Macau is a major tourist draw for visitors from all over the world. The Las Vegas of the East, it’s home to a bustling gambling scene, with huge casino resorts sitting side by side with the cultural and historical sights that make this such an important place to visit. Set on the western banks of the Pearl River, it’s the most densely populated part of the world, with some 650,000 people squeezed into the 12 square miles.
While Macau remains part of China, albeit an autonomous region, its history is bound with links to Portugal, with early settlers arriving from Europe in the 16th century. This has helped create interesting juxtapositions between the European and the Asian influences that have to come to bear on Macau, in addition to the old world of its historical relics and the new world of its massive casino resorts. If you’re preparing to visit, you are in for a treat. But what should you make sure you see while you’re there?
Mount Fortress & Macau Museum
An excellent starting point upon arrival in Macau is the Macau Fortress and Museum. One of Macau’s most historic attractions, the Fortress gives you an insight into the story of Macau right up to present day. Built in the early 17th century, it is a reminder of Macau’s Portuguese history. It’s also home to an incredible vista of the whole of Macau, where you can cast an eye over its skyline and truly take in the breathtaking beauty of this part of the world.
Within the Fortress is the Macau Museum, an attraction which combines artefacts from both the Chinese and Portuguese threads of the region’s history. If you’ve something of a culture vulture, I’d recommend kicking off your stay in Macau here.
Ruins of St Paul’s
The Ruins of St Paul’s are one of the most famous sights in Macau, and a huge draw for the millions of visitors who head to the resort each year. All that remains of St Paul’s is the facade, an ornate example of traditional stonework that looks like anything you’d expect to find in a cathedral back in Europe.
The idea of European-style history in a Chinese setting is a recurring theme of a trip to Macau, and gives you a flavour of the influences that have come to shape Macau as it stands today. St Paul’s is a stunning structure. The ruins and the stunning grounds in which they are set are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and a must-visit for anyone contemplating a trip in Macau.
Senado Square is a traditional Portuguese style town square, set in the heart of Macau. It has been the site of public meetings and events over the years, very much the beating heart of the city. Chances are high that you’ll pass through Senado Square on your travels, with the triangular square a major thoroughfare and focal point for sampling the best of what Macau has to offer. The fountains here are the central meeting place, and make for a tranquil backdrop as you’re taking in the stunning architecture and history. The square is lined with jewellery shops too, so it’s the perfect spot to spend your casino winnings.
Old City Walls
Sticking to the historical and cultural theme, the Old City Walls are another throwback to the Portuguese occupation of Macau, and one of the first lines of defence against attack. The walls run from between the Ruins of St Paul’s and the Na Tcha Temple, so it’s easy to take in all three as part of the same trip. The walls played an important part in helping the Portuguese fend off rival attempts to take the territory, most notably from the Dutch forces in the Battle of Macau in 1622.
There’s so much of Macau’s history to take in, and it would be a shame to miss out on seeing these attractions while you’re there. But Macau isn’t just a living relic of centuries gone by – there are more modern attractions too, giving you an insight into the modern Macau, one of the richest places on the planet. The Macau Tower dominates the skyline, and it a focal point for entertainment, shopping and dining. For the more adventurous, it’s even possible to bungee jump from what is the highest commercial jump anywhere in the world – a staggering 233m from the ground. Just make sure you stop for a bite to eat after you’ve jumped…
At its heart, Macau is all about the gambling. With revenues surpassing Las Vegas, it’s the world’s leading gambling destination, and there are plenty of casinos to back it up. From the Casino Lisboa to the likes of the Venetian, the Parisian, the Galaxy and Studio City Macau, there is no shortage of options if you’re looking for somewhere to gamble. If you like card games like blackjack or the thrill of games such as roulette and slots you will not be disappointed.
Your best bet here is a crawl of the different casinos, and it’s worth spending time visiting each different resort to truly take in the atmosphere and the stunning surroundings. These are often multi-billion dollar resorts that have been put together with literally no expense spared – even if you’re not much of a gambling fan, you won’t want to miss these casinos.
Macau has so much to offer, whether you’re going for a casino break, or you’re just looking to check out this exotic part of the world. Whatever you’re going for, it’s likely to be a trip you’ll never forget.