Macau was the first and last European colony in Asia, it has more visible colonial history than Hong Kong. Walking through the old city you could convince yourself you were in Europe rather than in Asia. One of the world’s most densely populated spots, Macau is best known as Asia’s largest destination for gambling taking in even more revenue than Las Vegas.
Although best known for gambling, Macau is extremely rich in attractions and oozing with atmosphere, thanks to hundreds of years of fusion between European and Chinese cultures. Macau is a fascinating place to just walk around as the place is packed with churches, temples, fortresses and other old buildings bearing an interesting mix of Portuguese and Chinese characteristics. Besides buildings, there are also hundreds of narrow alleyways forming a maze in the old part of Macau where the people of Macau carry out businesses and work.
A large section of Macau Peninsula has been designated a Unesco World Heritage site and 25 buildings and sites within the area have been deemed to have cultural and historic significance. One of the best ways to cover the sights is to do the Macau Heritage Walk circuit. The heritage Buildings, the Sao Paulo Cathedral, the Fort and the Macau Museum are all adjacent to each other and can be conveniently seen individually even if one cannot catch the Heritage walk timing.
I think we were lucky there was some celebration when we were visiting because there was some parade going on. People were in costumes and performing acts and shows through the old city.
I only intended to stay 1 night as my travelmates (local HK) were planning to play a few hands in the casino here. I never really gambled before when I came to Macau, so might as well have them show me what machines to play.
One of the most famous casinos in town is The Venetian, the sixth largest building in the world by area and the largest casino in the world. The casino is further divided into 4 themed gaming areas namely Golden Fish, Imperial House, Red Dragon and Phoenix. The casino consists of over 3400 slot machines and 800 gambling tables.
There’s a huge shopping area and adjoining food court. Everything is decorated in a real Venetian style. Even the ceiling has been painted with a fake blue sky which is illuminated. It was said that it mimics the exact same weather condition as in Venice. Minus the rain of course.
There’s also some great food to be eaten in Macau itself. Many visitors from mainland China and Hong Kong bring back tons of souvenir snacks after indulging themselves in Macanese and Chinese cuisine. I can only tell you about the egg tarts (pastéis de nata) and pork chop bun that I tried on the street. And they were delicious. There are several famous food stalls on the way to the Sao Paulo Cathedral, not to mention the numerous souvenir shops selling all kinds of sweets and dried meat which is popular as well.
I think Macau is a good place to spend a few days at if you want to get away from Hong Kong for a bit. The colonial influence and historical background is a nice change from the commercial Hong Kong and eventhough you don’t gamble, most of these casinos are huge attractions by themselves.