A lot of people who plan visiting Hong Kong ask me whether they should visit Macau and often I say no. They then visit it anyway and later tell me that they feel they shouldn’t have bothered (as per my original suggestion). But some people love Macau. When considering whether to visit Macau, a couple of questions may help you decide.
First, how long will you be in the area? If you plan upwards of five or so days in Hong Kong, a side trip to Macau could make sense. But if you are only going to be in Hong Kong for two or three days, there is more than enough to entertain you in Hong Kong. The additional effort and expense of visiting Macau seems like it could be better spent doing more in Hong Kong.
Secondly, what do you like? Macau has a very specific attraction set. First, Chinese style gambling. Far and away the biggest attraction in Macau is casinos. By Chinese-style, I mean it is serious gambling with large stakes and little interest in aesthetics. If you enjoy a small flutter and a bit of a sense of beseeching Lady Luck you would likely be better suited to a night at the horse races in Hong Kong, which is a much more socially engaging phenomenon. If you seriously like gambling, Macau could be for you.
Secondly, resort like hotels. Hong Kong’s hotel rooms tend to be very small and even expensive hotels can feel poky. Macau has a lot of hotels which are much better value in terms of room size. Plus many, linked to casinos, offer meal deals, buffets and the like which are less common in Hong Kong. They also have a good range of entertainment such as shows.
Finally, a sense of Europe. If you have been to Europe, Macau’s Portuguese heritage does not merit a trip from Hong Kong. But for Asians who have never visited Europe, Macau still has (just) enough of a colonial Portuguese feel to make it interesting, from the street cobbles to the egg tarts, a sprinkling of colonial buildings to Portuguese language signs. Hong Kong has its own, bigger, colonial heritage and Portuguese restaurants but if you want a bit of exposure to Continental Europe in Asia, then Macau can provide this.
Macau does have other attractions, such as green space and seafood, but those are also available without leaving Hong Kong.
Beyond that, there is not much that Macau offers that makes it worth the trip from Hong Kong, which even with cheap ferry tickets is still a bit more expensive than many people realise.