Thursday, September 13, 2012

Macau 2012 | More than a Mini Las Vegas

When people think of Macau, a city of filled with casinos and gambling comes to mind.  Certainly no help to all the popular Hong Kong drama shows ;p I just {literally, because I landed on Tues night!} came back from Macau and if you thought I was excited before I left, I'm even more excited to tell you that nope, Macau is more than a mini Las Vegas. I didn't even enter a casino once during the entire trip! It is a great family travel destination and fascinating city with unique experiences for all senses. I'll give a brief overview in this post and go into detail on the must-see places and things to eat {look out for a special Macau foodie feature!!} in other posts these few weeks.

Macau is one of the 2 special administrative regions of China. Being a former Portuguese colony, it is an interesting culture of East meets West that's seen through many of its attractions, food and events.

The different traditions that lives in Macau is reflected in its beautiful architecture. Like within a short walking distance you can find Taoists temples, baroque churches, Chinese courtyards and even old colonial palaces! A classic example would be the Historic Centre of Macau. Even up to today, the Historic Centre of Macau {World Heritage Site} shows the continued co-existence of eastern and western cultures and is an integral part of the modern city's life.

Senado Square {Largo de Senado}

One of the many beautiful fountains in the city

Folk dancing outside the Ruins of St Paul {Ruinas de S Paulo}

Chinese Nezha Temple {Templo de Na Tcha}

The Venetian

Night view of the city from Macau Tower

Famous Sai Van Bridge at night
Macau is famous of its traditional cookies and pastries {especially the almond kind}. Not to miss is of course their version of Portuguese egg tarts, or Pastéis de Nata. I love eating these little tarts!!! Soooo yummy! Of course, Portuguese restaurants are widely available, but there's also plenty of Italian, American, Chinese, Japanese etc. cuisine around the city.

Naruto-kun in Macau?!!

Handmade almond biscuits

Portuguese egg tarts

A true taste of Macau would actually be their own unique cuisine that combines elements of Portuguese, Chinese, Indian and even Malay cooking. Known as Macanese cuisine, some popular dishes are Tacho {stew of Chinese vegetable and meat}, Galinha Portuguesa {oven-baked chicken with potatoes, onions, egg and saffron} and Minchi {minced beef with fried potatoes, onions and egg}.

Like Singapore, Macau celebrates many festivals and traditions from its multicultural heritage. The full calendar of events can be found here but while I was there, I managed to see the Macau International Fireworks Display Contest where experts from different countries are invited to compete with spectacles of fireworks set off over Nam Van Lake near Macau Tower. If you thought our NDP fireworks was grand, wait till you see the fireworks here!

Macau International Fireworks Display Contest

Ice World Exhibition at The Venetian

Macau Grand Prix. Have your own race at the Macau Grand Prix Museum!

Butterfly Pavilion season at MGM Macau

Travel tips for Macau
  • Visitors holding Singapore passports do not need visas to enter Macau {within 30 days period}.
  • Chinese and Portuguese are the official languages, but Cantonese and English are widely spoken.
  • Pataca {MOP$} is Macau's official currency. However, it is not widely available in Singapore. Only Budget Terminal's money changer may have it. 
  • You can use Hong Kong dollars {HK$} instead of the Pataca. The exchange rate is roughly 1:1.
  • Get around Macau in taxis or buses. There is no train service yet, but a light rail transit system will be built in the near future.
  • Tiger Airways and Air Macau fly directly to Macau International Airport from Singapore.
  • There are 4 seasons in Macau - Winter {Jan - Mar}, Spring {Apr - Jun}, Summer {Jul - Sep} and Autumn {Oct - Dec}. Typhoons do occur, mainly between Jul - Sep each year.  
Are you keen to travel to Macau too? 
What are you interested to know more about?

Read more on my Macau travels here.

* Disclosure: The Surprising Moments in Macau trip was sponsored by Macau Government Tourist Office, thanks to No monetary compensation was received, and all opinions are my own. All photos taken with Panasonic GF5.



Unknown said...

Never been to Macau! Looks fun but seems more for the adults huh? :p

Ai Sakura said...

Adeline: Actually I think it's fine for kids too {except for the gaming bit of course haha}. There's a lot of culture, food and sightseeing there which is fun for the little ones. And the streets are not as crowded as HK!

Stacy said...

Glad you enjoyed your trip. :) I liked going into casinos. Not to gamble but to look around, enjoy the free shows and free drinks!

~Summer~ said...

Hehe I guess I missed out a lot on Macau the last time I went, which was only a day trip. Love your night scenery pics and the fireworks look awesome, Ai! =) Glad you are back and excited we can finally meet up in Nov!

Madeline Heng said...

Woo I've been to Macau and love the tower! I was 6 weeks pregnant and we sat a ferry from Shenzhen to Macau so u can imagine how I felt! I was nauseous the whole time but thankfully I didn't throw up! Haha. Definitely holds great memories for me cos of that lol

Theresa Mahoney said...

That looks like a beautiful and fun place to visit. I have really been enjoying your Macau pics on Instagram!

Veronica @ Mixed Gems said...

I've never thought of Macau as a travel destination before but you've made it sound so interesting. I especially like the cultural mix. Thanks for such a great review.