The Lunar New Year is here, and that means it is one of the best times to travel while teaching English in Korea at ChungDahm. For the Lunar New Year holiday, my family and I decided to meet in Hong Kong and travel to Macau, the Las Vegas of Asia.
Macau does have direct flights from Seoul but it can be either expensive or limited because Macau has a small airport. Instead, we flew into Hong Kong and took the one hour Turbo Jet boat ride across the bay. After going through immigration, we took one of the many free buses from the port to one of the numerous casinos. We did not stay at a casino/hotel but we were still able to jump on one of the buses and walk to our hotel across the street.
If you have never been to Macau, it is made up of three main districts: Macau, Taipa, and Coloane. There are casino/hotels on both sides so hopping from one side to the other is relatively easy. If you want to go off the beaten path, there are numerous taxis and buses that are available. Since Macau used to be a Portuguese colony, you can still find Portuguese influence in Macau’s food and architecture, especially in Coloane. Most of the people we encountered there only spoke Chinese so we had to find many of the foreign workers to help us with directions.
Macau has a great mixture of old and new and it can be explored in the span of 2 days. There is plenty to do in Macau even if you don’t like gambling. Below are the Three Must See Attractions to visit during your trip to Macau.
1. St. Paul's Cathedral and Senado Square
One of the city’s main attractions is the Ruins of St. Paul’s Cathedral which is a short walk from Senado Square. St. Paul’s Cathedral was burned down due to a typhoon and the only piece left was the front entrance of the church. It was quite beautiful and eerie at the same time. There is also a small catacomb underneath the church site where you can see the bones from those who died.
After seeing St. Paul’s Cathedral, one must visit one of the main eating and shopping areas in Senado Square. There are many food stands that sell some of Macau’s best street food. Some of my favorite things that you must try are the almond cookies, egg tarts, beef/pork jerky, fresh squeezed juice, and the pork chop sandwiches. I had a field day eating and buying food gifts to take back home. If you are adventurous, you should try durian ice cream. It definitely does not suit my taste buds but it is definitely worth trying.
2. Macau Tower
Another main attraction is the Macau Tower sitting right on the river. It gives you some amazing views of both islands that make up Macau. If you are really brave, you can do the world’s highest bungy jump, take a free fall to the bottom of the tower, walk the outside edges of the tower, or climb to the tower’s needle. The best time to visit Macau Tower is at sunset when you can start to see the casino lights begin to shine.
Speaking of casinos, it really did feel like I was back in my hometown of Las Vegas. If you are interested in gambling, be prepared to bring a good amount of cash with you. From the numerous casinos my father and I checked out, many of the card games start between $50-$75. Whether you go to one of the older casinos like the Casino Lisboa or to the new ones like the Wynn, Venetian, or the City of Dreams, that is about the average beginning buy in amount. I tried a little gambling myself and was fortunate enough to break even for the night.
Macau is location to visit during the Lunar New Year holiday, but remember if you plan on gambling to bring a heavy wallet!
After working for five years in banking, Marc decided that it was time for a change before he got too old. He left the stress from his 9-5 job to do something new and different. After coming to Korea with a group of buddies, he landed in the Gangdong Branch in Eastern Seoul. When he's not teaching and doing head instructor duties, he is out about traveling Korea, looking for the new, old, and undiscovered places to visit. Follow him on Twitter @geonmakku and on Instagram @geonmakku for the latest happenings in South Korea.