Setting out early, I boarded the high speed ferry to Macau from the China Ferry Terminal in Hong Kong. I had long been looking forward to this day and as soon as the boat took off, I could hardly contain my excitement. Macau is well known as an international destination for it’s casino’s and the famous Macau Formula 1 car race, but for me it was the Old Town that had sparked my interest. What I was to find was some of the best things to do in Macau.
Although the day was a bit drab and overcast, the ferry ride which only took about an hour was comfortable and not too crowded. I was soon disembarking at the Macau Outer Ferry Terminal and made my way easily through Macau’s customs and border control. Macau is a Special Administrative Territory of China and there is no need to get a visa prior to arrival for citizens from 66 countries (check before to see if your country is on the list).
Just outside I found the Number 3 bus that would take me to the Largo do Senado (Senado Square), and part of Macau’s UNESCO Historic World Heritage Site. Senado Square is lined with beautiful old european styled buildings and it’s easy to feel as if you had just landed in Portugal. As it was still early, the Square was almost empty of people and I was able to take time to soak in the atmosphere of this amazing place.
From Senado Square, I set out to find the Ruins of St. Paul is the site of St. Paul Church. There are plenty of signs to show you your way around in Macau and everything is easy to find. Along the way I took a sneak peak at some of the laneways of Macau, that host a variety of shops and interesting places to eat.
Construction of St. Paul’s Church Macau commenced in 1602, but tragically it was burned down in 1835, leaving only the facade of the building. Original carvings and statues that represent the beginnings of the Catholic Church in Asia still remain in the facade of the building. Statues of the Virgin Mary are positioned alongside carvings of a Chinese Dragon, showing the juxtaposition of two cultures; East and West. Tourists flock to the site and there were plenty of selfies being taken while I was there. It was not at all crowded at the back of the facade which now houses a museum and crypts of Japanese and Vietnamese martyrs. Just a few steps away from the ruins you can easily find places where you can spend some alone time without the crowds of people.
Venturing away from the ruins, I found a little Buddhist temple and little streets where people live their daily lives in Macau. Soon I found myself finding the real Macau.
A stroll up the hill from the Ruins of St Paul, you will find the Monte Fort, a World Heritage listed site. Monte Fort was built by the Jesuits between 1617 and 1626, it is well preserved and now houses the Museum of Macau. But more than this the climb to the top will afford you great views over the city and over the Ruins of St. Paul. You will catch glimpes of the lives of everyday people from this vantage point.
During the afternoon, I spent some getting lost time and wandered the streets of the Old Town. Walking the narrow streets it’s easy to see how people live their daily lives in Macau. Washing hangs out from windows and many people live their lives in housing that would seem to outsiders as old and cramped. Dispite this the locals are friendly and always willing to give you a smile or stop to have a litte chat.
As the afternoon drew to a close I made my way back to Senado Square and back to the Number 3 Bus back to the ferry terminal for my return to Hong Kong. I had the overwhelming feeling that I had visited a truly remarkable place, filled with history and stories of the combining of cultures. I also wished I had more time to spend in Macau.
Macau is a great place to travel as a Solo Female Traveller. It’s safe and most people speak English. Local buses are a great way to get around, extremely cheap and easy to navigate. A great day trip from Hong Kong.
Why not check out Macau for yourself?
I visited Macau a few years ago with my Mum and I loved the architecture of the old town. I agree, a very safe destination for solo female travelers.
Macau is so much more than casinos. We used to live in Hong Kong and would go to Macau for weekends away. Whenever we return to Hong Kong we always try to fit in a few days in Macau.
Macau seems so charming and like a good travel destination, Julie. Your post was so inspiring!
So great to see that there’s another side of Macau besides hotels and casinos. The old town looks charming and traditional. A perfect visit if you are passing through.
Despite the overcast day, you certainly made the most of your time in Macau…well done 🙂 I had no idea there was a UNESCO world heritage site, I had always assumed it to be not such a cultural city, but more of a fun place. Senada square is now on my list 🙂
Sounds like you have a wonderful day out in Macau, I’ve not actually been there myself yet but it is somewhere I would like to visit, St Paul’s church sounds interesting, I guess it was a little weird to see a statue of the virgin Mary next to Chinese dragons but very cool at the same time. This was a lovely read and I’ll keep it in mind for the future 😀
I didn’t realize Macau had so much history – sounds like a great place to wander the streets and get lost – that’s the type of experience I usually aim for in a new city too. Totally agree with you on being fascinated b being able to see how real people live their everyday lives in a different culture. Glad to hear Macau is safe for solo female travelers – will have to get there soon!
I have completely avoided traveling to Asia for fear of the language barrier. These images are amazing and it’s great to know it’s not an overwhelming trip. I’m going to start looking into the area
Macau is high on my list. Good to know that it is a destination to visit as a solo woman traveler. I hear the food is fantastic too, did you get to indulge?
A couple of years back when we had the opportunity to go to HK we clubbed it with Macau. As you say the ferry ride was fast and comfortable. We also found that there was so many things out there to do that we extended our stay to 4 days!
Macau is one of the easiest destination that I can go to but I always skip it. I am not really into very industrialized places with just buildings but I think I should go there soon. There is just so much art around! They say you can do a mini world tour when you are in Macau with their copies of famous places of the world like little Paris there! I should probably do a visit soon!
I prefer to tour places on overcast days. It makes everything better and tends to keep the larger crowds of toursits away. I would love to visit the lost history the chruch. It is to bad it burnt down.
Thank you for this guide! This comes in so handy as I was just thinking about how to plan my visit to Hong Kong and Macao. sounds like I should learn from your mistake and stay two or three nights in Macao.
Happy continued travels!
Macau seems so fascinating with its two seemingly separate worlds that are crashing together. Great to
know as well that it is a good place to go for solo female travelers – how long do you recommend spending
Hi Gabby, I really wished I’d spent a couple more days there.
Macau is one of those places I’ve always wanted to explore but somehow keeps eluding me! I knew about
the St Pauls, Largo do Senado and the casinos but its the things like the little Buddhist temple you
mentioned make it sound far more charming than I ever imagined.
I’ve been avoiding Macau for the fact that it’s known for its casinos, which is not really my travel scene.
It’s good know that the old-town is well-preserved and standing strong. I might put Macau back on my
bucket list. Thanks for sharing this.
I’d love to see a Virgin Mary statue
next to a Chinese Dragon. Are there
many Catholics in Macau these days?
Or they just left the statue standing
for historic reasons?
I’m not sure Vanessa, I’d think there would still be some
I love that despite being known as a hub for casino tourism, Macau has so much culture and a rich cultural
heritage to explore too. The Ruins of St. Paul look really interesting, and thanks for the tip on visiting
Monte Fort for the view back over the city.
Sounds like a fabulous day trip from Hong Kong.
Interesting as we have never been and our impression of Macau, as mentioned is being full of brash
Casinos. Didn’t realise it was so fascinating and was listed as a UNESCO Historic World Heritage Site.
I was there some months back with
group of bloggers. Yes the place did
seem to be absolutely safe for solo
travelers. Macau has so much history
and good to see some standing tall.
Macau is one of those places where it seems to be only known for casinos, so great to hear about another
side. The history of this place is actually quite incredible. I didn’t really know that it was safe/unsafe
either so again, great to hear that it is.
I hope to see St. Paul’s Church one
day. I’ve always found it intriguing.
What about food? Any
The Portuguese Seafood Rice and of course the Egg Tarts were fabulous!
And I thought Macau was just casinos! I’ve never been but this might be another one for my list!
Macao seems really interesting to me,
and your photos of the diverse
architecture makes it even more
I’m bummed I didn’t go to Macau when I was in Hong Kong. Looks like an awesome