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Macau city Travel Guide

About Macau city

There's nowhere on the planet quite like Macau. One of China's two so-called Special Administrative Regions, the little autonomous territory has evolved (with something approaching insatiability) into a neon-clad jungle of five-star casinos and gargantuan resorts. The "Vegas of the East" tag, however, tells only half the story. This is also somewhere that bears the marks of centuries of Sino-Portuguese heritage, showcasing age-old temples and colonial-era architecture alongside its modern pleasure palaces. The same mix of global influences informs everything from its culture to its cuisine.

The destination (made up of three sections: the mainland, Taipa and quieter, greener Coloane) sits within easy reach of Hong Kong, making it relatively straightforward to visit. High-speed ferries make the journey in less than an hour, while the under-construction Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge will form a 31-mile road link between the two.

The Vegas comparisons shouldn't be taken lightly. For a start, many of Sin City's biggest names have presence here too (you'll find resorts managed by the likes of Wynn, MGM and Sands), while its gaming revenue is considerably higher than its Nevada counterpart. Casinos such as The Venetian, the City of Dreams and the more Asian-inspired Galaxy are spectacles in their own right, even if you're not having a flutter. The Cotai Strip, in particular, has boomed into a super-sized, high-end entertainment hub in recent years. The dining scene has become world-class too, and these days there are also a growing number of high-class shows and other entertainment options to woo visitors.

To really appreciate the place, however, you need to look beyond the opulent gambling halls. The architectural and cultural legacy of four centuries as a Portuguese colony lives on, especially on the mainland. In 2005, UNESCO recognised the territory's wealth of historical attractions (churches, gardens, old cemeteries, colonial buildings and cobbled backstreets) by adding the 'Historic Centre of Macau' to its World Heritage list. You'll also find hilltop forts, cathedral ruins, Buddhist temples, atmospheric Portuguese cafés and busy Cantonese markets here.

Historical highlights include the warren-like A-Ma Temple, dating back to the 15th century, and the attractive Senado Square. But if you prefer to get your thrills in other ways, consider bungy jumping from an eye-watering height of 233m (765ft) at the Macau Tower.

Key facts

Population:
591900
Latitude:
22.197586
Longitude:
113.539220

Featured Hotels

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Hotel Royal Macau

This newly renovated Macau hotel may be a little removed from the action, but it's all the more attractive for that reason. It's just up the hill from the wonderful Clube Militar de Macau restaurant and offers some good-value packages. It sits at the foot of Colina da Guia, Macau's landmark hill and the site of the historic Guia fort and lighthouse.

Ole London Hotel

This very pink, six-storey block with 60 rooms near the Inner Harbour boasts smart and spotless (if small) rooms. All rooms have private bathroom with hair dryer, TVs and a mini bar. Breakfast is included. Given its location and rates, the Ole London Hotel offers one of the best deals in town.

Parisian Macao

Open on the Cotai Strip since mid-2016 (and echoing its Gallic namesake in Las Vegas), the Parisian Macao features a half-size replica Eiffel Tower, complete with observation decks and nightly light shows. The hotel itself has a mind-boggling 3,000 rooms and suites, all furnished to a high standard, and there are numerous dining, shopping and entertainment options.

Grand Coloane Resort

Formerly the Westin Resort Macau, this five-star getaway overlooks gardens and a sandy beach on Coloane Island. It's long been favoured by visitors seeking a bit of peace and quiet in upscale surrounds. Each room has a sea or beach view, and there's an excellent spa and an adjoining golf course.

San Va Hotel

This cheap traditional-style guesthouse has a decent location in downtown Macau on the historic Rua da Felicidade (Happiness Street). The rooms are simple but clean and comfortable, and some of the doubles and twins have en-suite shower and bathroom. It was established in 1873, and claims to be the oldest existing guesthouse in Macau.

Pousada de São Tiago

Built into what was once a 17th-century fort that defended Macau against hostile invaders, this traditional Portuguese pousada is a romantic place to stay. It commands a splendid view of the Inner Harbour, and the interior décor, with its flagstones, wooden rafters and blue tiles, is a delight.