Travel tips are always better when it comes from someone in-the-know, which is why we mined Yannick Lequellenec for this guide to Macau. The French native is the co-founder of Gastronomy Club, a networking community for the food and beverage industry in China, and recently he traveled to Macau to attend this year’s Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants award ceremony. While there, he visited a number of renowned restaurants and stayed at a few hotels. Here are his recommendations.
Macau has the reputation of being the Las Vegas of the East.
I was invited to attend at the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants awards at the Wynn Palace in April.
I flew with China Southern Airlines and I this was the best Chinese airline experience I’ve had in a long time (on time, smiling service, edible food).
I’ve lived in Shanghai for almost 10 years and I’m quite well integrated (but my Chinese still sucks). I have a Unionpay debit card, Alipay, and WeChat Pay accounts. I didn’t bring my international credit card as I don’t think it’s useful. And this is where I went wrong.
In Macau, as a non-Chinese citizen, you can not use your Alipay, WeChat Pay, and UnionPay debit card. The ATM machines also only recognize cards with a magnetic strip and hotels just don’t accept it.
So, I’m at the airport with my card not working and ¥200 in my wallet.
In Macau, there are no apps for taxis (no Uber, no Didi). There are hotel transfer buses that go pretty much everywhere in town, usually to airports, hotels and the ferry terminals. There are also city buses for tourists and they are free.
I stayed five nights in Macau at three different hotels.
It’s a small business hotel, clean, perfectly located in the old town so quite convenient to just walk around and experience the non-casino part of Macau.
Average price: ¥400 (no breakfast)
Reservation number: +853 2893 9393
The Countdown Hotel in the City of Dreams
Previously named the Hard Rock hotel, it’s between a business hotel and a leisure resort. It’s quite serious, no rich colors, very standard. But it’s located in Cotai with one of the largest shopping malls that has more than just luxury brands. The City of Dreams also has one of the most famous shows: The House Of Dancing Water, an extravagant water show with 3.7 million gallons of water.
Average price: ¥700 (with in-room breakfast)
Reservation number: +853 8868 3333
The Wynn Palace
The Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants awards were hosted in this hotel and most of the press had access to one room and multiple activities and restaurants. Wynn Palace is definitely the incarnation of Macau. It’s is over-the-top, bling-bling, indecent, the entrance has a cable car going around the hypnotic fountain water show, which happens multiple times an hour. Our standard room was enormous, decked in red and gold, and the in-room breakfast was really nice. The service, as with most hotels here, was impeccable.
Average price: ¥1,000 (with in-room breakfast)
There are so many great restaurants in Macau that you’d probably need 10 days to visit all of them, as well as a lot of money. For starters, you have 76 restaurants recognized by the Michelin Guide, from Michelin stars to Bib Gourmand. The most famous would be Robuchon au Dome and the Eight, both in the iconic Grand Lisboa hotel. I had no chance to try them, but I was lucky enough to eat at Jade Dragon, one Asia’s 50 Best restaurant in Macau. There are also a lot of new restaurants that have opened, here are some of my favorites:
Opened a few months ago in the new MGM Cotai hotel, this restaurant blew my mind. It’s probably one of the best restaurants I’ve been to in the world. This restaurant will definitely get awards next year. Imagine Japanese cuisine mixed with Peruvian flavors.
Average price for dinner: ¥400/500 (without alcohol)
Reservation number: +853 8806 2308
Two Michelin stars and number 35 on this year’s Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list.
This Cantonese restaurant by chef Tam Kwok Fung is located in the City of Dreams, Nuwaa Macau, and it really is a destination. Everything is well balanced with fresh, healthy, and organic ingredients. It’s all about the ancient philosophy of well-being in a menu. I loved it.
Average price for dinner: ¥800 (without alcohol)
Reservation number: +853 8868 6688
Modern Italian restaurant located in the Wynn Macau. This one was special because of the view. It directly overlooks the nightly water show, my advice is to book one of the five tables in front of the fountain, it’s hypnotic. The food is nice too.
Average price for dinner: ¥600 (without alcohol)
Reservation number: +853 8986 3663
There are two ways to visit Macau, either go to the famous casinos or visit the old town. All can be done in one day but be warned, it’s a long day of walking.
If you decide to start by the casinos, I suggest these three:
The Wynn Palace
Mostly for the water fountain show (every few minutes) and the cable car. Inside looks like any other casino, full of bling. The cable car is free and from there you can enjoy the water fountain show and the view of the Wynn Palace pool.
Iconic in Las Vegas, iconic in Macau. It has the reputation of being the biggest hotel in town with over 3,000 suites.
The San Luca canal is the main draw. A replica of what Venice would look like but surrounded by Chinese brands. Not very Italian, but worth a walk around (at a fast pace). It’s linked to the Venetian and you can access the next destination:
It’s all about French decadence. The mall is not that interesting (unless you like shopping) and neither is the Eiffel Tower tour, which doesn’t go all the way to the top. But the lobby, the paintings, and the reception area are all quite impressive.
The old town
I’ve heard a lot of people say, “There aren’t many things to see in Macau.” Yes, it’s a small town, but but the little they have is quite interesting, especially their history of Portuguese colonization.
The old town city center
Ruins of St. Paul’s
View from the top of the Macau Museum
I really enjoyed my time in Macau. It’s fascinating. It’s right I haven’t talked about the casinos but I’m not a gambler. You’ll have to discover that for yourself.
It’s easy to not go too expensive, hotels are the same price as Shanghai but they offer way more attractions. If you book online, The Wynn Palace is quite a deal.
I’d like to thank the Wynn Palace and the City of Dreams for their invitation and hospitality during the trip.