Just 40 miles off the coast of Hong Kong, Macao’s unique Chinese-Portuguese heritage, diverse culture, incredible nightlife and tantalising cuisine make this 30km2 island a truly unique place to visit. With its bright lights, fantastic bars and world-class entertainment options, it’s no wonder that Macao once provided the backdrop for a James Bond film! However, there is more to Macao than it’s sparkling skyline – For an opportunity to brush up on your Portuguese, gaze at the European architecture and relax on the beach, head to Macao!
The Portuguese arrived in Macao in the 1500s and it quickly became an important trading post between Europe and Asia. In December 1999 it became – like Hong Kong – a Special Administrative Region of China. As you stroll through Macao’s Historic Centre you will see buildings of both Portuguese and Chinese origin. Baroque churches and the iconic Ruins of St Paul’s are a reminder of Macao’s history as a base for Christian missionaries in Asia.
Macao is comprised of three main areas, each with its own distinct personality- Macao central, Taipa and Coloane. Macao is the centre of the action and the cultural centre. Taipa Village, offers a traditional experience and is dotted with traditional shops and picturesque alleyways. Finally, Coloane offers some respite from the hustle and bustle of the city. Wander through the quiet squares to the beach and spend some time relaxing by the sea.
Like Hong Kong, Macao has a moderate to hot climate, with average annual temperature of around 20˚. Humidity is generally high and typhoons are possible between May and September. October to December is a particularly pleasant time to visit.
What to Do
With all the charm of Hong Kong and the Mainland but with a distinctly Southern European atmosphere, Macao will leave you enchanted. Take a stroll through The Historic Centre of Macao, visit the iconic Venetian Macao Resort or take the leap and experience the world’s highest bungee jump. And of course don’t forget to sample an egg tart or two!
Few Asian destinations can beat Macao for sheer entertainment value with a dizzying number of bars and nightclubs, as well as glitzy casinos. Start your trip with a visit to The Venetian Macao Resort Hotel, a large-scale version of its American brother. Take a stroll alongside the canals and marvel at the gondolas and gondoliers- bellissimo!
No trip to Macao would be complete without a visit to the Ruins of St Paul’s. Destroyed by a fire in the 1800s, the site is still very impressive, but be prepared to climb a few steps to see it! As you wander through Macao’s exquisite streets you will see the area’s unique history embedded in its architecture. Be sure to check out the Macao Museum and the Wine and Grand Prix Museums if you have a few hours to spare.
Think you have nerves of steel? Then perhaps diving headfirst off the highest Bungee jump in the world is for you. Take the leap and tumble a dizzying 233m. Day or night – you decide. But don’t worry if you would prefer to keep your feet firmly planted on solid ground. The viewing deck of the Macau Tower offers fantastic views across the Pearl River Delta.
What to Eat
Tarts, tarts and more tarts. No trip to Macao is complete without sampling the iconic Portuguese custard tart! Find a café in the old town, order a coffee and an egg tart, kickback, relax and watch the world go by!
Craving something a little more filling? Try a pork chop bun! As the name suggests, this dish comprises of a juicy, fried pork chop nestled inside a crisp, warm bun. You won’t even need to find a restaurant for this one: there are plenty of street vendors selling this popular snack. Still hungry? Why not try Macao’s signature meat jerky. The Macao people use local spices and unique drying techniques to create these delicious bite sized morsels.
Want to treat yourself and experience Macao’s high-end fare? Well there are plenty of gourmet and Michelin-starred restaurants to choose from. For a more relaxed (and affordable) dinner, why not spend the evening in The Historic Centre of Macao. Tuck in to some Macanese codfish, a curry dish served with rice – the Macanese take on paella!
Get a taste of Southern Europe in Asia! Whether you’re looking to expand your culinary palette, learn more about Asian history or simply (maybe) earn your fortune, Macao is the place to do it.