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HK Day Trip - Macau or Lantau Island?

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Most people with three-day pre-cruise itineraries seem to include Lantau Island to see Big Buddha and the fishing village.  It seems nice enough, but I am wondering if it's a better way to spend the day than to go to Macau, where we could spend half of the day seeing the world heritage sites and then even catch a 5 pm Cirque show at the Venetian (House of Dancing Water looks incredible).  Is Lantau Island a "must see" part of a Hong Kong vacation?  I don't want to miss out on it, but am wondering if Macau just isn't a better place to spend a day.

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For me, I wouldn't consider either as a "must see" part of a Hong Kong visit.  YMMV of course.

And they're obviously kind of different experiences so it kind of depends on what you are looking for.  I haven't been to Lantau Island since the early aughts when I was on assignment in HK and my coworkers took me there for a daytrip.  From what I recall of it, it was a nice outing and walk to see the big hitters:  buddha statue and fishing village.  

 

I was most recently in Macau last year with a buddy as we were staying in HK for a two day layover.  He wanted to go to Macau to see the casinos so we did a daytrip with a really late return. 

Personally, I generally don't think the casinos are overly special if you've been to Vegas as many of the casinos just look like (mini-)versions of their LV counterparts. The grounds/public areas are still impressive though.  One exception might be the Grand Lisboa which doesn't have a presence in LV and is also kind of over the top in its decor.  Many of the table minimums are ridiculously high (well, for a $10 hand guy like me 😀 ) and most are Asian games with rules most won't be familiar with.  My buddy put some money in some slots since you only have to spin but we couldn't figure out the paytable nor understand the bonus games.  😀  I can't speak to the casino shows though.

Note there are two major casino areas too (eg. Venetian area vs Grand Lisboa area).

 

For general sightseeing, there's a bit of a nice walking circuit that starts in Senado Square that takes you past key sites such as the ruins of St Paul.  If you go exploring in the side streets, you'll run across some interesting architecture.  You'll also obviously find tasty Portuguese influenced dishes though it's not impossible to find similar dishes in HK.  

 

Nighttime is kind of nice with the lights of the casinos and a lot of neon signs from businesses along certain corridors.

 

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Thanks, part of the reason for Macau would be to catch the Cirque de Soleil show.  We are doing our cruise on a small ship (Azamara Quest) without any major production and this would be something different on our vacation.  House of Dancing Water looks that good.  I was figuring we would do the walking circuit tour of Senado Square you mention above,  then get lunch in town, and then head to a couple of casinos, including the Venetian, where the show is.  

 

For some reason, in my mind, I would feel like I wasted a day if we were to go to Big Buddha, which is kind of a tourist trap and a fishing village.  As you say, maybe we're okay doing neither Macau nor Lantau.  

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Posted (edited)

House of Dancing Water...we saw that in 2010...that was W👀W!...Cirque meets Universal Studios Waterworld.

 

Couple of blocks down from St. Paul's along the walking circuit there's this jerky shop, on the left side walking towards the Cathedral, sells by weight.  Great stuff, SWMBO was going to buy 8 kilos worths, but you can't bring any of it back to the US.  The ladies ask, "American?  No US in."  Get some for your cruise if you like jerky.  The Asian style dried fruit was good too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Philob

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If it’s a choice of one, then I’d recommend Macau.

 

We took the fast speed ferry over, used the hop on hop off bus and walked around the old town. That night we saw the House of Waters show which was spectacular. We also enjoyed seeing the casino lights at night as we headed back to the ferry. 

 

 

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I would pick Macau as well. It is easy to get to, ferry sailings are every 15 minutes and there is no need to book in advance, unless it is a Sunday or public holiday. After your show, there will still be night sailings throughout the night, even though on a less frequent basis. Macau has some history, and another advantage is the Portuguese food.

 

From the ferry piers in Macau, you can use the complimentary shuttle buses of the various hotel groups and visit the various places, using the ferry piers as hubs. Taxies in Macau are sometimes dufficult to hail, unless you line up in the stand in front of a hotel/casino, but they will give priority to staying guests.

 

The House of Water is quite unique and worth seeing. They may have an earlier show at 6 pm, and you can go to both with dinner in between. The two venues are within walkable distance, 10 - 15 minutes walk.

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Thanks everyone for confirming that Macau is worth the day trip.

 

House of Dancing Water has a 5 pm show and another at 8.  We'll catch the 5 show and then eat at the Venetian food court.  We'll see the city in the morning, get lunch there and then visit a couple casinos.  We don't gamble, but love casino hotels.  Looking forward to it.  

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My vote for Macau vs. the Lantau with the big statue on the hilltop in the middle of the largest islands in HK, and Tai O fishing village on the southwest corner, another 30 minutes bus/taxi ride away - with less ideal transportation to get back to the "city" via scenic (slower) ferry routes or reverse route to Tung Chung (near the HK Int'l Airport) for the MTR train transfer, etc. 

 

The Budda might be a worthwhile pilgrimage for the faithful, but to see a temple - Wong Tai Sin in Kowloon, 2 blocks from the nearest MTR station stop is free to visit, see & walk around instead of this commercialized tourist trap on the hilltop.  Choice of & variety of food are rather limited on Lantau Island, except for fresh seafood at the village.

 

Macau is rich in history, smalll & easy to see in a day or two, besides the Vegas-themed casino - a fast hour away by easy & frequent services via hydrofoil/fast ferry across the Delta River.  In town, between seeing the churches & landmarks, you have excellent choices of international cuisine in a budget for everyone & anyone, 

 

Save time for high tea or afternoon coffee at the classic colonial hotel, Pousada de Sao Tiago, situated on a shaded & landscaped hillside with a panoramic view of the Macau harbor, this former fortress contrasted against the neon lights of the casinos across the bridge in the near distance.   There are lots of things to see, do and sample in Macau ... not so much as the "countryside" of Lantau remained pretty much under-developed as the way it was then, small herds of abandoned farming feral cattles or bulls roaming & foraging along the roads.  

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Sounds like you have a plan!  I agree that you can't go wrong and that it's kind of an apples to oranges comparison.  Adding my two cents for future travelers pondering the same decision:

 

We are more outdoor versus casino/show oriented so when we were in Hong Kong two years ago (our son lives there now, he didn't live there at the time) we went to Lantau Island.  Cable car out (incredible views, to include of the airport), bus ride with the stop at the fishing village back.  If you are prepared there is also a hiking trail but that would be a really long day!  My wife loved the fishing village, me not so much.

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