The Cotai Strip is Macau's answer to the Las Vegas strip. The strip has all of Macau's biggest casinos, hotels, and clubs—and is an attempt to imitate the original in Nevada. It's been surprisingly successful and is host to several blockbuster names and the biggest casino in the world. More gambling is done here than anywhere else on the planet.
Like Vegas, the casinos on Cotai are stretched along a single street called Estrada do Istmo, with glittering skyscrapers parked on either side. The strip gained its name from the Island of Cotai, where it sits. It stretches from Studio City in the south to the City of Dreams and The Countdown Hotel (formerly the Hard Rock Hotel) in the north.
Like in Las Vegas, the strip isn't made for strolling. Instead, you can hop between your favorite casinos, take in a show or two, or jump in the best poolside parties in town. There is little of the volcanoes and spurting fountains of Vegas outside, although a venture into the casinos and you'll find laser, light, and fire powered dragon shows and levitating diamonds.
The Best Casinos on the Cotai Strip
Unlike in downtown Macau, all of the casinos and hotels here are mega-resorts. The flagship casino resort on the Cotai Strip is the Venetian. This gargantuan casino is the biggest in the world. It includes not only an endless parade of blackjack tables, roulette wheels, and slots but a 3,000-room hotel plus Macau’s biggest shopping mall. There are also a number of shows, and the Venetian is host to many of Macau’s biggest events—from tennis opens to rock star concerts. Naturally, you can take a gondola ride around its canals as well.
Across the road is the slightly smaller but slightly hipper City of Dreams Casino. On top of the usual menu of gambling options, this mega-resort offers three hotels, pool parties, and Macau’s best floor show—the Evel Knievel-inspired House of Dancing Water.
The final big-name casino on Cotai is the Galaxy, which has put a premium on resort options that include three hotels, a Banyan Tree Spa, and a rooftop wave pool, amongst many other distractions.
Hotels and Shopping on the Cotai Strip
Most of the hotels on the Cotai Strip are attached to the casinos listed above. The biggest of the lot is the 3,000 rooms at the Venetian. The City of Dreams casino offers three separate hotels: the swanky Crown Towers, the Grand Hyatt, and The Countdown Hotel. Finally, the Galaxy has its own brand hotel, the Hotel Okura, and the Banyan Tree Macau with its famous spa.
Shopping on the Cotai Strip is inside the casinos rather than on the street. All of the casinos offer shopping malls of some size and description, although they find it hard to compete with the 300 shops inside the Venetian. This pulls in gamblers from all over China to visit the mid-range and high-end fashion and lifestyle stores. For more luxury, head to the Four Seasons shop. This arcade focuses on gold card shoppers, with names like Cartier and De Beers.
Cotai Strip Restaurants
There is some good gourmet food on offer, and several highly regarded restaurants have opened in all three of the major casinos. Some names worth highlighting include the oysters and stellar wine at The Tasting Room in the City of Dreams. It's one of the few Macau restaurants to earn a pair of Michelin stars. While Jade Dragon inside the same hotel has also caught the Michelin man's eye thanks to its updated versions of tasty Dim Sum.
Of course, you don't need to have a star of approval from France on your meal. There are plenty of more moderate meals to be had, as well as food courts with all your favorite names.