Macao Magic

2 December 2016
Read Time: 2.7 mins

It would be easy for Macao to rest on the laurels of its rich cultural history – thanks to its former life as the oldest European outpost in the Orient – but this enigmatic city is stepping from the shadow of its own past, bursting forth to reveal one of Asia’s most exciting new destinations.

From the preserved colonial ruins to heart rate-raising adventures, and one of the most interesting cuisine styles in the world, Macao’s tiny package packs a mighty punch – and serves up plenty to keep any kind of traveller satisfied.

macao skyline fireworks Macao in all its glory (image: Macao Tourism)

It’s also easy to get there. Macao is a simple 55-minute ferry ride from Hong Kong, with return services operating every 15 to 30 minutes from Hong Kong Island and Kowloon to Macao. Frequent services also operate daily from the Hong Kong International Airport to Macao between 11am to 10pm, meaning travel between both destinations is seamless and easy.

If family fun with a dash of adrenaline is priority number one, then the Cotai Strip is must-do. Here you’ll find giant precincts like the City of Dreams, Sands Cotai Central, Galaxy Mega Resort and Studio City packed with novel attractions like the world’s largest wave pool and rapid ride; Universal’s Batman Dark Flight; the world’s highest figure-8 Ferris Wheel, the Golden Reel; or have breakfast with Shrek and the gang at the largest DreamWorks production outside the US.

Culturally, Macao is a land of contrasts but the medley of traditional and modern extends much further. The city’s ever-expanding landscape of hotels and resorts caters well to the diversity of modern travellers’ tastes, too. Not all new, large and ritzy (although there’s plenty of that), Macao boasts its fair share of charming boutique accommodation channelling Macao’s bygone colonial era.

Alternatively, Macau Tower has the world’s highest bunjy jump as well as Skywalk X, rising a heart-stopping 233 metres above the skyline.

Make a date with Macao

Another major attraction is the local food, Macanese cuisine – an intriguing combination of Portuguese, African, Southeast Asian and Chinese cooking – that’s gained international recognition after being enjoyed by travellers for decades. Macao has become firmly planted on the map as one of the world’s hottest culinary destinations,
a reputation only enhanced by an influx of internationally renowned restaurants. An exciting lineup of celebrity chefs is refreshing and reinvigorating Macao’s gastronomic scene for a new generation, bringing flair and fresh concepts to the already unique cuisine.

macao shopping strip Local shopping strips sit side by side with luxury malls (image: Getty)

No holiday would be complete without a touch of retail therapy. Shop ‘til you drop takes on a whole new meaning in Macao; and variety is the name of the game across the city’s many shopping districts. Sleek shopping centres, filled with international luxury brands, sit shoulder to shoulder with independent fashion boutiques, Chinese antique shops and popular daily flea markets just waiting to fulfil a shoppers‘ desire. For a fascinating diversion from all the shopping, visitors can also enjoy The House of the Dancing Water, the world’s largest and most spectacular water-based show, at the City of Dreams.

For a slightly slower, more relaxed pace, check in to one of the many luxurious and sprawling day spas for treatments including thermal bathing, hydrotherapy and aromatherapy, all under one roof.

Macao’s magic never lets up; from being pampered at one of the luxurious spas and staying in a ritzy yet affordable resort or hotel to tasting the flavours of the local cuisine as you explore the rich culture and history dating from when Portuguese traders established Macao as the gateway to the Orient.

Macao remains a destination that continues to win the hearts and minds of travellers for its East-meets-West features and cultural values. There’s so much to see and do, all in the one neat destination.

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Desta Cullen

A writer, editor and content creator for Flight Centre, Desta loves nothing more than hopping on a plane in the name of travel. From jumping off mountains in Turkey to sipping Pimms under a London summer sky, exploring Amsterdam from two wheels or sampling the best of a Thai street-food market, the timbre of Desta's holidays have taken a detour since having her first child, but hunting down the best flavours and good times is still the aim of the game.