Between 1557 until the 1999 handover, Macau was a Portuguese enclave. Now a Special Administrative Region of China, this tiny territory is just 65km from Hong Kong and has easily apparent Portuguese atmosphere with pavement cafes, Portuguese street names and public squares with pastel coloured buildings. It is popular locally for gambling with a number of casinos, but there is also a rich history and a legendary food scene including the local Macanese fusion cuisine.
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Top things to do in Macau
A journey around Macau
3 Nights from £795
Just 65km from Hong Kong, Macau has a unique Portuguese-Chinese heritage and is one of the Far East's most exciting destinations. Highlights include the Unesco-listed Historic Centre of Macao, the 338-metre-high Macau Tower, vibrant nightlife and world-class shopping. Macau's cuisine is legendary, from the city's 18 Michelin-starred restaurants to the local Macanese fusion cuisine and cafes and bakeries.
Day 1: Macau
Arrive in Macau and transfer to the luxury Sofitel Macau at Ponte 16 for a 3-night stay. (B)
Day 2: Macau
Morning tour of The Historic Centre of Macao, a Unesco world heritage site, including the iconic Ruins of St. Paul's, the ancient A-Ma temple, and elegant Senado Square. (B)
Day 3: Macau
Day at leisure to explore the destination, go shopping or take a day trip to atmospheric Taipa Village, or the rolling hills and coastline of Coloane. (B)
Day 4: Fly to London
Transfer to the ferry terminal for the 1-hour journey by catamaran to Hong Kong airport. Alternatively, take a ferry direct to Hong Kong to explore the destination for a day (a day room can be arranged at the Prince Hotel opposite the ferry terminal). On arrival, transfer to the airport and fly to London. (B)
Discover contemporary Macau
Built in 2001 and reaching 338 metres high, the Macau Tower offers superb views across the Pearl river delta and the city skyline. A Skywalk around the outside of the tower is also available for a more daring view. Macau also has a variety of museums celebrating everything from history to art, while the Macau Science Center offers a range of interactive exhibits and the world's highest resolution 3D planetarium. For evening entertainment, the city has an array of bars, restaurants, glitzy casinos and shows, including the spectacular House of Dancing Water, a breathtaking water-based show at the City of Dreams resort.
Explore Macau's colonial heritage
The Historic Centre of Macao, a Unesco world heritage site, encompasses 30 buildings of Chinese and Portuguese origin, linked by a maze of narrow alleys and plazas. In the heart of the old city is the Ruins of St Paul's, a ruined 17th-century Jesuit church. All that remains today is its magnificent stone facade and grand staircase, which have become a landmark in the city. There’s also the A-Ma Temple, the oldest surviving structure in Macau dedicated to A-Ma (or Mazu), the Chinese goddess of seafarers, and from where the city is thought to take its name. Outside the centre on Penha Hill is the Chapel of Our Lady of Penha, from where there are sweeping views of the Inner Harbour and city below.
Sample the cuisine of Macau
In 2017 Macau became a new member city of Unesco Creative Cities Network in the field of Gastronomy. Macau's multicultural mix is reflected in its exotic dishes and wealth of options, including 18 Michelin-starred restaurants. Along with Portuguese, Chinese and all kinds of international cuisines is the local Macanese food, which combines influences from both China and Portugal as well as South America, Africa and India. Popular dishes include Galinha à Portuguesa (chicken baked with potatoes, onions, egg and saffron and spiced with turmeric), Linguado Macau (fried sole served with green salad), and the celebrated pastel de nata (Portuguese egg custard tarts), available all over Macau but most famously from Lord Stow's Bakery.
The islands of Taipa and Coloane
The island of Coloane is an area of picturesque hills, small villages, valleys and beaches, offering a slower pace and an opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors. Also stroll along the narrow streets and lanes of Taipa village's old district, where you will see many historic buildings that offer a glimpse into the traditional lifestyle of the region. Further south is the Giant Panda Pavilion, which encompasses indoor activity quarters for the pandas, a large outdoor yard and an exhibition area. Here you can view Kai Kai and Xin Xin and their twin cubs born in 2016.
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"Every moment was special, there were so many amazing events - walking along the Great Wall of China, looking down over the rice terraces in Longsheng, seeing the giant pandas in Chengdu, watching the shiplocks do their work on the Yangtze."