Exploring Macau’s Modern and Ancient Culture
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Macau's Modern and Ancient Culture

Macau is the perfect place to extend your trip from China. It’s a compact island, but there’s a whole lot to see, though if you’re relatively speedy you might get around in a long weekend. The island has an incredibly rich history, having been colonized by both the Chinese and Portuguese in the past. If you love history, excellent food, and a casino community to rival all others, then you should investigate booking your tickets right away! We’ve got the lowdown on the unmissable spots in Macau so that you can be sure to get the very best out of your stay.

Stay at the Wynn Macau

Once you’ve landed safely in Macau, it’s time to check into your hotel. For this trip, we’re suggesting the lavish Wynn Resort right by Lake Nam Van. This resort is the perfect choice for sports and casino fans, as there’s an incredible casino on-site and thanks to the resort’s lakeside location, you can view the dragon boat racing on the lake, right from your very own balcony. Few sports are quite as spectacular as dragon boat racing, so this is a proper treat.

There are a variety of rooms at different price points at the Wynn, ranging from the super-luxe penthouse suites with panoramic views of the lake and the surrounding town. If your budget is a little tighter then you can opt for a smaller double room which has guaranteed views and is still a lovely stay. The hotel has won many five-star awards, including from Forbes, for its commitment to excellence, so if you want a trip where you’re truly looked after, you can’t go wrong at the Wynn.

Grab Lunch and Unwind in Coloane

Macau is an incredibly busy place, which can be a little overwhelming if you’ve just finished traveling. Instead of heading straight for the centre of the town, instead, take yourself off to Coloane for a little while. This small village to the south of the island is famous for being where pirates used to hide out in the sheltered coves. However, today you’re more likely to find quaint cobbled streets, excellent coffee shops, and stunning black sand beaches that you might even have all to yourself.

As you walk inland from the beaches, you’ll be able to explore tucked-away passages and winding streets. There are a number of small but brilliant restaurants here, where you will find authentic food that perfectly blends Portuguese and Chinese cuisine. Our favourite is Nga Tim Cafe which is conveniently found right in the shadow of the Chapel of St. Francis Xavier. This pint-sized eatery is always packed, usually with locals, who often make a special trip to the Cafe to enjoy the comfort food that is served up here.

Embracing the Chinese heritage of Macau, dishes such as braised chicken feet, or fresh sea cucumbers are very popular, whilst Portuguese dishes include richly spiced stewed lamb, or crisp calamari. Less adventurous diners can always try home-style fried rice, or simply a plate of fries. Pull up a plastic chair, treat yourself to a cold beer, and enjoy watching the world go by from this adorable dining spot.

Explore Macau’s History

Once you’ve enjoyed a wander around the streets of Coloane, it’s time to get stuck into the heart of Macau. The historic centre of Macau has now been named as a UNESCO world heritage site. Having been recognized for its outstanding cultural value back in 1999, Macau’s centre is not just stunning architecture, but a window into the turbulent history of this fascinating island. There are almost too many individual sites to name in the old town, but we’ve picked out some of the highlights below that absolutely shouldn’t be missed.

Ruin of St. Paul’s

First on almost everybody’s list when they visit Macau is taking in the Ruins of St. Paul’s. This incredible facade towers 25 meters above street level and is held up by seemingly almost nothing.

During the time of Portuguese colonization, the predominant religion was catholic, so this church was built in the 17th century and has stood, mostly, since then. Whilst the walls of the building have all failed, owing to a fire that swept away wooden supports, just the front of it remains, because of its granite construction. It has been allowed to become one with nature, so creeping plants cover the lower plants and make this stunning reminder of times gone by the perfect place for a stunning Instagram selfie.

Senado Square

After you’ve taken some snaps of the Ruins, take a stroll to Senado Square. This square is right in the middle of the historic centre and is a wonderful place to grab a coffee and take in slowly. The square is surrounded by brightly coloured buildings on all four sides, many of which are restaurants and cafes with pretty terraces, perfect for people-watching. The square is bustling at all times of day and night, so you’re guaranteed to get a glimpse of life here if you watch for long enough.

As you’re leaving, remember to look down! The whole square is paved with an intricate mosaic that’s only been installed since the 1990s but evokes the sense of grandeur that you’d expect from something much more historic.

Step Back in Time in Taipa Village

The final stop on our tour will be Taipa Village. The Cotai Strip is a super popular destination and although not so many people know about Taipa Village, it is just around the corner from the Strip. The village used to be a traditional fishing village, home almost exclusively to those who made their living from the sea.

Nowadays it has been modernized slightly, to include restaurants to cater to tourists. However, the essence of old Taipa stays in the stunning shophouses that still have beautifully restored colonial facades and the narrow-cobbled streets that twist and turn through historic buildings. If you’ve got a little time in your itinerary, then be sure to check out one or two of the museums in Taipa. There are a lot in a very small space, each of them specializing in an element of historic life in Macau.

Oh, and if you’re still hungry then you can grab some of the most delicious and affordable food on the whole island on Rua do Cunha. This street has tons of food carts where you can pick up delectable snacks to eat on the go.