Skip to main content

Cheap Accommodation in Macau – Mission Impossible?

Once I met a Dutch guy who had flown to Macau on a visa run, planning to stay there for a few days or weeks. He believed that Macau was much cheaper than neighbouring Hong Kong, the latter being known as one of the world’s most densely populated cities as well as a major global financial hub.

It didn’t take him long to realise that he had made a mistake. The first thing he did upon arriving in Macau was, of course, to look for a cheap hostel. Little did he know that Macau has no hostels! To his surprise he could find no cheap accommodation and had no choice but to spent around HKD400 for one night at a hotel. Macau turned out to be so expensive that on his second day he moved to Hong Kong.

Despite having heard his story, I did not learn the lesson. I still believed I would find a hostel. After all, I had been to hostels in small cities like Triest, Krakow, Salzburg. How could Macau, whose GDP depends entirely on tourism, have no hostels? Probably, the guy should have looked for a hostel online before arriving in Macau, I thought. 

I searched on hostelworld but found nothing. So I googled ‘Macau hostels’. An old article from About.com listed only three hostels. One of them was Augusters Lodge, which seemed to be the best one in Macau; Lonely Planet selected it as one of the recommended hostels on Macau peninsula. I clicked on the link and found out that the hostel had been closed "due to new regulations of the Macao Government". According to the hostel's website, business had been good. Its three rooms "could not nearly meet the demand, nor the expected rising demand within the near future".
 
Ruins of St Paul's Cathedral, one of Macau's landmarks (source: Wikipedia)


The only budget accommodation I found was San Va Hospedaria, which calls itself a hostel but is in fact a low-cost hotel. Located on Rua da Felicidade, in an old building from the 1870s, it is Macau's oldest guesthouse, opened in the 1930s. A one-bed room costs HKD/MOP 220 on Sundays to Thursdays and HKD/MOP 320 on Fridays, Saturdays and holidays. Actually not even very cheap. But the worst is that San Va has squat toilets and no air-conditioning. Two things I wasn't willing to accept. Despite a good location and a traditional atmosphere, it was not exactly a good bargain for the price (I heard they may have renovated the hostel, so I might give it a try in the future, but I definitely won't put up with squat toilets).  

Since the 1999 handover the government of Macau Special Administrative Region (MSAR) has been luring wealthy tourists from mainland China who go there to gamble away their fortunes. The authorities seem to care little for the millions of potential middle class travellers who, like me, would love to spend some quality time in the city but are not willing to spend thousands of patacas. Moreover, hostels are not just cheap lodgings for broke people; they are places where travellers can meet new friends (and, in my opinion, that’s the main point).

The MSAR government does not allow hostels or B&B to open in Macau. In 2010 it passed a law on “Prohibition of Providing Illegal Accommodation” which states that “People who provide guest accommodation to the public in premises other than hotels (including residential, commercial or industrial premises) and without a legal hotel licence can be regarded as providing illegal accommodation”.

A website of the Macau government explains that “At present, there is no legal ‘family hostel’ or ‘B & B’ (Bed and Breakfast) in Macau … All legal hotels, guest houses or inns have a license issued by the Macau Government Tourist Office, and the license should be placed in the accommodation premise”. This means that hostels are de facto outlawed.

The fact that Macau has no hostels really shocked me. Hong Kong, despite being much bigger and more densely populated, has plenty of hostels. Sometimes I paid just HKD 98 per night (around 10 euros!). 

I had to face the reality, so I decided to try Couchsurfing. But I had no luck. Only one person replied to my couch request, and she said she didn't know if she could host me; she asked me to write to her again a couple of days before my arrival, but that was too short-term for me. 

Eventually I chose an expensive option: Airbnb. At least, I thought, I would be able to see how local people live. Although I had to reduce my stay from the planned two weeks to only four nights, Airbnb proved to be a good choice. 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Rumours About Chinese Actress Fan Bingbing's Arrest Spread Online

Rumours about the arrest of Chinese model and actress Fan Bingbing on charges of tax evasion have spread on Chinese media.
As Apple Daily reports, celebrity Fan Bingbing and her younger brother Fan Chengcheng have allegedly been detained for taking part in a tax evasion scheme alongside her manager, Mu Xiaoguang.
Mu has also allegedly been charged with destroying incriminating evidence.

On May 28 TV anchor Cui Yongyuan posted on Weibo a contract that showed Fan Bingbing being paid $1.56 million (RMB10 million) for four days’ work on director Feng Xiaogang's film “Cell Phone 2.” 

Later Cui released another contract worth $7.8 million (RMB50 million) for the same work. He alleged that Fan had declared to tax authorities only the first contract, thus avoiding to pay taxes on the second, larger amount. 

Double-contracts for the purpose of tax evasion are known in China as "yin-yang contracts". 

Although the Chinese government censored Cui's posts, in early June China's t…

Why Liberals Should Embrace Fair Trade, Debate Role Of Tariffs

On the latest episode of Last Week Tonight, comedian John Oliver made fun of Donald Trump's tariffs and mocked him for not understanding how free trade works.  
Oliver noted that tariffs are paid by importers and typically passed along to US consumers, leading to higher prices. Tariffs could cost the US hundreds of thousands of jobs, Oliver argued. 
Trade deficits "aren't actually always bad, and many economists believe, for very complex reasons involving savings rates and the dollar's special status as the world's reserve currency, that America's trade balance might be more or less where it should be," he said.
Oliver argued that "the overwhelming consensus among economists is that trade between countries generally speaking can create jobs, lower costs, and be a net benefit to both nations." 
But is John Oliver right?

We shall argue that although Trump's tariffs lack a clear strategy and are therefore not the right path for the US, tariffs…

Chinese Dissidents Found Shanghai Independence Party, Oppose Communist Rule

A group of Chinese dissidents has founded a new party that challenges the dictatorship of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and advocates Shanghai independence. 
Since Xi Jinping took office in 2012, the Chinese government has tightened its grip on civil society and the media, cracking down on free speech, hardening its stance towards Taiwan and launching an all-out assault on Uighur society. However, the Party's increasingly oppressive policies are causing a backlash. 
In the United States a group of Chinese dissidents have formed the Shanghai National Party (上海民族黨), also called Humindang (滬民黨), from the character Hu (滬), the short name for Shanghai. 
「上海民族黨」在紐約成立 反共並要求上海獨立 https://t.co/KQEzGIEDqgpic.twitter.com/IHOwIeuUKe — RFI 華語 - 法國國際廣播電台 (@RFI_TradCn) August 12, 2018

The party, registered on July 18 in New York, United States, promotes the overthrow of the Communist regime and the independence of Shanghai. The slogan of the party is: "Leave China, return to Europe, compreh…