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jaboci Jul 27th, 2007 09:04 AM

Visa for Macau?
Is it worthy to include a visit to Macau in a trip to China and HK? I will be traveling with my wife to China, arriving Beijing on 12 Sept, 2007 and departing from HK on 5 Oct, 2007. We are both on our early 50s and healthy. Traveling on our own, but planning to take site tours with local operators and/or individual guides. Our itinerary is as follows:
Sept 12 to 19 - Beijing (Renaissance Hotel)
Sept 19 to 21 - Xian
Sept 21 to 28 - Shanghai
Sept 28 to Oct. 1 - Yangshuo (Li River Retreat)
Oct. 1 to 5 - Hong Kong (J.W. Marriott)
Your advice is appreciated on the following change I can do to our itinerary. We can shortened our visit to Shanghai and depart to Yangshou on 25 Sept. Stay in Yangshou until 28 Sept. in order to include a visit to Macau from 28 Sept until Oct.1, when we must depart to HK.
This forum has been of great help in planning this trip. Your advice is again highly appreciated. All sugestions are wellcome.
Thank you.

jaboci Jul 27th, 2007 09:13 AM

Dear Fodorist, I forgot to include in the previous message the question that made me ask for your advice in the first place. That is if the visa I have for Main land China or the Hong Kong visa are good to go into Macau? And once there, can I travel with these documents by ferry boat to HK?
Thank you.

rkkwan Jul 27th, 2007 09:23 AM

What's your nationality?

For citizens of most western and developed countries, there's no visa requirement for Hong Kong or Macau, for visits up to 60 days.

But you cannot go back to China without another entry on your Chinese visa; so you should do Macau from Hong Kong at the end of your journey.

If you have 5 days in Hong Kong, yes, you can do a day trip or short overnight trip to Macau. Keep in mind that Oct 1 is national holiday in China, and hotels in Hong Kong and Macau will all be expensive, and the casinos in Macau will be very crowded. [The historical sites less so, except at the St. Paul ruins, where every Chinese visitor will want a picture taken there.]

rkkwan Jul 27th, 2007 09:24 AM

As for the rest of your itinerary, you have 7-8 days in Shanghai. It's way too much for the city itself - you should plan a trip or two to Hangzhou, Suzhou, or one of the watertowns in that vicinity.

jaboci Jul 27th, 2007 03:02 PM

rkkwan thanks for the information. We are from Panama, and required visas for China and HK.
Our international flights and hotel reservations at Beijing, Xian, Yangshuo and HK have been confirmed for the dates posted above. The Shanghai reservation is not firm yet. Following your advice, I will prefer to keep the HK reservation as is, due to the holiday week on October.
Following the advice of other fodorists, we plan to make the internal flights arrangements at Beijing. I read that prices are better for internal flights when reservations are done within China and not from overseas.
If we decide to shortened our stay at Shanghai and include Macao right after Guilin/Yangshuo, to what city should we flight from Guilin to cross the border into Macao?
Thank you again for your very usefull comments.

rkkwan Jul 27th, 2007 04:07 PM

Wow, Panama. One of a handful of countries that still recognize Taiwan but not PRC.

Yes, you'll need separate visas for China, Hong Kong and Macau. All available at a Chinese embassy.

As for traveling from Guilin (KWL) to Macau, there's no non-stop flight to the Macau airport (MFM). The closest airports with direct service are Shenzhen (SZX), Zhuhai (ZUH) and Hong Kong (HKG).

From the Shenzhen airport, there are direct buses to Gongbei, which is the China-Macau border crossing. I don't know detail from Zhuhai, but I expect the same. Though Zhuhai airport is closer to Macau, there are only 2 non-stop flights a day KWL-ZUH, while KWL-SZX are more frequent.

There are also a couple of non-stop KWL-HKG flights a day, but again in the evening. They arrive too late for the direct ferry from HKG to Macau, so you need to go into central Hong Kong first, then transfer to the ferry.

Seriously, I'd just do Macau as a side trip from Hong Kong if you're interested.

Cicerone Jul 29th, 2007 06:32 PM

As noted above, October 1 is the start of a week-long public holiday in the PRC. Virtually the entire PRC has the week off, and they will be traveling for pleasure as it is not a religious holiday and people have money to spend on pleasure travel these days. Many hundreds of thousands of them will travel to Macau during that week. I am not sure that I would want to be in Macau at all during that time. If you can do a trip before those dates, that would be better IMO. If you decide to do a trip from Hong Kong after October 1, then please book your ferry tickets for both portions of the trip ahead of time as otherwise you may be waiting in long lines to get onto a ferry on either end. (Many people from the PRC will also be coming to Hong Kong and will include a trip to Macau as part of the trip. Hong Kong can absord them much more easily than a tiny place like Macau). The city centre of Macau will be very crowded at that time.

Hong Kong does not have the week off. They only have October 1 off. There will be fireworks in the harbour on the evening of October 1. You will have a nice vantage point for them from the Marriott, esp if you can get onto the club floor lounge which is on about the 25th floor; but the lobby is pretty good too.

I do think you have too long in Shanghai, even with day trips to one of the outside towns, that is a lot of time. I would extend the Li trip if you can.

rkkwan Jul 29th, 2007 06:50 PM

I don't think Golden Week in Macau is as bad as it may sound.

I was in Macau during the other Golden Week this year, May 3rd to 4th. I had no problem getting last minute jetfoil tickets from Hong Kong to Macau, and I had no problem getting tickets coming back or to standby on an earlier sailing.

Hotels are more expensive, though. Usually, Sintra in the center of Macau cost about HK$450-500; but on that day Sintra cost close to $1,000; while Royal is fully booked. I ended up at the still decent Grandview on Taipa for about $450, about $100 more than usual.

Since I went, China has said they'll limit the permits allowed for people from Guangdong Province to go to Macau. [Probably because they feel they're gambling too much money away.]

The area from the Senate Square up to St. Paul Ruins was crowded, especially at the souvenir stores that sell almond biscuits and pork and beef jerky. But at the other churches and World Heritage sites, there is no crowd at all.

rkkwan Jul 29th, 2007 06:56 PM

Here are my photos from May 3 and May 4th of this year in Macau:

jaboci Jul 31st, 2007 08:53 AM

rkkwan and Cicerone, thank you both for sharing your experience with me and other fodorist. Your comments have increased our enthusiasm with this trip. We are looking forward to enjoy the fireworks at the HK harbor. The great pictures taken by rkkwan in Macau made us redefine our schedule, so we can pay a visit to this beautiful city. If we stay at Shanghai from Sept 21 to Sept 25, there is a chance of changing our reservations at Yangshuo for Sept 25 to Sept 29. With the above modification to our schedule we can be at Macau Sept 29 to Oct.1, when we will depart to HK by ferry. Please, we will like to know what is your opinion on the amount of days we planned for each destination, and if some of the flights within the PRC should be arranged before arriving Beijing

rkkwan Jul 31st, 2007 09:39 AM

jacobi - I don't think you'll need that much time in Macau. One full day is likely to be enough. Anyways, many first-time visitors may be disappointed at Macau, because of the abundance of ugly buildings built in recent years. The real gems are hidden and you need to look for them.

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