HONG KONG & MACAU – A Beginner’s Travel Guide: 5-Day Itinerary and Budget

I thought I could last without traveling but I keep falling under its spell! This time, I blame it on Hong Kong and Macau. This was my boyfriend and I’s first international trip together. I’ve already been to Hong Kong last 2012 but  I really didn’t do much then except going to the markets and Ocean Park. It didn’t give a lasting impression on me so I never had the intention of going back. However, I’ve been longing to visit a Disneyland Resort so I could turn my childhood dream into a reality. I decided to go to the one in Hong Kong which is the most accessible from the Philippines. I figured that I might as well include Macau since it’s only an hour away from Hong Kong via ferry. I’m glad I went back to Hong Kong because it was sweeter to me the second time around!

MACAU

Macau is an autonomous region on the south coast of China. It’s comprised of Macau Peninsula and three conjoined islands: Taipa, Cotai, and Coloane. It is known as the “Las Vegas of Asia” due to its impressive casinos lined up primarily on the Cotai Strip. These casino hotels make Macau look even more splendid at night. I didn’t expect seeing them up close would feel so surreal! Its historical side is also another enticement. Since it used to be a Portuguese colony for more than 300 years, the Portuguese influences, e.g., architecture, cuisine, and language, are evident in some areas until now. How do some people spend only a day trip to Macau? Teach me! Although ours involved more than a day, some of the attractions that were originally in our itinerary such as Taipa Old Village, Rua da Felicidade, St. Augustine’s Square, Lou Kau Mansion, and Wine and Grand Prix Museum, still got cancelled due to time constraints.

HONG KONG

Hong Kong is an autonomous territory in Southeastern China. There’s more to it than the vibrant urban skyline and shopping. We were able to partially explore its three geographical regions, namely Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, and New Territories. We visited Central and Causeway Bay, Tsim Sha Tsui, and Lantau Island respectively in a span of three days. Three days may seem long but I assure you it isn’t so set your priorities when preparing an itinerary whether it’s food, shopping, theme parks, museums, temples, etc. In our case, it was a good decision to allot an entire day for Disneyland because it was, hands down, the highlight of our trip.

Below is our suggested itinerary for two (2) days in Macau and three (3) days in Hong Kong.

ITINERARY

DAY TIME ITINERARY
Day 0 7:20 PM Flight from Manila to Macau via Cebu Pacific Air at NAIA 3
9:30 PM Arrival at Macau International Airport
11:00 PM Check-in: Airbnb
Day 1 8:00 AM Breakfast at Margaret’s Café E Nata, Rua do Comandante Mata e Oliveira
9:00 AM Senado Square
St. Dominic’s Church
10:00 AM Ruins of St. Paul’s
11:00 AM Monte Fort
12:30 PM to 4:00 PM Cotai casino hotels
5:00 PM Macau Fisherman’s Wharf
7:00 PM Macau Peninsula casino hotels
8:00 PM Dinner at Chan Kong Kei, R. do Dr. Pedro Jose Lobo
Day 2 9:00 AM Breakfast at Tai Lei Loi Kei, Rua do Comandante Mata e Oliveira
11:00 AM Bus from San Ma Lo to Macau Ferry Terminal
12:00 PM TurboJET to Sheung Wan, Hong Kong
1:00 PM Arrival in Hong Kong
2:30 PM Check-in: Mini Hotel Central
3:30 PM Star Ferry from Central to Tsim Sha Tsui
4:00 PM Clock Tower
Hong Kong Cultural Centre
5:00 PM Dinner at Delicious Kitchen, Ashley Road, Tsim Sha Tsui
6:00 PM 1881 Heritage
7:00 PM Victoria Harbour
8:00 PM Symphony of Lights
Day 3 8:30 AM Breakfast at McDonald’s, Queen’s Road, Central
9:30 AM MTR from Hong Kong Station to Tung Chung
10:30 AM Citygate Outlets
11:00 AM to 1:00 PM Queue to Ngong Ping 360 (It was a Sunday and the queue literally took 2 hours. Try to arrive earlier or avoid weekends, I guess.)
1:00 PM Ngong Ping 360 to Ngong Ping Village (Finally!)
1:30 PM to 3:30 PM Ngong Ping Village
Big Buddha
Po Lin Monastery
Wisdom Path
4:30 PM Causeway Bay
6:00 PM Dinner at Dim Dim Sum, Tin Lok, Causeway Bay
8:00 PM Central District
Day 4 8:30 AM Breakfast at Café de Coral, Queen’s Road, Central
9:30 AM MTR from Hong Kong Station to Disneyland Resort
10:30 AM to 9:00 PM Disneyland Resort
10:00 PM Dinner at Kau Kee, Gough Street, Central
Day 5 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM Shopping and food trip at Causeway Bay
5:00 PM Bus 15 from Exchange Square, Central to Victoria Peak
6:00 PM Victoria Peak
6:30 PM Tai Cheong Bakery, The Peak Galleria
8:00 PM Central District
9:30 PM Bus A12 from Connaught Road, Central to Hong Kong International Airport Terminal 1
10:30 PM Hong Kong International Airport Terminal 1

BUDGET

Our total expenses amounted to approximately USD 500+ which is quite affordable as most of the tourist spots have no admission fees. Our airfares were also a steal because they were discounted. We only splurged on Ngong Ping 360 and Disneyland, as well as our accommodations. It was difficult to find a cheap accommodation in Macau. Even the hotels that are considered the cheapest yet full of negative reviews aren’t reasonably priced. We resorted to Airbnb instead which has a similar price but is reviewed positively. Our accommodation in Hong Kong, Mini Hotel Central, is also somewhat pricey but it’s understandable given that it’s located in Hong Kong Island. We booked through Hostelworld since it offered the lowest price among the accommodation booking websites that I searched. If you prefer an inexpensive accommodation, I believe Kowloon is a better option.

EXPENSES/ person PHP MOP HKD
Airfare Manila to Macau via Cebu Pacific Air 2224
Travel Tax 1620
Hong Kong to Manila via Cebu Pacific Air 210
Ferry TurboJET from Macau to Hong Kong (Weekend) 166
MTR, Bus, Star Ferry Octopus Card 200
Klook Ticket Ngong Ping 360 (Standard + Crystal Cabin) 1394
Disneyland Resort (1 day) 3149
Accommodation Macau Airbnb (2 nights) 2493
Mini Hotel Central (3 nights) 3592
Pocket Money (food, shopping, etc.) Macau 240
Hong Kong 1000
TOTAL 14472 406 1410

TRAVEL TIPS

1. Take advantage of the free casino shuttle buses in Macau that are offered not only to those who intend to gamble but to everyone who also wants to tour Macau as a whole. If your destination is near a casino, then you could simply ride the shuttle bus that belongs to that particular casino and walk from there. This blog was our lifesaver as it is a useful guide to know the different routes of each shuttle bus. You may also click the following links to view the shuttle bus schedules:

2. Watch shows for free at the casino hotels in Macau! Witness the acrobat performances at The Venetian’s Grand Canal while see the Performance Lake, Dragon of Fortune, and Tree of Prosperity at Wynn.

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Dragon of Fortune at Wynn Macau

3. Find Hong Kong and Macau deals from authorized sellers like Klook to save time. This is where we availed our Disneyland and Ngong Ping 360 vouchers. You can enter Disneyland directly and skip the longer walk-in queue to Ngong Ping 360 by presenting the vouchers.screen-shot-2016-11-22-at-4-48-10-pm

4. Purchase an Octopus Card in Hong Kong worth HKD 150 and use it to pay for transportation, retail, parking, etc. You may top up at any MTR Customer Service Centre or at an Octopus Add Value Machine at any MTR stations.oct

5. Install the Hong Kong Metro and MAPS.ME applications. The Hong Kong Metro is an app that uses the official MTR map, and lets you search for a metro station and calculate your route. The MAPS.ME app, while not solely for Hong Kong and Macau, provides an offline map and GPS navigation. Download the Guangdong map upon installation to navigate Hong Kong and Macau.

6. Bring snacks at Disneyland to save money unless you want to splurge on overpriced food. I’m not sure if packed meals are allowed but what we did was we brought kimbap, bread, and bottled water. Haha no judging but hey, we survived.

7. If you don’t want to shell out cash to view The Peak from Sky Terrace 428, other free options include The Peak Galleria, Lugard Road, and The Lion’s Pavilion. Additionally, a cheaper alternative of the Peak Tram is Bus 15 from Exchange Square bus terminus near MTR Hong Kong Station Exit D or minibus 1 from the public transport interchange at MTR Hong Kong Station Exit E that will take you directly to The Peak.

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The view from The Peak Galleria

8. Don’t always trust the weather forecast lol. Rather, prepare for unexpected weather conditions. According to the weather forecast prior to our departure in early November, the temperature in Macau was 25 °C. Imagine my horror (because the only outerwear I brought was a crochet cardigan) when the flight attendant announced upon our landing at the airport that it was 15 °C outside. Meanwhile, the weather in Hong Kong was pleasant. The days were warm and the nights were crisp.

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Everyone else was wearing trench coats and quilted jackets on a cold November day in Macau.

9. Hong Kong and Macau have a type G standard power socket, 220 V standard voltage, and 50 Hz standard frequency. Bring either a type G or a universal adapter just in case your accommodation doesn’t provide one.

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Type G

10. Don’t be startled when strangers share a table with you while dining in Hong Kong and Macau. This common practice is widespread at yum cha restaurants, dai pai dongs, and cha chaan tengs.

11. Cantonese language is widely spoken in Hong Kong and Macau. Learn a few basic phrases for easier communication.

cantonese

HAHA! These were the souvenirs I bought years ago at the Temple Street Night Market.

Hong Kong and Macau are perfect for beginners and solo travelers because they’re both convenient, affordable, and safe to travel to. Aesthetically pleasing surroundings, frequent food trips, and an immense amount of walking await you. This was honestly one of the most strenuous trips I’ve ever experienced (sign of aging?) so I told myself that if I go back, I would just chill out and live more like a local.

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