Maybe you've heard, but Macao has opened up to foreigners on the Chinese mainland!
Last month, That's journeyed to the Special Administrative Region (SAR) to see what has changed.
This article is the first in a series of pieces about the SAR, examining how the city has changed, as well as giving you handy tips on how to get there.
Getting into Macao is relatively straightforward, but several new steps have been implemented since the city reopened to foreigners on the Chinese mainland on August 22, 2022.
Before you head to China’s Vegas, you best check quarantine requirements.
The official policy from the government in Macao states, "Those who have been in risk areas of Chinese mainland must quarantine for 7 days, followed by 3 days of self-monitoring.”
If you’re traveling by train from the Chinese Mainland, then you also need to check quarantine rules for arrival in Zhuhai, as this will be where you exit the train.
Quarantine requirements for arrivals from Zhuhai vary from city to city. To check risk areas in your city, search 入深政策 (rushen zhengce) on WeChat and select your city of departure and arrival (Zhuhai).
Don’t let any of this scare you into not going; we traveled from Guangzhou to Zhuhai and crossed the border into Macao. At the time, Guangzhou had a small number of risk areas in Haizhu district; we hadn’t traveled to them, so we entered Macao with ease.
Crossing the Border
Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge near Hong Kong-Guangdong border. Image via Wikimedia
Before departure, download 澳门健康码 (Aomen Jiangkangma), the city’s official health code, from your phone’s app store.
The app is easy to use and available in English, Chinese and Portuguese. The Macao health code is not only required to cross the border, but also when entering hotels, casinos, restaurants, etc.
Downloading the app and filling out your personal information before you arrive will not only save you time when crossing the border, but it will also confirm whether you need to quarantine upon arrival.
For your arrival in Macao, fill out the information on the “Submit (border)” section of the app. You’ll be asked for your personal information and travel history. If everything is OK, you’ll be given a green health code.
When you’re in Macao and need to show your health code, open the app and press “Submit (local)” and fill out your info.
Prior to our departure, we made sure we had a 24-hour nucleic acid test result. When we arrived at Zhuhai Station pandemic prevention staff asked us if we had traveled to Haizhu district; we hadn’t, so we said no and they let us pass without further questions.
Once you’ve exited Zhuhai Station, the Macao border is a five-minute walk away. Before crossing, you need to convert your Macao health code to Guangdong’s official health code (粤康码). There are lots of QR codes scattered around the border entrance, scan one and fill out the information required. There are members of staff that can assist you.
Once you’ve converted your code, Chinese nationals can use the e-gates to scan their code and head towards the border, but foreigners need to have their passport details checked manually.
There will be two members of staff sat a desk with a laptop, they will check your health code and then a third member of staff will escort you to a room where they input your passport details. Once this is done, you can head to passport control.
This step is the same as it always was; head to the gate marked “Foreigners” and give them your passport.
We had a particularly thorough member of staff who repeatedly checked our pictures, asked us our names, where we were from, where we were going, what job we have and “Is this really your passport?” She then called over a senior member of staff to ask us the exact same questions.
Once you’ve gone through passport control, you need to get a Macao visa. Again, you’ll walk into a big room with lots of e-gates (which foreigners can’t use). To get your visa, look for a sign marked “Police” or “Visa.”
Rather than going through a gate, you’ll walk to a glass window and give the police officer your passport, they’ll input your details and give you a visa valid for a six-month stay in Macao. You’re then free to walk through the door and into Macao.
When leaving Macao, the process is the same but in reverse. The only difference is getting your 24-hour nucleic acid test to appear on the Guangdong health code. When you get tested in Macao, it won’t automatically appear on the WeChat app for your city’s official health code.
To get your nucleic acid test validated for travel in China, open the Macao health code and press “Submit (border),” scroll down to “Guangdong Health Code” and fill out the information. Make sure your info matches your passport (write your name as “surname, given names” in this order in block capitals).
Once completed, you’ll be able to open Guangdong’s Yue Kang Code via the Macao health code.
This is handy for foreigners in China as the Yue Kang Code can only be used on WeChat or Alipay for people with a Chinese ID card. You will only need to show your Yue Kang Code when entering Zhuhai station.
Alternatively, you could go to a hospital and print out your test results, but this is an extra step that you can avoid by following the instructions above.
Money, Money, Money
Image via Pxhere
The final thing to note is that, in Macao foreigners with a Chinese bank account cannot use ATMs, as they require a Chinese ID card. They also cannot use their bank card to covert money from the exchange stores scattered around the city; nor can they use WeChat Pay or Alipay to buy things.
Some restaurants and stores will accept Chinese bank cards, but not many.
Save yourself a whole lot of trouble and take out as much RMB as you need for your trip while on the Chinese mainland and convert it to MOP (Macao’s currency) in China or Macao.
[Cover image via That's/Lars Hamer]