Do you love gambling? If so, you’ll love Macau—it’s a paradise
for gamblers. It’s unusual in that respect, too, because it’s not
located in what you’d traditionally considered a part of the
world that’s friendly to gamblers.
The Macanese government’s economy is enormously
dependent on gambling revenue. In fact, most of the country’s
revenue comes from the gambling industry. 25% of the people
living in Macau work in the gambling industry, too. Just last year,
visitors spent $13 billion in the casinos there.
Are you visiting Macau soon? If you are, then you’re probably either on vacation or attending a business
conference. Gambling destinations are perennially popular with the meeting and trade crowd. Macau has some
other points in its favor for conventions—its tropical climate is perfect for visitors. It’s also close to mainland
But since the deregulation of gambling in 2002, the area has been known mostly for slots, baccarat, and VIP
versions of table games like Pai Gow.
If you’re reading this and thinking, maybe Macau doesn’t have anything for me to do if I don’t gambler, well…
you’re probably not alone.
But the fact is, there are some cool activities available for non-gamblers in Macau. In fact, there are plenty of
kid and family friendly activities in the country. All of them are a total blast.
If you’re planning a visit to Macu and don’t want to gamble at the two dozen or so casinos there, look to the
below activities to keep you entertained.
You can read more about each of these activities further down this page. To start with, we’ve provided some
general advice for choosing a non-gambling activity in Macau.
Tips for Picking a Non-Gambling Activity in Macau
We’ve presented pages about non-gambling activities in Atlantic City and Las Vegas, and on all of those pages,
we’ve recommended that the best approach to figuring out what to do is to answer some questions.
What time of year is it?
What age groups are taking part?
How much time do you have?
What’s your budget?
These questions apply to Macau, too, although possibly less so. That’s because Macau is so laser-focused on
gambling that the number of activities available to you there are limited. In other words, you don’t have to
narrow down your choice much, because there just isn’t that much to do here.
What time of year is it?
Macau is a tropical climate with dry and wet seasons. You can expect warm and foggy weather in the spring.
In the summer, it’s hot and raining. In the fall and winter, you can look for clear weather. It’s cool in both of
those last two seasons, but it’s cooler in winter, of course.
If you’re traveling during the rainy season, from April to October, you might consider planning more indoor
activities. The best time to visit, especially if you want to plan outdoor activities, is from the middle of October
What age groups are taking part?
If you look through the suggestions below, you’ll find that many of them are especially appropriate for families
visiting with their children. Some are more likely to bore kids, but they might be a real joy for couples there
on a romantic vacation. Just keep in mind who’s traveling with you when deciding on activities.
How much time do you have?
We’ve tried to provide rough estimates of how time-consuming most of the sights and activities below take.
Many of them are flexible, though. Some people can kill hours in a museum. Others get bored within minutes.
What’s your budget?
Much of what’s available in Macau is affordable. But you can spend a lot of money if you want to, also.
Probably 90% of the suggestions below are cheap or free, but keep your budget in mind when planning.
Here’s another tip related to your budget:
Everything in Macau is negotiable. Don’t hesitate to haggle and dicker to your heart’s content. The locals won’t
look at you funny or be the least bit surprised, because it’s more or less a national tradition to negotiate.
If you negotiate a 20% savings on everything you do here, you’ll save a significant amount of your hard-earned
cash. Macau isn’t the place to be shy about haggling.
Once you’ve thought through these four factors, you can pick and choose from the activities below. We’ve
listed 20 or so activities in most of these kinds of pages, but Macau is smaller and offers less options. Still,
we’ve narrowed it down to a little over a dozen choices that are suitable for a wide variety of travelers who
aren’t interested in gambling.
The Historic Ruins of St.Paul’s
+853 6238 6441
The Historic Ruins of St. Paul’s is the best-known and most beautiful landmark in the country. The Ruins are a
UNESCO World Heritage Site on the grounds of a 16th century religious and educational complex. This was
originally the site of St. Paul’s College and the Church of St. Paul. The Portuguese settlers called this “Mater Dei”.
That was in the 17th century. The Pope dedicated the buildings and the grounds to Saint Paul the Apostle.
At that time, St. Paul’s was the largest Christian church in Asia. European royalty donated amazing amounts of
money and artifacts to its construction. The complex was carved by hand by exiled Japanese Christians. The
façade is a must-see for families and/or couples looking for a romantic spot in which to be photographed.
Bring coins. It’s traditional to toss coins through the uppermost window of the façade for good luck.
The A-MA Temple
+853 2836 6866
The A-Ma Temple is one of the oldest continuously-used Taoist temples in Southeast Asia. Built in 1488, the
temple pays homage to Matsu, the god of fishermen. In fact, the name “Macau” actually comes from the
Chinese name of this temple.
-The A-Ma Temple was built by the earliest settlers of the area.
The A-Ma Temple is a large, beautiful temple complex built by the earliest settles of the area. Their goal was to
provide safety and guidance to fishermen and other navigators. Classical Chinese architecture is the main
draw.But spiritual people from all walks of life also visit A-Ma as a pilgrimage.
You can take a free shuttle bus between A-Ma and the Ruins of St. Paul’s. Combining
these two into a single day’s trip is a great way to save money and get plenty of
culture at the same time. We can think of no better spiritual break from the
Senado Square (or “Senate Square”) is the biggest public space in the city, spreading out from the large Senate
building in the center of town. Senado Square is sometimes called “the Fountain” for the giant fountain at its
center, built to replace a memorial to a Portuguese soldier renowned for killing lots of Chinese people.
The square itself is the attraction, since it’s the best place to see and be seen while in town. Some decent
Chinese and Portuguese restaurants line the square, and shopping is a possibility, too. But if you want to kill a
couple of hours for free, the people-watching here is second to none.
If you walk toward the Casino Lisboa, you’ll come across a tiny unassuming storefront
with a sign that reads “Brick’s Burger Macau.” This is the best burger in all of
Southeast Asia, and a can’t-miss eatery for people homesick for Western-style food.
Fortaleza do Monte
+853 2835 7911
The Fortaleza do Monte is the “Mountain Fortress” famous from guidebooks and tourist slideshows. The
Catholic Church built it in the early 17th century to protect property owned by local Jesuits. The Macanese
seized the fortress a century later. They used it for protection against a Dutch invasion — a lucky move for both
the Portuguese and the Chinese who lived here.
If you’re feeling a little overdosed on history when you visit, don’t worry. The real reasons to visit the Fortaleza
do Monte are the beautiful photos and an opportunity for awesome selfies. The Museum of Macau is also
here, but the views are the real treat.
Take the cable car both up and down to the fortress. The fee is so small as to be
meaningless — like $0.25 American for a round trip ticket. This will save you lots of
legwork and provide even more opportunities for great photos.
AJ Hackett Macau Tower
+853 8988 8656
The bungee jumping opportunity at the AJ Hackett Macau is officially the tallest commercial jump available in
the entire world. If you’re a thrill-seeker, and you can afford the $400 fee, there’s no more interesting
non-gaming event in the entire city. As an added bonus, you’ll get a free T-shirt, a coupon book for meals in
Macau, and a few other goodies, even if you chicken out at the last second and decide not to jump.
You can do any of the bungee-jumping or other daredevil activities at the Hackett
Macau Tower at night for a larger fee. The lights of the city in the background
make the extra money worth spending.
The Rua do Cunho
The Rua Do Cunho is an unremarkable narrow pedestrian pathway. But it does have one thing to distinguish
it–the hundreds of food vendors selling delicacies from all over the world.
-There’s a wide variety of food available on the Rua Da Cunho.
Looking for the best restaurant in Macau?
Go to Rua Do Cunho on Taipa Island with a few bucks and an empty stomach.
The food is that good. The traditional Rua Do Cunho food items are almond cakes, egg rolls, coconut, and
But don’t think you’re going to be snacking on finger-food all night. Hearty Cantonese and Portuguese street
foods are available every couple of feet in this crammed and amazing little food strip.
You can haggle at these or any other food shops in the area. Regardless of what you
read or what people tell you, everything for sale in Macau is negotiable. Don’t want
to pay $1 for a bag of peanut candy? Offer $0.50.You won’t hurt anyone’s feelings,
and in a way, they expect it.
Black Sands Beach
The only significant beach in Macau that’s large enough to be a tourist destination is Hac Sa Beach, aka Black
Sands Beach. This stretch of beach can be found on the somewhat sleepy and totally beautiful Coloane Island.
Don’t expect a totally-black beach, either — the government has brought in more stable yellow sand to assist
with beach erosion.
The entire stretch is about 9 miles long, so big crowds aren’t really a concern. This area is free to the public,
and offers huts for picnics, a play area for kids, tennis and basketball courts, and water sport rentals.
You can camp for free on Hac Sa Beach. There are cafes and bathroom facilities
close by, meaning the only thing you need to bring with you is a tent. It’s a perfect
alternative to the expensive accommodation options in the city.
The Gondola at the Venetian Macau
+853 8117 8222
One of the most-popular attractions in Macau is the recreation of the canals of Venice and their famous
gondola rides at The Venetian. Three different canals are available. You can choose to ride with a larger group
OR (for a bit more money) arrange a private gondola tour.
-A gondola trip is an essential activity when in Macau.
The guides are well-trained vocal performers who will serenade you as you travel. The price for the private
gondola is steep, but it’s also the most romantic start to a date in the entire city.
You won’t find this information on the website, but kids under a certain age ride free.
The trick is that there’s no standard age. If your kids are young enough, you may
get away totally free besides your own ticket price. A tip at the beginning of
the ride goes a long way toward getting your kiddoes a free ride.
A smile doesn’t hurt, either.
The House of Dancing Water
+853 8868 6767
You’ll find The House of Dancing Water inside City of Dreams casino. You don’t have to place a bet to enjoy
this unique water show. It’s an incredible blend of storytelling, watersports, and acrobatics. Built for $250
million, it’s the only space of its kind. It has a 3.7 million gallon water tank that can transform from a pool to a
totally dry stage floor in a matter of seconds.
Along with dancing water jet displays and vocal performances, you’ll experience some crazy over-the-water
motorcycle stunts. The tickets are no more expensive than what you’d pay to see a show in Vegas, but the show
is three hours long and entirely mesmerizing.
Make a night out of your City of Dreams trip without placing a wager. Dine at the
noodle shops on the main floor, take in the show, and play all night in the outdoor
pool and arcade complex.
The Qube Arcade
+853 8118 8890
The Qube is inside the Venetian. It’s an entertainment complex with separate sides for kids and adults. Kids
love the free video games and computer consoles. Parents love that it’s supervised. You can stick around and
be a kid again or go do some shopping or sightseeing. Hundreds of the most popular games are available,
along with a large playground and (in the summer) an outdoor pool complex.
The best time to visit Qube is on the weekends. During the week, visitors to Macau
tend to leave their kids here, while on the weekend, families tend to take trips together.
You can avoid the crowds by visiting Qube on Saturday or Sunday.
Lord Stow Bakery
+853 2888 2534
Lord Stow bakery is where the famous egg tart was conceived. The item is still available in the same form as it
was a hundred years ago. If egg tarts aren’t your thing, don’t worry.This is a legitimate Portuguese-style bakery
with the best (and largest) coffee drinks anywhere in Macau.
Take a photograph at the door. It’s one of the most-photographed locations
in Macau, believe it or not. You may be surprised when your friends ask you later
if you took a photo at Lord Stow’s. But be quick.The line moves fast, and people are
serious about their egg tarts.
The Macau Science Center
+853 2888 0822
After a decade of planning and construction, The Macau Science Center was finished in 2009. It consists of
eight museums under one roof. You’ll find stuff for kids of all ages. Adults, couples, and anyone interested in
art or history will love this place.
The Macau Science Center
The center has a unique and distinctive design.
The Center’s posted hours are from 10 AM to 6 PM, but during select days in the
summer months, they expand a couple of hours in each direction and let everyone
in for free. Unfortunately, these events aren’t planned that far in advance, so call
ahead at the number above to see if a free day is coming soon.
Luxury Goods at Grand Canal Shoppes
+853 8798 4108
The Grand Prix Museum was built in 1993 to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the Macau Grand Prix. Here you
can literally walk through racing history. Macau’s street track is a legendary challenge, and this museum is
home to dozens of classic machines that stood the test.
This is a smallish museum, but the history contained within isn’t available anywhere else, and the Grand Prix
is a big part of Macau’s modern identity. The low price of the ticket combined with the attractions located
conveniently close by make it a great start to a non-gambling day in Macau.
Kids and seniors (55+) get in free all day, every day
Once you get admission to the Grand Prix Museum, you can tour the adjacent
Wine Museum at no extra charge.
The Grand Prix Museum
+853 2882 8888
This is a nearly-identical copy of the famous Grand Canal Shoppes in Las Vegas. The Macau edition offers even
more luxury shopping in a unique setting, with boutique shops set among candle-lit cobblestone walkways
featuring serenading musicians at every corner.
Don’t visit during mid-day.Hordes of people will make your experience less than
pleasant, especially if you’re in a larger group. Come in the morning instead.
You can do some power-walking. Or, if you’re actually looking for a Louis Vuitton
purse or a Louboutin handbag,come in the late afternoon.
Some Final Points
Macau’s heyday may be over. Gambling income is down for the first time since gambling laws were relaxed
about a decade ago.Fewer tourists are visiting due to a reduction in global trade.
Now that gamblers are spending less, it makes sense to expect even more non-gaming activities and
opportunities in the future. For now, it’s tough to find much to do in Macau that doesn’t involve placing a bet.
Even more than Las Vegas, Macau is about gaming.
Whether that remains true in the future is a gamble in itself.
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