Top 10 Things to Do in Macau

Macau has long been known as a gambling destination, but that doesn’t mean you have to spend all your time at the tables.  There’s a whole other world waiting for you outside the casino doors, one shaped by both the rich history of the city, AKA the ‘Outpost of all Europe in China’ as Austin Coates wrote, and the modern dynamic of a city flush with unprecedented gambling revenue in the midst of rapid change.

In other words, if the only time you leave the Lisboa is to do more gambling at the Grand Lisboa, then you’re missing out on one of the most unique and unforgettable cities in Asia.

A must read for anyone planning to visit, here are the Top 10 Things to Do in Macau!

1. WALK!

Macau is a walker’s paradise.  With the lion’s share of the city’s top sites centrally located, there’s no better way to see them all than by foot.  Getting around is a breeze too, since street signage is excellent and maps are available free of charge from any Government Tourist office.

walk on Avenida de Republica Macau

The area between A Ma Temple and Camoes Park should be your first port of call.  An absolute joy to walk through, it’s full of baroque churches, Taoist temples, pristine squares and hilltop fortresses.  Getting around on foot will also allow you to experience Macau’s seamless blend of Portuguese Chinese fusion style architecture, tiled streets, and beautiful garden areas.  Cars and buses, taxis and scooters?  Forget about them in Macau!  Walk, walk, walk!

St. Lazarus Quarter Macau
St. Lazarus Quarter

Other great walking areas include: the Praia Grande and Avenue de Republica, the St. Lazarus Quarter, the area around Mong Ha Hill, Taipa VillageColoane Village, and in parks, like Lou Lim Ieoc GardenLuis de Camoes Garden, and Guia Hill.

2. EAT!

One thing’s for certain, you won’t go hungry in Macau.  For starters, the city has the unique distinction of producing three different types of local cuisine: PortugueseCantonese, and Macanese food, with each style stupendous in its own right. 

what to eat in macau, roasted pigeon at Tim's Kitchen
Roasted Pigeon at Tim’s Kitchen

And with the gambling industry contributing all those mammoth 5 star luxury hotel complexes, the city is now a first class dining destination, home to high end international cuisine and some of the world’s most highly acclaimed restaurants.

what to eat in Macau, eat garlic shrimp at O Manuel
Garlic Shrimp at O Manuel

To top it all off, Macau’s also does unforgettable local snacks.  Bakeries abound in the city’s heavy tourist zones peddling all manners of meat jerky, egg tarts, almond cookies and peanut candies, devilishly delicious treats that will have you coming back for more and more.

Macau local snacks, Koi Kei bakery
Koi Kei Bakery

The bottom line?  Leave the diet at home and loosen the belt straps in Macau – let it all come out!

3. INDULGE!

Your vacation is your time so why not spend it taking care of number one?  Macau’s 5 star hotels are home to amazing spas that exist for three reasons – to please, pamper and serve.  Whether it’s a massage, facial, body scrub or wax, Macau’s highly trained spa professionals will reduce your stress and leave you refreshed, recharged and rejuvenated.  As an added bonus, some spas also offer package options for couples, so you and your significant other can mix relaxation with romance, the ultimate combination!

Wynn Palace spa hallway
Wynn Palace Spa

Indulging in Macau for other people (especially me!) also means something else – the chance to sample and savour excellent Portuguese wine.  Every bit as good as their more famous French and Italian counterparts, Portuguese wine is the drink of choice in Macau, prominent in many of the city’s bars and restaurants.  Long famous for Ports, Portugal these days is producing stunning reds (Thank you Douro boys!) and very underrated whites that suit all palates and tastes.  For more in-depth info, just check out our Portuguese Wine Guide found here: Portuguese Wine Guide

Asia's best wine bar, MacauSoul
MacauSoul

And when indulging in Portugal’s greatest export do it at the place I consider to be Macau’s 26th UNESCO World Heritage site – the stellar MacauSoul.  Just look at that picture.  If that’s not the pinnacle of life, then I don’t know what is.

4. GO TO TAIPA VILLAGE!

Truly a step back in time, Taipa Village is a can’t miss for anyone visiting Macau.  Start on the eastern side, at Sam Po Temple, before following the signs to Our Lady of Carmel Church and Taipa Houses Museum.

what to do in Taipa Village, visit Sam Po Temple
Sam Po Temple

Make your way to Rua de Cunha next, the acclaimed food street, to try a wide array of local snacks, a glorious and guiltless endeavor, since all the samples are free! 

Rua do Cunha, the Taipa Village food street
Rua do Cunha

From there, wander aimlessly through the rest of the Village, and get lost among the red, green and yellow buildings that belong to another century.  Make sure to finish your tour on the west end, with the two big temples, as well as the nice tree lined road that leads out to Galaxy.

Taipa Village red building
Taipa Village

Taipa Village is also home to two excellent Portuguese restaurants: A Petisqueira and Antonio.

5. SPEND A DAY IN COLOANE!

Rent bicycles in Taipa Village then cycle past the Venetian towards Coloane.  Stop off first at Saec Pai Van Park to see the pandas then continue towards A Ma Cultural Village.  Don’t worry about having to climb to the top because there’s a free bus that will take you up and down.

A Ma Cultural Village
A Ma Cultural Village

After A Ma Cultural Village, continue cycling until you hit Coloane Village.  Stop for lunch at Espaco Lisboa or Nga Tim and then have a nice stroll through the village, before continuing your journey towards the Cheok Van and Hac Sa beaches.

Our Lady of Sorrows Church in Coloane
Our Lady of Sorrows

After a quick dip at Hac Sa, take it to the limit and cycle all the way to the end of the island – where few tourists dare to tread – the super remote and very austere church, Our Lady of Sorrows.

6. SEE A SHOW!

The Cotai Strip is home to all of Macau’s best entertainment. The House of Dancing Water has been packing audiences since first opening in 2010, while international star power shuffles in and out of the Cotai Arena at the Venetian on a regular basis. 

When it’s time to club, Showhouse at Studio City burns the city down every Friday and Saturday night, while Galaxy brings 1930’s Shanghai back to life in one of the hippest lounges in Asia, the ultrachic China Rouge.

male dancer at Showhouse Macau
Showhouse Macau

On the flip side, if creative endeavors are more your thing, then you’ve got a friend for life in the Macau government.  Every month they stage and promote a wide range of cultural shows and exhibitions, most of them free of charge.  You name it and Macau does it: Chinese opera, poetry sessions, traditional dance, film screenings, art exhibitions etc. 

For information just head to any tourist office and pick up the free “What’s On” newsletter for a schedule of upcoming events.  Alternatively you can also check online here: What’s On

7. SHOP!

We admit that Macau is no Hong Kong, but then again where is?  If you want it, Macau will still have it, and at prices much lower than other cities in the region.  The mega hotels are full of upmarket boutiques selling all the high end fashion, clothes and beauty accessories you’ll ever need, while downtown Macau deals in all kinds of electronics, jewellery, porcelain and antiques.

Gucci store, One Central Mall Macau
One Central Mall

When the shopping bug hits, scratch that itch in Macau!

8. VISIT THE RELIGIOUS SITES!

The early Portuguese who developed Macau may be long gone, but their spirit, passion and faith still remain, preserved in the bricks and bells of the beautiful grand churches that grace the Historic Quarter.  Building a city from scratch on the other side of an Empire was no excuse to build it badly, and the Portuguese certainly did not, as the best of their churches clearly attest; in particular, St. Dominic’sSt. Lawrence, and St. Joseph’s.

St. Joseph's Church outside
St. Joseph’s Church

And while most visitors are drawn to Macau’s churches first, the city’s temples shouldn’t be ignored.  There are a number of excellent ones, with A Ma TempleLin Fung TempleKun Iam Temple and Pou Tai Un Monastery exceptional examples.

things to do in Macau, visit Lin Fing Temple
Lin Fung Temple (Temple of Lotus)

Of course the most ironic thing is that even though most of Macau’s religious sites are very old, they’ve been excellently maintained, save of course for the most famous church in the city, St. Paul’s, which burned down 180 years ago!

9. VISIT THE MUSEUMS!

There’s a great line from a Macau tourist brochure that goes something like this: “Macau is such a living museum that it hardly needs to build them, but it does and the results are extraordinary.”  Indeed! 

Grand Prix Museum Macau
Grand Prix Museum

Macau’s 27 museums highlight every facet of the city’s unique colourful history.  From opium pipes to fishing boats, Grand Prix racers to Taipa houses, it’s an eclectic journey through over 450 years of East-West cultural mixing and mishmash, all for $15 or less.

puppets at Macau Museum
Macau Museum

Top museums include Macau Museum, the Art Museum, the Maritime Museum, and the Grand Prix Museum.

10. STAY IN A PORTUGUESE POUSADA!

Okay okay, we know that Macau’s new 5 star hotels like the WynnFour SeasonsRitz-Carlton etc leave little to be desired.  In terms of comfort, service, and modern amenities, they’re second to none and visitors are pretty much assured a great stay and wonderful experience.

where to stay in Macau, Pousada de Coloane
Pousada de Coloane

However, nothing about them screams Macau, which is why we recommend trying a Portuguese Pousada (aka “Inn”) instead.  Smaller, more intimate and decked out in true Mediterranean style, Pousadas offer a more authentic Macau experience at half the price of the city’s five star hotels.  As an added bonus, breakfast is often free.

Pousada de Mong Ha breakfast
Pousada de Mong Ha

There are two Pousadas we’d like to recommend: Pousada de Mong Ha and Pousada de Coloane.  And while not a Pousada in name, the Lisboa is another hotel with distinct Macau style and characteristics that’s worth checking out. 

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For 10 Top Macau Travel Tips, just follow the link below!

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