Visiting Macau – The other Las Vegas

After our first few days relaxing in Hong Kong and getting readjusted to normal life, Ashley and I were ready to venture out.  I had wanted to visit Macau and possibly get some poker in while we were there.  Macau is the Las Vegas of Asia.  There are tons of properties all within a short distance from one another.  Unlike Las Vegas, the Casino’s are not all set up along one road.  While they may be all connect to the same road it’s not as walk able or well laid out as Las Vegas is.

To get to Macau we had to board a ferry in Hong Kong that left from pretty close to our hostel.  We made our way there and picked up round trip ferry tickets for about $80USD.  It’s a 1 hour ferry each way.   We hoped in the ferry and quickly arrive in Macau.  Similar to Hong Hong, Macau is technically it’s own country with it’s own currency so we had to pass through immigration to get in.   Getting into Macau is easy and it doesn’t cost anything.  We even got another passport stamp!

Once you arrive at the ferry terminal and make your way through immigration, the buses are all lined up waiting to whisk you to whichever casino you choose (free of charge).   We decided to hop on the bus to the Venetian to see how it compared to the one in the United States.   It took about 30 to 45 minutes minutes to make our way there and it involved crossing an extremely long bridge to get there.

We arrived at the Venetian and made our way inside.  The casino was absolutely PACKED with people.  The number of people heading inside was insane and once inside it was still a mad house.  Ashley decided to duck into a star bucks and I waited outside.  As I did, I noticed a curious number of tour groups.  For some odd reason there are a large number of Chinese people that come to the casino’s and then go on a guided tour around the casino.  What exactly are they showing these people?  I have no idea.  The casino’s are like any other.  A big floor for gambling, high end shopping, and lots of places to eat.  Not exactly sure what else there is to say about casino’s but alas there were tour group after tour group following their flag to learn more about the casino.

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We made our way onto the floor and it was also completely packed with people similar to the picture above.   You can’t take pictures on the floor but it was a very large floor and every table was absolutely packed with people.   Ashley and I decided to make our way to the bar to grab a drink while we took in the sights.   This is where Macau and Las Vegas quickly depart from one another.   We walked around for a long time looking for a bar or place to grab a quick drink and found nothing.  We eventually stumbled across one random bar that was closed (it was about 3:00 in the afternoon) and this appeared to be the only bar around.   We both looked around and realized that no one was drinking at all.    Very odd considering how jam packed the casino was.

Ashley and I started walking up to some of the tables to watch people play.  I thought I might try Baccarat which is a very popular game in Macau/Asia.  That thought was quickly dismissed when I figured out that the cheapest Baccarat was $60/hand.   We quickly realized that ALL games in Macau were roughly $40 to $60 per hand.  No $5 black jack here folks.    We stood there watching as seemingly normal people wagered $60/hand and would lose hundreds within mere minutes playing the games.  All of this gambling was taking place when not a single person was drinking.  It was really mind blowing to see the huge amounts of money gamblers were spending there with not even a few free drinks to show for it.

We decided to check out the rest of the Casino and it was extremely similar to the Venetian in Las Vegas.   You can see in the photos below that they copied the look exactly.

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After we wandered around the Venetian for a while, we decided to go check out one more casino before we left.  I had seen a large number of advertisements for one called “Studio City.”  We hopped in a cab and made our way to Studio City which was pretty close to where we were.    As we arrived we were impressed by the outside of the casino which you can see in the photo below.  The picture doesn’t do it justice, it was a huge place to say the least!

We quickly noticed that there was a huge amount of security personnel around.  As we ventured closer to the entrance we noticed that a red carpet had been set up and photographers were starting to file in.

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We quickly realized that by complete chance we were there on the grand opening of the casino and this was the very first night they had ever opened their doors.   We made our way through the front entrance and even with the huge amount of people coming in the staff seemed to be everywhere.  I’ve never seen so many staff at a single casino.  Everyone from the corporate suites to managers to regular workers were out in force overseeing and making sure that everything went perfect.

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We ventured through the casino and noted that it was also extremely expensive to play anything here as well.  We made our way upstairs and found a 4D Batman ride.   Since the casino had just opened within the last few hours, most of the crowd was still downstairs checking out the casino floor and hadn’t made their way upstairs.  Ashley and I decided to do the Batman ride (since that’s all we could afford!) and we were some of the first ever to go on the ride.   One of the coolest parts of the batman ride was the intro where they take you into a room and set you up for the ride.  They had a 3d Hologram type projection they display and give you a bit of a lead in story.   The batman ride at Studio City was awesome and we highly recommend it.

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After we finished up the ride we made our way through the rest of the Casino.  Unfortunately security was extremely tight and I wasn’t able to even get my camera pulled up before security was on top of you asking you to put it away.   Overall it was an interesting to be at a casino on opening night.    Macau itself was interesting but well outside anything we could afford.  It was more the spectacle of seeing all the casino’s and the amount of money being thrown around.  Perhaps we should have joined one of those tour groups after all!


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