Macau is known as the “Las Vegas of Asia” and is the epicentre of glitz and gambling. It lies some 60 kilometres south-west of Hong Kong, reachable within just one hour on the ferry. The dazzling casinos draw in millions of tourists who come to play the tables – as this is the only place in China where gambling has been legalised.
But look beyond the world-class entertainment and you’ll find the unique heritage and culture of this ex-Portuguese colony. The alleys and winding lanes of the well-preserved Taipa Village are home to great Portuguese and Macanese restaurants, the village museum, art spaces, Chinese temples, colonial churches and street food stalls. The historic centre of Macau is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here you’ll find the ornate Ruins of St Paul’s and the city’s oldest temple, A-Ma Temple.
Blending both Chinese and Portuguese ingredients and cooking techniques, Macanese cuisine is considered to be the world’s first fusion cuisine. Try signature dishes such as minchi (ground meat stir-fried with potatoes) and Portuguese egg tarts.
Macau has four distinguishable seasons: warm and humid spring from March to mid-May; hot and rainy summer from late May to mid-September; pleasant and sunny autumn from late September to the end of November; and cool and dry winter from December to the end of February.
From late May to mid-September temperatures average 33°C (91°F). The coolest times are from mid-December to February, when the temperature may fall to 10°C (50°F). The rainy months are between May and September with August being the wettest month. The driest month is January, when rain only falls about one day a week. From late-May to mid-September, there are occasional typhoons and violent thunderstorms.
Bring loose, comfortable clothes that will keep you cool when the humidity is high in the summer months. However when travelling in the winter bring warm clothes, especially for the evenings. Walking shoes are needed as Macau is a great place for exploring on foot.
Autumn is the nicest time to visit in terms of weather, however bear in mind that this is also the busiest season.
Macau’s architecture is influenced by both Cantonese and Portuguese cultures. Venture away from the glittering casinos and you’ll find Catholic churches, ancient Chinese temples, pastel-coloured buildings and colonial houses.
There are many extravagant dance and theatre shows in Macau’s luxury hotels. The majority boast lavish settings, state-of-the-art effects and entertainers of world-class standards.
Macau is a pretty relaxed country regarding etiquette. However do dress respectfully when visiting religious buildings. Also remember not to take photos in the casinos in Macau – and try not to spend all your money there!
The Macanese people are an East Asian ethnic group that originated in Macau in the 16th century, consisting of people of predominantly mixed Chinese and Portuguese as well as Malay, Sinhalese and Indian ancestry.
Religion in Macau is represented predominantly by Chinese folk religions and Buddhism. When the city was under Portuguese rule, the Catholic Church became one of the dominant faiths, but nowadays it has greatly declined.