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Six apps you need for your next trip to Macao

Make your life easier and download some of the transport, e-payment, weather and travel apps that the locals use.

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PUBLISHED

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ARTICLE BY

PUBLISHED

READING TIME

8 Minutes

Macao, like any other city, lives through its phones. According to the 2023 Macao Internet Project (MIP) report, local mobile internet usage rose to 91 percent in 2022 compared to just 33 percent back in 2001. More than half of the city’s residents order food, do their banking and perform other transactions virtually. 

Given the ubiquity of mobile apps in Macao, you could do worse than to download some of the main ones that residents use on a daily basis before your next trip. Here are six local apps that will help make your time in Macao a stress-free one. 

Bus Travelling System (巴士報站)

Six apps you need for your next trip to Macao - Bus travelling system
Photo by XueRu Lun

First released by the Transport Bureau in 2016, Bus Travelling System is the authoritative app for information on public buses in Macao. Given Macao’s woeful shortage of taxis, and the light rail system’s limited route map, you might have to resort to buses at some point during your visit. (For more information on how to use the buses, click here.)

The app not only provides details about the different bus routes and stops in the city, but it also has real-time data on bus arrivals and road conditions. Users can tap on the required bus route icon for comprehensive information, complete with photos of each of the stops. 

[See more: This is how you catch a public bus in Macao]

You can also search the best route from point A to B. Visitors, however, will probably find the tourist hotspots function the most useful, as it displays suggested routes for a range of attractions, hotels, shops and restaurants that can be selected from a map of Macao. 

Bus Travelling System is available in English, Chinese and Portuguese and can be downloaded for IOS and Android devices. A web browser version of the platform is also available, albeit with less functionality. 

Experience Macao (感受澳門)

Experience Macao
Photo by Vernon Raineil Cenzon

Developed by the Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO), Experience Macao is a comprehensive database with information on the latest events in Macao, as well as the city’s entertainment venues, sightseeing spots, restaurants, shops and hotels. Users can also use the app to check the weather and access miscellaneous information related to visitor flow, barrier-free locations, and emergency numbers. 

Clicking on the MGTO mascot (Mak Mak) will also bring up a list of useful hidden functions, including a translation function that allows users to select from a number of common expressions and display or play a recording of them in Mandarin, Cantonese, English or Portuguese. 

[See more: Six apps you need to survive in Mainland China]

Another function displays unique local eateries on a map and is very helpful if you are keen on getting the most out of Macao’s rich culinary culture. 

Experience Macao is available in English, Chinese and Portuguese and can be downloaded on Apple and Android phones. 

MaasPlus (澳門電召)

MaasPlus
Photo by Macao News/António Sanmarful

In Macao, there are two types of taxi service available – the black cabs, and the red and blue taxis of the Macau Radio Taxi Service. While it is possible to hail a black cab on the street or wait for one at a taxi stand, a taxi shortage means you could be in for a long wait – especially at peak times.

The MaasPlus app, which allows you to summon a radio taxi, isn’t a failsafe solution, but it at least widens your options. You key in your pick-up spot and select the radio taxi type you wish to take. Upon submitting your booking, the radio driver will call to confirm your location. 

[See more: These are the best tips for getting a taxi in Macao]

Keep in mind that few drivers speak English. Another issue is that taxis prefer to respond to calls on 2881 2345, rather than bookings made via the app. You’re also not advised to try booking one in advance. They’re usually only interested in immediate pick up.

Lastly, you can only register if you have a Macao, Hong Kong or Mainland Chinese phone number. Assuming you do, you can download the app for your IOS or Android devices.  Payments can be made through cash, credit card or e-payment options such as MPay.

Macao Smart Go (澳門出行) 

Macao Smart Go
Photo by Creedi Zhong

Developed by the Transport Bureau, Macao Smart Go is a useful app to have when navigating around the city, as it provides important information on buses, taxis, the light rail transport (LRT) system, sightseeing spots, parking spaces and much more.

Users can use the app to calculate walking, bus and LRT routes, as well as locate nearby vacant taxis on a map in real-time. (Frustratingly, you can’t hail such taxis with the app, you still have to physically run after them.)

The app meanwhile lists the free hotel and casino shuttle bus services and is linked to the official websites of the buses to Hong Kong, the ferry services and various airports in the region. 

[See more: Here’s a guide to the hotel and casino shuttle bus services in Macao]

In terms of sightseeing, Macao Smart Go features the latest details on upcoming events around the city and even comes with an interactive map that lists the various attractions, restaurants and hotels. For those who loathe crowds, there is even a visitor flow function that indicates whether or not a particular tourist spot is overrun.

The app can be viewed in English, Chinese or Portuguese, and is available for download on IOS and Android platforms. 

MPay (澳門錢包)

MPay Macao
Photo by David Dvořáček

While WeChat and AliPay are the most popular e-payment systems in mainland China, they are not as widely used by Macao locals as MPay, the mobile payment app developed by Macau Pass in 2018. 

The app operates in much the same way as its mainland counterparts, with users making payments by either presenting their payment QR code to merchants or by scanning the merchant’s payment collection QR code. MPay also allows users to order takeaway through its mFood function. 

Local residents generally link their MPay account to their Macao bank account or locally issued credit cards for seamless payment. Unfortunately, the app does not recognise international credit cards. However, foreign travellers can top up their MPay wallets with cash by visiting participating merchants such as 7-11 and Circle K. 

[See more: Electronic payment app MPay will be accepted in more than 40 countries next year]

In order to access higher transaction limits and more functions, MPay requires the completion of identity verification. However, for the purposes of casual dining and catching the bus, the basic top up limit of 1,000 patacas per day (or a yearly cap of 15,000 patacas) should suffice.  

The app can be installed on both IOS and Android devices. A Macao, Hong Kong or Mainland Chinese mobile number is required for registration. 

SMG (澳門氣象局)

Macao Meteorological and Geophysical Bureau (SMG)
Photo by Macao News/António Sanmarful

While it is possible to check local weather using the default weather app on your smartphone, you’ll get a far more comprehensive and accurate picture from the Macao Meteorological and Geophysical Bureau (also known by the Portuguese initials SMG). 

The SMG app provides a seven-day forecast and detailed information on the temperature, humidity, wind speed, humidity, precipitation and air quality across the various parts of the city. 

[See more: The number of hot days could more than double by mid-century, SMG says]

It posts warnings about incoming typhoons and storm surges, which is especially important during typhoon season (between May and October). You can also view satellite and radar images and other data. 

English, Chinese and Portuguese language options are available and the app is available for download on both Apple and Android devices. 

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