Visiting Macau: China's Las Vegas

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A fascinating combination of East and West, Macau is a hot spot for tourists from across the globe. Known primarily as a destination for high rolling casino lovers, Macau attracts gamblers and curious visitors from across China, Hong Kong and the world thanks to its status as ‘Vegas on steroids.’ With a gaming revenue six times that of Vegas and no signs of slowing down, Macau is an exciting, vibrant city that’s also rich with cultural heritage.

Macau is especially interesting due to its history; settled by the Portuguese in the mid-16th century, it remained a colony of Portugal until 1999, and the culture and architecture of the area reflects this heritage. Traditional Chinese culture combines with Portuguese and Western influence to create fascinating architecture and a unique atmosphere. Aside from being a popular tourist location, Macau is known to be a great place to live; clean, green and with one of the highest life expectancies in the world. You can expect good weather most of the year as a visitor, with especially hot summers and very mild winters. Be wary of typhoon season from mid-summer to autumn, which may hamper your enjoyment of the city.

Although most famously a gambling Mecca, there is much to enjoy about Macau outside of the casino. The baroque and Portuguese buildings are best admired by strolling around the small city on foot. The main square in the city’s centre, Largo do Senado, is a popular destination and is surrounded by picturesque maze-like alleyways full of small shops and boutiques well worth exploring. There’s plenty of fashion to sift through for the shopping enthusiast, along with antique shops to hunt out treasures. For those seeking a bit of culture, there are several museums worth visiting, including a Wine Museum, Art Museum and the centrally located Museum of Macau which provides a thorough account of the area’s history. Don’t worry about getting a little lost as you explore the city; it’s all part of the fun!

To escape from the hustle and bustle and encounter some natural beauty, travel the short distance to the nearby islands of Taipa and Coloane, easily accessible from Macau by bridges. You’ll find plenty of beautiful scenery there and beachside tranquillity. There are also plenty of pretty gardens and green spaces to take a break in. For adrenaline junkies, there’s also Macau Tower where you can take part in adventure sports, and Fisherman’s Wharf features some theme park rides.

The city is of course now dominated by gambling, with many huge casinos lining the waterfront. If you’re over 21 you can try your luck at the tables on the Cotai Strip, increasingly known as the ‘Las Vegas Strip of the East.’ The world’s largest casino, Venetian Macao, opened on the strip in 2007; it’s also Asia’s biggest hotel and is certainly worth a look. If you're unsure of how to play poker or baccarat why not try online before your trip somewhere like For those less interested in gambling, the casinos also feature huge entertainment acts to pass the nighttimes in style, huge shopping malls and luxurious spas. If you’re up for a glamorous and glitzy visit, the decadent suites at these Vegas-style hotels should certainly hit the spot. If you’re looking to tighten your budget, avoid weekends and Friday nights as hotel rates skyrocket on these days thanks to the scores of visitors flooding into the casinos on their days off. You can also try the quieter island of Coloane if you’re after a more serene atmosphere for your accommodation.

You won’t go hungry in Macau, which is famous for its fascinating and unique cuisine. Portuguese and Chinese flavours are married together in Macau to create ‘Macanese’ food which makes up a substantial portion of the city’s cuisine, but it’s also well known for delicious and well-priced Cantonese food. You can dine on simple, cheap and tasty Cantonese or Macanese street food whilst exploring in the daytime and then sample more elaborate and expensive Cantonese seafood at the casino hotels in the evening. This fascinating, picturesque city as something to suit all tastes, so explore.

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