Macau, like Hong Kong, is a free port for most goods, so prices for electronics, jewelry, and clothing are lower here than they are in other international cities. Yet the shopping experience is completely different in Macau than it is in Hong Kong, with a low-key atmosphere, small crowds, and compact areas. It is a hub for traditional Chinese arts, crafts, and even some antiques (but be aware that
there are many high-quality reproductions in the mix, too). Macau's major shopping district is along its main street in the downtown area, Avenida Almeida Ribeiro, more commonly known by its Chinese name, San Ma Lo; there are also shops downtown on Rua Dos Mercadores and its side streets; in Cinco de Outubro; and on the Rua do Campo.
You can see craftspeople at work making the "new antiques," particularly on the side streets of Tercena and Estalagens and the alleyways in front of the Ruins of St. Paul's. Commonly sold pieces include lacquer screens, Chinese pottery, and huge wooden chests carved from solid mahogany, camphor wood, and redwood.
Major shopping areas for clothes and shoes include the small shops on Rua do Campo and around Rua dos Mercadores in the downtown area. There are also bustling street markets downtown that sell clothes on São Domingos (off Largo do Senado), Rua Cinco de Outubro, and Rua da Palha.
Jewelry shops across from casinos in the downtown area sell luxury watches, pendants, and rings, some of which have been pawned by desperate gamblers. Prices are generally more reasonable than in Hong Kong. For gold purchases, head to trusted Hong Kong stalwarts Chow Tai Fook and Chow Sang Sang, which have locations throughout Macau and are known for transparent pricing and knowledgeable staff with good English.
Most of Macau's shops operate year-round with a short break for Chinese New Year, and are open from 10 to 8 (later on weekends). While most accept all major credit cards, specialty discount shops usually ask for cash, and street vendors accept only cash. For most street vendors and some smaller stores, some friendly bargaining is expected; ask for the "best price," which ideally produces instant discounts of 10%–20%. The shopping mantra here is "bargain hard, bargain often."
Although Macau is well known for its casinos and restaurants, it's also rapidly gaining a reputation for luxury spa and sauna facilities that offer a huge range of treatments. Almost every posh hotel has its own spa, with special packages and incentives for hotel guests. Macau's independent spas have also become a major force, offering equally exquisite treatments at lower prices. All spas provide services for couples, giving you a great opportunity to relax in a peaceful space with someone special. Treatments begin at around MOP$350 for 60 minutes of service.
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