What to do in two days in Macau
Macau- an introduction
If you want to see famous casinos like The Venetian, The MGM Grand or The Wynn and live in the southern hemisphere, you probably want to head to China.
China?... Yes, China has two special administrative regions, namely Hong Kong & Macau. Macau is also the Vegas of the East and is about 60 kilometres or 37 miles southwest of Hong Kong. One can fly into Hong Kong and then catch a ferry to get to Macau. They also have a Macau International Airport that has mainly connections to mainland China and Taiwan.
Things to do in Macau
Here are some things to do, if you ever happen to plan to go to Macau and just have two days! It is a great place to visit due to its multi cultural influences of Europe and Asia. It was a former colony of Portugal until it was handed over to China in 1999.
- Macau Tower – get a magnificent aerial view of this beautiful peninsula by visiting the Macau Tower. Reminding you of Frasier and Seattle, this tower stands at 338 metres with the observation deck being 223 metres above the ground. They also have a skywalk made of glass although it is covered. It can still make the not so brave hearted feel uncomfortable stepping onto it. And for those who think it not a big deal, try the bungee jump off the tower with folks jumping solo or as a couple from a level above the skywalk! One can spend a decent couple of hours viewing, shopping and catching a bite as well at the Macau Tower.
- Ruins of the St Paul Cathedral – If history and architecture are of more interest to you, then make sure you go see the Sao Paul Cathedral. Well, all it has to display is the front wall of the cathedral since history has seen this place being burnt down back in 1835. Built during the 16th century, this used to be one of the largest catholic churches in Asia, although in terms of design and detail, it will fail to impress most people visiting from Europe. Yet crowds throng to this place and it is a must do photo op. Keep walking down the steps in front of the cathedral and you enter a busy market area with a mix of local as well as branded shops.
- Macau Museum – close to the Cathedral ruins is the Macau Museum. One can easily spend two hours here exploring the history of Macau and understanding the interactions this culture had with the rest of the world. The museum holds a quaint charm since it is housed at the back of a fort. One can explore the museum and come out to the roof top to view the city from here. Typical of a fort, there is also an old canon placed at the top facing the city.
- The Strip of the East – Casinos – This is something you cannot avoid. Gambling tourism is in fact the mainstay of Macau’s economy. Almost 50% of the Gross Domestic Product is attributed to it. They have more than 30 casinos of which The Venetian is the largest and is very similar to the one in Vegas with its false sky and canal rides amidst fancy shopping and eating area. Other famous casinos are The Wynn, Sands Macau, Grand Lisboa, MGM Grand Macau and Galaxy Starworld. In 2007, Macau overtook Las Vegas in terms of gaming revenues.
- Beach – Macau has a 41 kilometre coast line lending it many small beaches. The most popular ones are Cheoc Van Beach and Hac-Sa Beach. Like most beaches, one can look forward to participate in a host of activities like sailing, jet skiing, BBQ and simply enjoying the whiffs of the South China sea. Most beaches are clean and well maintained and have good access as well.
- Macau Grand Prix- As soon as you get off the ferry and head for a taxi, you will actually be driving over the Macau Grand Prix circuit and can’t miss the tower advertising this race. The 59thGrand Prix race is scheduled to be held from November 15th-18th, 2012. Michael Schumacher won the race here back in 1990 and Lewis Hamilton took the honours in 2006. The circuit is around 6 kilometres or 3.8 miles long and is known to be a very challenging one. if you are around at the time, witness the Macau Grand Prix!
Our experience at Macau
There is actually a lot more to see in this tiny place. My husband and I spent some time exploring the Portuguese Houses that have been kept intact even though the dwellers are long gone. The colours and the décor is a very interesting view. Even though we visited Macau in cold January, yet we took a fun bus ride down sloping roads along the beautiful sea and headed to the beach- where we found ourselves quite solitary ! Language might be a slight problem, but not a whole lot. Many people understand and speak English as well. Most locals were friendly and nobody will really bother you even at the flea market. The casinos are lively and one can have fun evenings there. The food is great too and again a confluence of Chinese & Portuguese cuisine give it a delectable touch.
I actually visited Macau first and then Vegas and I can say, that given its historical charm and the geographical setting, Macau offers you the best of both worlds – old world and modern era compared to just the bling bling of the strip in Vegas.