It’s easy to incorporate a visit to Macau on just about any Asian vacation. Macau and neighboring Hong Kong are easily accessible by air from anywhere in Asia, with several direct flights available daily. Even if Macau is not your primary destination, it makes an excellent weekend side trip and a welcome distraction.
You’ll find Macau to be very different from the rest of Asia because of the Portuguese colonial influence and its status as an international destination for gambling enthusiasts. Not into gambling? Don’t dismiss Macau too quickly! There is so much more to do and see there than the casinos. But even for non-gamblers, an afternoon at the Venetian will never fail to offer an eyeful. The complex itself is a detailed rendition of the city of Venice, right down to the Grand Canal, which even features gondoliers who will serenade you as they paddle through the mall. The Venetian’s high-end shopping is simply amazing, with every conceivable retail venue available to spend your winnings, console yourself after losing, or just buy a new bauble for no reason at all. And after spending the afternoon strolling through the mall, there are plenty of restaurants, cafes, and coffee shops to sit and relax and enjoy a fabulous meal or afternoon snack.
For the dedicated gambler, there are more gaming tables in Macau than there are in Las Vegas, and the casinos themselves are architectural marvels. Beyond the tables, you’ll find wonderful examples of both Chinese and Portuguese colonial architecture everywhere you turn. The Lu Kau Mansion dates from the Qing Dynasty, and is incredibly well preserved and open to the public. The rich details and strong Chinese decoration throughout the structure clearly illustrates how the upper class lived during that time. And you can get a look at the Ming Dynasty by visiting the mysterious A-Ma temple, which is recognized as one of the best examples of Ming architecture in China.
St Paul’s Cathedral and Senado Square
One of the most well known landmarks in Macau is the ruins of St. Paul’s Cathedral, which dates to the 16th century. The remaining stone façade is wonderfully ornate in true European Renaissance style, and religious artifacts—along with burial crypts—are available for viewing. Another artistic wonder throughout the entire district is the mosaic sidewalk patterns, many of which depict scenes from the old world maritime culture of the Portuguese. Some of the best examples are in and around Senado Square.
Seaport Scenes Around the World
Fisherman’s Wharf is another distinctive destination that will give you a good look at cultures from around the world, with a true-to-life recreation of seaports from around the world, including Lisbon, Amsterdam, and Capetown. The Wharf features several restaurants of every ethnic origin, and non-stop entertainment for adults and children alike. The amusement center at Aladdin’s Fort features fun rides and the man-made volcano attraction, Vulcania, has a special demonstration of a volcanic eruption and a laser show.
Colonial Homes of Taipa
If you take a bus trip out to Taipa, you’ll find a more relaxed pace there, and a chance to look in at the Taipa Houses Museum, which has some excellent examples of upper-class colonial homes and some fascinating historical exhibitions.
Visit Macau, and take time to explore its multicultural past. Your vacation to Macau is sure to be a rich experience, whether you win at the tables or not.