The name Macau is almost synonymous with casinos and gambling. However, contrary to popular belief, this place has a lot more to offer to travellers.
Macau is an autonomous region of the People’s Republic of China. On the map, you can find it towards the south of China, nestled between the Pearl River estuary on the south and east. Once an overseas Portuguese territory, it now represents a perfect amalgamation of the traditional and the modern.
How To Reach Macau
If you’re traveling to Macau from Hong Kong, the best way to get there is via the Fast Ferry. It takes about an hour to reach. We took the TurboJET, but there are other ferry services as well.
All of them depart from the Hong Kong Macau Ferry Terminal in Sheung Wan. I would recommend booking your tickets a few months in advance to get some good discounts.
Once in Macau, you can easily avail the free shuttle buses waiting at the Macau Ferry Terminal to take you to your hotel. Some of these shuttle buses run from one hotel to another. These can help you save some money and travel to the other hotels and casinos. So that you can put your money to better use (arguably of course) 😊
Where To Stay In Macau
The Fisherman’s Wharf
The Fisherman’s Wharf is located at Macau’s outer harbour. It is the largest leisure and themed entertainment complex in Macau. It houses multiple hotels & casinos in European-themed architecture.
There is a marina here, along with many options for dining, shopping and entertainment. It creates a unique experience for tourists from around the world.
The Sands is located right opposite to the Harbourview and there are regular free shuttle buses leaving from there to The Venetian and The Parisian. From these hotels there are shuttles connecting you to almost all the major hotels and casinos on the strip.
The Venetian Macau
A little tired from the travel earlier, we decided to head out for a quick dinner at The Venetian. We hit the casino in there for a while and then called it a night.
Keep in mind that you cannot take photos inside the casinos. Also, unlike the casinos in Las Vegas, smoking on the floor is prohibited. There are separate smoking rooms inside the casinos.
The Venetian in Macau is very much similar to the one in Vegas. It even has a replica of the Grand Canal inside where you can take a Gondola ride for a price.
We started our sight-seeing next day with a trip to the UNESCO World Heritage-listed A-Ma Temple. This temple was built in 1488, and is one of the oldest in Macau.
The A-Ma temple is considered to be the settlement’s namesake. It is said that Portuguese sailors landed in Macau for the very first time, on the coast just outside this temple. When they asked the name of the place, the natives replied “Maa-gok” or “A-maa-gok”. This meant “The Pavilion of the Mother”.
From then on, the Portuguese named the peninsula “Macau”. The temple contains an ancient architectural complex, rich and profound in Chinese culture.
It will be worth your while to stay and enjoy the various poems and inscriptions carved on the rocks of the temple. Devotees burn a lot of incense here to pay homage and pray for good fortune.
Public buses in Macau are cheap and easily available and you can look up bus numbers and routes on Google Maps. Make sure to keep the exact fare ready as most buses do not provide any change.
We reached the Senado Square, a short bus ride later. The Senado Square is a paved town square. It is a part of the UNESCO Historic Center of Macau world heritage site.
Due to the Iberian influence, this place has a European feel with its pastel-coloured buildings and cobblestone streets.
When in Senado Square, do taste as many Macanese delicacies as you can. My favourite was the Portuguese Egg Tart!
St. Dominic’s Church is located right in the heart of Senado Square. It was constructed by three Spanish Dominican priests in 1587 for worshipping Our Lady of the Rosary.
The Ruins Of St. Paul’s
The Ruins of St. Paul’s are just a little way up ahead from here and is one of the most iconic attractions of Macau. The front facade and stone stairs are the only remains of the church.
Na Tcha Temple
Just behind the Ruins of St. Paul is the Na Tcha Temple. This temple was built in 1888. It is dedicated to the deity Na Tcha, a legendary figure of China who looks like a kid yet possesses magical powers. The existence of Na Tcha Temple near the Ruins of St. Paul’s Church represents the harmonious fusion of Chinese civilization and western culture.
A trip to Macau isn’t complete without a bit of casino hopping and surely enough, The Parisian was our next stop.
If you have more time on your hands, do plan on visiting the Taipa Village, which has an array of authentic Macanese retail and dining concepts to choose from.
We spent two days in Macau, enough to satiate our needs of admiring the perfect blend of traditional and modern cultures and tasting delightful Macanese delicacies.