Last updated on December 12, 2023 by Wandering our World
Dreaming of a gambling getaway? A high-rolling, high-stakes vacation of bright lights, crazy casinos, and non-stop action? In that case, Macau and Las Vegas are surely two of the top destinations on your list of considerations. Both of these lively locations offer world-class experiences for gambling connoisseurs, but which is best?
On the one hand, you have Macau. A “Special Administrative Region” of China, Macau is the gambling capital of the entire Asian continent, often nicknamed the “Vegas of Asia” for its giant casinos. With towering skyscraper hotels, glamorous gilded interiors, and a seemingly never-ending array of slots, poker tables, and roulette wheels, it’s a gambler’s paradise.
On the other hand, there’s Las Vegas. Sin City. The Entertainment Capital of the World. Featured in so many movies and TV shows over the years, this is a city that hundreds of millions of people are familiar with, even those who have never actually stepped foot there themselves. It’s a never-sleeping, never-stopping hub of colorful casinos and entertainment.
So, with such great reputations and impressive gambling scenes, how can you possibly pick between these two iconic destinations? Well, if you’re struggling to set one apart from the other, this guide is here to help. Below, we’ll dig into all the big differences and key features of Macau and Las Vegas.
- A Quick Overview Of Macau vs Las Vegas
- Which Is Best For Casinos And Gambling?
- Which Is Best For Other Activities?
- Which Is Best For Live Entertainment And Nightlife?
- Which Is Best For Shopping?
- Which Is Best For Food?
- Which Is Best For Families?
- Which Is Best For Couples?
- Which Is Cheapest?
- Where To Stay According To Your Budget
- Macau vs Las Vegas: Which Is Better?
A Quick Overview Of Macau vs Las Vegas
Macau: A Quick Overview
Macau, which is sometimes written as Macao, is both a city and special administrative region of China. It’s located in the Pearl River Delta, looking out over the South China Sea. Around 680,000 people live here, and the city only extends across 12.7 square miles, making it the most densely-populated region on the planet today.
There’s an interesting history to Macau. It started off life as a Portuguese colony, leased to Portugal by the Ming dynasty of China back in the 16th century. Portugal held dominion over the area for several centuries, but it was eventually transferred to China in 1999, becoming a special region with its own rules and economic system.
Centuries ago, Macau was pretty sleepy and sparsely populated. But, in recent decades, it has evolved and expanded enormously, becoming one of the most bustling, buzzing places on earth. It’s one of Asia’s leading resort cities, with a colossal gambling industry, several times bigger than Vegas’s.
Countless people flock here every year from all over the globe to enjoy the city’s many casinos and glamorous hotels. Beyond all the gambling fun, Macau is also known for its eclectic mixture of Portuguese and Chinese architecture in its UNESCO-listed historic center, giving visitors something different to do if ever they get tired of playing games.
Las Vegas: A Quick Overview
Las Vegas, commonly referred to as just Vegas and also nicknamed Sin City, is a large city in Nevada, in the southwestern part of the United States. The county seat of Clark County, Vegas is found within the Mojave Desert. It’s the second-biggest city in the southwest and the 25th largest nationwide, with an estimated population of around 646,000 people.
While indigenous people lived in this area for thousands of years, the city of Las Vegas as we know it today was settled in 1905. It was incorporated as a city just six years later, in 1911, and experienced major growth in the 1930s and 40s, when gambling was legalized in Nevada, the Hoover Dam was built, and many casinos and hotels sprung up across the city.
Since those early halcyon days, Vegas has never looked back. It’s become bigger, bolder, and more glamorous as the decades have passed, well and truly cementing itself as the leading hub for gambling and casino fun in North America. It’s home to some of the most iconic and famous hotels worldwide, like the Luxor pyramid and towering Strat.
Many of the best hotels and gambling hotspots are found along “The Strip,” a 4.2 mile stretch of of Las Vegas Boulevard, lined on either side with majestic resorts, expansive casinos, and thrilling live entertainment venues. The city is also famed for its other diverse activities, with everything from theme park rides to outdoor recreation tours in the surrounding canyons.
Which Is Best For Casinos And Gambling?
The vast majority of people head to Macau and Las Vegas with one thing in mind – gambling. If you pick a destination like this, it’s highly likely that you’re planning to hit up the poker tables, spin the slots, and hope to head home with some big jackpot winnings. But which city is best for casinos and the gambling experience?
Macau: The Casinos
Macau’s casinos are, without a doubt, some of the most exciting in the world. And, despite Macau being a very small place, there are some truly gigantic places to play here, like the iconic Venetian Macao – this is the biggest hotel and casino complex in the city, with a whopping 375,000 square feet of casino floor space.
The MGM Cotai is another of Macau’s treasures, with its distinctive design and massive art gallery. It also boasts a whopping 1,500 slot machines and other games. Then, there’s the Parisian, with its very own Eiffel Tower and 500 gaming tables to choose from. Or, you might like to try your luck at the Grand Lisboa, with its gorgeous flower-shaped tower.
The Sands Macau, Galaxy Macau, and Morpheus all offer more great gaming experiences, and there are lots of games to play, from poker and baccarat to blackjack and roulette. You’ll also find some distinctively Asian games in Macau’s casinos, like sic bo and fan tan, offering lots of diversity for those who enjoy mixing things up.
Overall, one of the most common themes you’ll notice in Macau’s casinos is their focus on table and card games. There aren’t all that many slot machines here – Vegas has tens of thousands more machines, in comparison. So, if you love slots, it might not be the best option, but if you’re more interested in tactical table gaming, Macau’s a super place to go.
Las Vegas: The Casinos
At the time of writing, Vegas has over twice as many casinos as Macau. That means there are many more options and spaces for you to play at, and much greater diversity in terms of the casinos’ styles and themes, which incorporate a huge range of influences, including Ancient Egypt, Ancient Rome, and the worlds of circuses and film.
Many of Vegas’s best casinos are known for their fantastic designs, like the Luxor, which is shaped like an Egyptian pyramid, or Treasure Island, with its pirate theming. There’s also Caesars Palace, with Roman style sculptures and structures all around. In short, the theming of Vegas hotels is exceptional, far beyond most of Macau’s big gaming spots.
Many of Vegas’s best casinos are also vast and dynamic, like ARIA, with its gigantic slot machine floor and high-limit machines, or the Bellagio, which brings all the finery and sophistication of Europe’s most elite hotels to the Vegas strip. The MGM Grand is equally impressive, with vast table game spaces and even a massive adult video game arcade.
From the historic Golden Nugget to the family-friendly Circus Circus, Vegas’s list of extraordinary casinos just keeps on going. They’re all unique in their own ways, and the theming extends all the way through the interior, across the casino floor and even into the hotel rooms, truly immersing visitors in other worlds and spaces.
Numbers-wise, Macau has a bigger gambling industry than Vegas, and it’s arguably better for high-stakes table games. However, if you want a more complete gambling experience, with themed spaces and the widest range of games, Vegas is undoubtedly the better destination. It’s also much better for slots, with so many more machines than Macau.
Which Is Best For Other Activities?
Gambling may be your main focus when visiting Macau or Las Vegas. But, in between all those roulette spins and poker hands, you might like to try a few other activities and explore the surrounding area. So, which of these two destinations is best if you’re looking for fun things to do away from the casino floor?
Macau: The Activities
While much of Macau’s cityscape is dominated by towering casinos and fancy resorts, there is a historic side to this city which is totally worth exploring, too. Indeed, Macau’s historic center has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it’s filled with some wonderful old landmarks, dating back hundreds of years.
Visitors might like to take a guided walking tour of the center, stopping off at key spots like the 15th century A-Ma Temple, the decorative Moorish Barracks, the elegant Dom Pedro V Theater, and the striking Ruins of Saint Paul’s. The unique mix of Portuguese and Chinese buildings here is quite special – you can easily spend a day wandering around and admiring the sights.
Other fun activities to try in Macau include a climb up the massive Macau Tower to enjoy unobstructed views across the cityscape, or a visit to the breathtaking Super Nature Museum, which immerses you in art like never before, with 3D screens and massive, detailed displays across the walls and floors.
Las Vegas: The Activities
Las Vegas has a dizzying array of activities and attractions to enjoy, many of which are housed in its famous hotels and casinos. Visitors can tour the various hotels to find elegant shopping spaces, Venetian-style gondola rides, thrilling theme park rides, ziplines, video game arcades, and so much more.
Sin City is also home to an impressive array of museums and galleries for those seeking a little art and culture in between casino sessions. The Mob Museum is one of the best, telling the story of organized crime, while the Atomic Testing Museum is home to a real piece of the Berlin Wall. There are also museums dedicated to neon lights, punk rock, and pinball.
In addition, thanks to its super location near lakes, canyons, and desert landscapes, Las Vegas is also a great spot for outdoor recreation. You can hike, swim, and fish in Lake Mead, for example, take a day trip to the Grand Canyon, or try a scenic drive around Red Rock Canyon – the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Overall, while Macau may have a bigger gambling economy compared to Las Vegas, it can’t quite keep up with Sin City in terms of the number and variety of attractions on offer. There’s just such a lot to do in Vegas, from helicopter rides to one-of-a-kind rollercoasters, providing something for everyone, from families to couples.
Which Is Best For Live Entertainment And Nightlife?
If you’re heading to a dynamic destination like Macau or Las Vegas, you may also intend to stay out late, enjoying the exciting nightlife scenes and awesome live shows that make these cities such fun places to be. But which one’s best when it comes to shows and clubs?
Well, when it comes to nightlife, there are few cities in the world that even come close to Las Vegas. There’s a reason this place is known as the Entertainment Capital of the World. It never sleeps. There are always things going on, from live performances from world-famous singers to circus acts, comedy, magic shows, and more.
Vegas also has countless places to party, drink, and mingle with your fellow travelers. All the big hotels have multiple bars to hang out in, and you can find more than enough dancing and music hotspots to keep you occupied all the way until the early hours. In short, this isn’t just a gambler’s haven, it’s a party paradise, too.
How does Macau compare? Well, the nightlife and entertainment scenes of this city are slowly getting bigger. Many big artists and DJs regularly headline Macau’s venues, and there are lots of good bars in the resorts and hotels. However, you won’t find nearly as much diversity in terms of live entertainment here as you can in Vegas.
Which Is Best For Shopping?
In terms of shops, Macau has a luxury feel. The 5-star vibes of the hotels extend to the city’s fancy boutiques, and many of the shops here cater towards an exclusive clientele, with high prices and fancy items. It’s the perfect place to buy high-end clothing, glitzy jewelry, and exquisite fragrances.
Over in Vegas, it’s a totally different scene. You’ll find much more options for budget-friendly shopping, including outlet stores, pawn shops, and so on. There are also elegant boutiques in many of the fancy hotels, like Caesars Palace, and a range of malls, like the Grand Canal Shoppes of the Venetian and the Wynn Plaza.
Overall, most shoppers will have a better time in Las Vegas, but if you purely care about luxury goods, Macau isn’t a bad option.
Which Is Best For Food?
Next, let’s talk about food, as you’ll need plenty of tasty meals to keep your energy levels up in a place like Vegas or Macau. And it’s worth noting that the culinary scenes in these cities are quite different to one another.
Macau’s scene is very strongly oriented around luxury and quality. Some of the best chefs in Asia are based here, with lots of fantastic, gourmet-grade meals to enjoy. For those who love the finer things in life, this is an amazing place to be, and it’s perfect for all those romantic dinners with your special someone.
Vegas’s scene is way more diverse, with everything from fast food joints and pizzerias to luxurious European eateries and grand buffets with a seemingly endless supply of everything you could possibly imagine. The general quality may not be as high as in Macau, but the range of menus is much wider.
Overall, it all depends on taste. Those who like Michelin-star meals should opt for Macau. For everything else, pick Vegas.
Which Is Best For Families?
Given the fact that they’re both focused on gambling and adult entertainments, Vegas and Macau aren’t the most obvious destinations for family getaways. However, it’s still possible to have a fun family trip to either one of these destinations, with one being much more family-friendly than the other.
As you might have guessed, it’s Vegas that wins in this category, as many of its resorts and hotels have been specifically designed with families in mind. Kids will adore diving into the worlds of Ancient Egypt at the Luxor or the fairy tale lands of knights and princesses in Excalibur. Treasure Island and Caesars Palace are also great places to see with children.
Plus, with rollercoasters, rides, arcades, movie theaters, mini golf, circus shows, and more, Vegas has a surprisingly vast array of things to see and do as a family. You could easily spend a full week here and have a fantastic time without even needing to visit any of the casinos, and active families will also enjoy the surrounding areas, like Lake Mead and Red Rock Canyon.
In contrast, Macau feels like more of an exclusive, adult destination. You can still come here with kids, but there simply isn’t as much to do, apart from visiting the historic center or enjoying some of the resort amenities. So, if you’re preparing a trip with the children, you should probably pick Las Vegas.
Which Is Best For Couples?
For couples, picking between Macau and Las Vegas can be a little trickier, as both cities have lots of benefits and unique features to offer.
Macau, for example, has the benefit of luxury. It’s a very classy place to spend some time, with jaw-dropping hotels, large and cozy rooms, indulgent amenities, and incredibly good food. If you and your partner like to gamble and are looking to spend a week or more in a state of pure bliss, Macau’s the kind of place you can easily fall in love with.
Vegas, meanwhile, may not be the most quintessentially romantic destination, but can still appeal to couples who love to have a good time. Whether you’re hitting the slots side-by-side, touring the hotels, or enjoying Vegas’ shopping scene and spectacular surrounding nature, it’s a terrific place to visit with someone special.
Overall, it all depends on personal tastes and preferences. For luxury, head to Macau. For a wider range of options, choose Vegas.
Which Is Cheapest?
Of course, cost is another big factor for many to take into account when picking between Macau and Las Vegas. And, since these destinations are on opposite sides of the world from one another, one of the biggest costs to consider is travel – if you’re in the U.S., getting to Vegas will be very cheap. Meanwhile, for those closer to Asia, it’ll be more cost-effective to fly to Macau.
When it comes to other prices, like food, accommodation, and touristic activities, Vegas usually works out cheaper than Macau, as it has a much broader range of options to suit all budgets. You can easily find cheap places to sleep and eat in Vegas, for instance, while Macau is dominated by luxury restaurants and resorts with high nightly rates.
Where To Stay According To Your Budget
Budget: Crowne Plaza Macau, an IHG Hotel, captivates with opulent beauty. Elegant interiors seamlessly blend modern luxury and traditional charm. The hotel’s architecture stands as a testament to sophistication, while the ambiance exudes a refined allure. A haven of aesthetic delight, promising an enchanting retreat in the heart of Macau.
Luxury: The Londoner Hotel in Macau is a masterpiece of architectural elegance, harmonizing regal charm with contemporary allure. Majestic facades adorned with meticulous details evoke the grandeur of London landmarks. Luxurious interiors transport guests to a world of refined opulence, promising an extraordinary stay in this resplendent Macau gem.
Budget: Jet Luxury at The Signature Condo Hotel in Las Vegas is a pinnacle of modern sophistication. Towering architecture invites with sleek lines and panoramic windows, offering breathtaking views of the iconic cityscape. Sumptuous interiors feature contemporary design and lavish amenities, providing an exquisite retreat for those seeking unparalleled luxury in Las Vegas.
Luxury: The Westin Las Vegas Hotel & Spa is a haven of contemporary elegance. Graceful architecture welcomes with modern lines and a warm palette. Luxurious interiors showcase a seamless blend of comfort and style, creating a serene oasis in the heart of the vibrant Las Vegas Strip. A sanctuary of beauty and tranquility.
Macau vs Las Vegas: Which Is Better?
Overall, it’s no surprise that Macau and Las Vegas are two of the world’s leading gambling destinations. In the dazzling atmosphere of the Las Vegas Strip, a young couple explores the pedestrian bridges surrounding the Excalibur Hotel and Casino, immersed in the vibrant energy of the iconic entertainment district.And, if gambling is your main focus, there’s really no wrong answer here – you can have the time of your life in either location.
However, if you have to pick one to visit, Las Vegas is the better option for most people. It’s a bigger place, with more casinos to explore and so many more things to do. The touristic scene here is broader and more developed than in Macau, with options to entertain everybody, from young families to elderly couples and groups of friends.
At the same time, while Macau can’t quite compete with Vegas in terms of attractions and variety, it’s still a terrific destination to consider. Especially if you find Vegas a little too seedy or want something more sophisticated and refined, Macau’s luxurious lifestyles, high-end restaurants, and glitzy boutiques are sure to please.