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Travelzoo Experience: Day Trip to Macau

One of the most coveted perks at Travelzoo is the Travelzoo Experience, in which Deal Experts and other employees take advantage of the same travel, entertainment and local deals we publish to our subscribers and report back on their experience.

For non-gamblers like me, a daytrip to Macau is a perfect length of time to take in the former Portuguese colony at the mouth of China’s Pearl River. Hailed as the next Vegas (it’s even surpassed Sin City in yearly gambling revenue), Macau offers a day’s worth of lovingly preserved colonial sites to visit across the tiny Special Administrative Region of China.

High-rollers headed to the futuristic casinos may get to the island by helicopter, but the turbojet hydrofoils departing from Hong Kong are inexpensive and about an hour each way. Most tour groups depart from the ferry terminal, a space jammed with free shuttles to the flourishing downtown casinos, both locally and U.S. owned. But on the outskirts of the city lie modern streets alongside European ruins, historic homes and waterfront stretches worth leaving the casino for.

What to see:

  • One of Macau’s most iconic sights is the stone façade of the 16th-century church of St. Paul. Its often-photographed steps offer a great place to overlook Senado Square, a hub of modern shops and eateries.
  • The Italian-designed monument is also adjacent to the Mount Fortress, a prime place to spot the water as well as the skyline. The museum there tells Macau’s tale and has exhibits on puppetry, opera and local traditions.
  • The A-Ma Temple, built in 1488, draws crowds as thick as the baccarat tables. One of the oldest temples in the area, it’s an important site for Taoists as well as a popular one for tourists. Don’t forget to load up on Portuguese egg tarts sold nearby before getting back on the tour bus.
  • Daredevils (unlike me) flock to the Macau Tower. Its observation deck is now equipped for handrail-free sky walks as well as bungee jumping. On clear days, this is the spot (there’s an inside and outdoor decks) for panoramic views of mainland China, smaller islands and not-so-far-off Hong Kong.
  • If you are going to go into the casino, the Ponte 16 Resort has an unlikely houseguest. Michael Jackson’s rhinestone-encrusted white glove from the “Billie Jean” video is said to pack in the visitors to the entire gallery there dedicated to the late King of Pop. That’s a long ways away from Gary, Indiana.

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Tips by

Deal Expert, Chicago
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
See more Tips from
Hilary Solan