Before traveling to Macau, knowing Macau, his history, and his heritage will make travel more interesting.
A Brief History
Location & Time
Climate & Clothing
Water & Electricity
Healthcare & Hospitals
1.A Brief History
Fishermen from Fujian and farmers from Guangdong were the first known settlers in Macao, 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 Macao, 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 Macao, 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 Macao as a recreational retreat.
Following the Opium War in 1841, Hong Kong was established by Britain and most of the foreign merchants left Macao, 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.
Macao 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. Macao’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’. Macao provides financial and banking services, staff training, transport and communications support.
Today Macao 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 Macao’s unique society, with communities from the East and West complementing each other, and the many people who come to visit.
2.Location & Time
Macao is located in Guangdong province, on the western bank of the Pearl River Delta, at latitude 22º 14′ North, longitude 113º 35′ East and connected to Gongbei District by the Border Gate (Portas do Cerco) isthmus.
The Macao Special Administrative Region has an area of 32.9 km², comprised of the Macao Peninsula (9.3 km² and connected to Mainland China), Taipa (7.9 km²), Coloane (7.6 km²), the reclaimed area COTAI (6.0 km²), Zone A of the new district (1.4 km²) and Macao Administration Zone on the Artificial Frontier Island of Zhuhai-Macao of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge (0.7km²). Three bridges connect Macao to Taipa (one of them is 2.5 km long, the other one is 4.4 km long and the third one is 2.1 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 Taipa and Coloane.
Macao is eight hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time.
The total population is estimated at around 679,600 . Over 90% of Macao residents are ethnic Chinese. The remaining includes Portuguese, Filipino and other nationalities.
Chinese and Portuguese are the official languages while 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.
The Pataca (MOP) is divided into 100 avos and it is Macao’s official currency. There are banknotes and coins in the following denominations:
Coins: 10, 20 and 50 avos; 1, 2, 5 and 10 Patacas.
Banknotes: 10, 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1000 Patacas.
By the decision of the Government the Pataca is linked to the Hong Kong dollar (HKD). The exchange rate is MOP103.20 = HKD100.00. There is an acceptable variation up to 10%. Roughly 8 Patacas is equivalent to 1 US Dollar.
Foreign currency can be changed in hotels, banks and authorised exchange dealers located all around the city. The Macau International Airport also provides currency exchange service. Banks open normally from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.. Most credit cards are accepted in many hotels, shops and restaurants.
According to the provisions of the Law, passengers arriving at Macao carrying cash or CBNIs, such as traveller’s cheques, cheques, bills of exchange, money orders and promissory notes, with value of or exceeding MOP 120,000.00, should use the Red Channel with a completed declaration form and make a declaration to the Customs officer. Passengers leaving Macao need to disclose truthfully the amount of cash or CBNIs carried when asked by a Customs officer, or they shall be liable to a fine of MOP 1,000.00 to MOP 500,000.00. Travelers who have a layover in Macao SAR and transit to another destination have no obligation of declaration. For more details, please visit the Macao Customs Service’s websdite: www.customs.gov.mo/cn/customs6.html
6.Climate & Clothing
Located in the subtropical climate zone, Macao has moderate climate conditions throughout the year. Annual average temperature is about 23ºC (73ºF) and ranges from 20ºC (68ºF) to 26ºC (79ºF). Humidity levels are high in the city, where the average annual relative humidity tops 79%. The average annual rainfall measures about 2,058 mm in Macao, with the rainy season falling between May and September every year. The Macao Meteorological and Geophysical Bureau will issue a rainstorm warning when the amount of precipitation over Macao is expected to reach about 50 mm in the next two hours.
October to December is the most pleasant season to visit Macao, when visitors can enjoy warm autumn days with low humidity. January, February and March are the winter months with relatively cold but sunny weather, when it slowly gets warm again in April. From May to September, the weather becomes hot and humid with more rainy days and occasional tropical storms (known as typhoons). The level of typhoon warning signals depends on the intensity and proximity of a typhoon to Macao. When signal No. 8 or above is hoisted, the cross-sea bridges will be closed for safety reasons including Governador Nobre de Carvalho Bridge, Friendship Bridge, the upper deck of Sai Van Bridge and Lotus Bridge; as an immediate measure, the enclosed lower deck of Sai Van Bridge will be opened provisionally for light automobiles to commute between Macao and Taipa. Outbound ferries and flights from the city will also be delayed or cancelled.
In summer, visitors are advised to wear light cotton clothes for a pleasant journey in Macao; while woolens are recommended along with a thick jacket or an overcoat to keep warm during winter. It is great to bring along cardigans or sweaters in spring (March to May) or autumn (September to November) as nights are cooler during the two seasons.
For more infomation please visit website of the Macao Meteorological and Geophysical Bureau
7.Water & Electricity
Macao’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 in Macao is at 230V, 50Hz. The power plugs used in Macao are of the three-pin, square-shaped or round-shaped type. It is suggested to check before using an electrical appliance.
8.Healthcare & Hospitals
Visitors are not required to produce any health certificates in Macao except under special circumstances occurring in the territory or surrounding regions. Visitors may visit any hospital or health centre in Macao should they need medical treatment or consultation. You may seek assistance from the following hospitals and pharmacies in Macao:
Hospital Centre S. Januário (Government)
Address: Estrada do Visconde de S. Januário
Enquiries: +853 2831 3731
(Provides 24-hour emergency services)
Island Emergency Station of Hospital Centre S. Januário (Government)
Address: Block H (next to University Hospital), Macau University of Science and Technology, Avenida Wai Long, Taipa
Enquiries: +853 2899 2230
(Provides 24-hour emergency services)
Kiang Wu Hospital (Private)
Address: Estrada Coelho do Amaral
Enquiries: +853 2837 1333
(Provides 24-hour emergency services)
University Hospital (Private)
Address: Block H, Macau University of Science and Technology, Avenida Wai Long, Taipa
Enquiries: +853 2882 1838
For less urgent cases, visitors may go to any health centre on Macao Peninsula, Taipa or Coloane Island. The most central one is the Tap Seac Health Centre located on Av. Conselheiro Ferreira de Almeida.
List of Health Centre
Name : Centro de Saúde Macau Oriental (Tap Seac)
Address : Av. Conselheiro Ferreira de Almeida, Macau
Telephone: +853 2852 2232
Name : Centro de Saúde Macau Norte (Bairro Fai Chi Kei)
Address : Estrada Marginal de Patane, Macau
Telephone: +853 2856 2922
Name : Centro de Saúde Porto Interior (Hoi Pong Koi)
Address : Rua Constantino Brito, n.º 11, 4º – 7º andar, Macau
Telephone: +853 2892 0024, +853 2892 0025
Name : Centro de Saúde de S. Lourenço (Fong Son Tong)
Address : Trav. Inácio Baptista, n.º 2, r/c, Macau
Telephone: +853 2831 3418
Name : Centro de Saúde Areia Preta (Hac Sa Wan)
Address : Rua Central da Areia Preta, Lote de Terra 18
Telephone: +853 2841 3178
Name : Centro de Saúde dos Jardins do Oceano
Address : Largo da Ponte, s/n, Taipa
Telephone: +853 2881 3089
Name : Centro de Saúde Nossa Senhora do Carmo-Lago
Address : Área A,1.º andar do Edifício do Lago, Estrada Coronel Nicolau de Mesquita da Taipa
Telephone: +853 2850 0400
Name : Centro de Saúde da Ilha Verde
Address : Rua Nova da Ilha Verde, Edifício Cheng I, Bloco 1, r/c
Telephone: +853 2831 0033
Name : Posto de Saúde Coloane (Lou Wan)
Address : Largo Presidente António Ramalho Eanes, Coloane
Telephone: +853 2888 2176
Name : Posto de Saúde para os Idosos Taipa (Tam Chai)
Address : Rua Regedor, Bairro Social da Taipa Bloco 9, R/C No.357J
Telephone: +853 2882 7667
Name : Posto de Saúde Provisório de Seac Pai Van de Coloane
Address : Lote CN4 de Seac Pai Van de Coloane, Edifício Lok Kuan, Bloco 5, r/c
Telephone: +853 2850 2001
In addition to Western clinics, visitors can visit traditional Chinese doctors in Macao. For detailed information regarding traditional Chinese medicine medical services, please contact the Macao Health Bureau (Enquiries: +853 2871 3105) or Kiang Wu Hospital (Enquiries: +853 2837 1333).
The pharmacies listed below are open overnight from 9:00 p.m. to 9:00 a.m.:
Farmácia San Hau On
Address: Rua de Xangai, No. 84, Centro Comercial Kuong Fat
Enquiries: +853 2870 1697
Farmácia San Hau On II
Address: Rua de Luís Gonzaga Gomes, No. 11
Enquiries: +853 2878 5705
Macao is one of the most ‘connected’ cities in the world. Macao Post and Telecommunications Bureau has been liaising with local organizations to offer free Wi-Fi services at different locations in Macao under a unified brand name “FreeWiFi.MO”. Now citizens and visitors can connect to a hotspot with Wi-Fi network name containing the word “FreeWiFi.MO” to enjoy free Wi-Fi service. For more service information or to find free Wi-Fi hotspots, please visit www.freewifi.mo.
In addition, visitors can enjoy free Internet facilities in public libraries. For opening hours and library addresses, please visit: www.library.gov.mo
Country code for Macao is 853 and outgoing international code is 00.
Communication in Macao is convenient, with the telecommunications network covering the whole city. Public phones are located around the city, with local calls costing MOP1.00 per 5 minutes; the IDD direct-dial international telephone service connects to over 100 countries and territories around the world.
The Tourism Hotline on +853 2833 3000 provides comprehensive information about restaurants, hotels, sightseeing and tourist spots, museums, entertainment, shopping, transportation, etc.
If you would like to use your mobile phone while in Macao, please contact the information services below:
1000 – CTM
1118 – Hutchison Telecom
1628 – SmarTone Mobile Communications (Macau) Ltd.
1888 – China Telecom (Macau) Co., Ltd.
Postal services are comprehensive in Macao. The General Post Office is located in Senado Square, while postal branches can be found throughout the Macao Peninsula, Taipa and Coloane. Services include letter post, parcel and express mail service (EMS) to almost anywhere in the world.
Opening hours of General Post Office:
9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. (Mondays – Fridays)
9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. (Saturdays)
For more information, please contact +853 2832 3666 or visit: www.ctt.gov.mo
The above is an introduction to Macau from 9 aspects. After you have a clear understanding of the history of a place, you can better understand the significance of the place’s landscape, cuisine and so on.