If you go to Hong Kong, you must make a trip to this magical place called Macau aka the Las Vegas or Monte Carlo of the East. Take the ferry – it takes about an hour to get there. With a blend of Chinese and Portuguese cultures, there is much on offer. The bright lights, cobbled walks, canals and beautiful buildings are fabulous to behold. For all you social media people, the good news is that there is free Wifi almost everywhere in Macau. So post your updates as you go along!
Macau City Sights
Church of St Paul
For those who like to imbibe the city sights, go and see the ruins of St Paul’s. Originally the Church of St Paul or Mater Dei, it is one of the most visited sites in Macau. The original Church was destroyed by a typhoon in 1835. Some carvings still exist – don’t miss seeing the Virgin Mary stepping on a seven-headed Hydra (yep, pretty awesome that!).
St Dominic and other churches
St Dominic’s Church is Catholic and built in the Baroque style. Nice to go and pray for a bit. Also try and see the St Lawrence Church, Cathedral of our Lady of the Nativity, St Lazarus Church, Our Lady of Penha Chapel and some others. You may wonder why there are so many places of worship – the Portuguese are known for this – go to Goa and you will see Chapels and Churches at every turn. With beautiful facades and architecture, these are definitely worth a visit. Remember if you go in for the first time, you can make a wish! Be wise and wish for something reasonable!
Also read: How to spend smart and save better in Goa
A-Ma and Na Tcha Temples
The A-Ma temple built in honour of the Chinese Sea Goddess Mazu is definitely worth a visit. It is said that Macau got its name from this temple. When the Portuguese first landed there near the coast adjoining the temple, locals told them the name of the place was A-Maa-Gok hence derived Macau. Another temple worth a visit is Na Tcha which is dedicated to the God of War.
Museum visits are always very enlightening. Taipa Houses Museum is a bunch of colonial houses which have exhibits and artefacts of the history of the area. The Museum of Macau has historical and cultural exhibits. There is also the Grand Prix Museum, Macau Wine Museum, Maritime Museum and the Science Centre.
If you are inclined towards flora and fauna, go and spend time at the Flora garden which abounds with colourful flowers and exotic plants. Lou Lim Leoc garden is traditional Chinese and has tall trees and the most beautiful lotus flowers. Sometimes you can hear Chinese Opera being sung. Camoes Garden dedicated to the Portuguese poet Camoens is very peaceful and a nice place to just sit and relax. It is a botanical paradise with plants and shrubs labelled and explained. Must go to the Jardim do Sao Francisco which is a quaint European style garden – go if only to see the pink architecture. It’s also not inundated with tourists, so….
Shopping in Macau
A shoppers paradise as it is a free port, go armed with your card well topped up to buy jewellery, cameras, watches, electrical gadgets, antiques etc.
- Senado Square and Rua S Domingos for clothes.
- Red Market for inexpensive clothes and street shopping.
- Rua de S Paulo for antiques, pottery and Chinese paintings.
- Sunday market at Taipa Village for souvenirs, toys and clothes.
- Wine lovers can buy Vinho Tinto or Vinho Branco imported from Portugal.
- Jewellery at the New Road area.
Go and splurge – so worth the money!
Casinos in Macau
Macau has some great gambling spots and casinos. It is completely legal to gamble in this gambling capital of the East. Gambling covers greyhound racing, casino games, sports betting and various lotteries.
Legalised in the 1850’s, it is easily the biggest source of income for this small country. My favourite is, of course, casino hopping – 23 on the main island and 10 on Taipa Island.
The Venetian Macau is very popular and always very crowded. You can do a gondola ride here ala the real Venice. Go for it – it’s definitely cheaper than doing the real thing (You can read about my experiences in Venice here.)
They have Blackjack, Roulette, Baccarat and the slot machines (which I hope will one day make me a millionaire)!! I love the mesmerising sound of the coins clinking out when you hit a jackpot – albeit small amounts for me! I just love the rush you get when you win any amount!
There are also Poker games, other Chinese games like Sic Bo and Fan Tan and baccarat is a game for highrollers. You should totally go and throw away some of your cash at the Las Vegas Sands and Galaxy Entertainment. You will be spoilt for choices really – so many to choose from.
Word of advice – before you go in, decide on how much you wish to gamble. Then no matter if you win or lose, you walk away. Else you might end up having to take a loan from the bank to pay off debts. It’s nice and heady but stay within limits. Just saying!
Food in Macau
Onto my favourite topic – food! Portuguese egg tarts made with caramelised sugar are a great snack when you’re tired from walking around. Grab a unique Chrysanthemum tea to wash it down.
Dim Sums abound – with every kind of filling you can think of – try the pork and shrimp ones for sure. The street food you must try is the skewers – fish balls, pork or tofu with spicy sauce. Try the Durian ice cream if you can handle the smell – I can’t do it but understand it’s very yummy.
Others you should sample are the Almond cookies (I grabbed a few boxes to bring back home), meat jerky, peanut candy which is very crunchy, a very chewy bubble waffle which is made with tapioca, clams and prawns in noodles, bubble tea made with condensed milk which is sweet and comforting.
I would also try the pork chop bun – a tasty, marinated pork chop in a soft bun. Congee, steamed milk pudding and Serradura – biscuits with layers of cream (I make it at home – ha!!), curry noodles and chicken or pork rice are also things to try. There is such a huge variety of food available – try whatever you can. I generally just snack through the day so that I’m not eating big meals. Not sure if that’s a good thing, but works for me! Either walk a lot to work off those calories or diet when you get back home!
Staying in Macau
Accommodation is pricey and cheap as well. Take your pick of the top end 5* hotels or the cheaper ones. Choose well – either you save your money to gamble and hopefully make more, or you pay for the higher end ones and go easy on the gambling! Homestays and Airbnb is the way I went. You get to hobnob with the local people, learn more about them, ask questions, break bread with your Host. It’s very authentic and quite the experience.
Go to Macau and make it an unforgettable kinda trip!