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Why Macau’s appeal goes far beyond its luxury casinos

There’s nowhere on the planet quite like Macau.

By LLM Reporters  |  July 12, 2022
Macau cityscape of bridge and skyscraper Macao, Asia.

When it comes to the world’s most thrilling casino destinations, Macau is up there with the best of them. In fact, it has even dethroned the iconic city of Las Vegas when it turns to annual revenue, and with a string of opulent casino resorts and hotels attracting high-rollers from the world over, it has quickly become the most sought-after destination for gambling enthusiasts not just in Asia, but in the entire world.

Macau is one of two Special Administrative Districts of China – the other being Hong Kong – located on the west bank of the Pearl River Delta, and is one of the world’s most densely populated cities. Prominent in industries that produce textiles, electronics, and toys, it has far more to offer than its incredible casino scene alone, and with its bustling vibe, rich culture and mouth-watering cuisine – not to mention its breath-taking skyline, there are a multitude of reasons to consider visiting this year to enjoy a luxury break to remember.

Here, we take a look at some of the biggest and best of them – with something to suit all tastes, and a lavish experience guaranteed.

macau skyline
Macau is one of two Special Administrative Districts of China – the other being Hong Kong – located on the west bank of the Pearl River Delta, and is one of the world’s most densely populated cities

The casinos

Despite the fact that this burgeoning tourist destination is becoming popular for numerous different reasons, its reputation as a gaming mecca is still the biggest attraction of them all for wealthy and affluent visitors looking for an extravagant, adrenaline-filled experience.

Its association with gambling dates back to colonial days, when Macau already had several casinos of its own. Hong Kong, by comparison, had strict restrictions on gambling, to the point that it was only permitted at the horse racing track twice a week. Even moves by China, where casinos remain illegal, to tighten regulations have not been successful, and this affluent region’s casino scene has only continued to flourish.

Under the One Country, Two Systems agreement, which covers Macau, Hong Kong and China, casinos are now only permitted in Macau. In around 2008, Macau surpassed Las Vegas as the region with the most significant gambling revenue, with several of the most well-known casinos in Sin City going on to develop new properties in Macau to capitalise on the trend. In them, visitors can play all the usual casino games, from blackjack to baccarat and everything in between, while card lovers can enjoy poker games including Texas Hold’em and tournaments.

Food and drink

But Macau is not just a casino destination, and also offers lovely UNESCO World Heritage listed colonial architecture, a pleasant climate, some great beaches, and top-notch food and drink.

Food and drink in Macau is a fusion of numerous cuisines and inspirations, as one would expect in such a cosmopolitan city. Chinese, Portuguese, and Macanese cuisine cohabit to make the city’s gastronomic offering exceptional, with fine dining restaurants in the region boasting a total of 30 Michelin stars between them.

Traditional Portuguese meals, such as the famed ‘pastel de nata’ egg custard tarts and salt cod based recipes, Chinese foods such as dim sum and noodles, and unique fusion dishes produced and developed here in Macau as a result of the many influences entering through the commerce routes comprise some of the best and tastiest food in Macau. The latter, known as ‘Macanese’ food, incorporates ingredients and inspiration from India, Africa, and Portugal into traditional Chinese dishes, resulting in a taste sensation that is every foodie’s dream.

Even essential Portuguese foods have a different flavour in Macau, as the wives of the first Portuguese settlers sought to imitate their home food using Chinese techniques and ingredients and had to adjust the recipes. Majie fish, Portuguese chicken, green vegetable soup are all prime examples of this interesting mix of ingredients, tastes and influences.

In addition, Macau is a customs-free port, so the majority of drinks, including wine, liquor, champagne, and the renowned Portuguese port, are available and can even be found cheaper than they can in Portugal itself.

Studio City is another opulent entertainment complex in Macau, and is currently undergoing further expansion. Image credit: tang90246/Bigstock.com

Tourist attractions

Macau offers an unrivalled experience where East meets West, and the occident meets the orient. To guarantee that you don’t miss out on any of the fantastic places and world-record-holding attractions to see in Macau, here are a few notable landmarks and attractions that are a must to add to your itinerary when visiting this exotic location.

Nam Van Lake Cybernetic Fountain Show

The Cybernetic Fountain is a prominent Macau tourist attraction and with its 86 waterspouts and the potential to blast water 80 metres into the air, it is Asia’s most impressive water feature.

People flock to witness over 280 coloured spotlights glow and dance over the lake in a fantastic spectacle known as the Laser Show, while a set of cannons are arranged purposely to spray water in a rainbow pattern and make for a spectacular sight you’ll be talking about for years to come.

Studio City

Studio City is another opulent entertainment complex in Macau, and is currently undergoing further expansion. The resort offers a variety of entertainment options, including the world’s tallest Ferris wheel – and there is also a massive theatre featuring the House of Magic, where many of the world’s most gifted magicians perform, as well as a Dark Knight Rises 4D aircraft simulation ride that is certain to thrill Batman fans.

A-Ma Temple

Macau’s temples are major tourist attractions, and for those looking to explore historical monuments with significant cultural value, the A-Ma Temple is a sight to behold indeed. The A-Ma temple is the oldest in the region and is said to be the source of Macau’s name. It’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site dedicated to the sea goddess Mazu, and features a Buddhist pavilion, gate pavilion, memorial arch, prayer hall, and Guanyin hall on the grounds. But the hall of compassion, regarded as the temple’s oldest feature, is the star of the show.

cityscape of macao in china
Macau’s culture is heavily inspired by the Chinese culture of family integrity, respecting the powerful with restrained behaviour in public, lineage unity, and ultimate reverence for elders. Image credit: Richie Chan/Bigstock.com

Culture

While there are plenty of extravagant luxury hotels in Macau that are similar in style to the Bellagio in Las Vegas, most of Macau’s architecture and culture is known as Macanese, which is influenced heavily by Chinese and Portuguese traditions. The population is split into three groups: Portuguese (who arrived from Portugal), Macanese (descendants of the Portuguese-Chinese Union), and Chinese (who are originally from China), and this makes for an interesting cultural experience from the moment you step off the plane, with a host of interesting customs and traditions making for a visit to remember.

Macau’s culture is heavily inspired by the Chinese culture of family integrity, respecting the powerful with restrained behaviour in public, lineage unity, and ultimate reverence for elders. 

In Macau, greetings begin with warm handshakes and cheek kisses, while formal greetings are frowned upon. Locals believe it is courteous to lower one’s eyes when greeting and to avoid prolonged eye contact, and people are usually addressed by their honorific titles, then by their surname. 

Of course, the cultural experience Macau has to offer goes far beyond these simple gestures, and immersing yourself in all it has to offer and getting to know the locals is the best way to really make the most of the experience. Whatever you’re looking for from your luxury escape, Macau has it all and more – so add it to your travel bucket list, and book those first class flights sooner rather than later.

Please gamble responsibly (18+ UK) – check age restrictions before participating