For those that visit or live in Hong Kong, access to the world’s gambling capital has always been a matter of buying a ferry ticket. Whenever the sights, the allure of luxuriance, or the gambling itch calls, there are hydrofoil boats leaving 24 hours a day 7 days a week from the Macau Ferry Terminal right next to downtown Hong Kong. As such, Hong Kong, with a much more developed airport, is often seen as a travel hub for international visitors interested in seeing the best of both cities.
In case you are unfamiliar with Macau, a brief summary, “The Monte Carlo of the Orient” is a former Portuguese colony that is located along the coast of Southern China. Approximately 50% of its GDP comes from tourism in the form of gambling and hotels. In 2007 it officially surpassed Las Vegas in gambling revenue and has continued to widen the gap since. Read on and you’ll learn a bit more about what there is to do in Macau and which casinos to go to if you make the trip.
While this review focuses on the casinos, it should be known that there is a very colorful history in this part of the world and there is by no means lack of sights and places of interest. I also can’t forget to mention that the food is superb, and though all cuisines can be found, traditional Chinese and Portuguese is a must!
Right from buktiqq to blackjack and slot machine to draw a poker, you name it and the casino has it all and more which is why you will mostly find positive reviews about this casino that is quite underrated and deserves to be ranked with the best of the best.
After years of visits, I find that my friends and I end up frequenting two casinos more than any others, but the following list will go over my top 5 choices. Things to note here: the locations of these casinos vary between Macau Peninsula and Taipa/Cotai, the latter is a newer development sprung up with the gambling revolution and is still very much in construction – meaning unless you are going just to risk your savings, there won’t be much else in the vicinity. The two are divided by a wide harbor making for a scenic route to and from the city, don’t worry though, virtually all casinos provide free shuttles to all destinations of note.
1) Wynn Macau, Macau Peninsula
The Wynn was just awarded the Forbes Five Star Hospitality award and is the first resort in Macau to receive the honor. I would say that it is a strong contender for best hotel experience, it is not a bad place to set up shop for a multi-day trip. The casino I found was a bit too small in comparison to its peers.
- 100,000 sq. ft.
- ~1300 Machines
- ~400 Tables
- ~600 Hotel Rooms
2) MGM Grand Macau, Macau Peninsula
The MGM was an old favorite of mine because of lower table minimums than the big three (as I’ve come to call them), easier on the wallet when you’re going for a long-run stay. It has a great design and great aura with plenty of selection on where to dine.
- 220,000 sq. ft.
- ~850 Machines
- ~400 Tables
- ~600 Hotel Rooms
3) Sands Macau, Macau Peninsula
The Sands has always been a hotspot in Macau. As the first outside force to enter Macau’s gambling scene after a government sanctioned monopoly, it has become the icon of change since. Owns one of the best atmospheres of any casino in Macau with the best live music and dancers. Great place to play tables, which takes majority of the gaming floor. They also just opened the first Playboy Club in Asia.
- 230,000 sq. ft.
- ~750 Machines
- ~1000 Tables
- ~50 Hotel Rooms
4) Venetian Macau Resort Hotel, Taipa/Cotai
You might be thinking number TWO for the largest and most hyped casino in the world? Well you’d be right to question it, but what was initially my favorite casino has become grossly overcrowded. The decadence and unreal size is second to none however, which is why it will always be a must. Outrageously oversized, the Venetian is filled with more than any casino needs, including its own up-upscale mall, a sports/concert arena, and the only year-round Cirque De Soleil show, Zaia.
- 546,000 sq. ft.
- ~3,000 Machines
- ~900 Tables
- ~3000 Hotel Rooms
5) City of Dreams: Hard Rock, Taipa/Cotai
The Hard Rock Macau is my go-to casino floor in Macau because of several reasons. Though the Venetian is big on regality and the larger-than-life grandeur of gold and marble, it doesn’t have the flashy Vegas-style lighting that the Hard Rock adheres to. The gambling atmosphere is top notch and if your game is poker like mine is, this is the place to go – they have the most laid back poker atmosphere with excellent service on food and drink. With the addition of the City of Dreams’ new USD$250 million House of Dancing Water show, to rival that of Zaia, it is the complete package and my #1 recommendation.
- 420,000 sq. ft.
- ~1350 Machines
- ~500 Tables
- ~1400 Hotel Rooms