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To do list: Macau

 

 

A small enclave located off mainland China is quickly establishing itself on the “must visit” list of travel destinations. While many people know it as Asia’s answer to Las Vegas, Macau has an interesting history. Up until 1999, it was both the first and last European colony of Asia having been under the control of the Portuguese. In the past decade or so, Macau has preserved its colonial historical relics while transforming itself into a modern gaming getaway. As a result, Macau’s city is a mixture of old and new, and a fusion of western and Oriental cultures. Cobbled stone streets, fortresses, ancient temples and churches are reminders of its unique Portuguese/Chinese history. There are tiny shops selling all sorts of knick-knacks, and villages where no-one speaks English. If history isn’t your thing head for the heart of the city centre, and wonder at the sheer scale of the buildings as you hop between glitzy casinos. Here are some popular things to do in Macau.

 

1. High Rolling

With 29 casinos and a gaming culture to rival Monte Carlo, there is no doubt that the casino is Macau’s biggest drawcard. As Asia’s largest casino destination, it has been dubbed the “Oriental Las Vegas.” With hordes of Chinese, Hong Kongers and international visitors arriving daily to try their luck, it’s little surprise that the industry rakes in over US$20 billion a year. While the earlier casinos are characterised by a noisy, frenetic energy, the advent of foreign-owned casinos has brought in the glamour. The Grand Lisboa, the Sands and the Wynn are extravagant buildings where the people-watching is just as entertaining as the card games. A must-see is the Venetian Macau, the largest casino and second-largest building in the world with a Venice-styled shopping mall, rivers, and a glittering façade. The Venetian is just a glimpse of what lies in Macau’s future, as its location on the Cotai Strip is being made into something called “The Las Vegas Strip of the East.” Luxury travellers will be pleased to hear that these upmarket casinos have accommodation to match the elegance and scale of the gaming rooms below. In addition, these hotels offer transport services that can take you to the casinos of your choice. Most casinos are open 24 hours.

A small enclave located off mainland China is quickly establishing itself on the “must visit” list of travel destinations. While many people know it as Asia’s answer to Las Vegas, Macau has an interesting history. Up until 1999, it was both the first and last European colony of Asia having been under the control of the Portuguese. In the past decade or so, Macau has preserved its colonial historical relics while transforming itself into a modern gaming getaway. As a result, Macau’s city is a mixture of old and new, and a fusion of western and Oriental cultures. Cobbled stone streets, fortresses, ancient temples and churches are reminders of its unique Portuguese/Chinese history. There are tiny shops selling all sorts of knick-knacks, and villages where no-one speaks English. If history isn’t your thing head for the heart of the city centre, and wonder at the sheer scale of the buildings as you hop between glitzy casinos. Here are some popular things to do in Macau.

 

2. Macanese Dining

Macau’s cuisine is an interesting fusion of eastern and western traditions. Macanese fare is largely based around seafood, chicken, beef, pork, and spices. The Portuguese influence is evident in the seasoning: turmeric, coconut, chilli and cinnamon add flavour to every dish. Roasting is a popular cooking technique that has aromatic and flavoursome results. While there are specialty Cantonese and Portuguese restaurants scattered everywhere, there are many restaurants that serve up uniquely Macanese dishes. The Clube Militar, Litoral, Platao, and Praia Grande are among the most highly rated and upmarket Macanese restaurants in the enclave.

 

3. Adventure Sports

At a height of 233 metres, Macau Tower’s bungy jump is the highest in the world. Daring visitors plunge themselves off the tower for a free fall at a speed of up to 200 km/h. The bungy jump experience costs MOP2,488 (around A$309) per person. Another popular adventure is the Skywalk X, which costs MOP588 (around A$73) per person. A thrilling walking tour around the outer rim of the tower, this is not for the faint-hearted. The pathway is only 1.8 metres wide and while walkers are clipped to an overhead railing, there’s no handrail to hold onto!

 

4. Shopping

While there are bargains to be found for everything from clothes to electronics, Macau is best known for its deals on gold and antique furniture. Market prices for gold are set daily and purchases come with a certificate guaranteeing quality and authenticity. A popular family choice, Fisherman’s Wharf is Macau’s largest entertainment complex and contains over 150 stores and six theme park rides. Macau’s larget mall, The Grand Canal Shoppes, is the best place to get a designer fix.

 

When To Go

Macau has a subtropical climate with hot, humid summers and generally mild winters. It’s important to note that typhoons often strike between July and September. The best time to visit Macau is between October and June when many of Macau’s vibrant festivals, such as the Grand Prix and Dragon Boat festival, take place.

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