If you thought Macao, known as the “Vegas of the East” is just about glitzy casinos, then you’re in for a huge surprise! There’s so much more to Macao than what meets the eye.
Macao has even accomplished a few world records:
- Macao is home to the Guinness World Records’ highest commercial bungy jump from the Macao Tower.
- the world’s largest water show is in Macao called the House of Dancing Water
Can’t wait to #experienceMacao? Hang on, there’s more!! Let’s quickly dive in to my bucket-list of 20 experiences in Macao that I’m dying to do and I’m sure you’d not want to miss too! Thank me later 😉
- Step Back in Time- Explore a unique side of Macao at the Coloane Island (which is located at the Cotai strip away from the flashy Macao mainland), a former Portuguese settlement, which is home to well-preserved historical sites. Spend a lazy afternoon strolling along the cobblestone streets, admiring the pastel Portuguese-style houses and colonial buildings and chilling at quaint cafes. The best being Espaco Lisboa and the famous Lord Stow’s Bakery (don’t miss the egg tart). Another village for the Macao’s East-meets-West flavour is the Taipa Village, which is home to the historic Pak Tai Temple.
- Get Some Vitamin Sea– Macao is rarely associated as a beach destination but visit Hac Sa Beach (that means “Black Sand Bay”) which is Macao’s largest natural beach, and “sea” for yourself. It’s on the southeast side of Coloane Island, a kilometre long and famous for its black sand. The water is relatively clean and suitable for swimming. Don’t forget to make a dinner plan at Fernando’s where you can enjoy traditional Portuguese food. Another lovely beach to visit is the Cheoc Van, which is sometimes referred to as Bamboo Bay. As a stark contrast to Hac Sa, it has golden sand which looks cleaner and more picturesque. Hac Sa and Cheoc Van are just 2.5 km apart, so make sure you check out both.
- Go Hiking- Apart from the Hac Sa beach, Coloane Island is also home to 13 hiking trails. Discover the Island’s lush greenery with the Coloane Hiking Trail (a total length of 4290 metres), and walk to the A-Ma Cultural Village at the very top of the biggest hill. The entire route is rather unexplored by the tourists, thus offering crowd-free paths dotted with small pagoda style rest spots, at the best viewpoints. Also, visit the Seac Pai Van Park which is the starting point for walks along the Seac Pai Van Nature Walk and the Seac Pai Van River Ecological Trail.
- Catch a Dazzling Performance-The House of Dancing Water is the world’s largest water based show which combines water stunts, acrobatics, aerial arts and theatre. The show features 90 international artists, many of which are professional high divers and gymnasts. It is considered an absolute treat for the eyes and a must visit for anyone who enjoys show biz.
- Say Hello to Pandas- Located in Coloane, Macao Giant Panda Pavilion houses two adorable giant pandas, their newborn twins, and even a couple of red pandas. So now you can actually make those cute panda videos that you had been binge watching on YouTube on boring Mondays! Just look at that face!!
- Eat your Heart Out- The world’s first fusion cuisine, dating back 450 years originated in Macao. It is a blend of Cantonese flavours mixed with Portuguese ingredients like olives, and chorizo. You can try some of the signature dishes, such as minchi and African chicken, at Riquexo – an authentic Macanese restaurant run by 102-year-old Aida de Jesus, dubbed “the godmother of Macanese cuisine”, and her daughter Sonia Palmer. Also, don’t forget to eat at the Goa Nights, a cocktail bar & Indian tapas style restaurant for a guaranteed gastronomic pleasure.
- Take a Leap of Faith-Get your adrenaline flowing by leaping from the top of the striking Macao Tower (233m above the ground). This is the world’s highest commercial bungy jump, so it’s a BIG one off anyone’s bucket list! Also try the Skywalk and SkyJump activities, that are slightly less terrifying!
- More Adrenaline Rush-Ride the only figure-eight Ferris wheel in the world: Golden Reel Ferris Wheel and admire the breathtaking views of the city 130 meters up in the air. The big wheel is sandwiched between the two towers of Studio City and there are 17 steampunk-themed cabins, each accommodating up to 10 passengers. This is a part of the Warner Bros. Fun Zone which is packed with all the popular Warner Bros., DC Comics and Hanna-Barbara characters, which makes a fun day not only for kids but adults too.
- Stay in a Mansion- Taste the Macao style Eastern extravagance in an over-the-top mansion for a night or two. The Sofitel Macao at Ponte 16, situated on Macao’s picturesque waterfront has four mansions designed as a fantasy world with its own unique theme. The standout is the ‘MJ Mansion’, which is a dream for every Michael Jacksonfan. The Banyan Tree Macao suites come with a relaxation pool inside the room. Undoubtedly, Macao has become THE place in Asia to indulge in a bit of five-star pampering.
- Go for a Sangria Bath- If staying in a mansion feels too extravagant, booking yourself a spa session to pamper yourself is a must in Macao. Try a few signature treatments that are highly recommended- the Macanese Sangria Ritual at The Spa at Grand Lapa, comprising a body scrub, sangria bath and a massage.
- Take a Cable Car- Stroll around the European-style Flora Garden which is Macao’s largest public park, and ride the cable car to the top of the Guia Hill (the highest point in Macao) to enjoy the panoramic views of the city below.
- Smell the Flowers- The Lou Lim Ieok Garden is the most beautiful garden in Macao with lots of lotus-covered ponds. Another green spaces to have a picnic are Camoes Garden and Grotto, Jardim do Sao Francisco and the Flower City Park. Relaxing in a garden is a sure shot way to unwind after a long day of sight-seeing.
- Cruise on a Traditional Junk- Experience the Macao sunset from a junk boat which were the traditional boats used for fishing and commerce because they were large enough to carry some cargo while at the same time being small enough to navigate the Delta. There are multiple companies offering this opportunity to experience the beautiful view of the skyline at sunset. It is surely a rare experience to see Macao from a totally different perspective.
- Shop till You Drop– The Macao Night Market near the Senado Square is sure to leave you spoilt for choice. Other great options for cheap street shopping are the Rua De S Paulo Area, the Sunday Taipa flea market, Red market and the Cinema Alegria Night Market. Make sure to try the street food and pick up some antiques, furniture, the aromatic authentic Douru or Alantejo wine and jewellery.
- Take a Dive- Get away from the heat and bustle on the surface, and see a side of the world that few people do. A Macao scuba diving trip will take you into sub-tropical waters, which can get as warm as 30 degrees in summer.
- Taste the Tea– Calling out all the Tea Connoisseurs! This is surely going to be the highlight of your Macao trip. The Macao Tea Culture House features tea cultures from not only Macao but also Mainland China and the Western World. Regular exhibitions display both historical and contemporary artworks that relate to the precious brew.
- Museum & Gallery Hopping– A fantastic way to introduce yourself to Macao’s unique history and culture is a trip to its various museums including the Macao Museum, Macao Museum of Art, The Mandarin’s House and the Tap Seac Gallery.
- Cross the Border- Take a trip to Zhuhai, the sleepy seaside town to escape from Macao’s crowds. During the cool months, visit one of the hot spring resorts- Zhuhai Imperial Hot Spring Resort. There are also great hiking trails all over the area including the Hengqin island and even right in the downtown. There are inexpensive hotel options, a wide variety of Chinese restaurants, and a slow laid-back vibe which makes this a rejuvenating weekend option.
- Admire the Beautiful Chinese Temples– Learn more about traditional Chinese beliefs and the city’s historical origin as a fishing village in these unique temples. To name a few- Sam Kai Vui Kun Temple, Na Tcha Temple, Lin Kai Temple, Kun Iam Temple and Pou Tai Un Temple.
- Go Casino Hopping- And of course the Macao’s Casino industry, which has now surpassed even that of Vegas! So there’s no reason why you shouldn’t try your luck here. Best casinos in Macau include The Venetian Macao, City of Dreams, Galaxy, MGM Macau, Wynn Macau, Sands Cotai Central, Casino Lisboa, and City of Dreams. The Venetian Macao is the largest casino in the world with more than 4200 activities. And it is not only for adults. It is open even for the families with children! Even if you aren’t interested in gambling, enjoy some window shopping, hop on a gondola and catch a live music performance. There are free shuttle buses between these casinos, so brace all your lucky charms and get going!