While living in Jakarta, indonesia, we tried to explore as many close-by places as we could. Neither of us had ever been to Asia before and we were very keen to explore all of the wonderfull cities we had only read about, or seen on tv. We initially planned a trip to Hong Kong only, but after discovering how close Macau is, we immediately included it in our trip. In fact, it is only an hour’s ferry ride from Hong Kong across the Pearl River Delta. You could just do a day trip, but Macau has too much to see and do in a single day.
Also known as the ‘Vegas of China’, Macau boasts world class casinos, malls and hotels on the Cotai strip. We stayed at The Venetian Macau Resort Hotel and they have a free shuttle bus directly from the ferry stop. In fact, most hotels offer this service. The Venetian is huge. Combine the hotel with the mall and casino and you could spend all your time just there. Navigating the Venetian hallways can be a challenge. Modelled after the real Venice in Italy, the mall offers gondola rides and coffee shops, combined with boutiques and brand name shops alike. Our highlight was discovering a bakery famous for it’s Portuguese tarts, called Lord Stowe’s. The flaky pastry, with it’s creamy egg custard filling was on our menu every day for the 3 days that we stayed there! Yes, it was a bit of a binge, but we just could not help ourselves.
We found a famous little Portugese reastaurant, called Antonio’s, a short taxi ride from the hotel, at Taipa Village. Our Christmas lunch consisted of traditional grilled sardines with potatoes and salad and Portuguese Duck Rice (very rich, but delicious!) and we were thrilled to catch a glimpse of Chef Antonio himself, eating his lunch there too!
For almost 300 years Macau was a Portuguese colony and the Portuguese influences can be seen everywhere.
In the old part of Macau, the city’s historic centre has been declared a UNESCO world heritage site. It has a great mix of Chinese and European architecture.
At the Venetian, we organised a tour to Old Macau city center and it is something I would highly recommend. After a pickup from the hotel, the bus took us to a small Budhist temple with a great biscuit and cookie shop nearby. Afterwards, we also stopped at the sky-high Macau Tower, where people were bungee jumping from a platform. We also visited a traditional Portuguese village.
One of the most famous attractions is the Ruins of Saint Paul’s 17th-century façade of a Portuguese church and religious college which was destroyed by fire in 1835.
We had an interesting walk through the streets of Old Macau city center, visited St. Dominic’s Church and Senado Square. A random discovery on google made us seek out a small restaurant called Tai Lei Loi Kei, famous for their pork chop buns – well worth it.
We ended up having a great Christmas in Macau, low key, but busy with lots of great food. For sure next time we’ll make time for the casinos!
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