The eclectic mix of influences from China, Portugal, and Las Vegas combine to make Macau a memorable place to visit for any traveler. It was once an outpost for the vast Portuguese empire. It was turned over to China and made a Special Administrative Region. It is now the only place in Asia where gambling is fully legal and its yearly revenue makes Las Vegas look like a mom and pop operation.
With an incredibly diverse palate of options to choose from, anyone should find plenty to keep them occupied. Any trip to Hong Kong should incorporate a side trip to Macau, whether it be for a day trip or a week. Here are among the can’t miss places in one of the most unique paces in the world.
The Ruins of St. Paul’s Cathedral
You haven’t been to Macau until you’ve seen the ruins of St. Paul’s. Getting visual proof is apparently a necessity as this could be the selfie capital of the world.
The first church that stood here was destroyed by fire in 1601. The new St. Paul’s was was an impressive renaissance structure, the biggest catholic church in the far east. The famous facade is all that remains after a typhoon and subsequent fire destroyed the rest of the church in 1835. The staircase that leads up to the church is one of the largest gathering places in the city.
This is one of those locations that is overhyped for what it is. Crowds are intense during the middle of the day for what amounts to a church facade. This is one of those places to see and to say you’ve been there and move on. To avoid crowds see the ruins early in the morning or in the evening.
If the ruins of St. Paul’s is the number one place to see in Macau, Senado Square is the number one place to be seen. The square is place to sit down and take a break and do some people watching. Side streets that funnel into the square are full of tourist shops and eateries.
Senado Square is a fine example of the Portuguese colonial architecture that is prevalent in Macau. Perhaps it’s most distinguishing feature is the wavy mosaic sidewalk. The Spanish St. Dominic’s Church and old Senate building are some of the must see buildings that occupy the square.
Located near one of the ferry terminals that shuttle visitors between Macau and Hong Kong, the Fisherman’s Wharf has plenty to see and do. The Maritime Museum is a fascinating look at the seafaring history of Macau including model ships, dioramas, and various historical maritime artifacts.
The Wharf has plenty of places to eat, shop, and play including a theme park designed to look like famous cities such as Venice.
Fortaleza do Monte
The fort sits at a high point in Macau and was once home to the Portuguese military. Many of the walls still stand and cannons remain, allowing visitors to picture what the place was like when it was built in 1626.
Today is is popular for the amazing vistas it provides looking over all of Macau. It is also home to the Macau museum. This is the definitive museum to examine the history of this unique city state.
Across the street from the extravagant Galaxy and Venetian resorts is the historic Taipa Village. Among the places to see is the Taipa House Museum which recreates the life of the average Macau home during colonial times. Small temples and shrines also dot the village landscape.
For a little more fun if not tourist trap environment check out the main drag in Tampa Village and eat, drink, and shop.
The A-Ma Temple is Macau’s oldest and most famous temple. Built in 1488, it is named after the sacred sea goddess Mazu. According to legend she was a poor girl who was taken in by a fisherman. During a massive storm the only boat to survive was the one she was in. The temple was built to honor her and continue to help fisherman ward off danger on the seas.
The temple is a nice place to get away fro meh hustle and bustle of the city and take in some great views of the harbor. The temple has six sections and well worth a visit.
Las Vegas may get the publicity in the west, but the true gambler knows the best action takes place in Macau. The two tiny islands that make up Macau dwarf Las Vegas’s action. The Venetian Macau is the largest casino in the world with 10,500,000-square-feet of space dedicated to gambling, shopping, eating, exhibition space, and hotel rooms. The casino alone has well over 500,000 square feet of space dedicated to various forms of gambling. You will find versions of some of your favorite Las Vegas style casino’s like Wynn, MGM, and countless more. Even if you are not into gaming, be sure to check out these modern marvels.