If you’re looking for a unique destination to travel to, look no further than Macau. The autonomous region sits on the south coast of China and is the perfect blend of Asian and Portuguese culture. Europe’s last colony in Asia, known as the ‘Vegas of China’, is the heart of gambling and glitz with world-class entertainment.
A Portuguese colony for 300 years, the European country left its mark and still to this day heavily influences architecture, cuisine, and culture. With a unique combination of East meets West buildings, superb restaurants, UNESCO World Heritage Sites and events such as the Macau Grand Prix, there’s plenty to keep you busy.
Known more for gambling than living out your golden years, Macau is reaping the rewards of a booming economy, sense of community and simple diet with one of the highest life expectancies in the world.
Locals and residents alike pride themselves in maintaining a healthy outlook on life. Community is a major part of Chinese culture which contributes towards Macau’s citizen’s longevity. Multi-generational families often live together and rarely do elderly parents move out later in life.
When it comes to food in Macau expect your senses to be blown. The mixture of Chinese, Portuguese and Macanese food makes for a fantastic dining experience. One of Macau’s national dishes is Minchi, a combination of minced beef or pork with diced potatoes, stir-fried onions and Worcester sauce.
The peculiar blend of Oriental and Western influences has created a unique and hybrid urban culture that’s fascinating to explore.
Here are the top places to visit while in Macau:
1. Walk Through Senado Square
Senado Square is filled with shops, heritage sites, restaurants, souvenirs, and snack vendors. Window shop or stop off at a cafe for a cup of coffee. The paths within the square are a bit more maze-like but still easy to navigate. Depending on the current festival or season, the main square is usually decorated so is the perfect spot for a photo opportunity.
2. Visit Taipa Village
The Taipa Village is nearby the main casino strip and is considered a top destination for Macau heritage and culture as one of the best-preserved parts of town. Be sure to check out the Taipa Houses-Museum built in 1921. The unique greenhouses once housed the Portuguese governor and other high-level civil servants.
3. Explore the Ruins of St. Paul
Located within Senado Square, the historical ruins of St. Paul is a world heritage site that receives hundreds of visitors daily. The ruins overlook Senado Square and are one of Macau’s most visited landmarks. Originally built between 1602 and 1640 by Jesus priests, St. Paul’s used to be one of the largest churches in Asia, known as the “Vatican of the Far East”.
4. Visit A-Ma Temple
Macau’s oldest and most famous temple, A-Ma Temple was built in 1488. It’s dedicated to Chinese goddess Mazu who is the protector of fishermen and seafarers. It’s also thought to be the source of the country’s name.
5. Watch the Macau Grand Prix
The country’s biggest sporting event the Macau Grand Prix takes place every year in November. The race is on one of the world’s most exciting street racing circuits, the Guia Circuit. Known for its winding routes, narrow bends, and tight turns, hundreds of thousands of spectators show up every year for the event.
6. Visit the Cotai Strip
The Cotai Strip is the stretch of land that makes Macau famous as a world-renowned gambling capital. Explore the strip’s casino resorts and bounce from casino to casino. As you’d expect, you can find glamorous and luxury restaurants and clubs as well as an indoor canal with gondolas. Take a walk around the gargantuan Venetian, which is practically a self-contained city.
7. Explore Macau’s Historic Center
Macau’s historic center contains everything from religious buildings to public squares and military barracks, representing Macau’s interesting Portuguese and Chinese heritage. The UNESCO World Heritage houses over 20 historical landmarks where you can learn about the city’s long colonial era.
8. Visit Antonio
Located in the heart of Taipa Village, Antonio serves up authentic Portuguese food. The restaurant is charming and cozy decorated with Portuguese-style paintings. The chef and owner António Coelho’s has won numerous awards for his establishment with standout dishes including the African chicken and the Portuguese duck rice.
9. Have Lunch at Albergue 1601
This lunchtime spot is a bit of a hidden gem. Albergue 1601 is set in a courtyard in a two-story colonial building. Serving up both Portuguese and Chinese food with plenty of variety including roast pork and fresh seafood. If you fancy some alfresco dining to break up your day of exploring, this is the perfect location.
10. Visit the Macau Museum of Art
Macau’s Museum of Art features Macanese art exhibitions from all eras, temporary collections and a library dedicated to the arts. The museum is free to visit and a brilliant way to spend an afternoon. The permanent exhibitions tend to have a historic angle while the visiting collections are usually focused on contemporary and thought-provoking pieces.
11. Jump at AJ Hackett Tower
This may not be for everyone but AJ Hackett Tower is Macau’s only commercial bungee jumping site. It’s named after the man who popularised bungee jumping, AJ Hackett. If the usual exploring and fine dining aren’t quite enough for you, then take a jump from the highest commercial facility for an experience you’ll never forget.
12. Watch The House of Dancing Water
The House of Dancing Water is the world’s largest water-based show written and directed by the same director that bought you Cirque du Soleil. With a 14 million liter pool and acrobatics, the show tells of an epic love story. The show is touted as a must-see attraction in Macau with nothing like it anywhere else.
13. Patio de Chon Sau
This little artsy alleyway is lined with lanterns and filled with boutique cafes, independent shops, cafes, and restaurants. It’s a great spot to window shop, pick up a few souvenirs or just have some lunch.