Travel to Macau to discover a melding of Chinese and Portuguese cultures. The architecture is a mix of European and Eastern styles along with modern built casinos and hotels.
Often referred to as the “Monte Carlo of the Orient” and “Las Vegas of the East”, Macau has been in the gaming business for more than 300 years. Its revenue from gaming sometimes exceeds Las Vegas, Nevada.
Planning a visit? Here are the top 10 things to do in Macau. A one day visit is not enough but it will give you a taste of the many splendors Macau has to offer. Two or three days would be perfect.
If you arrive by ferry from Hong Kong, there are several options for getting around. Take a free casino bus, taxis or local bus transportation. We opted to hire a cab to take a party of five around for the day. If you choose to hire a taxi, make sure to negotiate and establish a rate before jumping in. If you are using a tour guide, make sure they are displaying their tour guide card issued by the Macao Government Tourism Office.
Top 10 things to do in Macau
• The Historic Centre of Macau is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are so many wonderful sites to see with 30 historic monuments and buildings. Some of those sites are listed below.
• Mount Fortress, built in 1617 by Jesuits, was a significant stronghold against pirates and a failed Dutch invasion. The historic military centre now houses the Macau Museum. The views from the fortress are breathtaking.
• Senado Square and the main avenue of San Ma Lo is where Chinese and Portuguese would gather. It has a distinct wave-like Portuguese paved brickwork with a fountain in the middle. Today it is a pedestrian-only designated area. Many shops and restaurants surround the square.
• Ruins of St. Pauls Cathedral is the remains of the facade of Church of Mater Del, built in 1602 – 1640 and destroyed by a fire in 1835. The facade design combines western Baroque-Mannerist together with oriental decorative motifs. It is part of the Historic Centre.
• A-Ma Temple is the oldest temple in Macau. It is dedicated to the goddess of the sea, Mazu. The 1488 original construction dates from the Ming Dynasty, before the first Portuguese arrived in 1555 and before Macau existed. There are several pavilions representing different types of Chinese worship and culture; Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism and other beliefs.
• Na-Tcha Temple built in 1888 is a very small temple 8.4 metres long and 4.51 metres wide. Na-Tcha is a Chinese protection god. The temple is located near the Ruins of St. Pauls Cathedral.
• Section of the Old Wall is next to the Na-Tcha Temple. This wall is listed in the UNESCO World Heritage List. The Portuguese started construction of the walls around the city of Macau Walls in 1569. The walls were part of a defence strategy to protect the area.
• Our Lady of Penha Church and Bishop’s Palace sits high above Macau on Penha Hill. Originally built in 1622 by the Augustinians, it was rebuilt in 1837. The panoramic, sweeping views of Macau from here are fantastic.
• Guia Fortress, built between 1622 – 1638, and the lighthouse built in 1865, stand on the highest point of Macau. This fortress, together with Mount Fortress, protected the city and averted the Dutch invasion of 1622. The Guia lighthouse still operates and was the first modern lighthouse in China. It is part of the Historic Centre.
• Kun Iam Ecumenical Centre offers information on a variety of Asian religions. The bronze statue of the Goddess of Mercy, Kun Iam, stands 20 metres or 66 feet high.
• Macau Tower provides a 360-degree skyline view from the top. And if you are looking for an adrenaline rush, try the Guinness World Record highest commercial bungee jump in the world. The AJ Hackett Macau Tower Jump is 233 metres or 764 feet high. View photos and find out more.
• Taipa Island
At the end of a full day, we stopped at one of Taipa Village’s most popular restaurants, Cozinha Pinocchio. They serve Macanese style food. Macanese food combines Chinese and Portuguese cuisine with flavourful spices from India, Southeast Asia and Africa. Delicious!
A visit to this area of Macau is not complete without a walk down Rua do Cunha. Here you will find a wonderful array of food and traditional Chinese shops.
Make sure to stop by one of the Koi Kei Bakery locations. The bakery sells more than 300 different products, including all types of pork jerky. It is most famous for its delicious almond cakes, which are produced on the spot. Remember to pick up a box or two to take home. Koi Kei Bakery has 23 shops in Macau and six in Hong Kong.
• Macau was a Portuguese territory from the mid-16th century until 1999.
• The Port of Macau was an important development for international trade.
• Macau is now a Special Administration Region of China.
• It is 37 miles or 60 kms southwest from Hong Kong.
• It is located on China’s southeast coast.
• Guangdong Province of China borders Macau to the north.
• Canadians, Americans, Australians and several European countries do not need a visa to enter the country.
• The name Macau is believed to originate from the A-Ma Temple.
• What is the difference between Macao and Macau? China recognizes both as correct. Macau is the Portuguese name.
Best time to visit:
October to December
Find out more about Macau’s heritage.
Visit Macau’s official tourism site.