Macao (or Macau) which also known as the Vegas of the East is Portugal’s last colony in Asia which was handed back to China in 1999. With its fusion of Portuguese and Chinese cultures, Macao has an amazing World Heritage City Centre with fortresses, churches, temples, gardens and museums. In addition, even if you’re not into gambling, you’ll still have plenty to do in the Vegas of the East. For instance, stuff yourself with all the Portuguese egg tarts you can handle. My words to you, don’t underestimate Macao. It’s an incredible destination to visit with so many gems around every turn. We spent 5 days leaving no rock unturned, discovering its best sights, secrets and everything in between.
Things to do in Macao
1. In awe of the world heritage site – Ruins of St. Paul
Located within Senado Square is arguably the most well-known historical structure of Macau: the Ruins of St. Paul. Make sure you visit it early in the morning to avoid the crowd and take good photos.
2. Wander around Senado Square
Senado Square is perhaps Macau’s most recognisable public spaces/centres. It is filled with many shops, heritage sites, restaurants and various snack and souvenir vendors. Wander around and stop by for photos and some tasty almond cookies and jerky.
3. Fall in love at Travessa Da Paixao
From St. Paul, walk down the street to Travessa da Paixão, which is also known as lover’s lane 戀愛巷. It’s a short cobblestone street lined with brightly colored buildings. This alley is definitely worth a quick peek or a photo.
4. Casino hopping
Even though you’re not a fan of gambling, you should not miss the chance of visiting casinos in Macao. The most popular ones include the Grand Lisboa, The Venetian Casino, and Galaxy among others. In fact, the Grand Lisboa is an iconic structure of the city, being one of the oldest and most long-standing hotels in Macau.
5. Go on a photography run at night
Macao is a city that never sleeps. When the sun goes down, the skyscrapers and casinos will light up the dark sky. You can even catch city lights of Zhu Hai which is just opposite Macao.
6. Ride the Studio City Golden Reel, the world’s first figure 8 ferris wheel
For spectacular views of the area around the Cotai Strip, take a ride on the Golden Reel, the world’s highest figure-8 ferris wheel. Built to resemble a film reel, these air-conditioned glass cabins head up and down between the towers of this impressive art deco style hotel.
7. Check out the late Dame Zaha Hadid’s architectural masterpiece – the Morpheus hotel
The futuristic 40-storey building is no ordinary Macau hotel. The infrastructure is described as the first free-form exoskeleton-bound high-rise building in the world and is an impressive landmark in Macau.
8. Laze the day away on the sands of Hac Sa Beach
Hac Sa Beach is the largest natural beach in Macau. The beach got its name from the natural black sand on the beach (Hac Sa means black sand in Cantonese).
9. Be serenaded by real gondoliers
Who says you can only ride gondola in Venice? Just like the canals at the original property in Las Vegas (or indeed in Venice itself), these are patrolled by gondolas manned by gondoliers warbling out tunes like “Amore” and “Volare” from the old country.
10. Climb the Eiffel Tower during the day, and watch the Light Show during the night
The Eiffel Tower’s observation deck is another great spot for panoramic skyline of the Cotai Strip. Every evening a light show takes place every 15 minutes from 6.15pm until midnight. Jazz music fills the air and the Eiffel Tower is lit up from top to bottom, casting a romantic glow.
11. Exploring old Taipa village and grab some souvenirs along the way
Situated just a stone’s throw away from the main casino strip, Taipa Village is Macao’s leading destination for culture and heritage. Here, among its winding lanes and pedestrianised alleys, you get to see Macao’s East-meets-West character on full display. PS. you can get great souvenirs such as Almond cookies here.
12. Visit the Lady of Carmo Church, the only Catholic church in Taipa
Lady of Carmo Church is the only Catholic church in Taipa. Built in 1885, it still operates today and is a distinctive neoclassical structure with its exterior painted in pastel shades of yellow. In recent years, it’s become a popular backdrop for wedding photos. The church and its grounds are an ideal spot to come for a place to relax.
13. Walk around Taipa Houses Museum and garden
If you’re a fan of architecture or history, check out these gorgeous pastel-colored colonial houses which have been converted into a free museum for the public. You’ll get an interesting look into Macau’s Portuguese heritage as you walk through the five old homes and surrounding gardens.
14. Prepare to be mesmerised by the large A-Ma Statue at Tin Hao Temple 天后宫
Situated on top of the hill, Tin Hao Temple not only keep your soul at peace. It also offers a fantastic view of the the architectural temples, goddess A-Ma statue and the panoramic view of Macao.
15. Get adrenaline rush at Macao Tower
For an incredible view of Macau, take the 60-second elevator ride up 223 meters at the Macau Tower. You can even drop off the edge with the Skyjump or bungy off the top!
16. Pretend you’re in Rome at Fisherman’s Wharf
For Instagrammers out there, Fisherman’s Wharf is definitely a great photo stop.With a small replica of Colosseum, you will feel like you’re wandering around in Rome.
17. Catch a sunset at Our Lady of Penha’s forecourt.
This quiet church which is located on a hill offers an astonishing view of Macao Tower, Sai Van Lake and the bridges. Apart from these, this is a great spot to catch sunset!
18. Check out the city via Macao Light Rail Transit (MLM)
Macao LRT is the first rapid transit system in Macao. The 9.3km Taipa Line will serve 11 stations. Along the way, you can get a glimpse of The Venetian, The Parisian, Wynn Palace, Macao Tower, and Zhu Hai.
19. Cross the ocean via the world’s longest sea bridge (HZMB)
The 55-km Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge (HZMB), comprising the 12km Hong Kong Link Road, 29.6km Main Bridge and 13.4km Zhuhai Link Road, is the longest bridge-cum-tunnel sea crossing in the world. It will take only 40 minutes to travel the distance of approximately 42km from Hong Kong Port to Zhuhai Port and Macao Port.
Food to try in Macao
1. Grab Lord Stow’s Portuguese Tart
There are branches throughout the peninsula but the very first branch of Lord Stow’s Bakery is in Coloane. If you’re a fan of their egg tarts, make sure you stop by here and grab a bite!
2. Indulge yourself with delicious Macanese cuisine at Fernando Restaurant
Probably one of Macau’s most recommended restaurants, Fernando’s is a charming Portuguese restaurant located on the Southern side of Coloane island, close to Hac Sa beach. It serves Macanese favourites such as African chicken, clams, sardines and prawns alongside salads of fresh garden-picked tomatoes and onions and limitless homemade bread. Lively ambiance and friendly service are definitely a huge bonus.
3. Try steamed milk pudding at 義順牛奶公司
Steamed milk pudding is a traditional Chinese dessert that’s similar to douhua and pannacotta. Only made from three ingredients, milk, sugar, and egg white, steamed egg pudding is very smooth and delicate. You can order it hot or cold. I love it cold and with red beans as topping.
4. Feast on mouth-watering seafood suckling pig claypot 海鮮乳豬煲 at Feng Shun
If you’re a huge fan of seafood and spicy food like me. This seafood suckling pig claypot will definitely satisfy your tastebuds. The sour and spicy soup base filled with fresh and juicy seafood, every spoon makes you crave for more!
5. Have congee as breakfast like the locals at 盛记白粥 Cheng Ji Congee Waking up to bowls and bowls of the smoothest congee which is served with its traditional fixings, slices of fresh fish, liver, pork intestine, meatballs, and Chinese fried doughnuts is a bless.
6. Bite on the delicious and juicy bursting meatballs at 武二广潮福粉面食馆
Need something hot to warm up your stomach? You can’t go wrong with this bowl of delicious Chao Zhou noodles with bursting meatballs topped with fried garlics.
7. Dim Sum at 聚龙海鲜火锅酒家
When in Macau or Hong Kong, one of the delicacies you simply must have is Dim Sum. So, never ever skip breakfast! The trick to dim sum is to come with a big group of people so you can try everything.
8. Drink milk tea and have finger-licking good pork chop bun and pineapple bun at 青洲灶記咖啡
When you’re in Macau, the combination of milk tea, pork chop bun and pineapple bun cannot be missed! I can literally have this combo every day!