48 Hours in Macao, What to See, Eat & Experience!
November 20, 2017
Glitz, glamour and gambling are perhaps what springs to mind when you think of Macao. Maybe it’s not the first place you’d think to stop off at on a far-flung journey across the globe, yet Macao lies only 40 miles away from Hong Kong and while it’s currently easily accessible via the one hour fast ferry from Hong Kong airport across the stunning Pearl River Delta, Macao will soon be connected to Hong Kong via the Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macau Bridge which is currently being built.
Constantly compared to Las Vegas for its abundance of casinos and array of fancy hotels (The Parisian, Wynn Macau and MGM Macau to name but a few). there is much more to Macao than meets the eye. Full of surprises, the old town wears its heart on its sleeve. It’s an old, honest community, steeped in history with reminders of its 500 year old past still very much in tact.
The first known settlers were fishermen from Fujian and farmers from Guangdong, before the Portugese first set foot in Macao in the 1500’s. It then became a major port for trade between China, Japan, India and Europe due to its location and natural harbour, becoming an official colony of Portugal in 1887. After 442 years of Portugese rule, Macao reverted to Chinese sovereignty in December 1999, becoming the Macao Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China.
Of course if you’re visiting Macao, you’ll want to take in the bright lights, buzzy vibe, breath taking shows and lashings of luxury, but you’ll also be lucky enough to experience fascinating architecture, museums, beautiful gardens, and a culinary fusion of food like nowhere else.
Here are the Luxuria Lifestyle must-do’s while you’re in this fabulous and very much surprising region.
House of Dancing Water
If you see one show while you’re in Macao, it has to be House of Dancing Water! This 90 minute water-based theatrical spectacular at the City of Dreams really has to be seen to be believed. Having invested 250 million US dollars into the production, the result is jaw dropping. Expect to be blown away by the costumes, set design and skills of the performers. The acrobatics, lighting and special effects are magical, mesmerising and enchanting, as is the love story between the Princess and the Stranger which the show centres around. Using 239 automated fountains and 11 hydraulic ten-ton elevators, the 65 feet stage can be transformed from an aquatic to solid stage floor. Watch out for the high dive near the end of the performance a staggering 24.5 metres!
The Macau Tower
There’s no way you can miss The Macau Tower which dominates the skyline from every angle. Standing tall at 338 metres in height (it’s impossible to grasp the sheer enormity until you’re at the top of it), the tower provides the spectacular panoramic and unrivalled views. Dare devils can bungee jump (the highest bungee in the world), or ‘skywalk’ around the outside of the tower, or if you can quite face that, there’s also an observation deck with a glass floor which can be equally as terrifying, but definitely requires less courage!
The Golden Reel at Studio City
The Golden Reel – the World’s highest figure-8 ferris wheel is a brilliant way to see Macao and is way more relaxing than it sounds! With each pod fitting in up to ten people and inspired by two flaming asteroids, each steampunk themed cabin is spacious enough to take photos from every angle, while Studio City itself boasts a gigantic shopping centre, casinos, restaurants and a hotel. The views truly are beautiful.
The MGM Macau
The Forbes Five Star luxury resort The MGM Macau inspired by the arts, is a sensory overload! The European-inspired Grand Praca with its sky high glass ceiling houses seven restaurants and bars, a Tria Spa, authentic art works and an 8.3 metre high cylindrical aquarium home to thousands of fish! With 585 luxurious hotel rooms including villas, suites and guestrooms, the MGM Macau prides itself on exceptional service and experience.
If you happen to be visiting The MGM Macau between the 15th and 25th of October, then you’re in for a treat with Oktoberfest celebrations! With a true Bavarian party atmosphere, oompah music from Munich’s very own Högl Fun Banthe, Bavarian beer (of course) traditional decor and all the fun of the fayre on the outside terrace, it’s a party not to be missed.
From sizzling street food to its many Michelin starred restaurants, Macao is a foodie’s paradise. From traditional Macanese food at The Litoral, to The Eight, in the Grand Lisboa, if you’re pushed for time here’s three eating experiences you should definitely indulge in.
Said to be the world’s first fusion cuisine, Macanese cuisine is a must-try. Bringing together flavours and styles over hundreds of years, the result is a melting pot of flavours and spices. Along with Portugese influences, there’s also Indian, South American, Malaysian, African and South East Asian influences present in Macanese food as a result of the Portugese explorers’ trading stop en route to Macao. One such place you can truly experience Macanese cuisine at its finest, is at the Restaurant Litoral. This traditional restaurant offers up a true experience. We’d recommend trying the Baked Chicken in a sweet tasting fruity sauce, and Minchi – a sweet minced meat and pork dish, typically eaten with rice and a fried egg. For dessert, go for the classic Serradura also called ‘sawdust pudding’ with layers of deliciously light whipped cream and crumbled Marie biscuits.
Combining traditional Chinese elements of the goldfish and the lucky number eight, The Eight at The Grand Lisboa has been awarded three Michelin stars. The decor is truly stunning, as is their wine list which boasts literally hundreds of thousands of bottles! The entrance into the actual restaurant is impressive with water cascading down the walls giving the impression of walking through water to get to your table. The menu offers up a huge selection of both Cantonese and Huaiyang dishes along with dim sum at lunch.
If you’re looking to experience all the glitz and glamour of Macao, this is certainly a restaurant which should be on your list, but make sure you dress up, there’s a strict dress code!
Antonio is a man you simply have to meet! Bursting with character and a passionate cook, you’ll be transported to another world when you eat at his restaurant. You’ll also be made to feel so welcome that you’ll feel you may have met Antonio before! Having just celebrated its 10 year anniversary, Antonio’s restaurant which you’ll find in the Taipa Village, is well known by locals and visitors alike. With traditional Portugese tiling and paintings, the restaurant easily transports you to Portugal itself, while the food on offer boasts typical, authentic fare bursting with freshness and flavour. With clams, prawns, salmon, portugese cheeses, chorizo, veals and steaks and some absolutely delicious wine, this is an absolute must-visit while you’re in Macao.
The Historic Centre of Macao
Given UNESCO World Heritage status in 2005, The Historic Centre of Macao is an absolute must-visit while you’re here. Reflecting a blend of cultures which dates back 450 years, this Asian destination which very much has a European heritage, boasts an interwoven tapestry of both Chinese and Portugese influences across its 30 buildings and monuments.
Ruins of St. Pauls
Originally the Church of Mater Dei built 1602-1640, all that remains are the iconic ruins of St. Pauls after the church was destroyed by a fire in 1835. The stunning facade and grand steps leading up to it are evidence of the history of Christianity in Asia and the ruins are symbolically seen as an alter to the city.
Mount Fortress and the Macao Museum
Standing 52 metres above sea level, and built at the same as the adjacent Ruins of St. Pauls, the top platform of Mount Fortress provides stunning views over the landscape of Macao. Providing defence against the attack of the Dutch in 1622, the fortress has been reinforced and restored continually over its four centuries in existence, while its observatory now house the Macao Museum offering an impressive insight into its history.
The Lou Lim Ieoc Gardens
A tranquil and typical Chinese garden built in the Suzhou style, this beautiful area features billowing Banyan trees, pretty waterfalls, ponds with hundred of swimming turtles and its main focal point – the waterside pavillion. The Lou Lim Ieoc Gardens also boasts a zig zag water bridge to ward off evil spirits which are said to travel in straight lines.
The urban centre of Macao, triangular shaped Senado Square is popular for events and celebrations. Picturesque and paved with a beautiful Portugese wave-patterned mosaic, the pastel neo-classical buildings, garden and fountain make this a beautiful place to visit.
Macao’s most famous temple existed even before Macao did! The A-Ma Temple divided into six parts on four levels is set back into a hill, each level a separate prayer pavilion linked by steep steps. Dedicated to the Chinese sea-goddess Mazu, this fascinating temple is said to have given the city its name.
Luxuria Lifestyle’s Macao adventure was organised by the Macao Government Tourism Office – for more information, go their website www.macaotourism.gov.mo
We flew from Heathrow Airport with Cathay Pacific who fly direct to Hong Kong and offer convenient connection to Australia, New Zealand, Southeast Asia and Northeast Asia from London Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester. Check out www.cathaypacific.co.uk for the latest fare promotions. From 1 December they will be offering 49 weekly direct flights to Hong Kong.
To make your journey extra special from beginning to end, check into Cathay Pacific’s new First and Business Class Lounge at Heathrow’s Terminal 3, which after extensive renovation opened last year. With floor-to-ceiling windows and at 1,200 square metres (30% larger than other lounges) the passenger experience is paramount. With deluxe shower suites in First Class along with made-to-order dishes and table service in the dining room, Business Class will boast the signature Noodle Bar featuring Dan Dan noodles and Cantonese dim sum, authentic Chinese dishes and Cloud 9 cocktails from the bar. 5.30am – 10.30 Mon-Sat and 7.30 – 10.30 on Sundays
Cathay Pacific Business Class from London Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester to Hong Kong direct from £3,599.
Written by Luxuria Lifestyle UK’s Ashleigh Whitfield