Macau

Macau: Ferry ride

On Saturday we decided to travel to Macau, as it’s just 65km and an hour ferry ride away. We booked the tickets in advance, because we were unsure how busy the ferry would be – and following the suggestions from colleagues, we booked it with Turbojet. We could have gone with First Ferry (but it leaves from Kowloon) or with Cotai Jet (which goes to Cotai, the southern part of Macau) instead.

We travelled to the Hong Kong Macau Ferry Terminal near Sheung Wan MTR station. It’s a big terminal, where a number of boats dock – and the ferries to Macau run every 15-30 minutes (depending on the time of the day).

We entered the building (which is huge and full of shops and restaurants) and went to the first floor, where we picked up our pre-booked tickets. There are two classes to choose from, Economy (around 145-170 HKD one-way at the weekend) and Super (around 236-280 HKD one-way at the weekend). In Super, you can sit at the front/on the top (depending on the ship type) and you receive snacks and drinks, sit more comfortable and can leave the ferry earlier (and hence queue for immigration a lot faster than Economy). So the difference is minor, but we booked a Super ticket.

We picked up our tickets and went through the boarding area. We had to pass immigrations, but with our HK identity cards this was easy – just go to the automated gates, insert your ID card, then scan your fingertip (your left and right thumb fingertips are stored on the card) and then the gate opens. We went through it and then entered the departure lounge.

The departure lounge is not very spectacular (no shops, cafes) as it’s just a waiting area. As soon as you arrive at your designated gate, you show your ticket and they manually pick a seat for you (from the seat chart) and stick a label with your seat number manually on your ticket. Once all people booked onto a specific ship have arrived, and there are still seats available, other people who were meant to travel on a later ferry but are already waiting at the terminal, can take up the remaining places.

We boarded the boat – it’s a smaller boat than I expected, just around 36 seats in Super class at the front. About 200 seats in Economy at the back (compare this to the Discovery Bay ferries we typically use, they have room for close to 500 people). The boat bounced quite a lot when boarding, I felt a little sea sick. I was hoping this would go away – and yes, once we all sat down, buckled our seat belts and the ferry took off, it stabilised.

The ferry is a catamaran, which sits up high above the waves once the ferry travels on full speed. It does hardly move at all – it is a quiet 55 minutes ride to Macau. We even got served a breakfast (just some pastry, orange juice and yoghurt – but all perfectly fine). Once we arrived, we were lead off the ferry first and made our way through immigrations.

Even with Hong Kong ID cards we are classified as visitors to mainland China, so we had to fill in forms and our passports got stamped. This just took 10 mins, after that we made our way through the exit to the centre of Macau. Although the ferry terminal is close to the centre, we did not find the footpath to the centre – there were big roads with cars everywhere. Frustrated, we turned for help and were told we have to board a shuttle bus to one of the hotels/casinos for free, to ensure we arrive without problems in the city centre. Ok, that’s we did, we took a bus to the Hotel Lisboa.

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