Macau is mostly known as the “Las Vegas of Asia” and millions of travelers visit its glitzy casinos every year, but the tiny territory has much more to offer than just ostentatious casinos and gambling halls. As a matter of fact, a proper Macau travel plan should allow at least four days, to see the most important things this lovely town has to offer.
Macau World Heritage Trail
The greatest thing about Macau is its rich Portuguese heritage, and the way it co-existed with Chinese traditions and beliefs for circa 500 years… The Historic Centre of Macau was recently declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and many of the historic buildings were beautifully restored. Walking along the “Macau World Heritage Trail” is a must do, so whether you come to Macau for just one day or more, try not to miss it (or if you don’t have the time, at least visit the major sites along the trail).
A-Ma Temple is the place where the town of Macau started its history from, hundreds of years ago, following a mythological event whereby a group of fishermen was rescued from a deadly storm by A-Ma, the legendary protector of seamen and one of Hong Kong’s and Macau’s most beloved deities (known as Tin Hau in Hong Kong).
Other significant sites along the historic trail include the St. Joseph’s Seminary and Church, St. Augustine’s Square (Largo de Santo Agostinho), Senado Square (Largo do Senado), Santo Domingo church and Ruins of St. Paul’s.
A Macau travel can not be complete without visiting some of the city’s unmissable restaurants… Hundreds of years of Portuguese influence have resulted in a unique Macanese cuisine which features the best of what the Portuguese cuisine has to offer, together with Chinese and Cantonese motifs… Restaurants like Fernando’s, A-Lorcha and Clube Militar have long become internationally-famous, not to mention gourmet institutions like Robuchon a Galera of Chef Joel Robuchon or Don Alfonso 1890 of chef Alfonso Iaccarino.
The Islands: Taipa and Coloane
The islands of Taipa and Coloane are a “must-visit” for those who want to see how the people of Macau used to live in the old days… The “villages” still keep their old style, with narrow alleys, old houses, small Chinese temples and tiny crafts shops where trades that have disappeared elsewhere are still practiced.
A-Ma Cultural Village, atop of Macau’s highest hill, in Coloane Island, was opened only a few years ago, so there is nothing historic about it, but there is certainly a lot to see… Especially rich Chinese ornaments and beautiful temple architecture.
Macau Fisherman’s Wharf is a bit of a tourist cliche but is still nice, especially the main area of the complex, where you can stroll amidst replicas of streets from port cities all over the worlds… A couple of Amsterdam-style buildings stand next to a Lisbon street-block, and some typical Cape town buildings…
As strange as it may sound, Macau boasts some really fantastic museums, and although they are very small and unpretentious compare to their counterpart in international metropolises like New York and London, they are still well worth visiting… Especially the ones that are unique to Macau, like “Macau Grand Prix Museum”, and The “Handover Gifts Museum of Macau”, that displays all the gifts that were given to Macau and its people by the various provinces and counties of China, for the 1999 handover.
The city’s historic fortresses are also well worth visiting, especially Fortaleza do Monte, where the Museum of Macau can be found, and Guia Hill, where you can also enjoy a beautiful park, a short and scenic cable-car ride, and a visit to China’s first western style lighthouse.
And finally… Casinos
Obviously, a proper article about Macau Travel can not be concluded, without saying something about casinos… Macau casinos are certainly worth a visit, even if you are not a gambler… The Venetian is the world’s largest casino, while Casino Lisboa is a true Macanese icon. Newly opened City of Dreams is famous for its great choice of entertainment, and Grand Waldo Casino is the right place for “high rollers”, as well as for those who love electronic games.
Roni Shwartz is a certified travel consultant and an expert to the cities of Hong Kong, Macau and Singapore. He writes for http://www.metropolasia.com/ – The ultimate online-guide for travel, dining and lifestyle in Hong Kong, Macau and Singapore. To know more about Macau, including suggested itineraries for do-it-yourself trips, recommended restaurants and nightspots, shopping tips and hotel recommendations, visit the Macau Travel Guide at Metropolasia.com.