Macau Travel Guide and Itinerary

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There’s more to Macau than just casinos and neon light shows — as pretty as they may be. Find well-preserved ruins, delicious European-inspired street food and a burgeoning art scene in this southern city.

About Macau  

Popularly known as the Vegas of Asia, Macau boasts 41 casinos (as of 2019) with world-class entertainment you’d expect to find in the real deal, ranging from Venetian-inspired gondola rides to nightly light, fire and water shows. But past the shiny veneer of gilded architecture and neon-lit casino façades lies a rich history dating back 500 years. Macau is a city that straddles the ancient and modern, where 16th-century ruins share the skyline with contemporary skyscrapers shaped like a water fountain.  

Located on the southern tip of mainland China, under Zhuhai city, Macau is connected to Hong Kong Island via the 55km Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge. The world’s longest sea-crossing bridge enables visitors from all across the territory to pour into the small city, be it for weekend getaways or week-long stays at its numerous casino-hotels. As the only city in China that has legalized casinos, Macau owes much of its economy to the business of gambling — but a trip to this beautiful city shouldn’t stop just there. Here you’ll find a healthy arts scene that has nurtured a thriving local music community, with its very own annual international music festival. 

Take a walk down memory lane through the picturesque paved town square and marvel at a historic fortress that once held off a Dutch invasion. Then cross a bridge to Taipa Village, where you’ll find colorful rows of quaint shophouses that look like they’ve been frozen in time. Journey down the cobbled streets in search of local bakeries selling fragrant Portuguese egg tarts, Macanese almond cookies and various Chinese snacks. This more down-to-earth side of Macau is filled with so many quiet delights, you’ll find it hard to leave for the bright lights of another city. 

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Photos on this page via Shutterstock.com

 

Highlights for the Traveler 

For the historically inclined, Macau is a heritage wonderland. The city has beautifully preserved numerous heritage sites that speak of its long and storied past, including landmarks such as the iconic 16th-century Ruins of Saint Paul or the Western-style Dom Pedro V Theatre that was built in 1860. Start your day at the Unesco-listed Senado Square, where the famous wavy mosaic-tiled pavements and bright-hued buildings will surely get you likes on Instagram. Then climb up Monte Fort for a panoramic view of the city that includes the neighboring church ruins and the Grand Lisboa Hotel in the distance, a 261m-tall giant that’s both striking in its golden silhouette as well as daunting as a monumental marker of Macau’s gambling strip. Travel south by bus (30 minutes) or car (10 minutes) to get to Taipa Village, home to Rua do Cunha, a lively food street selling delicious Portuguese, Macanese and Chinese snacks. It’s the perfect place to spend an afternoon with friends. 

 

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Feeling lucky? No trip is complete with the requisite visit to the (in)sfamous Cotai Strip, where you can while away an evening throwing die and catching world-class theatrical productions. Or, take a romantic gondola ride through the canals at the Venetian Macaothe surrounding buildings, crystal-clear waters and Italian gondolier will make you forget you aren’t in Europe.  

Check out the city’s annual calendar for these exciting events: Witness fresh blooms all across the city in celebration of the Macao Lotus Flower Festival in June; jive to locally composed music created to accompany an impressive display of fireworks at the Macau International Fireworks Display Contest in September; eat to your heart’s content at the Food Festival in November; and join in the festivities as the city celebrates its handover to China with the annual Macao International Parade in December. The parade begins in the Ruins of Saint Paul and finishes at Sai Van Lake Square. And don’t forget the Hush! Full Music Festival in April, where local and international bands gather at Hac Sa Beach in Coloane, 8km south of Taipa Village, for two days of music and fun. 


Recommendations list to be updated.

Recommendations list to be updated.

Recommendations list to be updated.

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