Macau (or Macao) is a special administrative region of China; a short ferry ride across the Pearl River estuary from Hong Kong. Unlike mainland China, it is considerably more liberal in its attitudes towards sex.
Prostitution is legal in Macau, although operating a brothel and pimping is not. The peninsula is largely seen as a getaway destination where the middle classes (and the filthy rich) of China get to blow off steam for the weekend. In 2007, the region overtook Vegas as the gambling capital of the world… and just like the rampant escort industry in Vegas… a swarm of adult services and vices has followed in to Macau.
In this guide, we will take a look at all things sex in Macau. We’ll look at the popular ‘brothels’ (fishbowls and saunas), as well as the prostitution scene and laws, and what to expect from Macanese nightlife.
Browse our complete guide to sex in Macau:
Attitudes to Sex in Macau
Is it any surprise that attitudes towards sex are more liberal in Macau than they are in mainland China?
It shouldn’t be.
A large part of China treats Macau as its adult playground — the Vegas of Asia. Even if it can at times resemble a slightly more downbeat Atlantic City.
The gambling culture plays in to the hands of the sex industry, which is quietly huge in Macau. As the punters flock, the ladies follow.
The prevailing attitude towards sex in Macau, as a visitor, is thus… if you want it, you can find it. And you won’t be searching long. But you might have to dig deep in the wallet.
Outside of the tourist hot spots, attitudes towards sex amongst the local Macau communities is decidedly more traditional and reticent.
One night stand (hookup) culture hasn’t yet seeped in to the local customs, even if the younger generation of Macanese ladies are much more likely to be seen at bars than they once were… and potentially willing to entertain the idea of casual sex.
As is so often the case in Asia, western men looking for western women can enjoy a much higher ratio of success than they might do back in their home countries.
Sex in Macau largely depends on the nationality you are looking to ‘pick up’, and whether you will resort to paying for it.
Popular Night Spots
It’s pretty simple what draws the crowds to Macau: the gigantic casino-fuelled gambling industry.
While the casinos and major hotels are by far the most popular night spots in Macau, you shouldn’t overlook some of the other non-gambling related entertainment in the area.
The NAPE district south of Avenida de Amizade is packed with bars and clubs where some of the more liberal and metropolitan generation mingle with expats and tourists. Some streets to check out include: Rua de Madrid, Avenida Xian Xing Hai and Rua de Londres. Lots of single ladies enjoying drinks here.
There is also the Senado Square area, which is a melting pot of French, Portuguese, Filipino and various expat influences.
This is seen as a cheap and cheerful location for those who are burnt out by the casinos. You’ll also get to meet plenty of women who simply wouldn’t be found around the slots.
Many of the Filipino girls here cannot afford to waste their money chasing the bright lights, but they are sociable and happy to mingle with foreigners.
Of course, if you are looking for a slightly seedier schedule for the evening, you can check out one of Macau’s many karaoke bars (KTVs) and hostess/nightclubs that are particularly popular with Asian male groups.
The ladies at these venues are beautiful and guaranteed to make for friendly companions, but there’s a reason for that, and it’s usually down to money…
Prostitution in Macau
Macau doesn’t have an officially designated red light district, which is astonishing when you consider how much sex trade passes through the region.
Similar to Vegas, this is partly due to the fact that many of the working girls and prostitutes will congregate on casino floors and in hotel lobbies.
Most of their potential clients are drawn towards the gambling, thus street prostitutes will play a game of cat and mouse inside the major hotels. Sometimes they’ll get kicked out, other times they won’t.
While the major Macau hotels are not fond of prostitutes roaming the floors, they do in fact partner up with pseudo-brothels, otherwise known as fishbowls and saunas, to provide these services ‘in-house’.
It’s not uncommon for some hotels to have entire floors dedicated to saunas and spa treatments where gentlemen can openly buy sexual services.
The legendary Macau fishbowls, such as Darling 1, operate in much the same way that they do in other parts of Asia (like Bangkok). You enter the establishment, you choose your lady, and you get down to business.
The majority of Macau prostitution originates from mainland Chinese girls looking to earn some fast cash to send back home.
It is estimated that over 8,000 mainland Chinese women are actively selling sex in Macau. You will also find many women from Thailand and Vietnam, as well as a large (but shrinking) contingent of eastern European girls.
Red Light Districts
Macau doesn’t have a designated red light district, but it does have a number of hot spots that are said to be busier than usual with call girls and street hookers.
You could argue that the whole of Macau parades as a red light district of sorts.
It certainly draws a large crowd of Chinese men seeking thrills they legally couldn’t find back in the mainland.
The Rua De Pequim is said to be a popular spot for streetwalkers.
The area surrounding Casino Lisboa is perhaps the most well known streetwalking spot.
Street hookers offer some of the cheapest full service that you can expect to find in Macau, as you’d expect, but your mileage will vary (considerably).
Hotel Lisboa is home to the famous Basement Restaurant Hooker Parade.
This is truly one of the more bizarre adult marketplaces in the world.
Buried in one of the oldest casinos in town is a restaurant that resembles an American greasy spoon. The spot is open 24/7 on Basement 1, and sells bottles of Tsing Tao for around $5.
What makes this restaurant so unusual is that you can glance outside and watch a factory line of Macau street hookers waltzing up and down past the restaurant, on repeat, for hours at a time.
There might be a hundred of them walking back and forth in heels and short skirts.
Basement Restaurant Hooker Parade is a must-visit if you are in to this sort of weird sexual circus.
Brothels, Escorts and Massage
We’ve compiled two separate guides to the most popular adult services around Macau, including brothels (saunas), escorts and soapy massage parlours (fishbowls).
- Macau Brothels, Saunas & Fishbowls Guide — A guide to the best ‘unofficial’ brothels, fishbowls and saunas around Macau.
- Macau Escorts Guide — A guide to the local escorting industry.
The Price of Sex
Sex in Macau is not cheap.
Go to a sauna and you can expect to pay around HK$2000-2500 for full service. That works out to around $260-$325 in USD.
The top fishbowls are slightly cheaper, around HK1700 ($220 USD).
If you are looking to pay for sex in Macau, you should probably save at least $400-$500 (USD) to cover the costs of service, plus any required extras: such as a token spa experience, or entrance to a sauna.
It is said that if you get good service, tip the ladies. A large chunk of their earnings are taken up by some very much interested third parties. Like the Triads, or Russian gangs.
Interested in the gay and lesbian scene in Macau?
Sadly, the LGBT scene in Macau is pretty much non-existent.
While same-sex activity is legal, there are numerous common rights that haven’t yet been extended to the gay community. This is an ongoing matter of debate in Macau society.
In terms of entertainment, there is only one known gay bar in Macau. This is Boom Bar on Taipa Island.
Boom Bar: 164 Avenida De Kwong Tung, Taipa
Macau Strip Clubs
Strip clubs are not a big thing in Macau.
If you expected the Vegas style strip club extravaganza, you will be sorely disappointed.
There are only really two clubs of note:
- Divinos Gentlemen’s Club: 2/F AIA Tower, 251A
- Playmates Strip Club: Guia Hotel
Playmates is mostly fully nude Russian girls and a mix of Asian hostesses.
Divinos has dancers from Taiwan, Australia, the United States and Brazil. It has topless lap dances available.
Casual Sex in Macau
If you’re heading to Macau looking for hookups and casual sex, without having to pay, you could be in for a challenging trip.
The local Macanese women are generally traditional and conservative, which can deceive tourists who mistakenly assume that the behaviour of prostitutes is a marker for Macau women being ‘up for it’.
Some men have reported success hooking up with hotel and casino staff, although these women work long and tough hours. They are also used to being chatted up by old rich Chinese men, so you’ll have to mix up your game.
The alternative is to try your luck with expat ladies.
There is a surprisingly large contingent of French women in Macau, and given the divide between Chinese and Western men, westerners will likely enjoy more success hooking up with these women than with mainlanders.
Anything to add to our Macau sex guide? Recommendations? Suggestions?
Drop us an email or use the comment section below.
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