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Macau Trip Report with Pictures

Discussion in 'Non-Vegas Trip Reports' started by DBear, Mar 16, 2008.

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  1. DBear

    DBear VIP Whale

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    My Trip Report

    Pictures were added with SHOCK's assistance.

    Visited the tiny island of Macau (about a 1hr ferry ride from Hong Kong) last week. Didn't stay overnight but wanted to visit the gaming mecca of the east for at least a day trip while vacationing in Hong Kong.

    Started out at the HK ferry terminal. With the strong exchange rate to HK dollars, we could easily step up and pay the first class fares for the trip over to Macau. Used Turbojet as the ferry. First class includes bigger seats, a light meal, reading materials, a separated waiting lounge at the terminal with leather chairs, and they let you off first before the rest of the ship once you arrive. Total cost round trip was about $30USD for a first class ticket!

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    Once off the ship, you have to go through customs which is a relatively easy process. We had no plans when we got there so we just stood around looking at the information signs. Most of the major casinos offer free shuttles (big air-conditioned buses) to their casinos. Saw the familiar signs of Wynn and Venetian and was about to go on one of their buses until a man came up to us. No, it wasn't a timeshare seller but a tour guide rep. He must of seen us standing around looking lost so he brought us around to his counter and explained that they offer half day tours for about $27USD each which included a private minivan and tour guide. We said yes, paid cash and by the time I came back from the washroom, our tour guide was already waiting by the counter to take us to the minivan.

    The tour was the best thing we could have done for being there for such a short time. Most travel guide books say the best way to explore Macau is on foot as I think it's only about 20 square km's. But it was now 11am and our ferry ride back was at 7pm so a guided tour was probably best. The tour was great, the guide was friendly and he drove us straight to each sight to see which included St. Paul's ruins (a 1600's church that burned and only the front wall remains), the Macau tower (kinda like the Stratosphere ), several hilltop viewpoints, the Grand Prix museum, a temple and a few other spots.

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    The tour lasted about 3 hours and at the end, he dropped us off in the casino area where most of the casinos are located. It's not like the Vegas strip where one casino is right next to the other. These ones are more spread out and actually, the Cotai strip where the Venetian and some newer casinos are being built are on a separate island (only 5 minutes away over a bridge). The area we were in was near the ferry terminal where the Grand Lisboa, Wynn, Starworld and MGM Grand are located. There's many more smaller ones in the area but those are the major ones.

    The Grand Lisboa casino hotel is shockingly tall. The hotel is in the shape of a lotus flower (their national flower) and towered over the Wynn. The Wynn was shockingly small. It's probably less than half the size of the Vegas version (at least the hotel tower anyways). The MGM Grand is a big tower with some cool wavy designs. Most of these casinos are brand new - MGM has been open for about 3 months and the Wynn and Grand Lisboa have recently opened as well.

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    The games of choice were the biggest difference. No blackjack was found. Instead, dice games like sic bo were abundant as well as plenty (and I mean plenty) of bacarrat tables. Slot machines were far and few between except at the MGM Grand which I had read was a conscious decision of theirs to try to promote more slot play. The card games I think are in the back corners of the casinos. I'm sure you can find blackjack if you wanted to. I remember seeing a Carribbean Stud poker table at the MGM in a back corner but that section was completely empty - not even dealers waiting for players there.

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    I couldn't believe the lack of English spoken inside the casinos (even by employees). Yes, it's part of China but English is almost like a first language in Hong Kong. It took us forever to try to get directions to a buffet restaurant which we eventually gave up on trying to find. The tour guide had recommended the Grand Lisboa's buffet but that one was closed when we got there so we went in search for another. We ended up eating at Chef Leo's inside the MGM Grand. Again, with the exchange rate, it wasn't too expensive, maybe $20USD each for a good sized Asian meal with about 6 or 7 shared dishes.

    I had wanted to visit the Venetian but when told that it was on the other side of the bridge, I didn't want to risk missing our 7pm ferry. Through the reading materials on the ferry, the Venetian supposedly has lots and lots of shopping - their Grand Canal shoppes are twice as large as the Vegas ones. But, I also wanted to see Wynn so we hung around there for the last hour. Lots of high end shops inside including Prada, Chanel, Ferrari (but no dealership), Hugo Boss, Louis Vuitton etc.

    I don't think they serve alcohol inside at the tables. Water bottles are free and there are many counters/tables inside each casino where you can just take a bottle of water. Coffee/tea was available from a waitress with a cart but she stayed in one spot all the time. Every casino made you go through metal detectors before going inside and every bag is searched.

    There's a free attraction at the Wynn. Every half hour, the side entrance to the casino has an area where the ceiling opens up and a giant chandalier comes down to music while the "Tree of Prosperity" blooms upwards from beneath the floor. Kinda cheesy and definitely Vegas inspired but it killed some time.

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    Soon, we hopped aboard the free shuttle buses back to the ferry terminal and went back to Hong Kong. It was definitely nice to see Macau after reading so much about it. The casino boom there is a relatively recent one as I think it was only in 2002 or 2003 when outside gaming companies (Wynn, Adelson) were granted licences in Macau, although Stanley Ho has had a monopolistic rule there for over 40 years. Google his name if you want to know more about him. Interesting life...depending on which reports you read, he either made his first million as a company bonus by fighting off pirates in the South China Sea or he was involved in gunrunning to North Korea. Nevertheless, he's now on the Forbes list of the world's richest. Many more casino hotels are being constructed there right now by companies from Australia, Malaysia, Britain and of course Vegas. I read a local magazine there and even the locals are crediting these Vegas operators as bringing new things like gourmet dining and theatre shows to them. I missed Celine Dion there by 3 days. I always seem to miss her in Vegas too.

    I would recommend Macau if you're in the area. Just keep in mind that it ain't exactly like Vegas and you should always be cautious of your surroundings.
     
  2. MesaMike

    MesaMike Low-Roller

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    Wow - a standing ovation for that trip report and pictures!:nworthy::nworthy::nworthy:
     
  3. angel81chick

    angel81chick Abuelita

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    Great TR!


    After reading and seeing the pictures, it just makes me sadder that I didn't make it to macau when I was in hong Kong!
     
  4. Cleveland Gary

    Cleveland Gary Low-Roller

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    Nice TR!! Good to see Stupak is represented!
     
  5. DonD

    DonD Super Moderator

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    Very, very nice, thank you! :nworthy:
     
  6. aggie182

    aggie182 Off Key and Out of Tune

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    Awesome!
     
  7. sunni

    sunni VIP Whale

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    Great Report ! Thanks .
     
  8. vegasbound

    vegasbound Moderator

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    Very cool, thanks for sharing. My BIL visited Macau last year, he brought me back souvenir's from Wynn. I'd love to see it for myself, though.
     
  9. Coaster Kikky

    Coaster Kikky Tourist

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    I got your thread title changed for you. Very nice report and pictures. Wynn looks like the mini me version of Vegas' doesn't it?

    I was wondering if you got any flack for taking the picture inside, even if it wasn't inside the casino? Any idea if their rules about that are any different?
     
  10. chef

    chef Resident Buffetologist

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    I've always been curious about Macua. Thanks for filling in some of the blanks for me.
     
  11. sanonofresurfer

    sanonofresurfer Dude

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    DBear,
    Thanks for the report. I was going to go to Macau when my ship had liberty in Hong Kong. Unfortunately, a month before we pulled in, they changed the rules saying a military ID was not the same as a passport, and we needed an actual passport to visit the island. SONOFA........! I missed it by one month.
    Well, when I go back to sea duty next year, I'll be damn certain to have a passport with me so I can go. Thanks for the photos!:nworthy:
     
  12. shobi

    shobi Low-Roller

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    Great TR, and fantastic photos - couldn't help but think Wynn looks like a mini - me!! :evillaugh
     
  13. DBear

    DBear VIP Whale

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    The entrances to each casino resort lead you into the public areas (ie. lobby/shopping area/restaurant rows). You must go through another entrance to get inside the actual casino areas where you pass through metal detectors and your bags are searched. You can take all the pictures you want in the public areas but once you cross that casino boundary, leave the camera in your pocket. I thought I was fast enough to take a quick snapshot inside but as soon as I raised the camera, there was a security guard's hand in my face and even though I don't understand the Chinese language, I could tell I better put the camera away. Couldn't even get a click off.

    The mini-Wynn definitely shocked me. I did not expect it to be such a small tower, although I read he plans to build another resort on the Cotai strip, closer to the Venetian. I did not see the Venetian but it's apparently twice as large as the Vegas version (Palazzo excluded I'm assuming).
     
  14. gmoney590

    gmoney590 VIP Whale

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    Great pics and report. I too had wondered about Macau and what the casinos were like.
     
    Back where we belong
  15. Eldon

    Eldon Low-Roller

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    Definately improved from the 80's. Then, when the ferry arrived, you also went thru customs, and when I gave a large bill for the visa they asked if I had anything smaller. What they were really asking was did I have enough money to exist for a day in their country.

    Walked past the home of the Macau Grand Prix with pits made of vinderblocks. The town was dusty and run-down.

    There were two casinos, one was a docked ferry. I saw one other Caucasian all day.

    BJ minimum was $100. After winning several hands, several locals started betting on my spot. I indicated a hit for my 16 against dealers 10 and was ignored. I became insistent and the dealer hit me against the wishes of the co-betters on my hand. When I won, I suddenly had eight or nine additional folks betting on my spot. With all the pushing and joshling I lost track of which bet was mine. I was afraid to reach for the chips for fear I'd get the wrong stack. Finally "we" busted, they spent 30 minutes hand shuffling the 10 or 12 decks and everybody drifted off.

    Good news...I won $600.
    Bad news...7 HK dollars = 1 U.S. dollar.
     
  16. raraavis

    raraavis VIP Whale

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    incredible trip report!! gets that travel bug in me itching again! i have never been in any part of asia (ok technically i have but only because the eastern part of turkey is considered asia). i would love to go because it just has to be so different culturally than here in the u.s. someday, when i hit a big jackpot, i will travel all over the world :cool: your pictures are great! :wave:
     
  17. VegasBJ

    VegasBJ VIP Whale

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    Very nice report! I go through Hong Kong 3-4 times a year on my way to China for business, but have never had the chance to take the ferry over to macau. I take that same turbojet ferry to the Shunde port in China.

    Interesting to note the differences. I heard that baccarat ruled over there, but to have virtually no BJ tables is amazing.
     
  18. gotavegasjones

    gotavegasjones VIP Whale

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    Thanks for the great post.

    later, GVJ
     
  19. flamingogal

    flamingogal Low-Roller

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    Nice pictures :):thumbsup:
     
  20. JWBlue

    JWBlue VIP Whale

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    I love the MGM Grand.
     
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