The great thing about Macau is that it doesn’t really matter what you do you can never really get lost. I’ve gotten on the bus going the wrong way, I’ve gotten on a bus that I thought was going to stop where I expected it to, only to find it either completely bypassed my stop or went into a different direction all together… just remember its all part of the adventure, at worst you are a few minutes late at best you’ll discover a new part of the city you hadn’t seen before.
In my close to three years of living in Macau my main method of transportation has been the bus, I use it on a daily basis to get to work, on the weekends, when I need to go to the airport or to the ferry terminal. Every once in a while you’ll find me in a taxi but I tend to use them less and less these days.
I’ll touch on car ownership in Macau from what I have learned from friends and coworkers as well as from my own experiences here in Macau. However speaking from experience it is perfectly possible to get around Macau without owning a car.
The Bus System
I’ve found the bus system here in Macau to be very convenient, you can always seem to find a bus combination or many times a single bus that will get you exactly where you want to go. The buses run frequently enough so that you’re not stranded somewhere forever.
There are two ways to pay for the bus, you can pay with local MOP coins, or you can pay with what is known as a Macau Pass, the Macau Pass its incredibly handy as places like Circle K and 7-11 readily take it. You’ll want to get a Macau Pass because the bus fares become cheaper, not by much but who wants to carry around a bunch of change in their pocket all the time. The last time I checked a bus ride ran me about .40 cents one way.
Luckily there is the local bus system has an app that you can download.
In the app you’ll see listed every public bus that runs through Macau, according to the app there are three public bus companies, but I have found this to be irrelevant for getting around the city.
When you are at a bus stop in Macau you’ll be able to clearly see which bus numbers stops at that bus stop and if you’re on the street you’ll be able to determine in which direction it is headed. Lucky the app has you covered as you can select the bus you want to see and it will give you its real time position on a stop by stop listing as well as where that bus is located on the city map.
On the left side of the image below we can see the bus icon telling us that the bus is currently at stop T385 the bus stop numbers are usually written at each bus stop. on the right we can see the various stops marked in blue circles that this bus makes. If you were to zoom in you would be able to see the various locations of this bus as many times there is more than on bus running through the route. You can even have this app alert you when the bus is approaching your bus stop, I use this a lot when i’m getting ready for work, I simply ask the app to tell me when the bus is a few stops ahead of when I need to get on.
This app has been invaluable, I only regret not learning about it sooner when I got to Macau.
Sometimes I wish I had a car…
Especially when I have to get to work its raining and the wind is blowing from all directions, yes I’ve gotten to work soaked even with a giant umbrella on hand. Its days like those that I really wish I had a car.
Many people need a car because they have a family with small children, don’t want to deal with waiting for the bus all the time, and certainly don’t want to deal with the crazy weather conditions that can come up in Macau. These are all valid points and if you want to get a car more power to you, I just want to inform you of a few things.
For starters Macau driving happens on the left side of the road, if your not used to this it may be something for you to consider, I have been told that it doesn’t matter after only a short period of practice.
If your coming from the states you can get a waiver for a few months before you have to taken the driving test for a Macau driver’s license, from what I have been told the Macau driver’s test is a predefined rout/routes that all drivers must take.
From riding around with friends in Macau, finding a parking spot is incredibly difficult, and be prepared to get tickets, lots and lots of tickets if you don’t park in the metered, car parks, or any other predefined areas which there appear to be very few off to being with.
Lastly and most importantly be prepared to pay $250 to $400 for a parking space in your building. This was probably what kept me from ever even thinking of getting a car in Macau. Coming from Las Vegas I couldn’t see myself paying for something that was the equivalent of my car note back home.
If you’re lucky there is an employee shuttle bus!
This was a pleasant surprise when I got to Macau, the fact the the company would actually pick up employees and shuttle them to work blew my mind. What a fantastic perk! Now from what I know only the major casino’s do this and it appears to be primarily for the casino’s that are found on the Taipa side of Macau also known as the Cotai Strip. This is usually how I get home on a daily basis and I three years in I still think its fantastic!
If you want to know more about transportation in Macau please send me an email or leave me a comment and I’ll try my best to answer your questions.