A fascinating blend of East and West located on China’s south coast, Macau boasts a rich and varied history as the first and the last European settlement in China. Featuring a mix of Portuguese and Chinese architecture, world class hotels and great entertainment plus a range of fantastic food and peaceful countryside, Macau blends the best of its past with new and exciting attractions, making it one of Asia’s most fascinating destinations.
The Historic Centre of Macau is one of the destination’s greatest tourism assets. Reflecting Macau’s unique Portuguese and Chinese history, this UNESCO World Heritage Site comprises over 20 buildings, squares and monuments of both Portuguese and Chinese origin, including temples, churches, a theatre, fortress and even a lighthouse, all linked by a maze of streets, alleys and picturesque piazzas. Here, visitors will find Taoist Temples from the Ming dynasty, 17th century fortresses, baroque churches from the 18th century, traditional Chinese homes and courtyards and colonial palaces, all within a short distance of each other.
Visitors can escape the buzz of the city and retreat to a greener, more relaxed part of Macau, skirted with sandy beaches. Here, walking, golf, fishing, horse-riding, watersports and swimming can all be enjoyed in the peace and tranquillity afforded by Taipa and Coloane.
How to Get there
Although Macau has its own international airport with links to the likes of Bangkok, Singapore, Shanghai, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, Osaka, Beijing and Sydney, most UK visitors arrive courtesy of flights to Hong Kong and a 45-minute ferry ride, arriving at the peninsula’s eastern waterfront. Macau can also be reached by a 15-minute helicopter ride from Hong Kong or by road from mainland China.
How to Get Around
Macau has an efficient bus service in the city and on the islands, with fares from as little as MOP$2.50. Macau also has plenty of taxis, all of which charge very reasonable fares. Car hire is also available for visitors over 21 with a valid passport who have held an international drivers licence for over 2 years.
Where to Stay
Macau boasts a highly impressive accommodation portfolio. Since the beginning of 2007, The Grand Lisboa, The Venetian, The Altira, the MGM Grand, Sofitel Ponte 16, The Four Seasons and the City of Dreams (comprising The Grand Hyatt, Hard Rock Hotel and Crown Towers) have all joined the list of big name properties in Macau. But Macau is not just about top-end hotels, there’s also a good selection of mid-market options, as well as Portuguese-style inns and budget guest houses to be found, making a stay in Macau affordable for all.
Food and drink are an integral part of Macanese culture and its diversity is reflected in the cuisine. From cafes and bars to fine dining restaurants in five-star hotels, visitors will find Macanese cuisine of the highest-quality, taking its influences from Portugal, China, South America, Africa and India. A variety of flavours have been absorbed into the culture to create a unique Macanese fusion. Speciality dishes include African chicken and, local favourite, “pasteis de nata” - Portuguese egg tarts.
This fusion of cultures means that Chinese favourites such as Peking duck and Dim Sum are as commonly seen on menus as Mediterranean ingredients such as sardines, chorizo and olives. Good Portuguese wines are also widely available. Macau has a wide selection of international restaurants to choose from, including the revolving restaurant of the Macau Tower, one of the world’s tallest buildings!
Shopping opportunities range from bustling markets to glitzy designer malls and Macau has a wealth of clothing, jewellery, textiles and electronic goods, often cheaper than can be purchased in Europe. There’s also a fantastic range of local speciality goods such as antiques, art, furniture, cashmere, silk, porcelain, and traditional Chinese teas and medicines.
The Red Market, built in the 1930s, is one of Macau’s busiest markets, specialising in fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, condiments, sauces and household wares. Those seeking out designer labels, however, should head towards the glistening malls of luxury hotels such as the Four Seasons, Wynn and, the newly opened integrated resort, City of Dreams – which feature brands such as Bulgari, Chanel, Dior, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Prada and Rolex – or the Venetian, whose ‘Grand Canal Shoppes’ mall is home to over 350 shops, complete with ‘Streetmosphere’ performers to entertain shoppers.
Few destinations in Asia can beat Macau for sheer entertainment value. Once the sun goes down, there are an abundance of restaurant options, bars and nightclubs available for those wishing to dance ‘til dawn. Plus some outstanding shows, including Cirque du Soleil’s ‘Zaia’ at The Venetian and ‘Dragone’ which is brand new for 2010 at the City of Dreams.
The Cultural Centre, which is home to the Art Museum and the annual Macau Arts Festival, operates a regular programme of music, opera, theatre and dance productions throughout the year. A good selection of pubs and bars on the Avenida Sun Yat Sen offer views across the Outer Harbour and Pearl River Delta and live music. Alternatively, visitors can take a trip to the bustling night market on Estrada do Repouso.
Those visiting during one of Macau’s numerous annual festivals can look forward to catching a live musical or theatrical performance, many of which are free to attend and take place in public parks and squares across Macau. Annual events include Chinese New Year, Senhor dos Passos, Macau Arts Festival, Macau International Dragon Boat Festival, Macau International Fireworks Display Contest, Macau International Music Festival, The Macau Grand Prix, Macau Food Festival and the Lusofonia Festival.
Location: a special administrative region of China, Macau lies on the western side of the Pearl River Delta on China’s south coast. Hong Kong is 60km to the east.
Time Zone: GMT +8 hours
Language: Cantonese and Portuguese are the official languages of Macau, though English is widely spoken in the tourism industry.
Area: Macau comprises a peninsula and two islands, linked by a number of road bridges. The total area is 29km².
Electricity: 220v and three pin plugs (UK compatible)
Telephone code: +853
Currency: The Macanese Pataca (MOP) is the local currency but the Hong Kong dollar is widely accepted and has almost exactly the same value.
Passport/visa requirements: UK passport holders don’t need a visa for stays in Macau of up to six months. However, travellers should check prior to travel in case of changes.
Flight time: Approximately 12 hours into Hong Kong, then a 45-minute ferry ride.
For further information contact: Macau Government Tourist Office, UK & Ireland Representative, Tel: 020-8334 8328 or email firstname.lastname@example.org