My Mom and I probably made every bad decision that we could while taking a day trip from Hong Kong to Macau. Our biggest mistake was not doing enough research beforehand which meant wasting a lot of time figuring things out. We spent way too long trying take the ferry and then find the sights we wanted to see once we got into Macau. Cheers to you for trying to plan ahead and make the most out of your trip by reading this! Learn from my mistakes so that you can have a more efficient and awesome day trip to Macau.
If you’re planning a trip to Macau make sure to check out my post Plan an Epic Day Trip to Macau for a list of the awesome sights of this wonderful city.
Getting to Macau by Ferry
I took the ferry to Macau from the Kowloon terminal and came back to Hong Kong via the Hong Kong Island terminal in December 2016. All information is accurate from time of posting but is subject to change.
Mistake #1 showing up at the wrong ferry terminal
For some reason, I made the assumption that the ferries to Macau left out of the same terminal as the ones going to Hong Kong Island but rather they leave from China Ferry Terminal, on the Tsim Sha Tsui/Kowloon side and the Hong Kong – Macau Ferry Terminal on Hong Kong Island. The addresses for these terminals are below. Ferries also leave directly from the airport if you are flying in and immediately going over to Macau.
China Ferry Terminal Address: 33 Canton Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong.
Hong Kong – Macau Ferry Terminal Address: Shun Tak Centre, 200 Connaught Road Central, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong.
Mistake #2 we didn’t book tickets for the ferry ahead of time
I highly recommend buying tickets before you show up especially if you know around what time you want to leave. You can book tickets online here.
If you don’t buy your tickets ahead of time know that the ticket line can be packed, especially on holiday weekends. When you enter the ticket hall look for the line that’s labeled Turboboat. There’s people working the lines and telling tourists where to go, but they will automatically put you in the “first class” ticket line to try to get you to buy more expensive tickets. If the lines are crazy and you’re not on a super strict budget, buy the first class tickets to save yourself the time and headache of waiting in line. We waited over an hour in line.
Tickets cost about 17 to 23 USD one way, economy class. There’s a processing fee if you book tickets online.
Mistake #3 we assumed we’d be able to get on the next boat out
Not realizing that the terminal would be packed we thought we could just hop on the next ferry but no, even after buying our tickets we waited over an hour for our ferry to board. Ferries run about every hour from Kowloon and supposedly every 15 minutes from Hong Kong Island although they definitely were only running one an hour when we came back. Every boat going out was full so the next available tickets were for the boat an hour and a half later. It would have been worth it to buy the higher class tickets and save the time we spent waiting.
Near the ticket office there are a few guys standing around selling tickets out of a pile in their hands. They seem to have a pretty lucrative business going: they buy tickets ahead of time and then once the office has sold out of tickets and it’s about time for that boat to leave they sell them at a higher cost. We watched them sell almost every ticket they had to people who really wanted to be on the next boat leaving. If you’re keen on getting onto the next boat then I’d buy a marked up ticket from these guys or a first class ticket.
I traveled to Macau on New Year’s weekend; it may not ALWAYS be this bad and definitely won’t be if you’re traveling during the week.
Mistake #4 not buying a ticket to come back to Hong Kong when we arrived in Macau
While in Kowloon, I tried to buy a return trip but the women at the ticket office said if I bought them there we’d have to be on the 4:30pm boat back. We were planning on staying later than that but we should have still bought tickets to go back when we arrived in Macau. We didn’t.
We got back to the terminal around 9pm and were told that there we no ferry tickets left for the night to either terminal in Hong Kong. I asked if there were first class tickets left and they said there were for the 11pm boat. The guy next to me and his family were about to walk away because he was told the same thing until I mentioned to him the first class tickets; they weren’t even going to tell me or him about it until we asked! If you miss the last boat you’re either staying in Macau for the night or paying 550 USD to take a helicopter back- pricy but it would be cool nonetheless.
By the time we got home, we were on the wrong side of the city, the subways had stopped running and we unfortunately had to an expensive cab ride back to Tsim Sha Tsui.
Mistake #5 trying to figure out public transit in Macau
I thought I could figure out the bus system in Macau but nope, we totally got on the wrong bus and went to the completely wrong area before we just grabbed a cab and headed to where we actually wanted to go. Even though we were in the wrong place, I always feel like public transit is the best way to see parts of the city that you wouldn’t normally go to. But at the time, I was upset for wasting even more of our day. Now that I’ve been researching Macau a bit more I’m even more upset that I didn’t know that all of the major hotels have free shuttles from the ferry terminal. You can jump on one and from the hotel walk to the main sights of Macau.
Even though it took us forever to get to Macau, the trip was definitely worth it! Before I went I thought it would just be big casinos and hotels but there’s a lot more to the city than that. Check out what other sites the city has here!