Heading to Macau? Read on to find out about the best things to do in Macau below:
Given Macau’s proximity to both Hong Kong and China, first-time visitors to Macau with no prior knowledge of the country will be surprised to find a closer resemblance to Europe than Asia. Small, but rich in history and culture, Macau is known by many as the Las Vegas of the East for its many casinos in the region. Perhaps more accurately, Macau was the Portugal of the East, having been colonized by Portugal since the 1550s, becoming the last remaining European colony in Asia up until 1999, where it was returned under the sovereignty of China.
1. Ruins of St Paul's
Possibly the most famous sight in Macau, the Ruins of St Paul’s is what’s left of St Paul’s church. Built in 1580, the church caught fire in 1595 and 1601, before a typhoon in 1835 saw it fall victim to a fire for the third time. Today, only the front façade and grand stairs remain.
Conservation efforts saw the structure reinforced with concrete and steel, before officially becoming a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005 as part of the Historic Centre of Macau. There, you’ll see many visitors throwing coins into the ruins’ top window from the stairs, a customary gesture many believe will bring luck.
Ruins of St Paul's
Address: Rua de Sao Paulo
Website: Ruins of St Paul’s
2. Senado Square
If you enjoy sights similar to the Ruins of St Paul, Senado Square is where you need to go. It’s one of the four largest squares in Macau and also enjoys the status of a UNESCO World Heritage Site as part of the Historic Centre of Macau.
Senado Square is the centre of several major attractions. The Macau Cathedral, St Domingo’s Church and Ruins of St Paul’s are only a stone’s throw away. It is also close to the Macau Museum, where historical relics of the country are displayed.
Address: Largo de Senado
3. Macau Tower
For the best views of the city, head to Macau Tower, a multi-purpose tourism, convention centre and entertainment facility. Visitors can head to the observation lounge for 360-degree views or the 360˚ café, which has a revolving restaurant.
For adventure seekers, Macau Tower is also home to the world’s highest bungee jump at 233 m (764 feet). This comes at an additional cost of MOP 2988 for the full package, which comes with a free tower admission ticket, photos and HD videos to document your adrenaline pumping experience.
Address: Largo da Torre de Macau
Website: Macau Tower
4. The Venetian Macao Resort Hotel
Gambling doesn’t get any bigger than this – literally. The Venetian is the biggest casino in the world and largest single structure hotel building in Asia. The casino itself is divided into four themed areas, housing more than 800 gambling tables and 3,400 slot machines.
The rest of The Venetian is equally impressive. Modeled after its namesake sister in Las Vegas, its retail and public areas resemble the city of Venice, from charming clock towers to canals, complete with gondoliers serenading guests. The Venetian also holds entertainment performances, with art exhibitions, music concerts from renowned artists like G-Dragon and award-winning theatre productions.
The Venetian Macao Resort Hotel
Address: Estrada da Baía de N. Senhora da Esperança
Website: The Venetian Macao Resort Hotel
5. Rua Do Cunha street
No trip can be complete without trying the best the city has to offer. Rua Do Cunha is Macau’s ultimate food street. Named after the Portuguese explorer Tristão da Cunha, the strip can be a little difficult to find. But trust your nose. The aroma of freshly baked pastries, candies and other snacks will guide you there.
It’s hard to begin recommending which ones stand out, given the many goodies on offer. If we had to pick, check out Lord Stow’s Bakery (see below), Koi Kei’s almond cookies, century-old Fong Kei’s cookies with pork fillings and the unnamed ginger candy store, which is opposite Portuguese restaurant O Santos. The shops are hard to miss – if there are long queues, you’re in the right place.
Rua Do Cunha street
Address: Rua Do Cunha
Website: Rua Do Cunha street
6. Lord Stow's Bakery
You don’t need to be a foodie to know how popular Portuguese egg tarts are. While many establishments including fast-food chains have offered their own take on the tarts, many agree that Lord Stow’s remain the best. What started as an attempt by Andrew Stow to recreate pasteis de nata has now become one of Macau’s top attractions.
Our verdict? We’ve tried it for ourselves and you’ll be hard pressed to find anything that comes close to the smooth creamy eggy goodness from Lord Stow’s, let alone better it. The tarts have no additives or preservatives, meaning they should be consumed fresh out the oven.
Lord Stow’s Bakery
Address: 870 Mask Street, Level 3, Shoppes at Venetian
Website: Lord Stow’s Bakery
7. The House of Dancing Water
Created for the City of Dreams in 2010, the House of Dancing Water is an award-winning water theatre show. A labour of love by director Franco Dragone that took five years of development, the purpose-built theatre holds 3.7 million gallons of water, equivalent to five Olympic-sized pools.
Featuring acrobats, gymnasts, dancers, divers and actors, the show is a story of love and a journey through time. If you’re in Macau in search for world-class entertainment, you cannot give this a miss.
The House of Dancing Water
Address: City of Dreams, Estrada do Istmo, Cotai
Website: The House of Dancing Water
8. Mandarin's House
The Mandarin’s House is the residence of Zheng Guanying, who completed the acclaimed masterpiece Shengshi Weiyan (Words of Warning in Times of Prosperity) in this house in 1894. It was the man’s wise teachings that inspired and influenced other great men like Sun Yat-sen and Mao Zedong.
Part of the Historic Centre of Macau, which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Mandarin’s House was built by Zheng Guanying’s father in 1869. After the family moved out in 1960, the house was rented out to various tenants, leaving the house in disarray.
The Macau government then gained proprietorship in 2001, taking efforts to conserve and restore the house in 2002. After eight years of renovation, the Mandarin’s House was reopened to the public in 2010.
Address: 10 Travessa de Antonio da Silva, Macau
Website: Mandarin’s House
9. Macau Museum
History buffs intrigued by Macau’s unique historical journey should head to the Macau Museum. Built in the 17th-century, the museum is located on Mount Fortress, which was the city’s main military defense for almost 300 years.
The museum has three levels. The first presents Macau’s history, including being colonized by the Portuguese. The second displays the city’s popular arts and traditions, from religious ceremonies to traditional festivals. The third level focuses on modern Macau and shows how it is portrayed in literature.
Address: 112 Praceta do Museu de Macau
Website: Macau Museum
10. Taipa Village
If you’re visiting Rua Do Cunha, take some time to explore the rest of Taipa Village. The village is a quiet alternative to the bustling casino crowds in the rest of Macau. The village offers a peek into the real Macau, where Portuguese and Mediterranean influences blend in alongside Chinese heritage.
There are both temples with rich histories like the Pak Tai temple and colonial churches like Our Lady of Carmo church. For the true taste of Macau, check out Fat Siu Lau, a traditional restaurant in the heart of the village established in 1903. Here, they serve authentic Macanese cuisine like their signature roasted pigeon.
Address: Taipa Island
Website: Taipa Village
Where east meets west
Whether you’re looking for world-class entertainment, trying your luck at the casinos or to simply want to take in the sights, Macau is truly where east meets west. Macau has been often been labelled as the Vegas of the east. While it may have once played second fiddle to its US counterpart, the city offers richer culture, history and sights.
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