Known as the Las Vegas of Asia, Macau is often viewed as a place brimming with
luxury and magnificence. Yet people ignore its cultural and historical facets
Situated on the western side of the Pearl River estuary bordering Guangdong Province to the north and facing the South China Sea in the east and south, Macau consists of the Macau peninsula and the two offshore islands of Taipa and Coloane. The Macau peninsula is connected to the offshore islands by three splendid bridges, which also connects the different facades of Macau. Macau houses the historical downtown where many cultural sites are gathered such as the ruins of St. Paul’s, the Battery, Rosary Church and more. Tapia Island has experienced rapid development in recent years. Now it is filled with luxury hotels, resorts and entertainment complexes. Coloane Island, on the contrary, remains unchanged as tranquility flows in the air. 400 years of colonization gives Macau a unique charm that perfectly blends the culture of Portugal and China, and is manifested from architecture and food to the daily life of citizens.
History and Culture
Set by Zhuhai City, the Macau peninsula was the first developed area of Macau. At the center of the Macau peninsula is the Historic Centre of Macao, listed as a World Cultural Heritage. It is currently the biggest, oldest and best-preserved building group combining Chinese and Western styles in China. You will find here the most ancient church ruins, a Western style battery, and Western style theater, as well as the first modern lighthouse in China. Once the ancestral house of Zheng Guanying, a famous thinker in the era of modern China, Zheng’s mansion combines a Chinese architecture style with Western decoration elements. It is open for visits without charge. Fortress Hill, with dozens of huge ancient cannons, has been reconstructed into a beautiful garden. Many people come to take a stroll and enjoy panoramic views of Macau. There is also the Senate Square which is always crowded. Gravel forms rows of wavy patterns on the ground. Benches, along with shops, line both sides of the streets.
After enjoying the sights at the Historic Centre of Macao, it’s a good idea to pay a visit to the Garden of Montanha Russa, known by the locals as the most quiet and beautiful place in Macau. The park is built around a hill, so no wonder, you can climb the hill and enjoy the splendid sight from the top.
If you love museums, buy a “Museum Pass”. The price is MOP25 for adults and MOP12 for people under 18 and over 60 years old. The validity is 5 days and with this pass, you can visit the major museums of Macau without any extra charge, including Macau Museum, Art Museum of Macau, Maritime Museum of Macau, Wine Museum of Macau, Grand Prix Museum and Lin Zexu Memorial Hall.
Different from the Macau peninsula, Coloane still remains a quiet fishing village. People say that Coloane boasts 80% of all the color in Macau. It makes sense since all the houses here are colorful, an ideal place to take selfies. The widely known Lord Stow’s Bakery has its flagship store here. Mr. Andrew opened Lord Stow’s Bakery in 1989. He made some adjustment to the classic Portuguese egg tart by reducing the amount of sugar and using British custard filling. As a result, the taste is more mellow and rich. On the east side of Coloane lies Black Sand Beach. The name was given because of the unique color of the sand here. Around the beach, there is a vast plot of pines and Black Sand Park, as well as facilities such as tennis courts, swimming pools and barbecue sites. A good place for families to go.
As night draws close, Taipa Houses-Museum appears even more charming on the public streets of Island Taipa. This residence museum consists of 5 buildings featuring light green outer walls with white lines. The faint light from the street lamps in the evening makes the whole era even more tranquil and cozy. The displays inside the museum includes furniture and interiors that blend Chinese and Portuguese elements, leading visitors back to the time when locally-born Portuguese lived in Macau.
Portuguese Styled Macanese Cuisine
During the 400 years’ colonial rule by Portugal, a characteristic cuisine was developed in Macau which combines Chinese, Portuguese and many other regional elements. It is not only because Macanese had been living with the Portuguese for a long time which brought many Portuguese recipes to Macau, but also thanks to the navigation passion of the Portuguese at the time so that they travelled to many places and brought back spices and food materials from Southeast Asia, India and Africa, which became a key part of Macanese dishes. To list several signature Macau styled Portuguese dishes: Portuguese chicken, Bacalhau pickled cod, Portuguese sausage, Portuguese duck rice, vegetable soup and more. In addition to Portuguese egg tarts, other popular desserts include pork chop buns, Serradura Macau Pudding, algal jelly and more.
Locals go to the street tea houses for authentic Guangdong cuisine. The most delicious desserts are often hidden in obscure small stores at the Historic Centre of Macao. Best international cuisine are presented inside the five-star luxury hotels. And delicate Portuguese-style restaurants can be seen almost everywhere.
The most two famous brands for Portuguese egg tart are Lord Stow’s Bakery and Cafe e Nata Margaret’s. Both have several branches. The first store of the former was opened in Coloane while the first store of the later was opened at Comandante Mata e Oliveira Road in Macau peninsula. Then there is Serradura, or Portuguese sawdust pudding. It’s made by layering crushed tea cookies with sweetened whipping cream. A signature in dessert shops and restaurants alike.
For an authentic Portuguese dinner, popular options are Cozinha Pinocchio and Restaurante Dumbo at Cunha Street, Madeira Portuguese Restaurant inside The Venetian, Chiado Portuguese Restaurant inside The Londoner, and Fernando’s Restaurant near Black Sand Beach. For signature dishes, there is Bacalhau, or dried and salted cod. Shredded cod is blended with mashed potato and onions. The classic cooking ways is to fry, but you can also bake it. There is also Portuguese chicken. It is a Chinese fusion Macanese & Portuguese style chicken dish. It is a mildly spicy and sweet chicken curry with a creamy coconut sauce. The dished can be perfectly enjoyed together with a pork chop bun. As a fishing village in the past, Macau boasts fresh and diverse seafood. Portuguese steamed clams is a well-known dish in Macau today. Fresh clams are cooked with white wine, onions, garlics and lemon juice.
Luxury Resort Complexes in Macau
On the first visit, many people rush to the famous scenic spots while when they come the second time, they wisely choose a resort complex for relaxation and entertainment. Macau features several exceedingly magnificent resort complexes which combine luxury hotels, restaurants, entertainment and shopping in one. Furthermore, each complex has its own character. So you can make your decisions according to your own preferences.
Among the resort complexes, Galaxy Macau shows its advantages in the number and quality of its hotels. The Ritz-Carlton, Banyan Tree, JW Marriot, Galaxy Hotel and Hotel Okura all find their home here, providing guests with not only world-class accommodation and cuisine, but also second-to-none spa experiences.
Relax in unparalleled comfort at the award-winning Banyan Tree Spa and discover a true sanctuary for the senses. Guests have an extensive menu of treatments to choose from, delivered to them by highly attentive professional therapists. Feel all anxiety melt away as a soothing stream of warm oil flows onto your forehead. Imagine how the hot stones will help to give you a smoother flow of Qi and discharge toxins from your body. Unwind in the sensory pleasures of the trickling Rain Shower.
The perfect blend of Chinese and Portuguese architectural elements, as well as ultimate relaxation and privacy await at The Ritz-Carlton Spa Macau, with independent male and female areas. The facilities include vitality pools, steam rooms, ice water fountains, shower rooms and relaxation lounges. Luxurious single therapy rooms are comprised of natural materials, including black wood, oak and onyx. Cherished in Chinese culture for positive benefits to health, love, healing and good fortune, jade stone has been thoughtfully integrated throughout the Spa, from treatment room design to the therapies themselves. The signature treatment Jade Reviver utilizes the natural benefits of jade and powerful essential oils to awaken the senses and brighten the skin. When gently heated or cooled, jade has the ability to ease deep-seated tension and stimulate the flow of Qi enlivening both body and spirit.
If you go to Macau in summer with your children, don’t miss the The Grand Resort Deck at Galaxy Macau. At a sprawling 75,000 square meters, Grand Resort Deck boasts the world’s longest Skytop Aquatic Adventure River Ride at 575 meters and the world’s largest Skytop Wave Pool. Stretch out on the 150m pristine white sand beach or feel the adrenaline rush on the vast assortment of water attractions that include waterslides, geysers, waterfalls and the kids’ aquatic zone. Escape to the unique Asian-themed Skytop Gardens and experience an extraordinary tranquillity, or enjoy alfresco dining with attentive service at poolside restaurants and lounges: Surf Bar, Breeze Café, Pool Bar at JW Marriott and Cabana at Banyan Tree Macau.
City of Dreams
City of Dreams offers thrills in style with an innovative collection of experiences. It is widely praised for its Michelin-starred dining. The three Michelin-starred Chinese restaurant Jade Dragon showcases Cantonese culinary masterpieces created with fresh seasonal ingredients. Awarded two Michelin stars, Alain Ducasse at Morpheus pays homage to the traditions and savoir-faire of French gastronomy. Then ascend to Yí on the 21st-floor Sky Bridge to enjoy a unique blend of regional Chinese cuisine served in tasting menu format. The degustation menu is inspired by the 24 Solar Terms of the Traditional Chinese Calendar, and it changes 12 times a year.
Hotels here include Morpheus, Nuwa, The Countdown Hotel and Grand Hyatt Macau. Far more than just a building, Morpheus is Macau’s newest iconic landmark. Designed by the late architect Dame Zaha Hadid, it’s an unconventionally crafted sculpture: the world’s first high-rise supported by a free-form steel exoskeleton. The focal point is the three breath-taking voids that traverse the center of the hotel, shaping its skyline into two distinct towers, connected by a sky bridge.
Awarded as Spa of The Year by Forbes Travel Guide 2020, Morpheus Spa is a place where nature meets modern science, and ancient therapies are facilitated with the latest wellness technology. Before the treatments, relax in the steam room or Finnish sauna. Take a refreshing dip in the vitality pool. Or surround yourself with the semi-circular body massage jets in hot and cold experience showers. Enjoy deep relaxation with the Morpheus Deep Sleep treatment designed by Subtle Energies. Or rejuvenate your skin with Margy’s Platinum Mask, which aims to slow down collagen depletion and breakdown of elastin.
Housed in Nuwa Hotel, the Nuwa Spa features a very unique spa concept based on energy stones. Therapies are designed within the five-element framework which takes into consideration one’s constitution, the changing of seasons, flow of chi, one’s emotions and more. This understanding, together with the healing art of Ayurveda and reiki, use of energy stones and the finest spa products, will surely offer you an effective and customized spa experience.
Many came to City of Dreams for The House of Dancing Water, the world’s largest water extravaganza housed in a purpose-built theater. The state-of-the-art theater provides the setting for an epic love story and spectacular journey through time, showcasing dazzling costumes, special effects and record breaking acts. The show is temporarily suspended and will reopen with a re-imagined new spectacular.
Then there is also the Kids’ City, which covers 17,000 square feet and offers indoor excitement and outdoor fun for kids of different ages. While the energetic ones can have a blast at the giant futuristic slide “Peak Adventure” or reach new heights in the “Bouncy Space”; those who have a flair for art can give their creativity free rein at “Art Attack” where DIY workshops are held from time to time. Other attractions include the “Arcade Matrix” which offers stimulating virtual experiences; as well as “Magic Wardrobe” and “Dream Theater” where kids can play out their fantasy of becoming a superhero or a fairy princess.
Macau’s biggest integrated resort destination Sands Resorts Macao comprises three theme resort complexes: The Venetian, The Parisian and The Londoner. As the name exactly indicates, you will “travel” to the water lanes of Venice, the Eiffel Tower, and then the historic Victoria Station now in Macau.
Opened in 2007, The Venetian was the first complex of the three. The three floor Shoppes at the Venetian reproduces the sight of Venice. The whole area is wrapped by a big curtain above showcasing blue sky and clouds. Three canals run through Italian styled constructions and authentic gondolas move on the surface. So don’t miss a romantic ride in the gondola where the “sailors” are ready to sing the famous Italian songs. Surrounding the canals are shopping boutiques and restaurants. As the biggest duty-free shopping mall in Macau, you can not only find the top brands but also products for ordinary people with quite reasonable prices and big discounts.
At the Cotai Expo, The Venetian Macao, different events and shows are held now and then from classic Broadway musicals to popular concerts. The latest launch is teamLab SuperNature. It is a “body immersive” museum centered around a group of artworks that aim to explore new perceptions of the world and the continuity between humans and nature. For example, in the theme area “Valley of Flowers and People: Lost, Immersed and Reborn”, the flowers bud, grow, and blossom before their petals begin to wither and eventually fade away. The cycle of growth and decay repeats itself in perpetuity. If a person stays still, the flowers surrounding them grow and bloom more abundantly. If viewers touch or step on the flowers, they shed their petals, wither, and die all at once.
Become part of Paris at the Parisian Macao. The half-sized “Eiffel Tower” in front of the resort is undoubtedly a landmark in Macau. When you enter into the resort, the charm and roman of Paris flows everywhere from the typical French porch, the triumphal arch, to the French styled garden, fountains, pools and labyrinth, and interior walls inspired by the Palais Garnier.
The Parisian Macau is also a paradise for families with children. Qube Kingdom measures over 1,858sqm and includes indoor and outdoor play areas with amazing facilities – climbing nets, slides, carousel, ball pool, gaming consoles and more. A party service for all ages is also available, with various menus and decorations. Then, there is the Aqua World for relaxation and adventure. There are three main areas in the Aqua World – the water play area, gigantic water slide and swimming pools. Lounge chairs and cabanas line the pool.
Enjoy a timeless spa journey at Le SPA’tique. The spa introduces the skincare concept and products of Ling Skincare, created by celebrity New York Facialist Ling Chan, who emphasizes on preventing and treating skin aliments before they arise with proper exfoliation and hydration based on Asian beauty principles. The spa has also worked with one of Asia’s leaders in Aromatherapy creations to develop its own unique range of massage oils designed to calm, invigorate or balance. The vinotherapy products used in the body treatments have been created in France and have a remarkable anti-oxidant, regenerating effect on the skin. In addition to utmost pampering, there are also high-tech options such as Ultrasonic Serum Infusion Facial. Customized to individual’s skin type, the treatment adopts ultrasonic technology and derma plane techniques. A blend of Ling serums is dispersed into tiny droplets to penetrate the skin for lasting results. It is further enhanced with a specialized massage and mask to boost serums and firm the skin.
Explore The Londoner Macao where unique London themed accents can be seen at every turn. The integrated resort, a new version of the former Sands Cotai Central, features two new all-suite hotels – The Londoner Hotel and Londoner court – alongside Conrad Macao, St. Regis Macao and Sheraton Grand Macao.
The Londoner Macao evokes the excitement and charm of the Victorian era, bringing together the very best of the iconic city, from the outer walls inspired by Palace of Westminster and Houses of Parliament, the 96 meter high Elizabeth Tower with the signature clock face, to the Londoner artistic work in the suites, Chesterfield sofa and traditional English afternoon tea. Moreover, The Residence exclusive club features a series of rooms that celebrate British royalty, theatre and art. David Beckham was invited for a cooperation in designing several suites for The Londoner Hotel.
The re-themed and expanded Shoppes at Londoner retail mall incorporates over 150 fashion and lifestyle boutiques and stores, from high street to haute couture. The whole area is inspired by the classic shopping districts in London and consists of four areas – Bond Street, Mayfair, Savile Row and Soho. Exclusive and limited items of multiple brands which were only found in London are now made available in Macau.
The resort also houses several award winning spas. Embrace a journey of Ayurvedic and Asian spa traditions with inimitable modern touches at Bodhi Spa of Conrad Macau. The quality essential oil of Aromatherapy Associates and the marine products of Thalgo give a further healing of body, mind and soul. Iridium Spa of St. Regis Macau offers a timeless spa journey as well. Each spa treatment begins with a welcome ritual. Enjoy the Iridium Spa signature tea as your feet soak in a water bath to ease your stress.