Macau travel guide
Slipping more and more comfortably into its reputation as the “Vegas of the East,” Macau plays host to a dizzying array of large-scale casino resorts. Famously the world’s biggest gambling hub, it is one of two Special Administrative Regions of the People’s Republic of China – the other being neighbouring Hong Kong.
Macau showcases many of the same brands as its Nevada counterpart: MGM, Wynn and Sands are all in town, while its flagship Venetian Resort – complete with canals and mock Italianate plazas – is currently the largest casino on the planet.
But there’s more to the destination than poker tables and betting halls. When Macau's historic centre was added to the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage list in 2005, it underlined the strategic and cultural importance which the territory has had over the centuries.
Portuguese colonists arrived in the mid-16th century and developed Macau into a major regional trading post. They held onto it long after it had been eclipsed by Hong Kong as a magnet for merchants; longer than they held onto Goa or Brazil.
Overlooking the South China Sea, Macau consists of a peninsula and two small islands, Taipa and Coloane. The three areas have been artificially joined by land reclamation, much of which is covered in casinos. Mercifully, it is possible to escape the neon lights and gambling dens in Macau’s urban parks and historic centre, where colonial Portuguese architecture sits among the bustle of a modern Asian city.
The street stalls and restaurants of the old town are also a fine introduction to local food, which encompasses traditional Chinese and Portuguese dishes alongside Goan, Brazilian and African influences.
28.2 sq km (10.9 sq miles).
601,969 (CIA estimate July 2017).
21,346.4 per sq km.
Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China.
President of China Xi Jinping since 2013.
Chief Executive Fernando Chui Sai On since 2009.
Last updated: 17 December 2018
The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. 'We' refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
The typhoon season in Macao normally runs from April to October. You should monitor the progress of approaching storms and follow the advice of the local authorities.
Although there’s no recent history of terrorism in Macao, attacks can’t be ruled out.
Crime levels are low, but you should take sensible precautions against pick pocketing and other street crime.
In 2017, 57,122 British nationals visited Macao. Most visits are trouble-free.
If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission.
Although there’s no recent history of terrorism in Macao, attacks can’t be ruled out. You should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks, which could be in public areas, including those frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers.
There’s a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.
Find out more about the global threat from terrorism, how to minimise your risk and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack.
Safety and security
Crime levels are low but pick pocketing and other street crime can occur in some areas. Take extra care of passports, credit cards and money in crowded areas. Be careful of your belongings when checking out of hotels. Take extra care when visiting casinos late at night.
The Tourism Crisis Management Office (853) 2833 3000 (24 hour hotline) are able to provide general assistance in English, Cantonese, Putonghua and Portuguese to tourists in Macao.
Local laws and customs
Do not become involved with drugs of any kind. Possession of drugs can lead to imprisonment.
Do not take photographs of military installations.
Take care when visiting Macao to stay in licensed accommodation. You risk penalties of up to MOP3000 (£300) if you stay in illegal accommodation. See the Macao Government Tourist Information website for more details.
The Macao authorities consider the taxi service Uber to be illegal, and the Macao Police has recently been taking enforcement action against both the drivers and passengers of unlicensed taxi services, including Uber.
The information on this page covers the most common types of travel and reflects the UK government’s understanding of the rules currently in place. Unless otherwise stated, this information is for travellers using a full ‘British Citizen’ passport.
The authorities in the country or territory you’re travelling to are responsible for setting and enforcing the rules for entry. If you’re unclear about any aspect of the entry requirements, or you need further reassurance, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.
You should also consider checking with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.
Although Macao is now part of the People’s Republic of China, it remains a Special Administrative Region with its own immigration controls. You can stay in Macao for up to 6 months without a visa. If you intend to work in Macao you must get a visa before arrival. Contact the Macao Immigration Department.
Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of one month from the date of entry into Macao. If you are staying longer than one month your passport must be valid for the duration of your visit.
Visits to mainland China
If you intend to travel to mainland China via Macao using a British passport you must get a Chinese visa before arrival at the border. Failure to do so could result in a fine and possible detention by the mainland Chinese authorities. If you’re entering Macao via mainland China and leaving again via the mainland you’ll need to have a double or multiple entry visa to re-enter mainland China.
UK Emergency Travel Documents
UK Emergency Travel Documents (ETDs) are accepted for entry, airside transit and exit from Macao.
At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the latest country-specific health advice from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) on the TravelHealthPro website. Each country-specific page has information on vaccine recommendations, any current health risks or outbreaks, and factsheets with information on staying healthy abroad. Guidance is also available from NHS (Scotland) on the FitForTravel website.
General information on travel vaccinations and a travel health checklist is available on the NHS website. You may then wish to contact your health adviser or pharmacy for advice on other preventive measures and managing any pre-existing medical conditions while you’re abroad.
The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or purchased in the UK can be different in other countries. If you’re travelling with prescription or over-the-counter medicine, read this guidance from NaTHNaC on best practice when travelling with medicines. For further information on the legal status of a specific medicine, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.
Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.
Dengue fever is common in Macao. You should take precautions against mosquito bites.
If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 999 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.
The typhoon season normally runs from April to October. Typhoons very occasionally hit Macao and may cause flooding and landslides. Warning is given in advance. Public offices shut down when the ‘Typhoon 8’ signal is hoisted. You should follow advice issued by the local authorities.
Monitor local and international weather updates from the World Meteorological Organisation, the China Meteorological Administration and the Japan Meteorological Agency. See our Tropical cyclones page for advice on what to do if you’re caught up in a tropical storm.
Travel advice help and support
If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in London on 020 7008 1500 (24 hours).
Foreign travel checklist
Read our foreign travel checklist to help you plan for your trip abroad and stay safe while you’re there.
The FCO travel advice helps you make your own decisions about foreign travel. Your safety is our main concern, but we can’t provide tailored advice for individual trips. If you’re concerned about whether or not it’s safe for you to travel, you should read the travel advice for the country or territory you’re travelling to, together with information from other sources you’ve identified, before making your own decision on whether to travel. Only you can decide whether it’s safe for you to travel.
When we judge the level of risk to British nationals in a particular place has become unacceptably high, we’ll state on the travel advice page for that country or territory that we advise against all or all but essential travel. Read more about how the FCO assesses and categorises risk in foreign travel advice.
Our crisis overseas page suggests additional things you can do before and during foreign travel to help you stay safe.
Refunds and cancellations
If you wish to cancel or change a holiday that you’ve booked, you should contact your travel company. The question of refunds and cancellations is a matter for you and your travel company. Travel companies make their own decisions about whether or not to offer customers a refund. Many of them use our travel advice to help them reach these decisions, but we do not instruct travel companies on when they can or can’t offer a refund to their customers.
For more information about your rights if you wish to cancel a holiday, visit the Citizen’s Advice Bureau website. For help resolving problems with a flight booking, visit the website of the Civil Aviation Authority. For questions about travel insurance, contact your insurance provider and if you’re not happy with their response, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.
Registering your travel details with us
We’re no longer asking people to register with us before travel. Our foreign travel checklist and crisis overseas page suggest things you can do before and during foreign travel to plan your trip and stay safe.
Previous versions of FCO travel advice
If you’re a British national and you have a question about travelling abroad that isn’t covered in our foreign travel advice or elsewhere on GOV.UK, you can submit an enquiry. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.