Hong Kong is no doubt a popular tourist destination in Asia with great food and fabulous shopping. Often ignored by travelers despite being only an hour ferry ride away is fellow SAR (Special Administrative Region) of China – Macau. The small country town is quietly making progress in being a tourist hotspot with the human traffic doubling or even tripling up during festive periods like Chinese New Year and Christmas.
Mostly known for its gambling industry (aka the Laz Vegas of Asia), Macau has a long rich colonial history that dates back to more than 500 years ago when the coastal city was rented to Portugal by the Chinese empire as a trading port. If you ignore the casino side of “fun”, you can explore and discover many many interesting things within two to four days. One of the must-visits include the Ruins of St Paul which is practically the icon of Macau, the Macau tower, Grand Lisboa and the A-Ma Temple. Those are the typical landmarks. For anything local and authentic, make an escape to the far Southern end of the country to Coloane where the true locals stay and live. Right there at the town square, make a stop at the famous Lord Stow’s Bakery where you can can grab one or two (or a dozen) portuguese egg tarts.
Check out photos right here from my trip there during Chinese New Year, even though it was only a short period of three days I really enjoyed spending the festive period there!
Some fun facts about Macau:
– Macau only shares a 300m long border with Zhuhai, China.
– At 29.5 km2, it is approximately 5% the size of Singapore.
– Most of the signs there are written in Cantonese and Portuguese.
– Macau used to be made up of three main islands until land reclamation joined Taipa and Coloane together, forming the new Cotai strip.
– There are no trains to get around the place except for taxis and the roads there are notoriously difficult to navigate.
– One of the biggest events in Macau is the annual Grand Prix where like Singapore, the streets are turned into a racing circuit.