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Macau travel guide

About Macau

Slipping more and more comfortably into its reputation as the “Vegas of the East,” Macau plays host to a dizzying array of large-scale casino resorts. Famously the world’s biggest gambling hub, it is one of two Special Administrative Regions of the People’s Republic of China – the other being neighbouring Hong Kong.

Macau showcases many of the same brands as its Nevada counterpart: MGM, Wynn and Sands are all in town, while its flagship Venetian Resort – complete with canals and mock Italianate plazas – is currently the largest casino on the planet.

But there’s more to the destination than poker tables and betting halls. When Macau’s historic centre was added to the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage list in 2005, it underlined the strategic and cultural importance which the territory has had over the centuries.

Portuguese colonists arrived in the mid-16th century and developed Macau into a major regional trading post. They held onto it long after it had been eclipsed by Hong Kong as a magnet for merchants; longer than they held onto Goa or Brazil.

Overlooking the South China Sea, Macau consists of a peninsula and two small islands, Taipa and Coloane. The three areas have been artificially joined by land reclamation, much of which is covered in casinos. Mercifully, it is possible to escape the neon lights and gambling dens in Macau’s urban parks and historic centre, where colonial Portuguese architecture sits among the bustle of a modern Asian city.

The street stalls and restaurants of the old town are also a fine introduction to local food, which encompasses traditional Chinese and Portuguese dishes alongside Goan, Brazilian and African influences.

Key facts

Area:

29.9 sq km (11.5 sq miles).

Population:

597,126 (UN estimate 2016).

Population density:

19,757.7 per sq km.

Capital:

Macau.

Government:

Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China.

Head of state:

President of China Xi Jinping since 2013.

Head of government:

Chief Executive Fernando Chui Sai On since 2009.

Electricity:

220 volts AC, 50Hz. Three-pin plugs with round or square pins are used.

Travel Advice

The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. ‘We’ refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.

Last updated: 8 August 2012

• There is no formal British Consulate in Macao.  If you require assistance when you are in Macao you should contact the British Consulate-General in Hong Kong. 

• There is a low threat from terrorism. But you should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks, which could be in public areas, including those frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers.

• You should take sensible precautions against pick pocketing and other street crime.

• In 2011, 61,665 British tourists visited Macao (Source: the Macao Tourism Board). Most visits are trouble-free. 

• The typhoon season in Macao normally runs from April to October.

• You should take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling.