Macau, officially known as Macau Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China, is the new gambling resort capital of the world. The former Portuguese colony was a sleepy fishing port until large casino operators from Las Vegas started building casino complexes in 2002. By 2006, Macau has surpassed Las Vegas as the world leader in gambling revenue.
Apart from some of the world's most luxurious hotels and largest casino resorts, Macau also boasts of quite a number of must-see cultural and heritage sites including Colonial buildings, fortresses, temples and churches. Since it is just an hour away from Hong Kong via ferry, it makes a perfect side trip destination from Hong Kong.
HOW TO GET THERE
To get to Macau from Hong Kong, take a ferry from any of the following terminals:
- China Ferry Terminal in Tsim Sha Tsui. It can be accessed via Harbour City Mall, or just take a taxi to 33 Canton Road.
- Hong Kong Macau Ferry Terminal located near the IFC Towers in the Shun Tak Center on Hong Kong Island. It is near the Star Ferry, the IFC Mall, and the Shueng Wan MTR station.
- Sky Pier at the Hong Kong International Airport is available for transiting tourists only.
There are two ferry terminals in Macau so make sure to take the ferry en-route to the part of the island you want to visit. The Macau Maritime Ferry Terminal in the north is closest to San Ma Lo and other cultural sites while Cotai Terminal is in the south, closest to the Cotai Strip where the biggest casinos such as the Venetian and City of Dreams are located.
If you plan to try your luck in the casinos, take any of the free buses lined up at both terminals. Ladies representing their casinos hand out flyers and assist visitors.
Some of the most popular casinos in Macau are Wynn Macau, Grand Lisboa, Venetian Macao, Sands Macao and Galaxy Rio Macau. If you are not into slot machines and gambling, there are a myriad of other things to do in these massive casinos such as eating, shopping, and watching the shows.
For those who prefer a more cultural experience, the Historic Centre of Macau is a must visit. It represents the architectural legacies of the city's cultural heritage, including monuments such as urban squares, streetscapes, churches and temples. It was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005.
Ruins of St. Paul's
The intricately-carved facade of the Church of St. Paul built in the 16th century. Standing on top of a small hill with 68 stone steps leading up to it, the ruins is one of Macau's best known landmarks.
Fortaleza do Monte
The historical military centre of the former Portuguese colony of Macau built in 1627. The fortress houses the Macau Museum, a great place to learn about Macau's history and culture.
A historic town square located in the Historic Centre of Macau. It is an elongated triangular shaped square and connects Largo do São Domingos at one end and Avenida de Almeida Ribeiro on the other. It covers an area of 3,700 square meters. Many buildings surrounding the square feature are European architecture. The square is a popular venue for festival celebrations, flea markets and performances.
Macau Cathedral, also known as the Igreja da Sé, is the current cathedral of the Diocese of Macau. The cathedral is also called the "Church of the Nativity of Our Lady". In the early seventeenth century it was a small wooden chapel, and was elevated to cathedral only in 1623. The first cathedral built in stone, consecrated in 1850 by the then Bishop of Macau, Jerónimo José da Mata, was almost destroyed in a typhoon 24 years later, after having undergone major repairs. In the twentieth century, the cathedral was completely rebuilt in concrete in 1937, costing approximately 100,900 patacas.