While Macau is known for having the best casino resorts in the world, it is much more than glitzy gambling venues. Recently I had to arrange for a half day tour of the city for a larger group of senior citizens, which meant that a private tour (i.e. our own hired vehicle and tour guide) was the best choice. The challenge I had was to find a reputable travel agency to handle the request: while anyone arriving in any of Macau’s entry ports would be greeted by assorted middle-aged men wearing shorts and sandals offering “cheap tours” and “discounted transportation”, the quality and safety of these offers are highly questionable.
I started my search at the most obvious location, the list of travel agencies licensed under the supervision of the Macau Government Tourist Office. Checking out websites, I found that Gray Line Tours of Macau (澳門錦倫旅行社) is one of the few agencies that conduct inbound tours. I also discovered that Gray Line is the Macau Government Tourism Office’s Appointed Travel Agency for its “Macau Highlight Tours”, attesting to Gray Line’s quality and reliability.
I booked a five-hour city tour on a 20-passenger minibus, with pick up at the Taipa Ferry Terminal and drop off at the Venetian Hotel Resort. Other tour vehicle options are by Mercedes Benz sedan or by minivan. The first challenge came when we were able to go on the ferry that departed half an hour earlier, so I had to move up the time for pick up by half an hour. Since the agency office had provided me with our tour guide’s mobile phone number in advance, it was not a problem to contact him and relay the request. Understanding that this request was to be met in a “best effort” basis, nonetheless the guide and the vehicle were able to meet us immediately upon our clearing immigration formalities.
Both the guide and driver were highly courteous and professional, and the vehicle was clean and well-maintained. The guide was knowledgeable in matters related to the history, geography, and significance of all tour highlights, and clearly answered any questions we had. He also gave good recommendations for our lunch in local cuisine (on our own). Also, the guide and driver remained flexible to our immediate customization requests: as it was a hot day, we decided to focus more on indoor (air conditioned) venues and just drive past some of the outdoor venues. The guide also provided us with discounted tickets to the Macau Tower, which was much appreciated.
The price I paid for the tour was HK$2500 ($322.65 Canadian/U.S., processed by Gray Line’s Hong Kong office), paid by Visa or Mastercard at least 5 days before the tour. Tour prices are dependent on the type of vehicle and the length of the tour. Cash tips for the guide and driver are extra and were cheerfully given. Gray Line provided an excellent tour experience, and I highly recommend their tours when visiting Macau.