Macau had been a Portuguese colony since the 16th century. Now the Macau Special Autonomous Region, you can still feel the influence of Portugal, intermixed with Asian cultural traditions and even a bit of a Las Vegas feel. The melting pot of cultures had me intrigued, so I spent 24 hours in Macau to find out what it was all about.
Macau was under Portuguese domination from the 16th century until 1999. As a result, it’s one of the most European places in Asia. You can see Portuguese street names, beautiful European-style buildings and hear the Portuguese language spoken.
Macau is also one of the richest regions in the world thanks to legal gambling, which generates 50% of the national income. The light show at night is something that will hold its own place in your memory for years to come.
How to get to Macau
Macau has a small airport that you can fly into. You can also get there by driving, but the most popular way is to take the ferry from Hong Kong. There is a Turbo Jet or Cotai Water Jet service from Sheung Wan, Kowloon, New Territories and Hong Kong International Airport. It takes about 50 minutes.
I jumped on the ferry after landing at the airport. I picked up my ticket there, but you can also buy them online. The only downside of that approach is that you risk missing your ferry if your flight is delayed. Everything is pretty clear and easy to find with English signs.
Where to stay in Macau
Just like Las Vegas, there are many famous hotels here that look almost the same as they do in Vegas. We stayed in the Venetian (you can read about my experience here). Every hotel is a huge resort with many attractions, huge pools and casinos – there are tons of things to do in Macau before you even leave the hotel.
Here are some of the most popular and most spectacular resorts to inspire you:
- Studio City Hotel – a Hollywood-themed hotel with a ride outside
- The Parisian Macao – Parisian style with the Eiffel Tower
- Wynn – one of the most luxurious complexes
- Sofitel – French-themed waterfront resort
- Morpheus Macau – designed by Zaha Hadid, known as the “world’s first free-form, high-rise exoskeleton” building
- Grand Lisboa – the tallest hotel in Macau, shaped in a Macau symbol, the white lotus flower
- Grand Hyatt – a resort with two modern towers
Things to do in Macau
Ruínas de São Paulo
Decorated with beautiful reliefs, only the façade survived a big fire in 1835. This cathedral was once the largest Christian building in Asia and is visited by many tourists every day.
One of the top attractions in Macau. This is the main square of the old town, packed with charming cafes, pastel buildings and old churches. It has a distinctively European feeling atmosphere.
Estr. do Istmo
Being the main street, a bit like the Strip in Las Vegas, Estr. do Istmo is a must visit. If you’ve visited both, you’ll be pleased to find this street much cleaner and calmer than the Vegas equivalent.
The best view in the city! The Macau Tower is 338m high and home to a host of entertainment options. For the bravest, there are attractions like bungee jumping, skywalks, sky jumps or even the tower climb.
A-Ma Cultural Village
This is a large temple complex with a statue to A-Ma, located on a hilltop in Coloane. You can get there by shuttle bus from the bottom near Macau Giant Panda Pavilion.
Macau Giant Panda Pavilion
This park is home to two rare giant pandas, Kai Kai and Xin Xin. There’s also a small zoo and beautiful gardens to discover.
What to eat in Macau
- Chinese food, of course! We ordered dumplings, fried rice, sweet and sour chicken and orange chicken.
- Almond cookies. These small shortbread cookies are super popular and a must-buy item.
There are so many things to do in Macau. It was great to walk without a plan in the old town, seeing cute cafes right next to typical Chinese houses with rustic walls, and then seeing some of the craziest casinos in the world! You’ll be amazed at just how many contrasting experiences can be found in one, relatively small, place.
Whether you visit on a day trip from Hong Kong or spend a few days at a stunning resort, Macau is definitely worth visiting. It’s a place with the perfect blend of Asia and Europe, adding up to one awesome experience.
Some of the links in this post are affiliate links which mean that if you choose to book through it I earn a small commission at no cost to you. I appreciate your support to keep this site up and running!