If you live in Hong Kong, Macau is a quick, 50-minute water jet ferry ride away, and is a city escape that offers much more than just gambling.
Macau presents a unique synthesis of Chinese and Portuguese culture, Macanese. Macau’s historic ties with Portugal stem back to the 16th century, when Portuguese traders and Jorge Álvares created a permanent settlement there to facilitate trade. Although Chinese culture is becoming more prevalent (see: dominant), it’s really incredibly cool to see and hear all the transportation and signage provided in Chinese, Portuguese and English. Besides the casinos, life in Macau is quite laid back and certain areas look and feel very European. There are perfect nooks and outdoor cafés where you could probably sit and happily drink the day away in thought.
When I’m in Macau, there are two places I usually have to go to get Macanese / Portuguese food. Surprisingly, one lunch spot is located in a retirement centre, but if you think about it it makes perfect sense. Many of the older generation are closer to their Portuguese roots, so they probably don’t accept watered-down meal substitutes. You can also enjoy some of Macau’s famous street food, like its beef jerky, pork chop buns and Portuguese Egg Tarts.
Avenida de Sidonio Pais, N° 49-B, R/C,
Edificio China Plaza, Macau
9 Praia de Hac Sa
Of course, if you want to go to Macau to gamble you’re also in good hands. Macau generates more revenue from gambling than anywhere else on the planet, including Las Vegas. Wynn, The Venetian, MGM and Galaxy are some of the famous Casino brands that call Macao home. If you’re going to break the bank here, you can also do some shopping – the biggest brands and five star restaurant and hotels are all here. There are constantly new mega casinos being built every year. Because of the city’s dependence on gambling revenues (and corruption stemming from gambling), Macau is also shifting gears to create a tourism industry that is world class. Go-carts, The Macao Grand Prix, the tallest bungee jump in the world, seeing world-famous artists and musicians and The Macao (Tennis) Open are all reasons that might compel you to head to Macau without playing any cards or rolling any dice.
Macau is not meant to be a destination city. In fact, unless you’re a high stakes gambler, the best way to experience Macau is probably with a laissez-faire attitude. Pick one or two things to do, then just wander the small city, letting the pressures of life and the daily grind fall away from your weary shoulders.