OWL Magazine Korea

Navigating Currency and Travel Procedures Between Hong Kong and Macau

It is rare to find travelers from South Korea who visit only Macau. Typically, they make a brief stop in Macau while traveling in Hong Kong.

Because of this, it is not easy to exchange currency for Macau’s currency in South Korea, and even the knowledge of what currency Macau uses is not well known.

“The Relationship between Hong Kong and Macau”

Both Hong Kong and Macau were returned to China in 1999. Hong Kong was returned from the United Kingdom, and Macau was returned from Portugal. Despite this return, they agreed to have autonomous governments for 50 years, perhaps because they did not want to return to China.

China also recognized this, so both places have the form of autonomous governments within the country until around 2030.

“When Traveling from Hong Kong to Macau or from Macau to Hong Kong, Immigration Procedures are Required”

For this reason, whether traveling from Hong Kong to Macau or from Macau to Hong Kong, one must go through the process of departing and then re-entering.

However, because these are small governments within the giant country of China, they do not stamp entry permits in passports. Instead, they issue entry permits by inserting a small piece of paper.

“The Currency of Hong Kong and Macau”

Both places use different currencies. Hong Kong uses the “Hong Kong Dollar” denoted as “HKD,” while Macau uses the “Pataca” denoted as “MOP.”

In South Korea, it is generally difficult to find the Macau Pataca, so travelers usually exchange for Hong Kong Dollars before going.

“The Exchange Rate between Macau Pataca and Hong Kong Dollar”

The exchange rate between Macau Pataca and Hong Kong Dollar is about 1 HKD to 1.03 MOP. The value of the Hong Kong Dollar is slightly higher.

However, when not exchanging, it is typically calculated on a 1:1 basis. Occasionally, places like hotels may have different prices for MOP and HKD.

For example, the breakfast cost at the “Ole London Hotel” was 40 MOP when paying in MOP, and 38 HKD when paying in HKD.

“While Hong Kong Dollars can be used in Macau, Macau Pataca cannot be used in Hong Kong.”

There is an important point to note. Generally, Hong Kong Dollars can be used in Macau without any issue. Most shops accept Hong Kong Dollars without a problem, and the exchange rate is 1:1.

However, in reverse, Macau Pataca cannot be used in Hong Kong. If you happen to go through Macau on your way to Hong Kong, it’s necessary to use up all the Macau Pataca in Macau before going.

“When purchasing an HZMB bus ticket in Macau, change is given in MOP.”

When crossing from Macau to Hong Kong, I used the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge (HZMB). At the HZMB terminal, you need to purchase a ticket, and while they do accept Hong Kong Dollars, they give change in MOP.

Since Hong Kong Dollars are no longer usable in Hong Kong, I found it a bit challenging. Rather than paying in Hong Kong Dollars, it was possible to use a credit card to minimize receiving Macau Pataca.

Additionally, in Macau, when paying with Hong Kong Dollars, they usually give change in Hong Kong coins or notes. However, on the last day, when I paid with Hong Kong Dollars at a place for lunch, they gave back notes in Hong Kong Dollars but coins in Macau Pataca, which was a bit puzzling.

Just for reference, there are very few places in South Korea that exchange for Macau Pataca. When going to Macau, it’s a good idea to prepare Hong Kong Dollars or bring 50,000 won bills from South Korea and exchange them locally.