If you thought Las Vegas knew how to do bright lights and high rolling entertainment, you’ve never been to Macao. This vibrant city, which sits across the Pearl River Delta from Hong Kong, draws people from all over the world who come here to play, party and try to win big.
The most densely populated region in the world, this place is also a hub of incredibly varied character. Yes, there are the flashy casinos, but there is also a fascinating mix of culture. Although predominantly Chinese, Macao was administered by the Portuguese from the 16th century right up until 1999, resulting in a city with a European flair that sits on the exotic South China Sea.
Peek the Portuguese history at...
- The Ruins of St. Paul’s
- Mount Fortress / Museum of Macao
- Senado Square
From its fascinating ruins of ancient churches to its opulent hotels and glitzy casinos, Macao is a mixture of treasured heritage and contemporary affluence. Gorgeous views of this diverse city can be taken in from atop the 17th century Guia Fortress. Tackle the hill on foot or take the cable car from Flora Gardens. Once you reach the summit you’ll find several attractions competing with the views for your attention.
Discover East Asia’s first western-style lighthouse built around 1864, before stepping inside a charming chapel that dates back to 1622 and houses rare and beautiful frescoes. For a contrast to the Portuguese architecture around town make your way to Mandarin’s House. This traditional Chinese residential compound built prior to 1869 features more than 60 rooms and a range of different architectural influences.
No trip to Macao would be complete without visiting Ruins of the Church of St. Paul. This stunning 17th century church will impress with its majestic carvings and sculptures, all expertly carved by Japanese Christians and local artisans.
Check out Chinese culture at...
- A-Ma Temple
- Mandarin’s House
- Lou Lim Ieoc Garden
Eat and Drink
With its Chinese and Portuguese influences, Macao boasts an exciting culinary fusion experience, with unique Macanese cuisine as its staple. Must-try dishes include African chicken, a barbecued chicken coated in a spicy piri piri sauce, pork chop bun, a deliciously simple portion of fried pork on a toasted bun, and, of course, the region’s lip-smacking Portuguese custard tarts.
Restaurants are everywhere throughout the main tourist area, though many foodies head south of the peninsula to Taipa Island for a tasty array of Macanese and Portuguese cuisine. The Portuguese are credited with making wine very popular in Macao. Try the vinho verde, a crisp young white wine that pairs superbly with the flavoursome Macanese dishes.
Don’t leave without sampling...
- Portuguese egg tarts
- Pork chop buns
- Sweet beef jerky
Where to Stay
There’s no shortage of super luxurious hotels in Macao – your only decision is which area you’d like to stay in. There are plenty of centrally located hotels on the peninsula, while the district of Cotai will put you right near the jaw-dropping Venetian casino. Taipa Island, south of the peninsula, has a good range of high-end accommodation options. If you’re in Macao for a beachside holiday, head to the resorts in Coloane.
If you don’t want to go to the ultra-impressive Venetian casino to gamble, go there to shop. This awe-inspiring fantasyland is based on its namesake Italian city, right down to the recreated canals and gondolas. Take to the on-site shopping malls teeming with boutiques and international fashion houses to splash some cash.
Many of the hotels have their own shops to explore, and flashy malls are popping up all over Macao so you won’t have any difficulty finding somewhere to max out the credit card. For a more cultural experience head to Taipa Island on Sunday for the outdoor Taipa Flea Market, where vendors sell traditional handicrafts, clothing, souvenirs and street food.
Shop ‘til you drop at...
- The Red Market
- Shoppes at the Venetian
- Taipa Flea Market
Macao Like a Local
Did you know that Macao has a dim sum scene to rival that of Hong Kong? Take a wander around Taipa Village to seek out the few excellent dim sum eateries that are tucked away amid the Portuguese restaurants. If the locals eat here, it’s got to be good.