Macau is situated about 60 km southwest of Hong Kong (or roughly a one-hour ride by ferry), making Hong Kong an ideal starting point for a day-trip to explore the former Portuguese colony. Although Macau is world-famous for her Casinos, Macau still has lots of sightseeings. Which are:
Section of the Old City Walls
Na Tcha Temple
Ruins of St.Paul’s
Lou Kau Mansion
Holy House of Mercy
“Leal Senado” Building
Sam Kai Vui Kun Temple
Sir Robort Ho Tung Library
(Note: The attractions devided with single line above are attractions very close to each other.)
Insider Tips: Don’t be scared by the list of attractions, except Macau Tower and Fisherman’s Wharf, lots of other attractions are very close to each other. Standing on Senado Square, turning around, you already can see Holy House of Mercy, “Leal Senado” Building and Sam Kai Vui Kun Temple.
Portuguese traders settled in Macau during the 16th century and Macau became the first European colony in China. Interestingly, Macau became the last European colony in China as well. The Portuguese government returned the former colony back to China on December 20th, 1999 (two years after the Hong Kong handover) and the Portuguese rule ended after more than 442 years. Today, Macau (or sometimes also referred to Macao) is the second Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China. Even though, Macau is an integral part of China, Macau maintains its own legal system, monetary system as well as police force and immigration policies.
Similar to Hong Kong, Macau offers a wide variety of fun activities and sightseeing attractions. In recent years, Macau became also known as the Las Vegas of Southeast Asia.
Many high-class casinos opened up in the last years and for all of you who like to gamble, roll the dices or just like to try your luck at the slot-machines…this is the place to be. But there is a lot more to discover besides the casinos, black-jack tables and slot machines due to Macau’s long history of European settlements. And we highly recommend you to take some time and explore the city center. Macau is very small and most of the historic sites are located in the downtown area and can easily be accessed by foot. Furthermore, make sure to try some of Macau’s specialty foods such e.g. the Portuguese egg tarts, African Chicken or the Portuguese fried rice with duck.
Recommended Full Day Tour
When you arrive in Macau make sure to stop by the Visitor Center in the Ferry Terminal and grab a visitor map. In addition, there are some currency exchange counters if you need to exchange some money and some vending machines if you need to buy a local sim-card for your cell-phone.
If you arrive on Hong Kong Macau Ferry Terminal, you can consider to take a look of Fisherman’s Wharf first which is quite close to the ferry terminal and just a 10-15 minutes walk (see map). The Fisherman’s Wharf is somehow a little bit like Las Vegas combining different styles of the world mixed with entertainment facilities and dining opportunities. You have a chance to take a look at typical Chinese temples; Roman inspired shops, stores and amphitheaters, Venice style houses and restaurants, Portuguese restaurants and architecture as well as small African village or Tibet style houses. In recent months this area became a hotspot for freshly wed couples to take their wedding pictures due to the vast variety foreign photo taking opportunities. If you feel hungry take a look at the restaurant named after the famous Luis de Camoes. You can sample typical Macau food (influenced by the Portuguese) such as Portuguese duck rice or charcoaled chicken.
We recommend you to take a cab and ask the driver to take you to the downtown area (just tell him to take you to the “Leal Senado” Building or the Senado Square). That’s the best place to begin the exciting tour of Macau. The Leal Senado is in the centre or heart of Macau and often referred to the “Far East headquarters of the fidalgos”. Make sure to walk inside and take a look around in the Leal Senado (Loyal Senate), Macau’s first municipal chamber. You will discover the beautifully tiled halls and courtyards, a contemporary exhibition center and an exquisite wood-paneled library. Besides the library wrought iron gates lead into a very nice and beautiful garden with beautiful flowering plants. Statues of two famous Portuguese writers face each other from two sides of the garden. On the left is Portugal’s most famous poet Luis Vaz de Camões, and the other of João de Deus.
Then just cross the street and follow the crowds walking along the Senado square and enjoy the beautiful and colorful buildings (e.g. the Holy House of Mercy or the old post office) along your way which will lead you all the way to one of Macau’s most famous and iconic sightseeing places: the Ruins of St. Paul. Don’t be surprised that many of the buildings have famous named brand stores, fast food chains or restaurants inside including McDonalds or Starbucks. Make sure to stop at St. Dominic’s Church and take a look inside.
Then follow the beautiful streets of Rua de Sao and then slowly uphill’s onto the Rua da Palha which lead you to the remaining facades of the Ruins of St. Paul’s Church. The remaining parts of St. Paul’s Church are probably the most famous and popular landmark and sightseeing attraction of Macau and is located at the center of the city and is approached by a grand sweep of stairs. Make sure to try some of the typical snacks along your way such as the famous egg tarts, almond cookies (try the Koi Kei Cookie store) or dried beef. And if the sun is burning too much just get a cold blizzard or ice-cream cone from the close by Diary store.
Next to the Ruins of St. Paul’s on your left hand-side is small Chinese temple located. It’s dedicated to worship Na Tcha and the temple is called the Na Tcha Temple. On the right-hand side of Ruins of St. Paul’s is the Mount Fortress located. For all of you who are interested defense structures and cannons may be worth a visit.
For all of you who would like to have a short break you might want to walk a few minutes to the Luis de Camões Garden also known under various names such as Casa Garden or Casa da Horta. Maintained as botanical garden nowadays, this public park is dedicated to Portugal’s most famous poet (Luis de Camões), often referred to as Portugal’s Shakespeare and thought to have lived in Macau in 1557. You will have the chance to encounter old men relaxing, playing checkers, talking with their friends or “walking” their caged birds. If you feel like it you can walk up the hill and discover a bronze statue of the famous one-eyed poet Luis de Camoes hidden in a grotto.
Just next to the Camoes Garden lies the entrance to the Old Protestant Cemetery and the Morrison Chapel. The cemetery was the Macau’s first Protestant want and if you have time you might discover some famous names among the gravestones. The Chapel is dedicated to the famous Robert Morrison. Morrison was the first Protestant missionary to China ever and the first one to translate the Bible into Chinese.
If you still have time and the mood you can head for the Guia Fortress. Best way to get there is by taxi.
For the evening you can think about going into one of the casino’s and try your luck or if you are not into gambling you might want to take a look at the Macau Tower (338m height). We highly recommend you to go up to the observation deck at 223m height. If you arrive before 6pm you have the chance to experience Macau at daytime, sunset and night and have some spectacular views over the city. For all of you who love the adrenaline rush: the Macau Tower offers currently the highest bungee jump of the world with a height 223m. And for all of you who don’t want to do the bungee jump, but still are brave enough, can consider to take a walk at 223m height on the Skywalk X. The Skywalk X is 1.8m wide walkway around the observation deck without handrails and a one-of-a-kind experience.
Even if you are not brave enough to do both above, there are another two attractions you might be interested to experience (no need to go outside and jump off the tower). On the 59th floor of the observation deck, one part of the floor is made of glass. You can feel the thrill of height by simply walking on and looking down through it which might be already scary enough to make your legs shaky.
Walking towards the group of people who are screaming and shouting “jump jump jump” inside the tower and looking for the window with the yellow sticker saying “Falling people”, you will have the chance to admire all the brave and crazy bungee jumpers and experience a crowd applauding, screaming and fascinating following the whole process of preparing and jumping. Sometimes the friendly security guard will go upstairs for the tourists to check how many bungee jumpers left. :P
The Bottomline:If possible try to avoid weekends or holidays. Streets, restaurants and shops can be very crowded (similar to Hong Kong).
The famous attractions of Macau basically are gathered together. Don’t need to worry about getting lost because you easily will find some attractions and your direction if you are in the downtown area.