Famous for its casinos and world-class shopping centers, Macau is known as being the Las Vegas of Asia. However, the autonomous region of Macau has much more to offer than just gambling, luxury shopping, and glitz. Macau was ruled over by the Portuguese for 300 years, and this history has given the region a unique identity. A dominant Chinese influence mingles effortlessly with Portuguese style and cuisine. From the beautiful Chinese A-Ma Temple to the ruins of St. Paul’s and the bustling Senado Square, the region’s east meets west fusion permeates every corner of this must-see destination.
When you start to get hungry, skip the sit-down restaurants and try Macau’s world-renowned street food. Like with all things Macanese, the region’s cuisine is a delightful fusion of Chinese and Portuguese dishes. Enjoy some piping hot dim sum or opt for the infamous Macanese minchi, a recipe that features stir-fried beef or pork, potatoes, and seasonings. For dessert, the durian ice cream and Portuguese egg tarts, known locally as pastéis de nata, are a must-try.
The A-Ma Temples is by far the most famous traditional Chinese temple in Macau. A-Ma is dedicated to the sea goddess Mazu, and the name Macau is thought to come from the name of the temple. This UNESCO World Heritage site is a must-see for any visitor. Check out the temple’s Gate Pavilion, Memorial Arch and its many beautiful halls. Don’t miss seeing the Buddhist Pavilion, Zhengjiao Chanlin, while you’re there. Thousands of tourists visit the temple daily to revel in the architecture and to pay homage to Mazu.
Senado Square is part of Macau’s Historic Center, another fantastic UNESCO World Heritage Site in Macau. The town square is a stunning example of Macau’s history of being a region where Portuguese culture and Chinese cultures mingle effortlessly. The pastel buildings that line the square and the tiled design of the square itself are distinctively Portuguese. Despite the European design of the square, the Asian influences are very much alive, and Senado Square is unmistakably Macanese.
Head to The Ruins of St. Paul's to take in some of Macau’s history and snap a selfie or two while you’re there. The 17th-century site features the remains of what was once St. Paul’s College and the Catholic Church of St. Paul. The church and college were burned down in 1835, and today only the front stairway and façade remain. Check out the ruins, take some photos of the beautiful façade and explore the vibrant surrounding area. The side streets near the ruins are full of bustling shops, restaurants, and cafés.
The historic Taipa Village is close to Macau’s strip of high-end casinos, but it feels like it's in an entirely different country. The village is full of beautiful Chinese temples, historic museums, and European-style churches. It is a wonderful example of Macau’s history of Portuguese and Chinese influences. Stroll through the pedestrian-only streets, visit the quaint shops and bakeries and experience the way life used to be in Macau.
After a day of exploring or an evening of gambling, nothing is better than a day at the spa. Macau’s resorts are world famous, and there are hundreds of lavish spas to choose from. Enjoy a full body massage and facial in a serene atmosphere at Banyan Tree Spa or bask in crystal opulence at The Spa at Encore Macau. No matter where you choose to go, you can be sure you'll feel like royalty, and you'll leave feeling your best.
It’s impossible to write about Macau without mentioning the area’s huge selection of impressive casinos. Macau is known as the Las Vegas of Asia, and it has more than earned that title. Head to the Cotai Strip, the main strip full of casinos, high-end restaurants, and luxury hotels. Try your luck at a game of Baccarat, one of Macau’s most popular casino games, or stick to the slot machines. Whatever game you prefer, be sure to check out as many different casinos as you can. The Venetian Casino Resort, with its luxury shopping mall, mock Venetian streets and very real canals, is a definite must-see.
The Macau Food Festival is one of the most popular jubilees for visitors and tourists alike. The festival is held over an impressive 15 days in November, so you can enjoy over two weeks of exceptional food and drink. The featuring a huge variety of Asian, European and mainland Chinese cuisine; all served up fresh from famous and up-and-coming chefs. Apart from the delicious food, the festival also has beer competitions and an exciting assortment of live entertainment day and night.
Casa Do Mandarim, or Mandarin House, is the perfect destination for history and culture buffs. The historic building doubles as a free museum, and visiting the house is like stepping back in time. The Qing dynasty scholar Zhen Guanying owned the house, and both the exterior and interior of the house have been preserved beautifully. Visit Casa Do Mandarim to get a better understanding of where modern-day Macau came from and how it used to be.
Towering over 760 feet above the city, the Macau Tower is easily visible from anywhere in the region. Apart from being a famous entertainment center for concerts and live performances, the Macau Tower offers another type of entertainment. Brave visitors can choose to bungee jump off of the tower, where they will free fall for over 660 feet before rebounding back up. Those who aren’t ready to take the leap can opt for the Sky Walk, a stroll around the outer perimeter of the tower at 764 feet above the ground.