The Venetian, Fernando’s, and the Ferry to Hong Kong: Vietnam, Cambodia, Macau and Hong Kong Trip Report

Things to Do in Macau —


Chinese New Year is the busiest time in Macau. It was wall-to-wall people. It’s the only place in China where gambling is legal, (and indeed Macau is the world’s largest gaming market) and people over from the mainland were everywhere and in huge numbers. The region’s half million residents quintuple.

As a result, just people-watching was a fascinating activity. Which is good, because if I wanted to gamble I’d have had a hard time getting close to a table. The Venetian is across from the Sheraton and I walked across just for the spectacle.

Believe it or not one of the spectacles I found most intriguing was the Starbucks in the Venetian if only because it was so busy. There were lines of people scouring for tables, long lines to order drinks and pick up drinks. And because they vary their offerings locally, the food was different than anything I had seen at a Starbucks before.

It was possible to get away from the crowds, though. Getting off the strip and out of Coloane (where the Westin is) meant getting away from the hordes of people. And having had a really good meal at Fernando’s on my last visit to Macau, I wanted to try that again anyway. It’s in Coloane, down the beach from the Westin.

In order to get there though I needed a cab. And cab lines were, naturally, very long. So instead of grabbing one from the Sheraton or from the Venetian, I went over to the Four Seasons where there managed to not be anyone waiting and where cabs seemed to come by more frequently.

I’ve been in hotel cab lines where they’ve enforced a ‘guests only’ policy, but that’s usually done based on looks and prejudice. Leaving the Hilton Singapore one night after dinner a local who tried to get in front of me was sent over to a secondary queue. They weren’t checking key cards, and I wasn’t staying there myself (I felt guilty).

At the Four Seasons though there was no such pushback, either because it’s not their procedure or perhaps I looked as though I could have been a guest there (and I certainly look as though I’m a guest somewhere and not from the mainland).

So I had a cab in minutes instead of waiting half an hour or longer.

We made it out to Fernando’s a little after lunchtime and they weren’t busy at all.

Most reviews of the place suggest it’s ‘famous for being famous’ rather than good, or that if it was once good that has passed. But those were the reviews four years ago, when it was very good.

My assumption at the time was that the negative reviews seemed to come from people ordering fish and the positive reviews from people ordering pork, so you get a better meal if you stick to pork.

On this visit it was a bit less good (although I had a couple of dishes that did include fish) enough so that I’m not sure I’ll give it a third go unless I’m staying at the Westin. Service is slow. The bread earns raves I don’t see why.

After lunch we went back into the parking lot where a cab dropped us off, and just waited for another cab to come. Within 10 minutes we were picked up and on our way back to the Strip.

I only spent a tad over 36 hours in Macau. That was about right. After experiencing what Chinese New Year was like there it was time to head over to Hong Kong, a city that I love and where I’m far more comfortable.

I went back to the main ferry termina.

There are sailings to Hong Kong at most every 15 minutes and at times during the day even more frequently. No need to prepurchase tickets. I got in line, grabbed tickets, and checked bags.

Again I went with Super Class, only about $12 more than economy and more comfortable seating for the 50 minute boat ride. Plus they give you a ‘hot meal’ which apparently you can even pre-order a specific selection if you’ve purchased tickets in advance.

Since sailings are so frequent there really aren’t waits, and when I got to the gate area there was no one waiting.

Moments behind me though a mass of people came up, and even though we waited in the area just about 5 minutes before embarkation the ship wound up far from empty (at least downstairs, Super Class was mostly empty).

I took some photos on the way out of the top class of service, a semi-private room that went empty on our sailing.

Meanwhile here’s economy seating downstairs.

On arrival in Hong Kong we went through immigration and then waited for our bags — we were the only ones that had checked bags from our ship. Then proceeded downstairs to get a cab to the Grand Hyatt.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Gary, did you spend much time at the old Portuguese historical sites/churches? IMHO, those are the only things worth seeing in Macau – I was not impressed by the rest of the place.

  2. Classic! “More prosperity this way” – I noticed that the sign was not specific – Maybe it should have read “More prosperity for the Casino this way…” 😉

  3. Gary,

    That Ferry ride wasn’t during a level 3 (after seeing the picture of the meal offered) was it?


  4. Why does no one ever go to the Giant Panda Pavilion on Macau? It’s a wonderful place to see pandas without the crowds.

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