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VISITING THE BEST OF MACAU
 
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Macau tourism and leisure travel tips
 

A Brief History 
  

Fishermen from Fujian and farmers from Guangdong were the first known settlers in Macau, when it was known as Ou Mun, or "trading gate", because of its location at the mouth of the Pearl River downstream from Guangzhou (Canton). During ancient times port city was part of the Silk Road with ships loading here with silk for Rome. 

Even after China ceased to be a world trade centre, Guangzhou prospered from seaborne business with the countries of Southeast Asia, so the local entrepreneurs welcomed the arrival of Portuguese merchant-explorers. They followed in the wake of Jorge Alvares, who landed in southern China in 1513, and set about finding suitable trading posts. 

In the early 1550s the Portuguese reached Ou Mun, which the locals also called A Ma Gao, "place of A Ma", in honour of the Goddess of Seafarers, whose temple stood at the entrance to the sheltered Inner Harbour. The Portuguese adopted the name, which gradually changes into the name Macau, and with the permission of Guangdong's mandarins, established a city that within a short time had become a major entrepot for trade between China, Japan, India and Europe. 

It also became the perfect crossroad for the meeting of East and West cultures. The Roman Catholic church sent some of its greatest missionaries to continue the work of St Francis Xavier, (who died nearby after making many converts in Japan). A Christian college was built, beside what is now today's Ruins of St Paul's, where students such as Matteo Ricci prepared for their work as Christian scholars at the Imperial Court in Beijing. Other churches were built, as well as fortresses, which gave the city an historical European appearance that distinguishes it to this day. 

Portugal's golden age in Asia faded as rivals like the Dutch and British took over their trade. However the Chinese chose to continue to do business through the Portuguese in Macau, so for over a century the British East India Company and others set up shop here in rented houses like the elegant Casa Garden. As Europe's trade with China grew, the European merchants spent part of the year in Guangzhou, buying tea and Chinese luxuries at the bi-annual fairs, using Macau as a recreational retreat. 

Following the Opium War in 1841, Hong Kong was established by Britain and most of the foreign merchants left Macau, which became a quaint, quiet backwater. Nevertheless it has continued to enjoy a leisurely multicultural existence and make daily, practical use of its historical buildings, in the process becoming a favourite stopover for international travellers, writers and artists. 

Macau has developed in the past industries such as textiles, electronics and toys, while today has built up world class tourism industry with a wide choice of hotels, resorts, MICE facilities, restaurants and casinos. Macau's economy is closely linked to that of Hong Kong and Guangdong Province, in particular the Pearl River Delta region, which qualifies as one of Asia's 'little tigers'. Macau provides financial and banking services, staff training, transport and communications support. 

Today Macau is a Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China, and, like Hong Kong, benefits from the principle of "one country, two systems". The tiny SAR is growing in size - with more buildings on reclaimed land - and in the number and diversity of its attractions. The greatest of these continues to be Macau's unique society, with communities from the East and West complementing each other, and the many people who come to visit. 
 

Location 
  
Macau is located in Guangdong province, on the western bank of the Pearl River Delta, at latitude 22º 14º North, longitude 113º 35º East and connected to Gongbei District by the Border Gate (Portas do Cerco) isthmus. 

The Macau Special Administrative Region has an area of 29.5 sq. km, comprised of the Macau Peninsula 9.3 sq. km and connected to Mainland China), the islands of Taipa (6.8 sq. km) and Coloane (7.6 sq. km) and the reclaimed area 
COTAI (5.8 sq. km). Three bridges connect Macau to Taipa (one of them is 2.5km long, the other one is 4.5 km long and the third one is 2.2 km long). 

Besides the Border Gate (Portas do Cerco) - the visitor can access Mainland China through the COTAI Frontier Post. Immigration and Customs is located in the reclaimed area between the islands of Taipa and Coloane. 
  

Time 

Macau is eight hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time. 
  

Population 

The total population is estimated at around 549,500 . About 94% are ethnic Chinese, from different provinces, namely Guangdong and Fujian. The remaining 6% includes Portuguese, European and other nationalities. 
  

Language 

Chinese and Portuguese are the official languages, Cantonese being most widely spoken. The official languages are used in government departments in all official documents and communications. English is generally used in trade, tourism and commerce. 
  

Currency 

The Pataca (MOP$) is divided into 100 avos and it is Macau's official currency. There are banknotes and coins in the following denominations: 
Coins: 10, 20 and 50 avos; 1, 2 and 5 Patacas. 
Banknotes: 10, 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1000 Patacas (+- EUR 1, 2, 5, 10, 50, 100). 

By the decision of the Government the Pataca is linked to the Hong Kong dollar (HK$). The exchange rate is MOP$103.20 = HK$100.00. There is an acceptable variation up to 10%. Roughly 8 Patacas is equivalent to 1 US Dollar. 

Foreign currency or travellers' cheques can be changed in hotels, banks and authorised exchange dealers located all around the city. If the visitor needs to change money outside the usual banking hours, there are 24 hours exchange counters operating in the Macau International Airport (Taipa Island) and in the Lisboa Hotel (Macau). Banks open normally from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.. Most credit cards are accepted in many hotels, shops and restaurants. 

There are no restrictions on the amount of currency, which can be brought in or taken out of the territory. 
  

Climate and clothing 

The climate is fairly warm tropical climates. Annual average temperature is about 20ºC (68ºF) and ranges from 16ºC (50ºF) to 25ºC (77ºF). Humidity levels are high and average values vary between 73% and 90%. Annual rainfall is 1.778mm, mostly during summer. 

Autumn (October - December) is the most pleasant season. Days are sunny and warm and humidity levels are low. Winter (January - March) is cold but sunny. In April humidity increases and from May to September the climate becomes hot, humid and rainy with occasional tropical storms (typhoons). 

Warning signals for typhoons depend on the proximity of a tropical storm. If the signal 8 is hoisted, the bridges between Macau and Taipa will be closed while the lower level of the Sai Van Bridge remains open, and as a preventive measure, sea and air connections between Macau and Hong Kong as well as most flights will also be cancelled. 

In the summer, visitors are advised to wear light cotton clothes. In winter some woolen clothes are recommended as well as a thicker jacket or even an overcoat. From March to May as well as from September to November nights are cooler and therefore a cardigan or sweater will be useful. 
 

Water 

Macau's water is supplied directly from Mainland China and is purified. Chlorine is added for extra protection. Distilled drinking water is supplied in all hotel rooms and in restaurants. 
  

Electricity 
  

Electricity in Macau is at 220V, 50Hz. The power plugs used in Macau are of the three-pin, square-shaped or round-shaped type. It is suggested to check before using an electrical appliance. 
  

Health and Hospitals 

Vaccination certificates are required only in exceptional circumstances, either in Macau or through the region, where vaccinations are needed. Visitors are not advised to have any particular vaccinations. 

Tap water is regularly checked and guaranteed by the Health Department according to international standards. 

In a medical emergency, contact the S. Januário Hospital (Government) located in Estrada do Visconde de S. Januário, Macau (tel. 28313731) or the Kiang Wu Hospital (Private) located in Estrada Coelho do Amaral, Macau (tel. 28371333). Emergency services in these hospitals are open 24 hours. In less urgent cases visitors can go to any Health Centre in Macau or in the islands. The most central one is the Tap Seac Health Centre located between Rua do Campo and Av. Conselheiro Ferreira de Almeida. Tel: (853) 2852 2232. 

Besides western medicine, visitors can find several traditional chinese medicine doctors. Detailed information regarding Chinese Medicine can be obtained from the Macau Health Department (tel.28562404) or Kiang Wu Hospital (tel. 28371333). 
  

Safety and Security 

Macau is a very safe place. There are police stations and reporting centres throughout the territory and for emergency dial 999. There are also two new 24 hour emergency hotline numbers 110 and 112 meant to facilitate emergency calls by tourists from the mainland and abroad. 
  

Media and Information 

There are plenty of daily and weekly newspapers in Macau published in Chinese, Portuguese and English. 

Moreover, there are several Chinese and Portuguese magazines published in Macau regarding several aspects of the life and culture in Macau and region: the 'Revista de Cultura', edited by the Cultural Institute (published quarterly and in two versions: Chinese version and Portuguese & English version). There is also a magazine named 'Macau', a periodical publication in Chinese, Portuguese and English versions. English and Chinese languages newspapers and periodicals from overseas are readily available at most local newspaper stands or in major hotels. 

Macau has its own Chinese and Portuguese radio and TV stations: Teledifusão de Macau (TDM), while Macau Cable TV provides its viewers with around 40 channels of diverse TV programmes. 
  

Post & Telecommunications 
  

Telephone Service 
Local calls in Macau are free of charge when made from a private phone. When using a public phone, they cost MOP$1.00. Phone cards can be purchased for MOP$50.00, MOP$100.00 or MOP$150.00 and they can be used as well as coins in public phones located all around the city and the islands. In the busiest areas there are also credit card phones. 

If you would like to use your mobile phone while in Macau, please contact the information services below:  
1000 (CTM)  
1118 (Hutchison Telecom)  
1628 (SmarTone)  
1888 (China Telecom (Macau) Co., Ltd.) 

Besides, Hutchison Telecom Network is now providing the Mobile Tour Guide Service. Visitors can listen to the voice information service by dialing the Spot Code #83. 

Postal Services 
The postal services of Macau are comprehensive. The headquarters is located at Senado Square and postal branches are throughout Macau peninsula, Taipa & Coloane. It provides letter post, parcel & express mail services to everywhere in the world. The opening hours of the Central Post Office are from 9:00am to 6:00pm (Monday to Friday), and on Saturday from 9:00am to 1:00pm. Terminal Post Office is located at the Arrival Hall of the Macau Ferry Terminal (Outer Harbour) and Airport Post Office is located at the Departure Hall of the Macau International Airport. The opening hours are from 10:00am to 7:00pm (Monday to Saturday). Rua do Campo Post Office is located on the ground floor of the Public Administrative Building. It is opened from 8:30am to 7:00pm (Monday to Friday). The Communications Museum is located at Estrada de D.Maria II, no.7. It also provides letter post service (under 2 Kgs) and it is opened from Tuesdays to Sundays 9:30 to 17:30. There are over 30 automatic vending machines located in different areas of the city, which provide round-the-clock postal services. For more information, please contact (853) 2832 3666 or visit http://www.macaupost.gov.mo. 

In addition to the postal services, Macau Post also provides Western Union money transfer service. You can go to Macau Postal Savings where is located at Rua de Sé (behind the headquarters of Macau Post). The opening hours are from 8:30am to 6:00pm (Monday to Friday), on Saturday from 9:30am to 1:00pm, and on Sunday from 2:30pm to 6:00pm. This service is also available in Central Post Office, Terminal Post Office, Airport Post Office, Ocean Gardens Post Office, Coloane Post Office, Communications Museum Shop and eSignTrust Registration Authority. For more information, please contact (853) 8396 8319 or visit http://www.macaucep.gov.mo 
 

  
Internet Facilities 

Internet facilities are available at Macau Business Tourism Centre, public libraries and major hotels. You may also find several cyber-cafés all over the city. Website of Macau Central Library: http://www.library.gov.mo 

In addition, the Macau SAR Government has provided citizens and visitors with free wireless Internet access - "WiFi GO", at 34 selected locations. Available daily from 8:00am to 1:00am the following day, users can use a non-encrypted connection (network name wifigo) or encrypted connection mode (network name wifigo-s). User name and password are wifigo, for 45 minutes per session in high density areas throughout the territory. For details, please visit: http://www.wifi.gov.mo 
 

Tourism information office 

Macau is doted with a very efficient tourist office, publishing an abundant litterature and maps. It also efficiently assists tours, sightseeing, restaurants and hotel reservations: 

MACAU GOVERNMENT TOURIST OFFICE 
Address: Alameda Dr. Carlos d'Assumpção, nºs 335-341, Edifício "Hot Line", 12º andar, Macau 
E-MAIL: mgto@macautourism.gov.mo 
PHONE: +853 2831 5566   FACSIMILE: +853 2851 0104 | Tourism Hotline: +853 2833 3000 
 

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