Nicknamed the Las Vegas of China, Macau, is the epicenter of gambling and glitz. This unbelievable city is just 62 km from the bustling capital of Hong Kong and is easily accessible by flight, ferry, and land. It offers an intriguing melting pot of different cultures, world-class luxury entertainment, stunning scenery, historical sites, delicious local cuisine, and much more to discover and explore.
Step back in time
For 300 years, Macau was a Portuguese territory gaining autonomy in 1999. The region lies on the south coast of China, across from Hong Kong’s Pearl River Delta. Due to its history, the city reflects a blend of ethnic influences that permeates every aspect of life. There are Chinese temples built on Portuguese tiles; the hum of Cantonese in the streets displaying Portuguese names; and local delicacies ranging from Portuguese pastéis de nata, to Macanese minchi, the famed local mutton hot pot, Chinese dim sum, and everything in between. There are many historical sites too.
Overlooking the busy Senado Square, with its many restaurants, shops, and souvenir stands, you’ll find the Ruins of St. Paul — the city’s most renowned historical edifice and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Next to the ruins lies Mount Fortress, which is worth climbing. Also a world heritage site, the fortress signifies a vital part of Macau’s history and contains many relics from the 1600s. Another historical must-see is the Guia Fortress.
A religious, cultural experience
Near Senado Square, there is the Buddhist and Taoist Na Tcha Temple. The temple was built in 1888 and is still dedicated to the worship of the divinity Na Tcha. The modest structure remains an important Jesuit place of prayer in the region and one of the most excellent examples of Macau’s multiethnic identity. In 2005, the shrine became one of the chosen sites of the Historic Centre of Macau included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Built in the late 1400s, the A-Ma Temple, which is the oldest Taoist temple in all of Macau. Legend has it that the temple, which was constructed in devotion to Matzu, gave Macau its name when Portuguese sailors misheard how locals pronounced the temple and used it name the port city.
A strong cultural link between Macau’s early history and the modern city it has become is Casa Do Mandarim (the Mandarin’s House). The house was owned by the late Qing dynasty scholar and reformist, Zheng Guanying and his family. Today it is a free historical structure and museum showcasing Macau’s history. The house remains as it was hundreds of years ago and gives insight into how people once lived.
The Vegas of China
Macau is known for its ‘Vegas strip’ of casinos. Some of these are just as glitzy and glamorous as their Vegas counterparts a run for their money. Many are beautiful and attract visitors for that reason alone with the most popular being the Venetian Casino, Galaxy, and the Grand Lisboa. There are free shuttles between casinos and from the hotels housing casinos to Macau’s ferry terminals to make access headache-free! Don’t miss out on the shows on offer in true Vegas style.
The Venetian Hotel & Casino is worth mentioning for the massive and fantastic shopping mall inside the hotel that is designed to resemble the city of Venice – even with a canal that flows through offering rides on gondolas with singing boatmen.
Food, festivals, fun, and sun
Macau is many things, and like any perfect travel destination, it offers something for everyone. For lovers of authentic local cuisine, visit Taipa Village. Its buzzing and the local delicacies will warm your heart and stomach.
Every year in June, Macau celebrates the Macau Lotus Flower Festival in honor of the national flower featured on their flag. During the week-long event, large regions and sightseeing sites around the country blossom with thousands of lotus flowers with Carmel Garden as the main venue. During the festival, many restaurants offer special menus featuring dishes comprising the holy flower.
For the adrenaline junkies among us – the 200m Macau Tower is the world’s highest bungee jump from a building. If you’re not quite ready for the plunge, you can stroll around a platform on one of the tower’s tallest floors – but it’s supported only by a suspension rope.
If you’re looking some rest and relaxation in the sun, the Hac Sa Beach is your go-to destination. The beach is famed for its natural black sand, but due to corrosion over the last few years, some regular yellow sand has been added. This doesn’t detract from the tranquil vibe.
Macau is a magical port city that has been drawing the crowds for years, and it’s no wonder!