Macau (Macao) is one of the most fascinating destinations on the planet and a true East-meets-West culture due to it being one of the last European colonies in the Far East. In Macau, which is a special administrative region of the People’s Republic of China, ancient traditions live on next to some of the finest examples of Sino-Portuguese architecture and the best that modern culture has to offer. If this is your first trip to Macau, these are some of the sights and experiences that you just can’t miss
The cuisine – The cuisine in Macau is like nothing else on Earth, with a history that goes back to the 1500s when the region was first colonized by Portuguese conquerors. Traditional food in Macau is a delicious blend of southern Chinese and Cantonese recipes using Portuguese ingredients, spices and cooking techniques. Some classic Macanese dishes that should be on your tasting list when you visit are:
- Minchi – a combination of stir-fried potatoes, beef or pork (and sometimes a combination of the two) served with a fried egg and Worcestershire sauce.
- Tacho – a hearty winter stew made from cuts of pork and beef, cabbage, Chinese sausages and Portuguese spices.
- Capella – a baked meat loaf made with black olives and cheese topped with bacon. .
A-Ma Temple – Although it’s not quite the peaceful spiritual sanctuary that it was when it was first built during the 15th century, thanks to the hordes of captivated tourists, the A-Ma Temple is still a must-see for anyone who comes to the region. Dedicated to seafarers and established long before the Portuguese came to town, the temple’s sacred hallways and pavilions are dedicated to a mixture of Eastern beliefs, including Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism. If you want to avoid the crowds, get there as early as you can; the entry is free, but remember to pay your respects by leaving donations in the various boxes that you’ll find throughout the temple..
World’s Highest Bungee Jump – As well as its unique culture and awe-inspiring ruins, Macau is also home to the site of the world’s highest bungee jump! The Macau Tower, standing at 338 meters, is listed in the Guinness Book World Records for being the site of the highest commercial bungee jump. The platform itself is more modest at 233 meters above the ground and is the ultimate in daredevil free falling. The tower, which is the leading convention and entertainment center in the region, also offers tamer Skywalk and SkyJump activities.
Casinos – Macau hasn’t been nicknamed the “Vegas of the East” for nothing; its casinos and gaming palaces are something to behold, and you can do so for free! Each of the big casinos in the region runs a bus shuttle, with stops at major tourist spots and throughout the peninsula (check out Secret Macau for full details). Casino enthusiasts have to visit the Venetian, which is the largest casino in the world, covering 50,000 square meters. Casino gaming in Macau is a significant activity, and the real high-stakes action takes place in restricted areas. But the main floor is open to the public day and night and is quite entertaining to observe as hundreds of mainlanders take their turn at the baccarat tables (the most popular game in the area). If you happen to hit the jackpot at one of the “hungry tigers” (slot machines), don’t forget to tip the casino staff one-tenth of your winnings. Even if casino games aren’t up your street, a visit to the City of Dreams in Cotai is a must for first-time travelers to Macau. You may not be able to join the tables of the super-high rollers at the Asia-Pacific Poker Tour, but you can still enjoy the City of Dreams’ entertainment extravaganzas or pamper yourself in its indulgent spa.
Coloane Trail – A world away from the neon lights extravagant luxury of Macau’s casinos is the Coloane Trail. This 8km long trail found in the most southern part of Macau circles some of the most peaceful areas of this former island. The trail gently winds through some light woodland, offering glimpses now and again at sights like Hac Sa Beach, then gets hillier as the path leads 100m above sea level to the Coloane Peak and its crowning glory — the almost 20-meter high statue of A-Ma, the patron goddess of seafarers. There are slightly less strenuous mini-trails that divert off the main one, and it’s even possible to take a shuttle bus up to the peak if you just want to enjoy the scenery.
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