The Best of Macau: Tourist Spots and Attractions
Macau, located on the southeast coast of China, is a special administrative region of the country. Being Asia’s well-known gambling Mecca, it is a place to find the traditional Chinese culture while enjoying the exotic Portuguese buildings. Macau is quite small covering an area of just 27.5 square kilometers. The total population is 469,800 of which 95% are Chinese, the remainder being Portuguese and other westerners.
The name of Macau is derived from the word Magao (A-Ma Temple), which was the shrine dedicated to Mazu, a sacred sea goddess respected by the local people. It was said that in the middle of sixteenth century when the Portuguese first set foot there, one of the officers asked a fisherman the name of the land. The man misunderstanding the officer’s meaning, answered ‘Magao’ – the name of A-Ma Temple in front them. The word became the Portuguese name for the land and for nearly 400 years, the Portuguese ruled here prior to its official return to the People’s Republic of China on December 20, 1999 as a special administrative region.
The majority resides on the Macau Peninsular where you can find a variety of both Oriental and Western cultural and historical places of interest and all sorts of old buildings that are either European baroque or traditional Chinese in style. The blend of people, culture and history has influences on every aspect of life in Macao. A wander around the Peninsular will bring you into a world of antiques and fashion, traditional and modern, as well as tranquility and glitz.
Most visitors who have been there conclude that it is a location suited to both tourism and living as it is a beautiful city with clean streets, gardens and picturesque hilly landscapes. Sunshine, clear air, green lands and all sorts of delicious food all contribute to its many attractions.
Macau, a famous destination with prosperity and peace, fashion and history, oriental and western cultures, is deserving of a visit and a stay here is sure to revitalize the weary visitor.
Wandering around is the best way to explore the numerous historical and cultural heritages of Macao. Popular sightseeing places that form part of a visitor’s itinerary are spread all over the Peninsular. Senado Square, the splendid main square with surrounding simple, elegant Portuguese and baroque style buildings is the busiest downtown Macao. Clothing shops, curio markets, pharmacies, snack stalls and jewelry shops housed in the narrow alleyways that radiate from the square sell dazzling items.
A northerly walk leads visitors to the featured attractions of Ruins of St. Paul’s, a former screen wall of St. Paul’s Church and the Monte Fort, one of the best-preserved forts in Macau. The Museum of Macau, to the right of the ruins, tells all stories on the city’s past. Situated at the base of Penha Peninsula in the southwest part of Macau is A-Ma Temple, built in the Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644), which is dedicated to the sacred goddess A-Ma. During the festival seasons, thousands of devout prayers come to visit the temple.
In the southern part of the Peninsular, the New Reclaimed Area and the Outer Harbor Area, compared with the more traditional central and western areas, is the newly-developed region on which the modern aspect of Macao can be found. There are many luxurious hotels housing various gambling casinos and these venues are packed with people from all over the world when the night comes. Numerous museums in these two areas present the essence of the culture and history of Macau including Wine Museum, Grand Prix Museum, Museum of Art.
The two outlying islands of Taipa and Coloane, connected to the Macau Peninsular by two bridges feature tranquil natural and beach sceneries and are good choice for a short break away from the bustling Peninsular. The Jockey Club’s horse racing attracts numerous gamblers from the nearby areas and Hac Sa Bay and Bamboo Bay are two breathtaking natural scenic areas with the best seaside bathing places.
Known as ‘Oriental Las Vegas’, the gambling industry in Macau is booming and has already become an important feature of the local economy. Surprisingly, visitors do not find the kind of razzmatazz in casinos as elsewhere; by contrast you can feel the expectations of gamblers from their polite manners and the peaceful atmosphere.
Macau has earned the title of the Oriental Las Vegas as it is a gamblers’ paradise, however, it is also a beautiful city with clear streets, gardens and picturesque hilly landscapes. A wander around the city is a fantastic experience!
The inner city area is ideally suited for exploration on foot and there is much to discover in the many winding streets to be found close to the main square, Largo do Senado in the downtown or along the waterfront avenues in the southern part of the city near Nam Van or Outer Harbor. We can recommend this and feel confident that no one would be disappointed.
These streets close to Largo do Senado, are home to numerous restaurants, bars and cafes and clothing shops. You will find elegant Baroque style buildings from the old days and surprising local delicacies. Walking in a southerly direction along Avenida da Praia Grande will bring the visitor to the area near Nam Van. Alternatively by taking a westerly route the area along the waterfront close to Inner Harbor may be found. The many pedicabs and tricycle rickshaws that are available offer a comfortable way to tour each of these locations. A fare of 150 MOP$ is charged for one hour.
On Guia Hill in the eastern part of the Macau Peninsular and the hills of the outlying islands of Taipa and Coloane, there are winding trails with exercise equipment along the roadside for those who like to jog. Hiking among the hills affords panoramic views of the city, harbors and the natural landscape of the surrounding islands. A cable car service is available from 7:30 to 18:30 each day on Guia Hill. The single trip costs three Patacas while a return ticket costs five Patacas for the round trip.
Taipa and Coloane are good choices for those who like cycling. Bicycles can be rented on Taipa, from the garage next to the Civic and Municipal Affairs Bureau building (close to the Tin Hau Temple and bus terminal).
Another unique way to visit the area is to get on the nine-seated replica of a 1920’s London bus. This splendid vehicle is chauffeur-driven. It follows a scheduled route around the city and a tour lasts approximately two hours. The fare is MOP$300 per person, however special tours may be arranged when the cost will be doubled.
Macau has the most beautiful golf course in Asia. The Golf & Country Club is located on the south side of Coloane Island and near the Western Resort Complex. Here the excellent golfing facilities are complimented by fine views of the landscape over the Pearl River and Hac Sá beach.
As a beforehand racing car of F-1, Karting is favored by the many car racing lovers who are fascinated in the Macau Grand Prix, a well-known international formula 3 game held in the city. It is much easier to drive and participants are not necessarily required for licenses.
At the southern end of the causeway linking Taipa with Coloane is a karting circuit. The track is wide enough for about 30 cars racing at the same time. The complete facilities of a stand with the capacity of 2,500 people, time equipment, living broadcast screens, show halls, restaurants and special racing courts for children are provided. Foreign karting lovers and locals alike come Getting there: Bus 21, 21A or 25 can take you there.
Horse& Greyhound Racings
Horse racing and dog racing are two of the alternatives for those who do not want to go to casinos. The Jockey Club, located in the south-east coastal area of the outlying island of Taipa has a cosmopolitan group of trainers, riders and horses imported from several countries. The racing season is from September to August next year. Public buses to Jockey Club include 11, 15, 22, 28A, 30, 33, 34, 35 & AP1.
Dog racing was introduced here in 1960 and has become a firm rival to the horse races. It has been said that bets totaling over 150,000 MOP$ are placed at any one time. The dog track is at the Canidrome located at Avenida General Castelo Branco. There are around 15 races on every racing night starting from 7:30 p.m. Admission is MOP$10 for the public stand. You can take public buses of 1, 1A, 3, 4, 5, 7, 9, 9A, 23, 25, 26, 26A, 32, 33 and 34 to get there.
The city by day gives an impression of a graceful and tranquil city with old Euro-style buildings set against the blue sky, where people wander at leisure along the narrow and winding streets. However, as night falls a new world of enchantment opens up to the sparkling nightlife of the Macanese. The many entertainment venues and restaurants are open until late and welcome all who come to enjoy the festive atmosphere that pervades the night.
With casinos to rival both Monte Carlo and Las Vegas, gambling accounts for almost 50% of the government revenue and forms the backbone of the city’s tourist economy. Gambling casinos throughout the city are inevitably packed with people from all over the world who come to seek their fortunes.
The numerous Casinos are extravagantly bedecked with dazzling chandeliers, luxurious gaming rooms and first-class hotel facilities add to the glitz of nighttime Macau. Thousands of frenetic gamblers swarm into these venues for 24 hours to seek their fortunes. Most of the best known casinos are housed in top-class hotels in the Macau Peninsular and the island of Taipa. The flagship casinos include Hotel Lisboa Casino, Macau’s first Las Vegas-invested casino Sands Macau, Galaxy Waldo Casino and Macau Palace Casino. The tables include roulette, blackjack and poker; of course there are the ever popular slot-machines as well. There are in addition local games such as Chinese fan-tan to give visitors and locals alike sound reasons for visiting in order to experience first hand the height of luxury and excitement.
Hotel Lisboa in a large bird-cage building is the king among these venues. The façade entrance is designed like the big mouth of a tiger and on the lobby dome there is a heart with numerous prickles to symbolize the punishment of gamblers’ greed. However, such warnings are formalities and are heeded by many with the same degree of nonchalance as the SMOKING KILLS warning on a packet of cigarettes!
The showy ‘Crazy Paris Dancing’ performed by charming hostesses in Hotel Lisboa and presented at 20:00 and 21:30 from Monday to Friday is the best choice for those who enjoy watching dancing.
Public buses of 3, 3A, 8, 10, 10A, 10B, 12, 22, 23, 25, 28A, 28BX, 28C, 32 reach the casino.
Thanks to its free port status Macau is a shoppers’ paradise and foremost among the popular buys are jewelry (particularly gold), brand label clothes, Chinese antiques, porcelain and pottery as well as wine, cameras, watches, knit-wear together with a host of electric gadgetry all at free duty prices.