Macau is far more than just a casino city, with its rich East meets West history, one of a kind culture, delicious street food, and world record-breaking attractions, there is truly nowhere else quite like it. Here are 10 reasons why Macau needs to be on your top list of places to visit in Asia.
Eat Macau’s Edible Icon
Courtesy of Lord Stow's Bakery
These days Macau has become something of a pilgrimage for pastry lovers. Based on the Portuguese pastel de nata and adapted for Macau by an English pharmacist turned baker named Andrew Stow, they now sell around 13,000 of these tarts per day at Lord Stow’s Bakery located on Macau’s scenic Coloane Island. With their flaky pastry crusts, delicious egg custard centres and crispy crème brulee tops, they taste twice as nice when piping hot. A must eat food in Macau!
House of Dancing Water Macau | Photo: Courtesy of Dragone Entertainment
If you’re looking to be entertained in Macau, look no further than its longest running and most successful show, The House of Dancing Water. The production, the world’s largest water extravaganza, has been quite literally making a splash in Macau for over six years and is so good that even locals return to watch it time and time again. Created by renowned theatre producer Franco Dragone, the show is 90 minutes full of high-energy, mind-blowing stunts, stunning scenery and features some of the world’s greatest acrobats, dancers, divers, actors, and motorcyclists. With a stage that frequently converts from a solid floor to a giant performance pool, you’ll be wondering how they pull it all off.
Although there are a number of traditional Chinese temples to visit in Macau, perhaps the most famous is the A-Ma Temple, believed to be the temple where Macau’s name is derived from. It’s the oldest temple in the city and is dedicated to the goddess Mazu, protector of seafarers and fishermen. The temple consists of the Gate Pavilion, the Memorial Arch, the Prayer Hall, the Hall of Benevolence, the Hall of Guanyin, and Zhengjiao Chanlin (a Buddhist pavilion). The variety of pavilions dedicated to the worship of different deities in a single complex make A-Ma Temple an exemplary representation of Chinese culture inspired by Confucianism.
Macau is truly a casino city and is often dubbed “the Las Vegas of the East”. The most popular game of choice here is Baccarat and it dominates every single casino, taking up half or more of all the tables. Unlike Vegas where gambling is associated with a more fun element, the Chinese tend to treat it very seriously. There’s very little, if any, banter to be had and it’s rare to see any of them with a drink in their hands while at the tables. For those looking to bet big, there are VIP rooms as well where bets can start at as much 1 million HKD per hand.
There’s one BIG reason why adrenaline junkies often flock to Macau and that’s because it’s home to the Guinness World Record holder for the Highest Commercial Bungy Jump in the world. Situated at the top of the striking Macau Tower, jumpers leap from a platform 233m (764 ft) above the ground and experience the ultimate free fall experience. This is the ultimate in daredevil thrill-seeking. Macau Tower also offers alternatives like Skywalk and SkyJump activities, that are slightly less terrifying!
Macanese cuisine has a history of over 400 years and dates back to when Macau was first colonised by Portuguese invaders. Blending southern Chinese cuisine and Portuguese ingredients, spices and cooking techniques from Macau’s colonial days, they melded into a distinct style that became known as “Macanese”. Classic Macanese dishes include tacho (a fusion stew made with Chinese and Western ingredients) cappela (a baked meatloaf made with cheese, black olives and breadcrumbs, topped with crispy bacon) and Minchi, a delicious combination of minced beef or pork (or a combination of the two), diced potatoes stir-fried with onions, and Worcestershire sauce. A good place to try Macanese cuisine is Restaurant Litoral, possibly “the spiritual home of Macanese cuisine”.
Macau’s famous town square is best visited during the daytime when you can truly appreciate the beauty of the place. A stunning symbol of Macau’s East meets West heritage, the square is surrounded by pastel coloured neo-classical buildings and has Portuguese-style wavy mosaic tiled floors. It’s the perfect spot to sit, rest, relax and take photographs as you watch the world go by. There’s even a saying that “if you haven’t been to Senado Square, you haven’t been to Macau”. So be sure to mark this spot on your list of places to visit.
Arguably Macau’s most famous landmark, the Ruins of St. Paul’s is an iconic stone façade, the remains of what used to be the greatest of Macau’s churches, the complex of St. Paul’s College and the Cathedral of St. Paul, built in the 16th century, but burned down in 1835 leaving only its very large and beautiful façade and the front stairway. Today it is one of Macau’s must-visit landmarks and an extremely popular backdrop for the countless tourists who visit daily to take photos and explore the nearby bustling side streets.
Just a stone’s throw away from Macau’s main casino strip (called The Cotai Strip) lies this quaint, historic village. You will find museums and colonial churches juxtaposed against Chinese temples. Taipa Village is home to the stunning Taipa House Museum. Built in 1921, it once served as a residence for the Portuguese governor and other high-level civil servants and their families. Taipa Village is one of the few areas in Macau where you can step back in time and enjoy quiet strolls along pedestrianised alleys and hidden lanes, browse in cosy shops and visit local bakeries selling the city’s famous almond cookies and peanut candies.
Relax and indulge
No trip to Macau is complete without a little indulgence. The city is home to numerous acclaimed fine dining restaurants. Among the best is Robuchon au Dôme. Located at the pinnacle of the Grand Lisboa Hotel it boasts a beautiful vaulted glass dome with stunning views across Macau. For a bit of relaxation try the signature Macanese Sangria Ritual at Grand Lapa’s Spa. An indulgent three-part experience, lasting over two hours, the treatment includes a sangria bath in your own private spa garden and an 80 minute intensely relaxing massage. Go on, spoil yourself!