Quick Guide to Macau: Visa-free travel for South Africans

2018-06-27 13:39 - Saara Mowlana
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macau map

Plan your trip to Macau with this Quick Guide. (Photo: iStock)

Why not plan a trip to the magical Macau?

Visit the Ruins of St Paul or Senado Square to admire fairy tale worthy architecture along the mesmerising streets.

Whether you wish to wish to live-out your Game of Thrones fantasy by visiting the various fortresses or chill out in lush Macanese gardens with a good book - in Macau you have these options.

What are you waiting for? Plan your Macau visit now.

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Here's what you need to know if you go:

  • Visas: No visa is required for South Africans for up to 30 days - granted you have a valid passport. 
  • Population: About 631 203 +/- presently
  • Flight time: About 16 hours at best with one stop over

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  • Currency: Macanese Pataca (MOP - MOP$) Current Exchange Rate: MOP$1 = R1.55
  • Medical and health: To avoid illness and dampening your trip experience, be sure to heed the warnings and get the appropriate vaccinations beforehand. All TravellersRoutine vaccinations. Most Travellers: Hepatitis A, Typhoid. Some Travellers: Hepatitis B, Rabies.
  • Country code: +853
  • Emergencies: Dial 999 / 110 / 112 - for more emergency numbers: click here.
  • Public Transport: A network of buses and taxis provide the primary source of public transport and travel around Macau. Read more here.
  • Best time to go: Taking into consideration the climate, the best time to go is between September and December - during the autumn period.
  • Popular Cuisine: Popular dishes include: Portuguese egg tarts, Pork chop buns and Macanese sawdust (or Serradura) pudding to name a few, check out more here.

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Useful phrases to know: 

Cantonese is widely spoken around Macau. However, you may encounter some locals who speak Mandarin or even English. Learn a few key phrases in Cantonese to make your stay more enjoyable. Since Cantonese is written in symbolic script - we've provided the transliteration below.

Useful app to download - Duolingo and Google Translate makes learning a new language easy and fun. 

  • Hello - néih hóu or wai
  • Goodbye - joigin
  • Yes - hai6
  • No - m4 hai6
  • How are you? - néih hóu ma
  • What is your name? - néih giu(jouh) matyéh méng a?
  • My name is... - ngóh giujouh...
  • Where are you from? - néih haih bindouh yàhn a? or néih yàuh bindouh lèih ga? 
  • I'm from... - ngóh haih...yàhn
  • Do you speak English? - neih sikm`hsik góng yìngmán a?
  • How much is this? - Nigo géido chín a? 
  • Sorry - deuim`hjyuh 
  • Please - m`hgòi 
  • Thank you - dòjeh (for a gift) or m`hgòi (for a service)
  • Excuse me - chéngmahn (for attention) or m`hgòi (to get past someone) or sàtpùih (when leaving for a while)
  • Where is the toilet - chisó hái bindouh a?

Practical Tips

When travelling to Macau, make sure you have the following on your packing list:

  • A valid passport, arrival ticket, return ticket, adequate funds;
  • a camera;
  • basic essentials;
  • light, loose-fitting clothing - think convenience before fashion;
  • comfortable and strong shoes or boots if you decide to trek the rougher landscapes;
  • a brimmed hat;
  • sunscreen;
  • insect repellent;
  • formal / occasional wear (depending on your reason for travel);
  • basic toiletries;
  • hand sanitiser;
  • prescription medication;
  • diarrhoea and indigestion meds;
  • sunglasses (and a spare pair);
  • a medical kit (for exploration);
  • a flashlight (for exploration);
  • video camera and accessories;
  • binoculars;
  • vaccination certificates;
  • insurance documents;
  • traveller's cheques;
  • your credit / debit cards;
  • sandals or flipflops;
  • Macau maps - city / town maps and travel guides;
  • a notebook, tablet or smartphone.


  • Travel light. One suitcase of up to 20kg (to check in free) and one cabin bag of up to 7kg will satisfy most airlines' requirements for economy passengers. Some travel companies supply pilgrims with appropriate cabin bags and day bags.
  • Get a waterproof cover / pack for your phone or tablet - rain or sea water, sand and electronics is not a fun mixtape.
  • Get a Macenese sim card quickly and easily when  you arrive - it will save you a lot of data roaming charges!
  • Always carry a lightweight and powerful powerbank to ensure you've always got juice on the move - snapping pics and navigating Google maps tend to chow up battery life rather fast. Make sure you have your charger and a universal adapter too while you're at it.
  • As much as the urge to take as many pictures of the beautiful country as possible is strong, be sure to ask permission before you begin to snap pictures of houses or people. In some cases, you may be required to offer a tip for those pictures.
  • Watch your money - Make sure that, when changing currency you do so in a reputable hotel, foreign exchange bureau or bank.
  • Drinking water - it is safe to drink tap water, but always best to drink purified water from trusted sources or bottled water if you're able.
  • Tipping is not a thing in Macau - most service charges would be included in the bill already. 

Top attractions in Macau

This neon city is known for its gambling scene. Macau has become known as the "Gambling capital of the world" or "Monte Carlo of the Orient". It boasts a whopping total of 38 casinos (as of 2016) - the biggest being 'The Venetian Macao'. 

Get wet at this 270° view theatre. City of Dreams and Franco Dragone Entertainment Group present the world’s largest water extravaganza. Prepare to be on the edge of your seat for spectacular shows that unfold in a water-tastic display.

This cinematic hotel and casino resort is in Cotai. Visit Asia's first leisure resort to integrate TV and film production facilities, retail, gaming and hotels. Ride the world's highest figure-8 ferris wheel and admire the breathtaking views of the city 130m up in the air. 

A-Ma Temple existed before the city of Macau did. It consists of a variety of pavilions dedicated to the worship of different deities in a single complex. A-Ma justly represents Chinese culture - Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism and folk beliefs.

Visit these furry cuties in Coloane Village. Expect to spot multiple animals at the nature park like gorillas, flamingos, monkeys and pandas. Admission to see the animals is free and it is worth the tourist panda-monium.