The special administrative region of Macau is situated on the southeast coast of China. At just 27.5 square kilometers, Macau is a small yet exotic corner of China that’s increasingly catching the eye of Filipino holidaymakers. Macau is an area with an intriguing history and an exciting future.
Once an abode for Portuguese merchants and missionaries some 500 years ago, Macau was taken back into Chinese hands before the turn of the millennium and has since reinvented its image in a big way.
In fact, the area has been revolutionized as the casino capital of Asia. Macau’s casino culture has been in existence since the middle of the 19th century, but only in the last couple of decades has this former Portuguese colony has become a serious contender to Las Vegas for the tag of the world’s casino capital, with 30 million visitors to its shores in 2016.
With more than 30 casino resorts, a plethora of fine-dining eateries, exclusive bars and nightclubs, it’s little surprise that Macau has become the fourth richest territory on the planet at a per capita GDP of $91,000.
Some of Macau’s casino entertainment and nightlife has to be seen to be believed.
In 2014, gaming revenues in Macau reached a peak of $45 billion, with the Cotai Strip bustling when the sun goes down thanks to a raft of big-name casinos such as the Wynn, The Venetian and MGM, which have become popular tourist attractions.
Macau’s plentiful cultural and historical sites of interest are best explored on foot. The city’s main square, Senado Square, is the most significant symbol of Macau’s Portuguese past, with elegant Portuguese and Baroque-style buildings framing this busy part of downtown Macau.
Further north of downtown you’ll find the Ruins of St. Paul’s, a former screen wall of St. Paul’s Church. One of the longest-preserved forts in the city, Monte Fort is also within walking distance of St. Paul’s Church.
Those wanting to better understand the history of Macau should also take in the Museum of Macau, which features three stories of exhibitions on Macau’s traditions, customs and culture.
The area is also world-renowned for one of the best street racing circuits on the planet. The Macau Grand Prix is the world’s only street circuit that plays host to both car and motorbike races and has attracted some of the all-time greats of motorsport to its shores, including the late Ayrton Senna, Michael Schumacher and David Coulthard.
What’s great about a vacation in Macau is that there is no specific low season, with muggy daytime temperatures from January to December. Tourists tend to flock all year round to the region and hotel rates are subsequently consistent throughout.
As Macau is the only place in China where casinos have been legalized, it is a very popular place for the Chinese to flock, especially during the Lunar New Year and the Golden Week in early October. The most comfortable time to visit is in autumn when the days are mild, and the evenings are pleasantly cool.
A city with a fusion of cultures, Macau is a vacation destination to stir the senses. With flights from Manila to Macau operating at least twice a day, and flight times a little over two hours, it’s the ideal city break if you want to let your hair down, soak up some culture and feel alive.
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Photo by Tristan Schmurr / CC BY