Travel Guide: Macau

ps_news_thn.jpgThe PokerStars.net Asia Pacific Poker Tour (APPT) returns to Macau this month for the Asia Championship of Poker, giving players from all over the world a reason to visit Asia's most famous poker destination. Macau's Grand Waldo Hotel will play host to 18 official Asia Player of the Year events, including a HKD$100,000 buy-in ACOP Main Event (HKD$10,000,000 guarantee) and a HKD$250,000 buy-in High Roller event.

Last year, Team PokerStars Online Pro Randy Lew bested a record 575 players to claim the top prize of HKD$3,772,000 in the APPT Macau Main Event. En route to the biggest score of his career, Lew defeated a tough field that included Phil Ivey, JJ Liu, David Steicke, Terrence Chan, Joseph Cheong, and Team PokerStars members Celina Lin, Max Lykov, Bryan Huang, Nacho Barbero and Alex Kravchenko.

If you're heading to Macau for this year's Asia Championship of Poker, there are plenty of attractions to see outside of the Grand Waldo Hotel. You'll definitely regret not taking in the sights and sounds, so read on to find out some of the city's popular attractions.


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Reigning champ Randy 'nanonoko' Lew

Vitals
One of the world's most densely populated areas, Macau is located on the western side of the Pearl River Delta across from Hong Kong, bordering the Guangdong province and facing the South China Sea. Both Chinese and Portuguese are Macau's official languages, but Macau maintains its own dialect of Portuguese, called Macanese Portuguese.

The tropical climate of Macau has the features of both continent and ocean climates, but in November poker players can expect temperatures between 60°F and 75°F (15°C and 24°C). Autumn in Macau is normally sunny with low humidity.

The Macau Pataca (MOP) is the official currency in Macau, but the Hong Kong Dollar (HKD) is also widely accepted. The current exchange rates for one US dollar are MOP 7.98 and HKD 7.75.

Getting Around
Direct flights are available from within Asia, but the most popular way to get to Macau is to fly into Hong Kong International Airport and take the ferry from the international terminal. The main ferry terminal in Macau is the Macau Ferry Terminal, which operates 24 hours a day at frequencies of every 15-to-30 minutes by day and hourly at night. There is also a lesser known ferry terminal located at Pier No. 11 at the Inner Harbor which can be reached on foot. That ferry runs every half-hour from 7:00 a.m. through 10:30 p.m. each day. Both ferry trips take approximately one hour for roughly HKD$230.

Once you're in Macau, the best way to get around is by foot. However, if you'd like to get from Point A to Point B more quickly, Macau and its districts are served by three bus companies. You can also find a taxi, but be prepared to have your directions written in Chinese for the cab driver. Scooters can also be a very enjoyable to see the sites of Macau; they are also the primary mode of transport for locals.

Staying Put
When it comes gambling, there are few better choices than the Grand Waldo Hotel. The complex offers 30,000 square feet of gaming action with a variety of 148 slot machines and 38 table games, a bar and a dining room.

Besides poker and all the flashing lights, there are many other attractions at the Grand Waldo Hotel, including shopping, clubs, bars, spas, sky tennis and a wide variety of dining options. Every restaurant offers different cuisine and a different atmosphere with great food and entertainment.

Out and About
Macau is best known as Asia's biggest gambling destination, often called the Las Vegas of the East. There is, however, much more to Macau than that.

Outside the extravagant walls of the city's breathtaking casinos is a maze of narrow streets thriving with rich colonial tradition dating back to the 16th century. The Portuguese influence is evident by the city's cobbled back streets, baroque churches, stone fortresses, restful parks and gardens, and Art Deco buildings.

The most popular natural attractions in Macau are the Ruins of St. Paul, which was constructed in 1550. The front façade and the grand stone stairs are the only remains of the Mother of God cathedral, Macau's largest Christian church of its time, after a violent typhoon hit Macau in 1835.

If it is adventure you seek, be sure to make your way to the top of the Macau Tower, the 10th tallest freestanding tower in the world. From there, you can bungee 233 meters to the ground. You can then make your way back up to the top of the tower to enjoy the 360-degree revolving restaurant, have a nice meal and take in the sky-high view of the city lights.

Good luck if you are playing the Asia Championship of Poker. Follow the PokerStars Blog for all the action!

Take a look at the full ACOP schedule here.

Brett Collson
@PokerStars in Macau