The Las Vegas of the Far East? There’s more to Macau than hotels, casinos, and live bands.
Though admittedly, I initially expected it to be, in a nutshell, THAT. I just flew in with a blank slate and with no idea where our hosts will take us. It was much to my surprise when we crossed over from the Vegas side to the Portuguese side of this region—it was a totally different world.
Having been colonised by Portugal from the 16th century until 1999, Macau still reflects the Portuguese culture from their cuisine, their architecture, and even their language. All this blends harmoniously with the Chinese culture as well.
This is the Macau that I wanted to see – before casino chips and shopping bags.
But before we cross over, let me paint you a picture of the Vegas side of Macau.
With 33 casinos in total, live bands and shows left and right, and a sea of stores for your retail therapy, Macau has established itself as an ultimate entertainment hub you can certainly bet your money on!
We stayed at the Conrad Hotel located in Sands Cotai Central. This 5-star hotel shares the central with 2 other high-end hotels, The Holiday Inn Macao and Sheraton Macao hotel. Conrad is also part of the top 25 Luxury hotels of China.
Sophisticated and conveniently located—that’s how I’d describe it. It’s only 5-minutes away from the airport and a short walking distance to the other hotels such as the Venetian and City of Dreams.
Our room was elegant, spacious, and comfortable, the bathroom was big and beautiful (and yes that matters), and it had a gorgeous view of the city.
You don’t have to go far to get to the widest range of Luxury Duty-free shops in Macau because you are already on top of it. All you have to do is press LOBBY and voila, let your retail therapy begin!
If you want more shopping choices, you can cross over to The Venetian and get lost in its 330 shops, splurge on more luxury brands in The Four seasons, or wander around the City of Dreams’ shopping Eden.
As far as the nightlife is concerned, this is where Macau drifts away a bit from the Vegas lifestyle. You won’t find clubs all over the place but you can enjoy your poison of choice in the numerous live band bars around. Lucky for me, it was ladies night when I went out and the drinks kept on pouring and eventually I found myself dancing to the beat of drums, saxophones, keyboards, and live vocals.
Now, let’s cross over to the Portuguese side.
Here are the things you need to know and the places you REALLY need to visit when in Macau.
Eat Macanese street food in Cheoc Van Beach
Located in Coloane, Cheoc Van’s golden sand sure looked inviting but we didn’t swim in the sea—we did the next best thing, tasting the Macanese street food! There are lots of food stalls by the parking lot that sells grilled food and other Macau delicacies.
Say a quick prayer in the Chapel of St. Francis Xavier
I thought the facade was quite charming with the oval windows and the cream and white colour play. Though what’s most interesting about this chapel is that it is home to a sacred relic, St. Francis Xavier’s arm bone kept in a silver reliquary.
Stroll around Senado Square
One of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites where a lot of cultural activities happen. But if you happen to chance upon this square on a normal day, there is still much to see from the old colonial architectural buildings to the wave-patterned stone mosaic pathways to numerous shopping stalls all lined up! Ready your stomachs and your feet as you’re going to do a lot of walking and a lot of free tasting!
Marvel at the Ruins of St. Paul’s
What once was the church and college of China’s Jesuits is now just a façade. This 17th-century establishment was demolished in a massive fire in 1835 and oddly enough, what’s left of it is JUST the façade. Try to visit this at night, there are less people around and the lighting makes this ruin look glorious.
Watch over Macau with the goddess A-Ma’s statue
Sitting on top of Macau’s Coloane island is a 20-meter white jade statue of A-Ma, the goddess of seafarers and fishermen. Being the crown of Coloane’s peak, you can view the rest of Macau and I highly recommend that you visit this at night. Imagine seeing all the city lights glow and looking at the bright white statue blend perfectly with the dark and starry sky.
Head over to Hong Kong
If you have more time to spare, why not ride a 45-minute ferry to Hong Kong and explore some more?
Having only stayed a weekend in Macau, there are still so many things I’d love to come back to and try. Here’s a few:
House of Dancing Water
I’ve heard all about this grand water show and the amazing production. It’s definitely a must-see when in Macau—we just did not have the time for it when we were there.
Macau Tower Bungy Jump
I always say GO to extreme adventures but the truth is, I really am afraid of heights. I don’t like backing out though and I’m always up to try something new so yes, I will jump the world’s highest bungy jump at 233-meters high one day!
Macau Tower Climb
Of course, the Macau tower adventure doesn’t stop there! Get ready to climb 105 vertical meters (from 233-meters to 338-meters) and get a panoramic view of the Macau cityscape.
Macau’s Fisherman’s Wharf
It’s a cultural and creative theme park!
Macau Giant Panda Pavilion
Located in the Seac Pai Van Park are two rare giant pandas, Kai Kai and Xin Xin. Upon reading up on this attraction, it’s comforting to know that they value the comfort of these Pandas. I think it would be cool to even just get a glimpse of these pandas.
WINE. Enough said. Ha! Seriously though, I am a fan of wine and it would be great to know more about its history and check out wine cellars too!