The Big Picture
If an Eiffel Tower, a cathedral and a Roman coliseum are all in sight, you can only be in one place – Macau. As Hong Kong’s neighbouring sister Special Administrative Region just 60 kilometres away, Macau offers a plethora of tourist attractions perfect for a weekend getaway.
When it comes to sightseeing, don’t let the myriad shiny hotels and casinos fool you – Macau isn’t just another Las Vegas! The former Portuguese territory, first seized in 1687, is well known for its colonial charm too. Macau plays host to 12 public gardens, 11 museums and nine religious sites, despite covering only 115.3 square kilometres of land.
Notable attractions include the striking peppermint-green and white Dom Pedro V Theatre, just a five minute walk from the tourist–packed Senado Square. Built in 1858, this Unesco World Heritage Site is one of the first Western-style theatres in the mainland and is still in use today. Admission is free, and visitors are welcome to enter even during concerts. And if you’re lucky, like I was, and ask very politely, the security guard will let you go upstairs to enjoy the performance from the second-floor balcony.
Top Photo Spot
If you’re doing it for #gram, you simply cannot miss a trip to Rua da Felicidade, an old, authentic street that looks like it came straight out of the colonial era. Translated, the name means “Happiness Street”, and once served as the colony’s former red-light district, where young cheongsam-clad girls would sing, dance and recite poetry for guests and passers-by. The quaint, packed alley, with its red-lacquered lattice facades, is a favourite among tourists and even film directors. If you’ve watched Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, you’ll recognise this street as one of the locations in the movie.
However, Rua de Felicidade can be tricky to find (especially in the scorching heat), so bring a map and do a little research beforehand. The destination is worth the journey though, and its discreet location makes it all the more tranquil to stroll through.
Much like its architecture, Macanese cuisine is a fusion of Cantonese and Portuguese. An egg-cellent choice would be the Portuguese egg tart, or the pork floss and seaweed flavoured egg roll, both of which can be found at many local bakery shops. From beef briskets in bamboo baskets to curry chicken and pork buns, most restaurants will be able to offer you an authentic Macanese dining experience.
How to Get There
Travelling to Macau is both easy and affordable as it’s just a hop, skip and a short ferry ride from Hong Kong. Ferries generally depart from Kowloon and Hong Kong Island every half hour. You can choose to arrive at either Macau Taipa Ferry Terminal (on Taipa island) or Macau Outer Harbour Ferry Terminal (on the Macau Peninsula). The journey only takes around an hour and prices range from HK$100-HK$200 for a one-way ticket.