Macau Food Festival
The Macau Food Festival takes place every November for 24 days, with the festivities in 2019 beginning on the 8th and ending on the 24th. It’s held outside of Macau Tower which is easily accessible via public bus (9A, 18, 23, 26, 32, 73) and there are even 3 or 4 free ones run by the city that go to different parts of Macau and Taipa.
Forgive me for not knowing clearly where they originate from, as the signs were either in Chinese or Portuguese, but I guessed right and hopped on the one with the most people, which went straight to San Ma Lo.
The Food Festival gets larger and larger each year that goes by, and the 2019 edition must have had somewhere between 125 to 150 booths, which is literally three times the size I thought it would be.
Extremely Asian-centric, almost all of the stalls specialized in Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Indian, Thai, Singaporean, and Japanese fare, with scant few Western options in sight, perhaps only some Italian and Portuguese.
Barbecue seafood, meat and fish seemed to be the most popular sellers, although the soup lover in me swooned many times over after having seen so much of it on sale for only $10 a bowl. Indeed the Macau Food Festival was surprisingly cheap and affordable, with the vast majority of choices only $10 to $50, with very little exceeding $100. Going in, I was definitely expecting it to be a lot pricier.
The only negative thing to say about the Food Festival is that it was clearly made for Chinese speakers in mind. There was an appalling lack of English everywhere and I’d say that maybe only 10% to 15% of the booths had English menus. In this type of festival, that could be a big problem, as people might have questions regarding ingredients, allergies, and quite frankly, just what some of the food is.
Plus there might be concerns about how to cook it, how much seasoning to add, how spicy you want it etc that could really put Westerners and other non-Chinese people in a bind. To experience the best that the Macau Food Festival has to offer, it’s definitely best to go with a Chinese friend who can help you translate, which is maybe one reason why I saw exactly 0 white people there.
Even though the 2019 Macau Food Festival will be long over when you read this, the machinations are the same each year and I hope this review gives you a sense of what to expect if you visit. Paying used to be a lot more complicated in previous years, requiring purchase of a prepaid card, but now you can just do business with the booths one on one, with most accepting cash, credit card, Ali Pay, Macau Pass and probably even WeChat too.
Hours are from 5:00 pm to 11:00 pm Monday to Thursday and from 3:00 pm to 12:00 am from Friday to Sunday. Peak times like weekend evenings can get very crowded, so it’s best to go sometime during the week.
Before we finish, here are a few more of my favorite pictures from the 2019 Macau Food Festival.