MA­CAU IN 48 HOURS

The for­mer Por­tuguese colony is the Las Ve­gas of the East, but you can bet that's not all the ter­ri­tory of­fers

Oi Vietnam - - Contents - Text by An­drea Walker

MA­CAU, DE­SPITE ITS REL­A­TIVELY

SMALL ge­o­graph­i­cal size, is with­out a doubt one of the most fas­ci­nat­ing places to visit in China. Known as the gam­bling cap­i­tal of Asia, Ma­cau is, af­ter all, home to some of the big­gest and most lav­ish casi­nos in the world. Be­lieve it or not, this buzzing city has over­taken Sin City – Las Ve­gas – as the high­est rev­enue gam­bling des­ti­na­tion in the world in 2008. And even if you play cards, slots and dices, Ma­cau’s casi­nos can still de­light your senses with its glam­orous de­signs, sweet scents and world-class restau­rants.

But, make no mis­take about it – there’s more to Ma­cau than its ritzy gam­bling dens. As the Ori­ent’s old­est Euro­pean set­tle­ment, the city boasts awe­some touches and glimpses of Mediter­ranean Europe with its ma­jes­tic churches, nar­row cob­ble­stone streets and pastel­col­ored colo­nial build­ings. Fur­ther­more, some of the top casi­nos in Ma­cau have breath-snatch­ing repli­cas of some of Europe’s most beloved land­marks, such as the renowned Eif­fel Tower and the Vene­tian la­goon. To top it all off, it has a mouth­wa­ter­ing cui­sine that fuses Chi­nese fla­vors with Por­tuguese in­flu­ences.

Headed to Hong Kong’s won­drous neigh­bor? Look­ing for in­cred­i­ble things to do in Ma­cau in 48 hours or less? We’ve listed some of the best Ma­cau tourist spots and other travel tips, to help you ex­pe­ri­ence this ex­cit­ing Chi­nese hub in a cou­ple of days or less. Whether you’re

a gam­bling junkie or a typ­i­cal sight­seer, you’ll love the tip-offs and sug­ges­tions shared in this Ma­cau travel guide.

Day 1: Ar­rive in Ma­cau early

The city is well connected to other hubs and cities in China. What’s more, get­ting a visa is as easy as ABC for most trav­el­ers. As a mat­ter of fact, it is visafree to for­eign na­tion­als in the Euro­pean Union mem­ber states as well as in other coun­tries, like the United States, Thai­land, Tai­wan, Philip­pines, Sin­ga­pore, and many more.

For the most part, vis­i­tors ar­rive in this Chi­nese hub through its neigh­bor Hong Kong, where there are tons of fer­ries that depart from the Ma­cau Ferry Ter­mi­nal. Con­ve­nient and lovely, this boat ride only takes an hour or less from “Asia’s World City”. Al­ter­na­tively, there are re­gional low­cost car­ri­ers that of­fer flights to Ma­cau In­ter­na­tional Air­port, link­ing the city na­tion­ally and in­ter­na­tion­ally. Tips:

• Make sure to get in the city be­fore 10:30am.

• For the first day, you’ll be spend­ing most of your time on the Ma­cau penin­sula—the part of the city where its main ferry port is nes­tled.

Hit the Ma­cau Wine Mu­seum

A great way to start your trip in Ma­cau on the right foot is to pay a visit to the Ma­cau Wine Mu­seum—one of the city’s most un­der­rated gems. Not only does it fea­ture a show­case of pre­mium wines, but it will also let your learn more about the wine pro­duc­tion’s his­tory as well as the tech­niques for pick­ing the best va­ri­eties. Per­ma­nent ex­hibits aside, there are over a thou­sand vin­tage wine brands that are up for grabs in this mu­seum, too. Of course, a visit here will of­fer you a chance to sam­ple plenty of wines as well. Tips:

• To get there, take bus 32, 10B, 3 or

1A, upon ar­riv­ing at the Ma­cau Ferry Ter­mi­nal. If, how­ever, you’re not car­ry­ing a lot of stuff, you may also take a quick 15-minute walk to the mu­seum.

• Spend at least an hour here.

Eat lunch

Hav­ing a grum­bling stom­ach?

Treat your palate to a wide ar­ray of tasty culi­nary spe­cial­ties, in­clud­ing the Por­tuguese-style chicken ( gal­inha à

por­tuguesa), minchi and crab stir-fried

with curry.

A Dose of His­tory at Monte Fort

Af­ter en­joy­ing a hearty and tasty meal, head to the his­toric Monte Fort and take a walk down mem­ory lane. Drenched in his­tory, the fort not only houses old real-life can­nons, but it also has fan­tas­tic over­look­ing views of the har­bor. Plus, it is home to the well-pre­served Mu­seum of Ma­cau, which houses a med­ley of in­sight­ful displays, in­clud­ing home relics, toys as well as in­for­ma­tion about the city’s old mar­riage cus­toms and his­tory. Tip:

• Spend two hours in this mil­i­tary fort.

Hit the Must-See Sights in Ma­cau

Make your way to the His­toric Cen­ter and get a glimpse of one of the is­land’s

most pho­tographed spots—the ru­ins of Saint Paul’s Church. Af­ter­wards, move your feet to Ma­cau’s his­tor­i­cal cen­ter— Se­nado Square. One of the is­land’s most vis­ited spots, the Se­nado Square daz­zles with col­or­ful colo­nial Vic­to­rian build­ings that will re­mind you of the cities in Europe. Fur­ther­more, it is one of the top spots in the city to get your shop­ping fix, of­fer­ing great finds and amaz­ing bar­gains.

Eat Din­ner at Largo de Se­nado

Largo do Se­nado is a bustling street lined with dozens of bou­tiques, shops, restau­rants and snacks stalls serv­ing treats that will ap­pease your crav­ings. You can eas­ily spend house exploring the area, and eat­ing tasty good­ies. A must-try here is the iconic and lus­cious milk egg tart.

Hit the Co­tai Strip

Not a big fan of gam­bling? Gam­bling junkie or not, the Co­tai Strip is an elec­tric place that you can’t af­ford to miss in Ma­cau. Even if you don’t splurge or gam­ble, you can still have a blast at the Co­tai Strip thanks to the fab­u­lous land­marks and shows of­fered by big ho­tels like the Galaxy Ma­cau, City of Dreams Ma­cau and the newly-opened Parisian. Not to men­tion, it is the lo­ca­tion of the world-renowned Vene­tian Ma­cau, where you can meander the canals as if you were in Italy’s ul­ti­mate ro­man­tic hon­ey­moon des­ti­na­tion—Venice. Tip:

• Buses N3, 26A and 21A run ev­ery 15 min­utes or so from the near corner of Rua Mer­cadores (Almeida Riberio), three blocks from Se­nado Square. The bus ride takes around 40 min­utes, and you may get off at the casino that you want to see first.

Day 2 in Ma­cau

Visit Man­darin’s House

Once you’ve fin­ished your break­fast, swing by Man­darin’s House—the old man­sion of the Qing Dy­nasty’s Zheng Guany­ing. Deemed as one of the most un­der­rated tourist spots in Ma­cau, this fam­ily man­sion has been re­stored won­der­fully, and flaunts a fine mix of Western ar­chi­tec­tural de­signs and tra­di­tional Chi­nese build­ing tech­niques. With over 50 spa­cious rooms, the man­sion is home to a ton of ex­hibits and ar­ti­facts, in­clud­ing cloth­ing from the by­gone era, tablets with manuscripts and an­cient fur­ni­ture. Tip:

• Spend an hour exploring the area.

Pray at A-Ma Tem­ple

From there, take a quick five-minute walk down to the sacred A-Ma Tem­ple. Light a few in­cense sticks, of­fer flow­ers and fresh fruits, and pray for good for­tune and luck.

Drop By Ma­cau Maritime Mu­seum

Take an­other five-minute walk, via Rue se Sao Ti­ago da Barra, and make a stopover at the Ma­cau Maritime Mu­seum. Once there, ad­mire the displays and fea­tures that epit­o­mize the maritime his­tory and cul­ture of Ma­cau. Trust me, it’s one of the best ways to learn more about Chi­nese and Por­tuguese maritime his­tory.

Eat Pork Chop Buns

In main­land China and Hong Kong, you’ll very of­ten find white and sweet buns stuffed with a va­ri­ety of veg­eta­bles and meat. But in Ma­cau, this fla­vor­some treat comes with a twist—it’s formed like a quin­tes­sen­tial sand­wich. In­spired by the Por­tuguese, this unique del­i­cacy is truly a tasty fu­sion of Ori­en­tal fla­vors and Western cus­toms. Stuffed with pip­ing hot chops of pork, Ma­cau’s va­ri­ety comes with crispy and golden bread that adds more fla­vor to this gas­tro­nomic treat.

There are a lot of places in the city to en­joy this Chi­nese treat, but our best bet is the renowned Tai Lei Kok Kei restau­rant in Taipa. To get there, you may hop on bus MT4, from Ma­cau Maritime Mu­seum (travel time is 45 min­utes or less). Then, get off at Avenida Ci­dade Nova, and head in­side the gleam­ing Vene­tian Casino and Ho­tel.

An­other great place to eat in this part of Asia is Rua da Cunha, which has tons of stalls of­fer­ing tasty snacks like peanut can­dies, eggroll bis­cuits, sea­weed wafers and al­mond cakes. As for the lo­ca­tion, it’s just a 15-minute walk north from Avenida Ci­dade Nova.

Ex­plore Taipa

Delve deeper into the his­tory of the is­land with a visit to the Mu­seum of Taipa and Coloane His­tory. A for­mer pub­lic administration build­ing, this small trea­sure trove now houses ar­chae­o­log­i­cal ar­ti­facts from the Colane Is­land ex­ca­va­tions from 1973 to 2006. With a visit to this mu­seum, you’ll get to know a bit more about the is­land in pre­his­toric times, as well as catch in­trigu­ing ex­hibits that de­pict the life and cul­ture in Ma­cau dur­ing the 20th cen­tury.

With the Mu­seum of Taipa and Coloane His­tory in the books, walk a few blocks and drop by the Mu­nic­i­pal Gar­den, also known as Jardim Da Ci­dade Das Flores.

Epit­o­miz­ing a stun­ning clas­sic Chi­nese gar­den, Jardim Da Ci­dade Das Flores is com­plete with lovely bridges, small pavil­ions and a large pond.

Take a Fi­nal Look of Ma­cau from a Bird’s Per­spec­tive

What’s the best way to end a per­fect trip in Ma­cau? As far as I’m con­cerned, there’s no bet­ter way to end your trip on a high note in this Chi­nese des­ti­na­tion than a visit to Guia Light­house. Not only is the place serene, but it also houses a church adorned with el­e­gant vin­tage mu­rals. Fur­ther­more, the sun­sets here are noth­ing short of amaz­ing, mak­ing it an ideal place to visit in Ma­cau for pho­tog­ra­phy con­nois­seurs.

And as one of the high­est points on the is­land, it also of­fers awe-in­spir­ing over­look­ing views of Ma­cau.

Tip: • To get there, make your way back to Mu­seum of Taipa and Coloane His­tory and take bus 25x or 25 (travel time is 35 min­utes).

Co­tai Strip

His­toric Cen­ter

Wine Mu­seum

Clock­wise from top: Ru­ins of St. Paul's, Guia Light­house, Man­darin’s House, A-Ma tem­ple

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