East meets West in magical Macao

28 Jun 2016


Macao is one of the Far East's most intriguing destinations - a vibrant East-meets-West blend of Portuguese and Chinese culture that makes a perfect addition to a Far East holiday or stopover en route to Australia.

From dazzling nightlife to World Heritage-listed architecture and a world-class food scene, the destination has plenty to keep you occupied, and its compact size makes it easy to see as much - or as little - as you want.

Macao is around a 1-hour fast ferry crossing from Hong Kong, making it easy to reach. Cathay Pacific flies direct to Hong Kong from London Heathrow or Gatwick, and Manchester.

Here are our top 10 reasons to visit Macao right now:

Explore the “Historic Centre of Macao”

Wandering through the meandering maze of streets that make up Macao’s Historic Centre, you could be forgiven for sensing a distinctly European vibe, and with good reason. The Portuguese arrived here in the 1500s and left a substantial mark on the architecture and the city layout. Expect to see traditional Taoist temples juxtaposed against picturesque piazzas and Baroque churches.

Take in Macao’s nightlife

Macao lights up when the sun goes down! This is a city that knows how to entertain - whether you're looking for world-class shows, glitzy casinos, cool rooftop bars or to strut your stuff with the locals. And with the sparkling skyline as a backdrop, it'll be a night to remember.

Taste of Macao

A renowned destination for foodies, Macao boasts 24 Michelin stars, held by a host of talented chefs. But if fine dining isn't your thing, there will be something to suit your tastes as it's a real melting pot of European and Asian cuisines, including delicious street food. From traditional Chinese dim sum to some of the best Portuguese food outside Portugal, as well as the local Macanese fusion cuisine, no-one ever goes hungry in Macao.

Thrills and spills at the Macao Tower

At 338 metres high, the Macao Tower looms over the city and offers spectacular views across the Pearl River Delta. Take it in slowly at its 360-degree revolving restaurant or pump up the adrenaline with a bungee jump (it's the world's highest commercial jump!), take a skywalk around the tower's edge, or even climb right to the top of the antennae mast.

Acrobatics and dazzling stunts

If you're more of a high-adrenaline spectator, head over to the City of Dreams for the multimillion-dollar "House of Dancing Water" production. It's the brainchild of the man behind many of Cirque du Soleil's shows and features awe-inspiring high dive acrobatics and even somersaulting motorcycles!

Stroll around old Taipa Village

This charming corner of Macao staunchly clings to its historic roots. It's home to the Taipa Houses Museum, a row of five fully-restored residences from the early 1900s, as well as atmospheric streets and alleyways. The area is also a great spot to pick up some snacks - almond cookies and beef jerky are local favourites - or relax in a local restaurant or café.

Golden Reel Ferris Wheel

At the end of last year, Macao became home to the world's first figure-8 Ferris wheel, 23 floors up between the two towers of Studio City. And it's far from regular in all aspects - its 17 cabins are steampunk-themed for a unique aesthetic. The full journey around the figure-8 track takes 15 minutes and you'll get views across the city from 130 metres up.

Relax in Coloane

For a few hours away from the bright lights, there's nowhere more tranquil than Macao's Coloane island. It's a "quiet pocket of colonial architecture" says Rough Guides, with the typical Portuguese Chapel of St Francis Xavier, rolling green hills, small villages and a scenic coastline. The island's two beaches (Cheoc Van and Hác-Sá) are perfect for an afternoon chill.

Macao’s events

Why not tie your trip to Macao in with one of its many events and festivals that are spread out across the year? Highlights include the International Fireworks Display Contest in September and October; the Macao Grand Prix in November and in January or February, the colourful Chinese New Year celebrations.

Discover A-Ma Cultural Village

Macao was named after A-Ma, goddess of the seas - at the A-Ma Cultural Village, the city pays homage to its namesake with a 7-square-kilometre replica of a traditional Qing dynasty palace. "The vibrancy and colour of the details in the bell and drum towers, the tiled roofs, and the carved marble altars are truly awe-inspiring," says Fodor's.

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