The South of China is a fascinating place full of unique destinations, and Macau is one such destination you should make it a point to visit at some point. It’s a little bit of a difficult place to define – technically an “autonomous region,” somewhere between a large city and a small city-state and located between the Xijiang River and the Zhujiang River Estuary. With its own international airport, as well as its close proximity to Hong Kong and the city of Guangzhou, it’s also a very accessible destination, which makes it all the more alluring!
Here we’ve put together a list of some of the places you really should see in the area.
The A-Ma Temple
Known as the oldest worship site in Macau, this extraordinary temple was built during the Ming Dynasty in 1488. One write-up on visiting the temple makes note of the fact that Macau represents a blend of cultural influences, and can feel at times like a town in Europe. But the A-Ma Temple, built to honor the goddess Mazu (or Mother A-Ma), is a nice reminder of the rich Chinese history of the area. It’s a beautiful complex consisting of numerous halls and “palaces” stretching up a hill over Macau.
The Ruins Of St. Paul’s
Of the aforementioned European influences on Macau, the strongest is Portuguese. Portugal settled the peninsula for quite some time, and during that time (in the 1500s) built a Cathedral of St. Paul. It actually burned down in the 19th century, but its so-called ruins – which are really a beautifully preserved front façade at the crest of a small hill – are now one of the main sightseeing attractions in Macau.
The Sands Macau
Macau is also known for a casino culture that rivals those of Singapore and Las Vegas, so you should make it a point to see some of the top resorts. The Sans Macau may be the best of them all – a huge, luxurious facility. Having become the first Western-owned casino in Asia in 2004, it’s now known as one of the best casino resorts in the world – a place for destination weddings, honeymoons, friend weekends away, and most of all a general tourist stop.
The Venetian Macau
We could go on for a while listing casino properties here, but instead we’ll just highlight one more. The Venetian Macau, built largely in the image of its Las Vegas counterpart, is a beautiful place to spend a day. You’ll want to make a point of seeing the artificial canals, which effectively make up a miniature version of the actual city of Venice.
It’s fair to say Senado Square is one of the most interesting city squares in the world. Combining Portuguese and Far East influence in everything from architecture to décor, it’s dynamic and beautiful, and always buzzing with activity. All in all it’s one of the most enjoyable parts of the peninsula.
Giant pandas are more famously housed in other areas throughout China and Hong Kong – to the point that the pandas in Macau are actually mentioned on a site about “Secret Macau” attractions. The Macau Panda Pavilion sits inside Seac Pai Van Park, not far from the site of the A-Ma Temple. It’s actually a fairly large facility, and one in which you can view two rare giant pandas in a beautiful habitat.
If you visit Macau, you should also make it a point to travel across the river delta to see Hong Kong – a place we’ve written about previously as the top travel destination in the world! It’s a shame to see one and not the other.