A few days ago, I booked a last-minute trip to meet a friend in Macau. Having booked with only four hours’ notice, I was assigned a middle seat for both legs of a journey totaling 19 hours and 22 minutes, which included two infants adjacent to me. Once I arrived at the gorgeous Hong Kong International Airport, I proceeded directly to the attached ferry terminal, bypassing immigration.

The Hong Kong dollar has long been pegged to the U.S. one. This ticket to Macau cost US$34. The ticket I bought was a coach fare. The higher class fare is only slightly more expensive, with the primary benefit being able to alight from the ferry first when docking.


The ferry trip covers 53 kilometers in 53 minutes. Macau is directly west of Hong Kong.

I ended up being in Macau for only 18 hours. I spent much of my time at Wynn Macau, a more gorgeous and spacious version of the one in Las Vegas. I had a room at Mandarin Oriental, which is not part of any loyalty program, so there is no way to travel-hack juicy free nights.

The Macau ferry is quite comfortable and takes less than an hour to traverse the international waters. My friend was in a hurry so for the return trip to Hong Kong, we booked a private helicopter!

The fare works out to US$574, before the baggage fees.

I had been on a helicopter twice previously, solely for tourism. The first experience was a 15-minute tour of the Las Vegas Strip, which I was already familiar with, having lived there. The second experience was last month, descending to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, a total of 13 minutes. This ride would be my first as a mode of transportation.

Helicopters are finicky regarding weight and balance. The helicopter holds 2 crew and 12 passengers. Our flight had 9 passengers. The staff weighs everyone and their luggage. The overweight baggage charge is US$39 for every kilogram over 7 kilograms! Mine was well over. Gulp.

My friend had double-booked a room at Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong and Macau. When I shook my head at the waste of money, he argued that it could actually save money since he used the room as extremely expensive temporary storage. The helicopter charges a fortune for all kinds of weight.

The helicopter lounge is huge.

Helipad. Everyone is handed yellow earplugs. It’s loud, and stuff can easily get blown away.

Some helicopter rides will have to assign seats for weight balance. I purposely waited to be the last one so I could get a window seat. First photograph in the air!

The cost getting to Macau from Hong Kong by ferry was US$34 for 53 minutes, a rate of $0.64 per minute. We could have done the same trip in reverse, but my friend wanted to save 35 minutes by helicopter at an incremental expense of $540. The helicopter ended up costing US$36 per minute, but hey, we saved an extra half-hour. The view is much better too.

These buildings give you an idea of how densely populated this part of the world is. Both Hong Kong and Macau are among the top five densest countries in the world.

Arguably the most beautiful skyline in the world. More stunning at night.