You have to let your mind wander and feet guide the way to immerse yourself in this modern city with a unique old-world charm, a rich heritage of Chinese and Portuguese culture and wonderful blend of 2 amazing cuisines. There is a reason why MACAO is referred to as the City of Duality.
Enchanted by its flair, when I traveled to Macao for the very first time in 2014 on work, quite unbelievable as you may think so, I did not visit a single casino instead I visited portuguese colonies, museums, gardens, watched themed based shows, shopped at senado square, ate afrikan chicken and relished the famous egg tarts of Macao. I was totally spellbounded by the grandness, the energy and the bling of Macao. This place is packed with splendid secrets and what surprised me most was that beyond all the glitter and gold of the casinos there is this beautiful quaint culturally rewarding city. Thanks to the opulence and grandeur all over, the city enthuses a lot to a keen observer. What most people don’t know is that this lovely island, 1.5 hours away from Hong Kong via a ferry ride has so much more to offer and can easily compel you enough to fall in love with.
I delved into Macao’s layers and found some of my most enjoyable experiences here –
1) Taipa House Museum, Festival of ‘Fairytale of Lights’ & the Macao Museum
Taipa house Museum is like a fairy tale – so green, quiet and serene. These are 5 pale-green colonial houses with Macanese and Portuguese architecture. The Museum focuses on the history from the early civilizations that existed in Macao. Its best to go and observe the architecture of the houses and enjoy the green quite atmosphere. To compliment the beauty of the place, ‘Macao Government Tourism Office’ aiming to foster smart tourism development regularly promotes festivals across the year in Macao. In February this year they hosted a beautiful festival called the “Fairytale of Lights” on valentines day with the 3D mapping show which was a visual treat to watch for everyone at Taipa Museum.
Macao Museum is another must visit when in Macao.It is located on the hill of the Fortaleza do Monte, a 16th-century fort in Macao. Its full of strong Portuguese history. Its incredible to watch the beautiful designed portuguese homes here presented for display in the museum.
2) The alluring view from “Sky 21”
You will be lost in a real life dream here. One of my favorites in Macao “Sky 21” is located at AIA Tower, Macao Peninsula. This is a 20,000 square feet bar and restaurant serving pan Asian cuisine. It offers a breathtaking view of Macao tower and the ocean. If you want to spend your time outdoors in the evening and go out for a drink with friends then this is one of the best places to be. I would recommend going in the evening as the night view looks incredible as you can see below –
Some more places which you could consider for the evenings are Club Cubic at City of Dreams, Pasha in Studio City at Cotai Strip and Lion’s Bar at MGM Macao. All of them are buzzing and fairly crowded.
3) A walk along the ‘Nam Van Lake’ towards ‘Senado Square‘
A walk in the dazzling city is a memorable and a wonderful experience. I have always enjoyed walking from MGM hotel towards the serene Nam Vam Lake from where the view of Macao tower and the city is just mesmerizing.While strolling you will notice that on one side is the view of the changing landscape of the city and on the other side are the best of ultra uber shopping brands that Macao boasts of. I can continue to wax about the pristine beauty and lovely landscape but you would know it better if you sit at the lakeside gazing into the stary sky to find your moment of serenity.
In about 10 minutes you can reach the beautiful performance lake area of the Wynn hotel where you can watch the free show which is outstanding. From Grand Lisboa which is just opposite Wynn hotel, Senado Square is another 10 minutes leisurely walk. Senado Square is a UNESCO heritage property covering an area of 3700 square meters and is centrally located in Macao. The building in this area boast of beautiful and elegant Portuguese architecture and the snake kind cobbled stone pathway gives it a strong European feel.This place is perfect for fashion shopping, buying souvenirs, eating at the road stalls and watching the locales go about their daily lives. 3 things that i always do at Senado are- eat the yummy egg tarts, sit at the center of the square to feel like a local and visit the korean cosmetic store “Natures Republic” famous for their natural gels and oils 🙂
4) Lou Lim Lok Garden
Lou Lim Lok garden is a lovely Chinese Garden with beautiful small bridges and water ponds having fishes, turtles and toads. Its peaceful and refreshing. You witness lots of people performing “Tai Chi” (slow body movements, meditation and breathing exercises) and playing cards here. The place offers a relaxing and a pleasant environment. Its got a beautiful relationship with nature and is located at Luolilao Street in Macao.
5) The 3D Museum at Ponte 16 is one of the most creative museums that i have seen.Approximately 18,000 square feet, this museum has over 100 photography points in seven theme zones, offering visitors a chance to pose for interesting photos with the various exhibits and 3D paintings. What I loved about the museum was the variety of 3D paintings and an opportunity for every visitor to play director of their own photos. Very creative and lots of fun situated at Sofitel Ponte 16.
6) Eat Afrikan Chicken and Egg Tarts
When in Macao, you have to try the almond cookies from ‘Kai Kai Bakery’ (which is available everywhere in town) and the famous egg tarts from ‘Lord Stow’ which serves as a perfect snack. Apart from this if you enjoy non veg then Afrikan Chicken is a fantastic Portuguese delicacy available at lots of restaurants. The chicken is well cooked with lots of mind blowing flavors.This is a fusion specialty of Portuguese and Chinese cuisine. 2 outstanding stand alone restaurants that i can recommend for Portuguese food is Antonio’s & A lorcha.
To truly experience Macao, I feel one has to see both sides of the city – The Macao Peninsula which has a Portuguese and colonial charm and the Cotai Strip which offers glamour, glitz, luxury and opulence to take your breath away.
I must appreciate the efforts of “The Macao Government Tourism Office“ which is dedicated to making Macao shine with its extraordinary elements including history, culture, leisure and entertainment, fostering the sustainable and diversified development of local tourism as it goes toward the direction of building the city into a World Centre of Tourism and Leisure.
Facebook India Page – Macao Moments
Few facts –
How to reach Macao: Fly to Hongkong (jet airways or cathay fly from India) which takes about 5.5 hours. The ferry terminal is situated within the Hongkong Airport. Board the train from within the airport which will take you directly to the ferry terminal. (Do not cross immigration and step out in the city). Board the ferry which will drop you in Macao in about 1 and a half hours time.
Currency of Macao: The currency is MOP (Macanese Pataca) however HKD (Hongkong Dollar is also easily accepted everywhere in Macao. 1 INR = 8 MOP approx.
Ferry Ticket Booking: Turbojet (http://www.turbojet.com.hk/en/) or Cotai ferry terminal.
Properties to stay: The Venetian, Galaxy Resort, Studio City, The Hard Rock, City of Dreams & St. Regis are some of the amazing luxurious properties on the Cotai Strip while Sofitel Ponte 16, MGM & Wynn are amongst some of the beautiful properties to stay in at Macao Peninsula.