Walk circuit. The heritage Buildings, the Sao Paulo Cathedral, the Fort and the Macau Museum are all adjacent to each other and can be conveniently seen individually even if one cannot catch the Heritage walk timing.
Macau has several museums. The "Macau Museum Pass", which gives discounted entry to most of these, is currently off the market. The main museums, such as the Macau Museum, are in Macau Peninsula although there are two museums on Taipa - the Museum of Taipa and Coloane History and Taipa Houses Museum.
Gambling is Macau's biggest industry and busloads arrive daily from mainland China to try their luck. In addition, many Hong Kongers arrive on weekends with the same aim. For decades, the Casino Lisboa was the largest and most famous, a landmark well known to people outside Macau, but recently many more casinos have sprung up. Nevertheless, the original Casino Lisboa is still worth a visit as its halls contain many original antiques on display from the private collection of gambling tycoon Stanley Ho.
Most casinos are located along the waterfront on the southern side of Macau Peninsula. North of the Lisboa is a strip with many smaller casinos, a number of hotels and bars, and quite a few restaurants. This can be one of the more interesting areas of Macau; among other things it has quite a good Indian restaurant and several Portuguese ones. However, parts of it are also fairly sleazy, with lots of hookers and touts, so some caution is in order. New casinos have also opened in the area called NAPE south of Avenida de Amizade, including Wynn Macau and Sands Macau.
All this is going to be overtaken by the new development on the Cotai Strip, which is being made into "The Las Vegas Strip of the East". The biggest casino in the world, Venetian Macao, opened its doors in August 2007 and the not-much-smaller City of Dreams followed in 2009, with many more still to come. There are also several casinos on Taipa, including the Crown Macau.
There are ATMs available at any casino, and many other Forex facilities to change your money. Gamblers are required to be at least 21 years of age to be allowed to play. Interestingly, local civil servants are not allowed to enter the casinos with the exception of the first three days of the Chinese new year.
For the full listing of casinos, see the respective district pages.
Another popular form of gambling in Macau is greyhound racing, where people bet on dogs in the same way that many people in other countries bet on horses. The minimum bet is 10 patacas and payouts can be made in both Macanese Patacas and Hong Kong Dollars.
Canidrome is your spot for great Greyhound racing. It is located on Avenida General Castelo Branco. Greyhound races are held at Canidrome on Monday, Thursday and Friday plus weekends - racing starts at 7:45PM with 16 games each night.
$10 admission fee (redeemable when betting) to get in. Box seats are $80 for non-peak days and $120 for weekends and holidays. There is off-track-betting available for Canidrome at Jai-Alai Palace, Hotel Lisboa and Kam Pek Casino.
At a height of 233m, the bungy jump from Macau tower, maintained and operated by A. J. Hackett is the 2nd highest in the world. Along with the bungy, one can also try the Sky jump, that is somewhat like a jump but is more protected and doesn't involve a free fall, and a sky walk, that is a protected on a platform running around the circumference of the floor. Bouldering and sport climbing activities are also conducted at the tower's base. See the Macau Peninsula page for details.
Macau's two beaches - Hac Sa (黑沙 - black sand) and Cheoc Van (竹灣 - bamboo bay) - are located on the southern side of Coloane island. They are very popular and are frequented by locals and visitors, especially at the weekend.
Besides beaches, there are several public swimming pools all over Macau. All high-end hotels also have swimming pools.
There are opportunities for hiking and cycling on the relatively rural islands of Taipa and Coloane. In Taipa, the two hills Taipa Grande (大潭山) and Taipa Pequena (小潭山) are the two main spots for Hiking Trails, while a cycling track is available near Ocean Gardens and Avenida dos Jogos da Ásia Oriental da Taipa.
In Coloane, the area is much more rural and is harder to be spotted. The area in Coloane is also more mountainous, creating more opportunities for hiking.
A list of the hiking and cycling paths is available at the IACM website.
There is a bowling centre of international standard which was constructed in 2005 for the East Asian Games at the Macau Dome (澳門蛋) in Cotai area. There is also a bowling alley in Macau near the Camoes Garden/Protestant cemetery.
The currency of Macau is the pataca (MOP), which is divided into 100 avos. Prices are shown as $10, for example (10 patacas).
The pataca is pegged to the Hong Kong Dollar (HKD) at 1.03 patacas to 1 dollar. Hong Kong dollars are almost universally accepted in Macau on a 1:1 basis, so there is no need to get MOP if you already have HKD, although ATMs and money exchanges are numerous. Most businesses will endeavour to give you change in HKD if you pay in HKD, if they have them. Occasionally, however, a business might give change in MOP notes and HKD coins or the other way around. If you receive MOP in change, make sure to spend it before you leave Macau. The HK$10 coin may not be accepted because of numerous recent forgeries. Chinese renminbi (RMB, less often CNY) are also accepted in some areas and can easily be changed for either patacas or HKD. In casinos, the HKD is the preferred currency, and gamers with patacas may actually be required to exchange to HKD (or HKD-denominated casino chips) before playing. Transactions made at government offices though will require you to pay in patacas.
Getting money is quite easy as there are banks and ATMs on nearly every street. Holders of a debit card on the international networks will have no issues withdrawing money. Holders of Chinese Union Pay cards will not have trouble either withdrawing local currency from their accounts. ATMs usually dispense in MOP (100 and 500 bills) and HKD (100 and 500 as well) and some will also dispense in Chinese currency.
Changing your currency into patacas outside of Macau is just about impossible and pointless. Change enough HKD to tide you over, and then change the rest into patacas after arriving. The money changers at the Barrier Gate provide good exchange rates, and you can also change the HKD you are holding into patacas.
On the other hand, try not to leave Macau with a lot of patacas. Unlike the HKD, they are quite hard to exchange in most countries. Even if you try to exchange them in Hong Kong, money changers may charge high commission thus giving you fewer HKDs than for what the MOP is worth. Therefore because of the 1:1 acceptance between the HKD and MOP and the difficulty exchanging between the two currencies outside Macau, you are advised to use HKD as much as possible for commercial transactions.
Visa and MasterCard credit cards are widely accepted in major restaurants, stores and the ferry terminal but some merchants may require a token minimum purchase amount, usually $100.
Tipping customs are similar to Hong Kong. In most cases tips are not expected, though bellhops may expect about $10 or so for carrying your bags. In full service restaurants, a service charge is usually imposed and that is taken to be the tip. However, you should know that the 10% service charge does not go to the actual people who served you, rather it is used by the owners to pay the salaries of said employees. If you wish to give a tip, you should give it in cash directly to the person you wish to reward for their good service. Taxi drivers also do not expect tips, and would return exact change, or round it in your favour if they can't be bothered to dig for change.
Quite frankly, the shopping options in Macau don't hold a candle to Hong Kong. While the newer megacasinos have introduced Macau to the joys of sterile franchise-filled malls, the city center streets around the older casinos are still a bizarre monoculture of ridiculously expensive watch, jewelry and Chinese medicine shops (with an emphasis on herbal Viagra-type cures), all aimed squarely at liberating lucky gamblers from their winnings. Finding tasteful souvenirs can thus be surprisingly challenging, although the touristy streets between Largo do Senado and the ruins of St. Paul's do have a scattering of antique shops.
Bargaining in the small shops can be done, but usually working on the principle of the shopkeeper quoting a price, the buyer making "hmmm" sounds and the shopkeeper lowering the price a bit. A full-fledged haggling match is quite rare, as most antique shops sell precisely the same thing at precisely the same prices.
There are many pawnshops, especially along Av de Almeida Ribeiro in the center of town, where losing gamblers sell their cameras and Rolexes to finance the trip home or a return to the tables. For buyers, prices are usually not particularly good, but if you know the merchandise and are prepared to bargain there are some good deals.
Macau is famous for excellent restaurants, unique cuisine and mellow bars. Above all, the city is famous for two cuisines: Portuguese and Macanese.
Portuguese food (cozinha portuguesa), brought in by its Portuguese colonizers, is hearty, salty, straightforward fare. While many restaurants claim to serve the stuff, fully authentic fare is mostly limited to a few high-end restaurants, especially the cluster at the southwestern tip of the Peninsula. Typical Portuguese dishes include:
- pato de cabidela (bloody duck), a stew of chicken with blood and herbs, served with rice; sounds and looks somewhat scary, but it's excellent when well done
- bacalhau (salted cod), traditionally served with potatoes and veggies
- caldo verde, a soup of potato, chopped kale and chouriço sausage
- feijoada (kidney-bean stew), a Brazilian staple common in Macau as well
- pastéis de nata (egg tarts), crispy and flaky on the outside and soft and sweet on the inside
Macanese food (comida de Macau) was created when Portuguese and Chinese influences were mixed together with spices brought from Africa and South-East Asia by traders, and many restaurants advertising "Portuguese" food in fact serve up mostly Macanese dishes. Seafood and barbecue specialist Fernando's on Coloane's Hac Sa Beach is probably the best-known Macanese restaurant.
- almond cookies. Dry Chinese-style cookies flavoured with almond. Macau's top souvenir, they're compact, durable and hence sold pretty much everywhere.
- galinha à africana (African-style chicken). Barbecued chicken coated in spicy piri-piri sauce.
- galinha à portuguesa (Portuguese-style chicken). Chicken in a coconutty curry; despite the name, this is not a Portuguese dish at all, but a purely Macanese invention.
- pork chop bun. The Macanese version of a hamburger, the name pretty much says it all: it's a slice of freshly fried pork (often with a few chunks of bone left) with a dash of pepper placed inside a freshly baked bun.
- beef jerky. More moist and fresh than typical jerky, and quite delicious. Easily found on the street leading up to the Ruins of St. Paul, where vendors will push free samples at you as you walk by with great enthusiasm. Be sure to try them all before choosing the one you like best!
All that said, the food of choice in Macau is still pure Cantonese, and a few aficionados even claim that the dim sum and seafood here beat Hong Kong. The streets of central Macau are littered with simple eateries offering rice and noodle dishes for under $30 (although menus are often only in Chinese), while every casino hotel worth its salt has a fancy Cantonese seafood restaurant where you can blow away your gambling winnings on abalone and shark's fin soup.
The greatest concentration of restaurants is in the Peninsula, where they are scattered throughout the district. Taipa is now a major destination for those going for Portuguese and Macanese food and there are many famous restaurants on the island. There are several restaurants in Coloane, which is also home to the famous Lord Stow's Bakery, which popularized the Macanese egg tart. Yummy!
Reasonably priced Portuguese wine is widely available. A glass in a restaurant is around $20, while bottles start from under $100, and a crisp glass of vinho verde ("green wine", but actually just a young white) goes very well with salty Macanese food. As elsewhere in China, though, locals tend to prefer cognacs and whisky. Macau Beer is passable and widely available, as is the Filipino brand San Miguel which has a brewery in Hong Kong. There is also a wine museum in which you can have the opportunity to taste over 50 varieties of wine.
There is a buzzing nightlife in Macau. There are a variety of bars and clubs along the Avenida Sun Yat Sen close to the Kum Iam Statue and the Cultural Centre where you can have a good night out. Locals, especially among younger people, prefer to meet up with their friends in western style cafes or places that serve 'bubble tea'. 'Bubble tea' are usually fruit flavoured tea served with tapioca balls and can be served either hot or cold. The shops in town centre (near Senado Square) often open until late at night and are often crowded. The casinos have also become a big hit for entertainment, offering performances of international level (advance booking advised) and comprehensive shopping malls for those less interested in trying their luck with the machines. For ladies who want to pamper themselves after a shopping spree, there are Spas available in almost all respectable hotels. Note that these are different from "saunas", which are thinly disguised brothels (prostitution is legal in Macau), but these can be easily distinguished by their shop appearance.
The bulk of Macau's hotels are on the Peninsula, although there are also many options - including high-end ones - on Taipa and, increasingly, the Cotai Strip, which is challenging the Peninsula to become Macau's premier casino area. Coloane, which offers fewer and much quieter options, has accommodation ranging from the famous Pousada de Coloane to Macau's two beach-side youth hostels.
Hotel rates are most expensive on Friday and Saturday nights, because demand is higher with tourists coming to Macau to gamble over the weekend. Try to make a booking through a travel agent, even if for the same day, as the rates can be substantially lower than walk-in rates. If you are coming from Hong Kong, book through an agent at the Shun Tak ferry pier for the best deals. Getting a package deal including return ferry tickets gives you the best price.
In the Inner Harbour area, many of the pensions and two star hotels are also the place of business for many of the mainland PRC prostitutes that work in Macau, and most hotel "saunas" are in fact thinly disguised brothels.
Hotel listings are in the individual district pages. Budget accommodation is one that carries a 2-star rating or below, a mid-range place has a 3-star rating, and a splurge place has a 4-star rating or above.
Macau has 12 tertiary education institutions. Besides some smaller and more specialized schools (Security Forces School, Tourism School, European Studies Institute, etc.), the ones of importance are:
- University of Macau. The oldest and most popular university, established in 1981 (then under the name University of East Asia). Offers degree programmes in a wide variety of fields at all levels, including pre-university courses, bachelors, masters and doctorate degrees. The majority of degrees are taught in English, except education and law which are taught in a choice of either Chinese (Cantonese) or Portuguese.
- Macau University of Science and Technology. Established after the 1999 handover of Macau to China, courses are mainly taught in Chinese (Mandarin) by professors from the mainland, and a significant portion of its student population draws from the mainland too.
- Macau Polytechnic Institute. A spin-off of the former University of East Asia, it was established in 1991 to provide practice-oriented education and training mainly to the local population.
- Macau Inter-University Institute. Established in 1996, it originally only offered postgraduate education, but since 2005 also offers undergraduate degree courses, and since 2006 pre-university courses, mainly in the humanities.
Non-residents who wish to take up employment in Macau, including those from Portugal or China, need to obtain a valid work permit and are then issued the so-called Blue Card (officially called Non-Resident Worker's Permit). The process takes approximately a month to receive a work permit, at which time employment may begin, and another 1–2 months to receive the Blue Card.
As illegal employment has over the past decades been a problem plaguing Macau, the authorities do crack down severely on any offenders (both worker and employer) caught. Visitors are therefore advised not to engage in illegal employment.
There is a risk of typhoons, mainly between July and September. A system of typhoon warnings is in place that are issued by the Macao Meteorological and Geophysical Bureau and are broadcast widely on television and radio:
The typhoon warning system is basically a copy of the system used in Hong Kong.
- Number 1: tropical cyclone is within 800 km of Macau
- Number 3: tropical cyclone is likely to bring winds of 41–62 km/h to Macau, with gusts of 110 km/h (usually issued when the typhoon is within 300 km of Macau)
- Number 8: tropical cyclone is nearing Macau, bringing with it winds of 63–117 km/h, and gusts of up to 180 km/h
- Number 9: the centre of the tropical cyclone is approaching Macau and it is expected that Macau will be severely affected
- Number 10: the centre of the tropical cyclone will hit Macau directly, with mean wind speed over 118 km/h and intense gusts
During a number 8, 9 or 10 typhoon everything in Macau shuts down. People stay home and it is not advisable to venture outside as there is the risk of injury or worse from flying debris.
It should be pointed out that compared to many other cities in the world, Macau is relatively safe to travel. The standard of living of the local Macau residents is generally good (one of the best in Asia). In addition, as a city geared towards tourism, the Macau government is keen to "clean up" the city and its image. For example, the police in Macau is now seen by the public as more effective than it used to be.
The following points should be noted when you travel to Macau.
- You should beware of pickpockets, especially in crowded areas like tourist attractions and the border stations. Keep your valuables somewhere safe. Pickpockets usually come in a group and use one person to distract people while the others work.
- Be wary of harassment from street prostitutes and hawkers handing out leaflets/flyers. Among the more insistent flyer flingers are Falun Gong, a religious/political organisation. If you do take one of their flyers (which is sometimes the easiest way to get rid of them) and you are going to mainland China, be sure to dispose of it before crossing the border. The organisation is illegal in China and being caught "smuggling" some of their propaganda would be a major hassle.
- Recently a scam involving mainland Chinese visitors asking for money has become widespread, mainly in downtown Macau. These people, who are usually properly dressed, claim to have lost their wallet and not to have eaten the whole day, asking for $20–30 to buy some food. The police have issued warnings in the local media not to give money to these people.
- In the mid-90s, Macau had some vicious gang wars among the triads, mobsters with automatic weapons. Macau police had the situation partly under control by the time the Chinese took over in 1999. The current government seems to have it entirely under control; there has been no sign of open mob conflict in this century. The triads usually don't bother ordinary people, so the advice is not to mess with them (such as by borrowing money from loan sharks and then failing to repay it), and they won't mess with you!
- After arriving in Macau at the ferry terminal, beware of touts offering cheap rides into town. If you accept their offers, expect to be taken first to shops, which offer the touts commission. If you stand your ground and refuse to enter these promoted shops, you could be turfed out somewhere in the territory, and not where you would like to be. Stay safe, and take time to find out suitable public transport routes, or take a proper taxi.
One unexpected cause of sickness in Macau is the extreme temperature change between 35°C (95°F) humid summer weather outdoors and 18°C (65°F) air-conditioned buildings. Some people experience cold symptoms after moving between the two extremes often; it is not unusual to wear a sweater or covering to stay warm indoors, and it is therefore usually good advice to carry a long-sleeve item of clothing when expecting to visit air-conditioned places for extended periods of time.
Whilst tap water is technically safe to drink (taste aside), most locals boil or filter their water or buy inexpensive bottled water which you are also recommended to do so.
Because of the region's history battling SARS (as well as later dealing with avian flu (H5N1)), good personal hygiene is strongly advisable.
There have been some cases of Dengue fever in recent years. The government has pro-actively sprayed insecticide in areas where there is the potential of mosquito breeding, so this risk is largely contained. However it is best to avoid being bitten by using mosquito repellent and/or wearing long clothing, especially at dusk.
People in Macau are generally friendly to foreigners (given the fact that Macau had hundreds of years of Portuguese colonial rule, the locals, even the older population are used to living side by side with Westerners). However, do not assume the locals speak English (or Portuguese) and a few essential Cantonese phrases are always helpful.
When visiting Chinese temples basic respect should be shown, but taking photos is usually allowed and you don't need to ask for permission as long as there isn't a no-photography sign posted.
Binge-drinking or drunken behavior is not tolerated in Macau.
Macau's international dialing prefix is 853.
The tourist information offices on Largo do Senado and at the jetfoil terminal have maps, information on museums and events, helpful English-speaking staff, and at the Largo do Senado office free Internet access. You may have to queue for the Internet, since there are only a few machines.
Chinoy Express, Rua dos Mercadores. A cheap and fast internet cafe ($5/hr) right near Rua da Felicidade. Serves cheap snacks and right across the road is a Filipino bakery with cheap and tasty breads.
Macau has excellent mobile phone coverage. Macau has both GSM 900/1800 and 3G 2100 networks. Check with your operator. Phone plans stemming from the Mainland require proper set-up for use outside of the Mainland.
Some consulate services are available in Macau, although your country is likely to be better served by its Consulate in Hong Kong.
- . email@example.com, e-mail: fax: +853 2871 6230, ☎, Avenida Dr. Mário Soares, Edifício FIT (Financial and Information Technology, 7th floor,), Consulado de Angola em Macau (Angola
- . firstname.lastname@example.org, e-mail: fax: +853 2878 8168, ☎, 21 floor, Macau Landmark, 555 Avenida da Amizade), Consulado de Cabo Verde em Macau (Cape Verde
- . 09.00-17.00 Monday to Friday (No Lunch Break). fax: +853 2875 7227, , +853 6698 1901 (24-Hour Emergency Hotline) ☎, Unit 1404-1406 ,14th Floor AIA Tower Avenida Comercial de Macau, Macau SAR), The Philippine Consulate General in Macau SAR (Philippines
- . 09.00-13.00 and 14.30-17.00. email@example.com, e-mail: fax: +853 2 835 66 58, +853 2 835 66 60 / 1 / 2 ☎, 8 Rua Pedro Nolasco da Silva 45, R/C), Consulado Geral de Portugal em Macau (Portugal
- There is no British consulate in Macau, and all official consulate business is handled in Hong Kong. ☎), P. O. Box No. 1148) (British Consulate General Hong Kong (United Kingdom
- Visit website for visa inquiry form.. firstname.lastname@example.org, e-mail: 26 Garden Road, Hong Kong), Consulate of Hong Kong and Macau (United States
Macau (; traditional Chinese: 澳門; simplified Chinese: 澳门; Jyutping: ou3mun4*2; pinyin: Àomén), also spelled Macao, is one of the two Special Administrative Regions of the People's Republic of China, the other being Hong Kong. Macau lies on the western side of the Pearl River Delta across from Hong Kong, which is about 64 kilometers to the east, and it is also bordered by Guangdong Province to the north and the South China Sea to the east and south. With an estimated population of around 624,000 living in an area of 31.3 km2 (12.1 sq mi), it is the most densely populated region in the world.
A former Portuguese colony, Macau was administered by Portugal from the mid-16th century until late 1999, when it was the last remaining European colony in Asia. Portuguese traders first settled in Macau in the 1550s. In 1557, Macau was rented to Portugal by the Ming Dynasty as a trading port. The Portuguese administered the city under Chinese authority and sovereignty until 1887, when Macau became a colony of the Portuguese Empire. Sovereignty over Macau was transferred back to China on 20 December 1999. The Sino-Portuguese Joint Declaration and the Basic Law of Macau stipulate that Macau operate with a high degree of autonomy until at least 2049, fifty years after the transfer.
Under the policy of "
Pearl River / Hong Kong
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- While Mandarin is the official language in China, Cantonese is more widely used in Macau.
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MACAO (in Quang-tong, S. China) was given to the Portuguese as a commercial station in 1586 (in return for their assistance against pirates), subject to an annual tribute, which was remitted in 1863. Here Camoens composed part of the "Lusiad."
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In I564, Portugal commanded the trade of India, Japan, and China, though their pride was deeply shocked at the supreme indifference with which the Chinese treated them. Their atrocities at Ningpo and Macau, and their subsequent servility, had opened the eyes of the Celestials to their true character, and unfortunately for other European adventurers, they had come to the conclusion that all western nations were alike. The senate of Macau complained to the viceroy of Goa, of the contempt with which the Chinese authorities treated them, confessing however that, "it was owing more to the Portuguese themselves than to the Chinese." The Chinese were obliged to restrict the commerce of Portugal to the port of Macau, in 1631. A partnership was then formed with some Chinese dealers in Canton, who were to furnish exports and take delivery of imports at Macau. This scheme did not suit the Chinese; they were dissatisfied with their partners, and speedily dissolved the connection.(Princeton University).
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The enemy, it was reported, 'had lost many more men than we, albeit mostly slaves. Our people saw very few Portuguese'. A year later he was still harping on the same theme. 'The slaves of the Portuguese at Macau served them so well and faithfully, that it was they who defeated and drove away our people there(University of Michigan).
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- Foreign relations of Macau
- Index of Macau-related articles
- List of bridges and tunnels in Macau
- List of twin towns and sister cities in China
- Macao Science Center
- Outline of Macau
- Visa policy of Macau
- Visa requirements for Chinese citizens of Macau
Macau has its own professional football league, the Campeonato da 1ª Divisão do Futebol, where the Big Three professional football clubs of Portugal have their own branches: S.L. Benfica de Macau, Sporting Clube de Macau and F.C. Porto de Macau. In general, football (soccer) has the greatest popularity in Macau, which has a representative international side, Macau national football team. Another common sport is Rink Hockey, which is often practiced by the Portuguese. Macau always participates in the Rink Hockey World Championship in B category. The national team of Macau is the most powerful of Asia and has many Rink Hockey Asian Championship titles. The last Championship was won in Dalian, China, at the 2010 Asian Roller Hockey Championship. Macau also has a basketball team, which qualified for the Asian Basketball Championship twice.
- Stanley Ho, Business magnate, father of Macau gambling industry.
- Xian Xinghai (spelt as Hsien Hsing-hai during his era), 冼星海 Noted musician and composer during Sino-Japanese War, known work included Yellow River Cantata
- Michelle Reis, Hong Kong actress and former Miss Hong Kong.
- Edmund Ho, Business leader, and Chief Executive of Macau SAR
- Jenny Tseng, 甄妮 Famous Cantonese pop singer and actress in 70s and 80s.
- Ming-Na Wen, 温明娜 TV & Movie Actress, one of the first Chinese-American actresses with a contract role
Local cooking in Macau consists of a blend of Cantonese and Portuguese cuisines. Many unique dishes resulted from the spice blends that the wives of Portuguese sailors used in an attempt to replicate European dishes. Its ingredients and seasonings include those from Europe, South America, Africa, India, and Southeast Asia, as well as local Chinese ingredients. Typically, Macanese food is seasoned with various spices and flavours including turmeric, coconut milk, cinnamon and bacalhau, giving special aromas and tastes. Famous dishes include Minchi, Capella, Galinha à Portuguesa, Galinha à Africana (African chicken), Bacalhau, Macanese Chili Shrimps and stir-fry curry crab. Pork chop bun, ginger milk and Portuguese-style egg tart are also very popular in Macau.
Macau preserves many historical properties in the urban area. The Historic Centre of Macau, which includes some twenty-five historic locations, was officially listed as a World Heritage Site UNESCO on 15 July 2005 during the 29th session of the World Heritage Committee, held in Durban, South Africa.
A-Ma Temple, which honours the Goddess Matsu, is in full swing in April with many worshippers celebrating the A-Ma festival. In May it is common to see dancing dragons at the Feast of the Drunken Dragon and twinkling-clean Buddhas at the Feast of the Bathing of Lord Buddha. In Coloane Village, the Taoist god Tam Kong is also honoured on the same day. Dragon Boat festival is brought into play on Nam Van Lake in June and Hungry Ghosts' festival, in late August and/or early September every year. All events and festivities of the year end with Winter Solstice in December.
The Lunar Chinese New Year is the most important traditional festival and celebration normally takes place in late January or early February. The Pou Tai Un Temple in Taipa is the place for the Feast of Tou Tei, the Earth god, in February. The Procession of the Passion of Our Lord is a well-known Roman Catholic rite and journey, which travels from Saint Austin's Church to the Cathedral, also taking place in February.
The mixing of the Chinese and Portuguese cultures and religious traditions for more than four centuries has left Macau with an inimitable collection of holidays, festivals and events. The biggest event of the year is the Macau Grand Prix in November, when the main streets in Macau Peninsula are converted to a racetrack bearing similarities with the Monaco Grand Prix. Other annual events include Macau Arts festival in March, the International Fireworks Display Contest in September, the International Music festival in October and/or November, and the Macau International Marathon in December.
Macau has one active international airport, known as Macau International Airport located at the eastern end of Taipa and neighbouring waters. The airport used to serve as one of the main transit hubs for passengers travelling between mainland China and Taiwan, but now with the introduction of direct flights between those two regions, passenger traffic in this regard has lessened. It is the primary hub for Air Macau. In 2006, the airport handled about 5 million passengers.
The Outer Harbour Ferry Terminal and the Taipa Temporary Ferry Terminal provides cross-border transportation services for passengers travelling between Macau and Hong Kong, while the Yuet Tung Terminal in the Inner Harbour serves those travelling between Macau and cities in mainland China, including Shekou and Shenzhen.
In Macau, traffic drives on the left, unlike in either mainland China or Portugal, but like neighbouring Hong Kong. Macau has a well-established public transport network connecting the Macau Peninsula, Cotai, Taipa Island and Coloane Island. Buses and taxis are the major modes of public transport in Macau. Currently three companies – Transmac, Transportas Companhia de Macau and Reolian Public Transport Co. – operate franchised public bus services in Macau. The trishaw, a hybrid of the tricycle and the rickshaw, is also available, though it is mainly for sightseeing purposes. The newest public bus operator, Reolian Public Transport Co., entered service on 1 August 2011. This new bus operator operates on the existing routes by Transmac and Transportas Companhia de Macau.
The Health Bureau in Macau is mainly responsible for coordinating the activities between the public and private organizations in the area of licences.
Currently none of the Macau hospitals are independently assessed through international healthcare accreditation. There are no western-style medical schools in Macau, and thus all aspiring physicians in Macau have to obtain their education and qualification elsewhere. Local nurses are trained at the Macau Polytechnic Institute and the Kiang Wu Nursing College. Currently there are no training courses in midwifery in Macau.
Macau is served by one major public hospital, the Hospital Conde S. Januário, and one major private hospital, the Hospital Kiang Wu, both located in Macau Peninsula, as well as a university hospital called Macau University of Science and Technology Hospital in Cotai. In addition to hospitals, Macau also has numerous health centres providing free basic medical care to residents. Consultation in traditional Chinese medicine is also available.
 As prescribed by the
Macau does not have its own universal education system; non-tertiary schools follow either the British, the Chinese, or the Portuguese education system. There are currently 10 tertiary educational institutions in the region, four of them being public. In 2006, the Programme for International Student Assessment, a worldwide test of 15-year-old schoolchildren's scholastic performance coordinated by OECD, ranked Macau as the fifth and sixth in science and problem solving respectively. Nevertheless, education levels in Macau are low among high income regions. According to the 2006 by-census, among the resident population aged 14 and above, only 51.8% has a secondary education and 12.6% has a tertiary education.
A fifteen-year free education is currently being offered to residents, that includes a three-year kindergarten, followed by a six-year primary education and a six-year secondary education. The literacy rate of the territory is 93.5%. The illiterates are mainly among the senior residents aged 65 or above; the younger generation, for example the population aged 15–29, has a literacy rate of above 99%. Currently, there is only one school in Macau where Portuguese is the medium of instruction.
Most Chinese in Macau are profoundly influenced by their own tradition and culture, of which most take part in Chinese folk religion, in which Taoism and Confucianism are comprehended. According to a survey conducted between 2005, 2007 and 2009 has found that 30% of the population follows folk faiths, 10% are adherents of Buddhism or Taoism, 5% are Christians, and the remaining part do not declare religious adherence. Another survey conducted between 2005, 2007 and 2009 has found that 30% of the population follows folk faiths, 10% are adherents of Buddhism or Taoism, 5% are Christians, and the remaining part do not declare religious adherence.
The number of imported workers stood at a record high of 98,505 in the second quarter of 2008, representing more than 25% of the labor force in Macau. Some local workers complain about the lack of jobs due to the influx of cheap imported labor. Some also claim that the problem of illegal labor is severe. Another concern is the widening of income inequality in the region. Macau's Gini coefficient, a popular measure of income inequality where a low value indicates a more equal income distribution, rose from 0.43 in 1998 to 0.48 in 2006. It is higher than those of neighboring regions, such as mainland China (0.447), South Korea (0.316) and Singapore (0.425).
Since Macau has an economy driven by tourism, 14.6% of the workforce is employed in restaurants and hotels, and 10.3% in the gambling industry. With the opening of several casino resorts and other major constructions underway, many sectors reportedly experience a shortage of labor, and the government seeks to import labor from neighboring regions.
Macau's official languages are Chinese (Cantonese) and Portuguese.  Macau still retains its own dialect of Portuguese, called Macanese Portuguese. Other languages such as Mandarin, English, and Hokkien are spoken by local communities. The Macanese language, a distinctive creole generally known as Patuá, is still spoken by several dozen Macanese.
The growth of population in Macau mainly relies on immigrants from mainland China and the influx of overseas workers since its birth rate is one of the lowest in the world. According to The World Factbook, Macau has the second highest life expectancy in the world, while its infant mortality rate ranks among the lowest in the world.
Macau is the most densely populated region in the world, with a population density of 20,497 persons per square kilometre in 2013 (18,428 persons/km2 in a 2004 projection 47,728/sq mi). 95% of Macau's population is Chinese; another 2% is of Portuguese and/or mixed Chinese/Portuguese descent, an ethnic group often referred to as Macanese. According to the 2006 by-census, 47% of the residents were born in mainland China, of whom 74.1% were born in Guangdong and 15.2% in Fujian. Meanwhile, 42.5% of the residents were born in Macau, and those born in Hong Kong, the Philippines and Portugal shared 3.7%, 2.0% and 0.3% respectively.
language spoken at home
In Macau, the unit of currency is the pataca, which is currently pegged to the Hong Kong dollar at a rate of HK$1 = MOP1.03. The name pataca is a Portuguese word which was applied to the Mexican dollars that were the main circulating coin in the wider region in the second half of the 19th century. In 1894, the pataca was introduced in both Macau and Portuguese Timor as a unit of account for the Mexican dollar and the other silver dollar coins in circulation. However, the pataca was not the official currency when it was first enacted. In 1901, it was decided to grant the Banco Nacional Ultramarino the exclusive rights to issue banknotes denominated in patacas, and in the year 1906, all foreign coins were outlawed. However, the Chinese were suspicious of these paper patacas, being so accustomed to using silver for barter, and as such, the paper patacas circulated at a discount in relation to the silver dollar coins. In 1935, when China and Hong Kong abandoned the silver standard, the Hong Kong dollar was pegged to sterling at the fixed rate of 1 shilling and 3 pence, whereas the pataca was pegged to the Portuguese escudo at a sterling equivalent rate of only 1 shilling. From 1945 to 1951, fractional coins of the pataca were minted for issue in Portuguese Timor; and, in 1952, similar issues were minted for Macau including an actual pataca coin for the first time.
Tourism and gambling are the primary drivers of Macau's economy.
Night view of Macau Tower, a communication tower.
The central business district of Macau. The building shown is the BNU tower.
Ruins of St. Paul's, façade originally of The Cathedral of St. Paul built in 1602.
Casino Resort MGM Grand, Macau.
Senado Square, Macau
As prescribed by the Macau Basic Law, the government follows the principle of keeping expenditure within the limits of revenues in drawing up its budget, and strives to achieve a fiscal balance, avoid deficits and keep the budget commensurate with the growth rate of its gross domestic product. All the financial revenues of the Macau Special Administrative Region shall be managed and controlled by the Region itself and shall not be handed over to the Central People's Government. The Central People's Government shall not levy any taxes in the Macau Special Administrative Region.
Macau is an offshore financial centre, a tax haven, and a free port with no foreign exchange control regimes. The Monetary Authority of Macau regulates offshore finance, while the Macau Trade and Investment Promotion Institute provides services for investment in Macau. In 2007, Moody's Investors Service upgraded Macau's foreign and local currency government issuer ratings to 'Aa3' from 'A1', citing its government's solid finances as a large net creditor. The rating agency also upgraded Macau's foreign currency bank deposit ceiling to 'Aa3' from 'A1'.
In the early 2010s, Macau also ramped up show and entertainments in addition to gambling business, including the famous show House of Dancing Water, concerts, industry trade shows and international art crossovers.
In 2002, the Macau government ended the monopoly system and six casino operating concessions and subconcessions are granted to Sociedade de Turismo e Diversões de Macau, Wynn Resorts, Las Vegas Sands, Galaxy Entertainment Group, the partnership of MGM Mirage and Pansy Ho (daughter of Stanley Ho), and the partnership of Melco and Publishing and Broadcasting Limited (PBL). Today, there are 16 casinos operated by the STDM, and they are still crucial in the casino industry in Macau, but in 2004, the opening of the Sands Macau ushered in the new era. Gambling revenue has made Macau the world's top casino market, surpassing Las Vegas.
Starting in 1962, the gambling industry had been operated under a government-issued monopoly license by Stanley Ho's Sociedade de Turismo e Diversões de Macau. The monopoly ended in 2002 and several casino owners from Las Vegas attempted to enter the market. With the opening of the Sands Macao, in 2004 and Wynn Macau in 2006, gambling revenues from Macau's casinos were greatly prosperous. In 2007, Venetian Macau, at the time the second (now seventh) largest building in the world by floor space, opened its doors to the public, followed by MGM Grand Macau. Numerous other hotel casinos, including Galaxy Cotai Megaresort, opened in 2011, and plans for a $3.9 billion complex that will be known as Lisboa Palace is expected to be completed by 2017.
with over 50% of the arrivals coming from mainland China and another 30% from Hong Kong.  From 9.1 million visitors in 2000, arrivals to Macau has grown to 18.7 million visitors in 2005 and 22 million visitors in 2006, In a
Macau is a founding member of the WTO and has maintained sound economic and trade relations with more than 120 countries and regions, with European Union and Portuguese-speaking countries in particular; Macau is also a member of the IMF. The World Bank classifies Macau as a high income economy and the GDP per capita of the region in 2006 was US$28,436. After the Handover in 1999, there has been a rapid rise in the number of mainland visitors due to China's easing of travel restrictions. Together with the liberalization of Macau's gaming industry in 2001 that induces significant investment inflows, the average growth rate of the economy between 2001 and 2006 was approximately 13.1% annually.
Macau's economy is based largely on tourism. Other chief economic activities in Macau are export-geared textile and garment manufacturing, banking and other financial services. The clothing industry has provided about three quarters of export earnings, and the gaming, tourism and hospitality industry is estimated to contribute more than 50% of Macau's GDP, and 70% of Macau government revenue.
Employed population by
|Service & sale workers||63.2|
|Workers in agriculture/fishery||0.8|
|Craft & similar workers||33.7|
|Climate data for Macau (1971–2000)|
|Average high °C (°F)||
|Average low °C (°F)||
|Avg. rainy days (≥ 0.1 mm)||6||10||12||12||15||17||16||16||13||7||5||4||133|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||132.4||81.8||75.9||87.8||138.4||168.2||226.2||194.7||182.2||195.0||177.6||167.6||1,827.8|
|Source: SMG |
Located on China's southern coast, Macau has ample rainfall, with average annual precipitation being 2,120 millimetres (83 in). However, winter is mostly dry due to the influence of the vast Siberian High affecting much of East Asia. Autumn in Macau, from October to November, is sunny and still pleasantly warm with lower humidity. Winter (December to early March) is generally mild with temperatures above 13 °C (55 °F) most of the time, although it can drop below 8 °C (46 °F) at times. Humidity starts to increase from late March. Summer is very warm to hot (often rising above 30 °C (86 °F) at daytime). The hot weather is often followed by heavy rain, thunderstorms and occasional typhoons.
Macau has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen Cwa), with average relative humidity between 75% and 90%. Similar to much of South China, seasonal climate is greatly influenced by the monsoons, and differences in temperature and humidity between summer and winter are noticeable, though not as great as inland China. The average annual temperature of Macau is 22.7 °C (72.9 °F). July is the warmest month, with the average temperature being 28.9 °C (84.0 °F). The coolest month is January, with a mean temperature of 14.5 °C (58.1 °F).
Landscape of Penha Hill in Macau.
Macau, in 2013
Coloane Village with the artistic Portuguese pavement
Macau seen from Lake Nam Van
Macau Peninsula was originally an island, but a connecting sandbar gradually turned into a narrow isthmus, thus changing Macau into a peninsula. Land reclamation in the 17th century transformed Macau into a peninsula with generally flat terrain, though numerous steep hills still mark the original land mass. Alto de Coloane is the highest point in Macau, with an altitude of 170.6 metres (559.7 ft). With a dense urban environment, Macau has no arable land, pastures, forest, or woodland.
Macau is situated 60 kilometres (37 mi) southwest of Hong Kong and 145 kilometres (90 mi) from Guangzhou. It also has 41 kilometres (25 mi) of coastline, yet only 310 metres (1,000 ft) of land border with Guangdong. It consists of the Macau Peninsula itself and the islands of Taipa and Coloane, which are now connected by landfill forming Cotai. The peninsula is formed by the Zhu Jiang (Pearl River) estuary on the east and the Xi Jiang (West River) on the west. It borders the Zhuhai Special Economic Zone in mainland China. The main border crossing between Macau and China is known as the Portas do Cerco (Barrier Gate) on the Macau side, and the Gongbei Port of Entry on the Zhuhai side.
Headquarters of the Government of Macau, previously the Governor's House until 1999.
Office building of the Legislative Assembly of Macau.
Under Portuguese rule, Macau often served as an expeditionary base to Japan and other regions of East Asia from the 16th century onwards, while maintaining a strong garrison mainly to repel Dutch and mainland Chinese attacks. However since the allied British settled Hong Kong, the need for a strong military presence in Macau dimmed and it became limited before ceasing in 1974. However, despite having no Portuguese garrison left on the territory, a small security force managed by the local PSP was kept, which proved useful with the escalating triad warfare tensions towards the last decades of Portuguese administration. Also the Capitania dos Portos kept operating a coast guard and the Portuguese airforce kept airfields active until the opening of Macau International Airport in the mid-1990s. In 1999, upon handover to the PRC, a substantial garrison of the People's Liberation Army was established in the city helping deliver the last blow to the violence perpetrated by the triads, who were weakened by police action and arrests prior to the handover. The garrison remains, with a large portion of the forces stationed in neighbouring Zhuhai as well.
Macau has a three-tier court system: the Court of the First Instance, the Court of the Second Instance and the Court of Final Appeal. In February 2009, the Legislative Assembly passed a security bill based on the withdrawn security legislation previously introduced in Hong Kong. Democracy advocates feared that the bill's excessively broad scope could lead to abuses, a concern which has been heightened after a number of prominent supporters of democracy in Hong Kong were denied entry into Macau in the run-up to the bill's passage.
The original framework of the legal system, based largely on Portuguese law or Portuguese civil law system, was preserved after 1999. The territory has its own independent judicial system with a high court. Judges are selected by a committee and appointed by the chief executive. Foreign judges may serve on the courts.
 The legislative organ of the territory is the
The government in Macau is headed by the chief executive, who is appointed by the central government upon the recommendation of an election committee, whose three hundred members are nominated by corporate and community bodies. The recommendation is made by an election within the committee. The chief executive's cabinet is made up of five policy secretaries and is advised by the Executive Council that has between seven and eleven members. Edmund Ho Hau Wah, a community leader and former banker, was the first chief executive of the Macau SAR, replacing General Vasco Rocha Vieira at midnight on 20 December 1999. Fernando Chui Sai On is the current Chief Executive. The chief executive and the cabinet have their offices in the Macau Government Headquarters, located in the area of Freguesia de São Lourenço.
The Sino-Portuguese Joint Declaration and the Basic Law, Macau's constitution promulgated by China's National People's Congress in 1993, specify that Macau's social and economic system, lifestyle, rights, and freedoms are to remain unchanged for at least 50 years after the transfer of sovereignty to China in 1999. Under the principle of "one country, two systems", Macau enjoys a high degree of autonomy in all areas except in defence and foreign affairs. Macau officials, rather than PRC officials, run Macau through the exercise of separate executive, legislative, and judicial powers, as well as the right to final adjudication. Macau maintains its own separate currency, customs territory, immigration and border controls, and police force.
Government and politics
Shortly after the overthrow of the Portuguese dictatorship in 1974 in Lisbon, the new Portuguese government determined it would relinquish all its overseas possessions. In 1976, Lisbon redefined Macau as a "Chinese territory under Portuguese administration" and granted it a large measure of administrative, financial, and economic autonomy. Three years later, Portugal and China agreed to regard Macau as "a Chinese territory under (temporary) Portuguese administration". The Chinese and Portuguese governments commenced negotiations on the question of Macau in June 1986. The two signed a Sino-Portuguese Joint Declaration the next year, making Macau a special administrative region (SAR) of China. The Chinese government assumed formal sovereignty over Macau on 20 December 1999. The economy since then has continued to prosper with the sustained growth of tourism from mainland China and the construction of new casinos.
Influenced by the Cultural Revolution in mainland China and by general dissatisfaction with Portuguese government, riots broke out in Macau in 1966. In the most serious, the so-called 12-3 incident, 6 people were killed and more than 200 people were injured. On 28 January 1967, the Portuguese government issued a formal apology by means of an "admission of guilt".
After the establishment of the People's Republic of China in 1949, the Beijing government declared the Sino-Portuguese Treaty of Amity and Commerce invalid as an "unequal treaty" imposed by foreigners on China. However, Beijing was not ready to settle the treaty question, leaving the maintenance of "the status quo" until a more appropriate time.
When it was discovered that neutral Macau was planning to sell aviation fuel to Japan, aircraft from the USS Enterprise bombed and strafed the hangar of the Naval Aviation Centre on 16 January 1945 to destroy the fuel. American air raids on targets in Macau were also made on 25 February and 11 June 1945. Following Portuguese government protest, in 1950 the United States paid US$20,255,952 to the government of Portugal. Between the end of the Pacific War and the establishment of the People's Republic of China, Macau served as a safe haven for refugees of the civil war in mainland China.
During the Second World War, unlike Portuguese Timor which was occupied by the Japanese in 1942 along with Dutch Timor, the Japanese respected Portuguese neutrality in Macau, but only up to a point. As such, Macau enjoyed a brief period of economic prosperity as the only neutral port in South China, after the Japanese had occupied Guangzhou (Canton) and Hong Kong. In August 1943, Japanese troops seized the British steamer Sian in Macau and killed about 20 guards. The next month they demanded the installation of Japanese "advisers" under the alternative of military occupation. The result was that a virtual Japanese protectorate was created over Macau.
In 1928, after the Qing dynasty had been overthrown following the Xinhai Revolution, the Kuomintang (KMT) government officially notified Portugal that it was abrogating the Treaty of Amity and Commerce; the two powers signed a new Sino-Portuguese Friendship and Trade Treaty in place of the abrogated treaty. Making only a few provisions concerning tariff principles and matters relating to business affairs, the new treaty did not alter the sovereignty of Macau and Portuguese government of Macau remained unchanged.
Following the Opium War (1839–42), Portugal occupied Taipa and Coloane in 1851 and 1864 respectively. On 1 December 1887, the Qing and Portuguese governments signed the Sino-Portuguese Treaty of Amity and Commerce, under which China ceded the right of "perpetual occupation and government of Macau by Portugal" in compliance with the statements of the Protocol of Lisbon. In return, Macau Government would cooperate with Hong Kong's smuggle of Indian opium and China would be able to increase profits through customs taxes. Portugal was also obliged "never to alienate Macau without previous agreement with China", therefore ensuring that negotiation between Portugal and France (regarding a possible exchange of Macau and Portuguese Guinea with the French Congo) or with other countries would not go forward – so that the British commercial interests would be secured; Macau officially became a territory under Portuguese administration.
The Dutch Governor Jan Coen said after the defeat that "The slaves of the Portuguese at Macau served them so well and faithfully, that it was they who defeated and drove away our people there last year", and "Our people saw very few Portuguese" during the battle.
Macau prospered as a port but it was the target of repeated failed attempts by the Dutch to conquer it in the 17th century. On June 24, 1622, the Dutch attacked Macau in the Battle of Macau, in the hope of turning it into a Dutch possession. The Portuguese repulsed their attack and the Dutch never tried to conquer Macau again. The majority of the defenders were African slaves, with only a few Portuguese soldiers and priests. Captain Kornelis Reyerszoon was commander of the 800 Dutch strong invasion force.
As more Portuguese settled in Macau to engage in trade, they made demands for self-administration; but this was not achieved until the 1840s. In 1576, Pope Gregory XIII established the Roman Catholic Diocese of Macau. In 1583, the Portuguese in Macau were permitted to form a Senate to handle various issues concerning their social and economic affairs under strict supervision of the Chinese authority, but there was no transfer of sovereignty.
During the 17th century, some 5,000 slaves lived in Macau, in addition to 2,000 Portuguese and 20,000 Chinese.
By 1564, Portugal commanded western trade with India, Japan, and China. But their pride was shocked by the indifference with which the Chinese treated them. The senate of Macau once complained to the viceroy of Goa of the contempt with which the Chinese authorities treated them, confessing however that "it was owing more to the Portuguese themselves than to the Chinese". In 1631 the Chinese restricted Portuguese commerce in China to the port of Macau.
 The Portuguese continued to pay an annual tribute up to 1863 in order to stay in Macau.) of silver.pounds / 41.6 kilograms (18.9 taels they soon built rudimentary stone houses around the area now called Nam Van. In 1557, the Portuguese established a permanent settlement in Macau, paying an annual rent of 500  Around 1552–1553, they obtained temporary permission to erect storage sheds onshore, in order to dry out goods drenched by sea water; In 1513,  Macau did not develop as a major settlement until the Portuguese arrived in the 16th century.
The history of Macau is traced back to the Qin dynasty (221–206 BC), when the region now called Macau came under the jurisdiction of Panyu county, in Nanhai prefecture (present day Guangdong). The first recorded inhabitants of the area were people seeking refuge in Macau from invading Mongols during the Southern Song dynasty. Under the Ming dynasty (1368–1644 AD), fishermen migrated to Macau from Guangdong and Fujian provinces.
Before the Portuguese settlement in the mid-16th century, Macau was known as Haojing (濠鏡, literally "Oyster Mirror") or Jinghai (鏡海, literally "Mirror Sea"). The name Macau is thought to be derived from the A-Ma Temple (Chinese: 媽閣廟; pinyin: Māgé Miào; Jyutping: Maa1 Gok3 Miu6), a temple built in 1448 dedicated to Matsu – the goddess of seafarers and fishermen. It is said that when the Portuguese sailors landed at the coast just outside the temple and asked the name of the place, the natives replied "媽閣" (pinyin: Māgé; Jyutping: Maa1 Gok3). The Portuguese then named the peninsula "Macau". The present Chinese name (Chinese: 澳門; pinyin: Àomén; Jyutping: Ou3 Mun4) means "Inlet Gates".
- Etymology 1
- History 2
Government and politics 3
- Executive 3.1
- Legislature 3.2
- Judiciary 3.3
- Military 3.4
- Climate 4.1
- Economy 5
- Monetary system 6
- Religion 7.1
- Education 8
- Health care 9
- Transport 10
- Cuisine 11.1
- Notable people 12
- Sports 13
- See also 14
- Notes 15
- References 16
- Further reading 17
- External links 18
Macau is one of the world's richest cities, with the highest GDP per capita by purchasing power parity as of 2013, according to the World Bank. It became the world's largest gambling centre in 2006, with the economy heavily dependent on gambling and tourism, as well as manufacturing. Cantonese people from Hong Kong and Guangdong, in addition to the recent mainland tourism from Mandarin-speaking regions, have boosted the economy of Macau significantly. According to The World Factbook, Macau has the second highest life expectancy in the world. Moreover, it is one of only a few regions in Asia with a "very high Human Development Index", ranking 25th as of 2011.