Visa Run to Macau: How to Border Run like a Baller
Every 2-3 months we're forced to leave the country. I've been doing it for years now and it's just become a part of my life that I've accepted. It's the downside to being a digital nomad. I used to dread border runs because they were a waste of time, money, and it was uncomfortable sitting in a minivan for 9 hours with nothing to do.
But this time it was different. This time I made it an adventure. In this post I talk about the difference between a Visa Run and a Border Run, why I chose Macau, and how to do it like a boss.
Visa Run vs. Border Run
Technically this was a border run as I didn't actually apply for a new visa, however, no one actually cares as the terms are used interchangeably. Macau is a great place to visit if you need to leave the country to activate your 2nd or 3rd entry for your tourist visa, or if you simply want to fly back in to get another 30 day visa exemption, which you can then extend giving you 2 months total which is what I'm doing this time around.
If you want to apply for another tourist visa, which gives you 60 days for each entry, plus the option to extend each entry for 3 months total, you'll want to go somewhere with a Thai conusulate, such as Hong Kong.
|Feels like Vegas but in Asia|
Why I chose Macau
The cheapest, fastest and easiest option would have been to take a bus to the border of Burma or to go to Laos. But that involves sitting in a mini van for 9 hours and only getting 14 days.
I wanted to fly somewhere instead so I looked at a map to see my options. My only requirement was I wanted a direct flight from Chiang Mai as I didn't want to waste my time transferring through Bangkok. Here were my options and how I ended up with Macau.
Mainland China - I don't like the culture.
Singapore - On the to visit list as I just realized Silkair and Tigerair fly direct there from Chiang Mai.
Kuala Lumpur - This is the most popular choice, and even though Malaysia Borneo is incredible, KL sucks, plus the city is 1 hour from the airport.
Seoul Korea - I've been there and aside from good food, there's not much to do besides drink. Plus the flight is almost 5 hours which is too long.
Taipei, Taiwan - Loved it, but was just there 3 months ago. Direct flights from V-Air.
Luang Prabang, Laos - Didn't realize it was an option until just now but also requires a visa which annoying to apply for and a waste of $35 if you're just making a border run.
Hong Kong - Will save this for when I want to apply for another tourist visa.
Burma (Myanmar) - Requires a visa.
So Macau it was. It was a direct flight, and sounded perfect for a one day trip as it's dubbed the Las Vegas of Asia.
|The Venetian Canals in Macau|
How to get to Macau
Even though AirAsia always has hidden fees, is often late, and otherwise my least favorite airline and last choice, they were the only airline that flew to Macau direct so I went with them.
Getting from the Airport to the hotel is super easy. Every major hotel has a free shuttle service that comes every 15 minutes so there's no need to pre-book anything. I even took another hotel's shuttle on the way back to the airport because it was closer to where I had lunch without issue.
Total Cost for the Flight: $228.85US
Airport to Hotel Shuttle: Free
|Standard King Room at the Hard Rock|
Where to Stay in Macau
I sorted hotel prices from the lowest up, and turns out that Macau isn't cheap. But instead of getting a $50 a night room that's off the strip and far from anything fun, I decided to splurge a bit and get a room at one of the main casinos. Since Hard Rock was in the center of everything, and they had 30% off rooms when I booked directly on their site, I stayed there.
Within walking distance was the Holiday Inn, Crown Plaza, the Venetian, Four Seasons, and the City of Dreams complex.
The best thing about the Hard Rock was all of the random amenities that most people never take advantage of. The pool are was decent, but more of a place to chill than actually swim, and there was no one to play beach volleyball with but would be been fun.
So instead, I called room service and asked to to bring up their "learn how to DJ kit" which was one of the options along with Fender guitars that you can borrow for free.
Total Cost for 1 night: $119.85US
|Learning how to DJ and eating my 3rd birthday cake|
Where to Eat in Macau
Even though there is good food in Macau and some buffets, it's not like Vegas so don't get your hopes up. The breakfast buffet at the hardrock was decent, but nothing spectacular.
Lunch both days was had in the food court at The Venetian at the local Portuguese restaurant and the ox-tail stew over rice was incredible. (Macau's heritage is Portuguese)
For dinner I ended up eating at Din Tai Fung which is the soup dumpling place I loved in Taiwan, but only because it was either that or a burger at the Hard Rock cafe. It was good and similar to the one in Taipei but the one in Taiwan was definitely better.
But the MUST EAT in Macau is the Portuguese Egg Tarts which were first made by Lord Stow in 1989 and worth the visit.
|The best egg tarts I've had anywhere in the world|
|Crispy on the outside, creamy and warm in the center|
I'm back in Chiang Mai with another 30 days stamped in my passport which I'm going to extend for another month, and overall, the trip to Macau was one of the easiest border runs I've ever done. A few years ago, I had decided to give my life back in Thailand one last shot, but with the personal promise that I would never try to save money by sitting in a mini-van to the border again.
I almost became that guy who is too broke to afford to travel any other way but the cheapest possible way and I am thankful everyday that I changed mindsets and paths.
I told myself, that there are so many countries within an easy flight from Thailand that I haven't seen yet and that I wasn't allowed to leave before I saw them all. So the goal for the past two years have been to grow my online income enough to be able to afford to travel every 2-3 months and to each time go somewhere I've never been before.
So far...so good.
Keep in touch and follow the journey,
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