5 reasons Macao should be on your Far East itinerary

09 Sep 2018

With its fascinating blend of Portuguese and Chinese cultures, glittering skyline and close proximity to Hong Kong (a 1-hour ferry ride away), it's easy to see why Macao is such a popular stopover on Far East and Australia itineraries. With plenty to uncover -- think delicious fusion food, colourful festivals and bustling markets brimming with trinkets -- make sure you set aside at least 2-3 nights to see all this eclectic destination has to offer.

Here are our top five reasons to visit Macao:

1. It has a unique heritage...

Packed with Baroque churches, imposing fortresses, elegant plazas and Taoist temples,  the distinctive Historic Centre of Macao has been crowned a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Highlights include the pastel-hued buildings and mosaic tiles of Senado Square, the A-Ma Temple -- the oldest surviving structure in Macao -- and the Ruins of St Paul's, a 17th-century complex where only the granite facade of the church now stands.

2. There are plenty of diverse dishes to tuck into...

Where else in the world would you find dim sum, pasteis de nata, samosas and African chicken all on one menu? Like its architecture and fascinating culture, Macao's cuisine is a fusion of influences, including Portuguese and Chinese dishes, alongside the local Macanese favourites, which are also inspired by flavours from Africa, India, Malaysia and South America. From Taipa Village's Rua do Cunha's (known locally as 'Food Street') pork chop buns and curried fish balls to one of the destination's 18 Michelin-starred restaurants, all budgets and tastes are covered, so it's no surprise that this foodie destination was designated a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy in 2017.

3. It's a hub of entertainment...

Macao bursts into life at night. See a show, such as spectacular "The House of Dancing Water", explore the buzzing bar scene or take in one of the glamorous casinos. By day, there's also plenty to keep you occupied -- visit the Macao Giant Panda Pavilion to meet Kai Kai and Xin Xin and their twin cubs, or a museum -- many have free admission. Shoppers are spoilt for choice, too, from high-end brands in glitzy malls to local markets. You can even end your splurge at one of Macao's top spas for an indulgent treat.

4. There's a full calendar of events...

Embrace Macao's traditions and culture during Chinese New Year (January/February), with 10 days of celebrations, beating drums and dancing dragons,  or the Macao International Dragon Boat Races (May/June). Also look out for the Macau Grand Prix (November) -- a demanding street circuit for cars and motorbikes -- and Macao Light Festival (December), when the destination's streets are illuminated by a dazzling spectacle of light and colour. 

5. You'll find action around every corner...

Pack some comfortable shoes and get ready to see the sights on foot. Take to the streets and uncover Macao's hidden gems on one of the heritage trails, or head to the southern islands of Taipa and Coloane to soak up lush greenery and picturesque views. The 338-metre-tall Macau Tower is also an excellent stop for adrenaline junkies -- you have a choice from a number of daredevil activities, such as the nail-biting Tower Climb up the mast's exterior, a bungee platform (one of the tallest in the world) and the pulse-racing Skywalk around the rim.

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