Macao — which was a Portuguese territory until 1999 and is part of China but also its own city-state — is a unique place to visit, with a visible melding of Eastern and Western influences. Part of the local cultural fusion includes the Macanese, an ethnic group that originated in Macao in the 16th century — mainly a mixture of Chinese and Portuguese — along with Japanese, Malay, Indian, and Sinhalese (Sri Lankan) ancestry. Visitors can explore colonial buildings, along with Portuguese and Macanese restaurants, many of which double as bars and are popular with Portuguese locals and expats as well as a nice way to get off the tourist trail. Menus have an enviable selection of wines and superb beers from Portugal at reasonable prices.
The city offers an abundance of things to do at night, even if doesn't live up to the glitz and glamour of its neighbor Hong Kong. One main component of local nightlife is the numerous casinos, but there are also other after-dark options from poolside bars to elegant lounges. Visitors can find clubs and dance to a show by internationally-renowned musicians, or get a drink and a nice meal in Macao. The city is known to be safe and has little violence. Just keep an eye out for pickpocketing and petty crime and take the same precautions you would in any city, especially at night.
Clubs and Bars
Nightlife venues in Macao vary from huge nightclubs with famous international musicians and DJs to smaller bars with elegant settings and skyline views to poolside bars with tropical drinks.
- Club Cubic: Housed inside the City of Dreams resort and casino is the biggest nightclub and a top place to go in Macao. This two level-club regularly welcomes artists and DJ’s of international acclaim playing techno, hip hop, and more, along with a global crowd. The venue's bars keep things interesting with certain themes and events like Havana Nights Wednesday Ladies' Night and full moon parties. Getting there early increases your chances of finding a booth.
- Sky 21 Bar and Restaurant: If you are seeking somewhere to go out late and dine on Pan-Asian food with great harbor views and special events, check out this 20,000 square-foot bar and restaurant located on top of a local landmark, the AIA Tower in the central business district.
- The St. Regis Bar: This stylish place in The St. Regis Macao, Cotai Central consists of three spaces with seasonal food and live music. The Bar features a gorgeous piece of art with 8,000 pieces of glass by Portuguese artist Gil Araujo; Decanter has private wine tastings; and The Vault can be reserved for private gatherings.
- Vida Rica Bar: Enjoy three bars with tall windows looking out on the lovely Macao skyline views at night and everything from cocktails and champagne to tapas, coffee, and pastries. This venue is located within the One Central development.
- PREM1ER Bar & Tasting Room: A cozy place with live music in Old Taipa Village, this spot caters to a diversity of tastes, with Irish and Mongolian/Asian food in a bar with spirits, cocktails, wines, and beers.
- Duffy's Irish Pub: Those seeking a casual Irish pub with beers, spirits, wines, and cocktails from Ireland — along with live music and sports events — should head to Duffy's Irish Pub in Taipa.
- The Ritz-Carlton Pool Bar: This pool bar at the Ritz-Carlton is the place for outdoor casual dining from April to September; have a tropical cocktail or organic beer or wine while viewing the beautiful bar made from hand-painted Portuguese-style ceramic tiles.
- The Ritz Carlton Bar & Lounge: Located by the Vegas-like Cotai Strip of hotel-casinos, this is a nice destination for enjoying pop-up parties and having a cocktail or some gin, along with some creative food like black truffle dusted fries. The dress code is casual.
- MacauSoul/Alma de Macau: An elegant lounge and wine bar in the center of Macao with over 400 Portuguese wines, cocktails, snacks, and desserts, along with art and live music — including blues, jazz, country, folk, and more.
For those looking to gamble and have fun, you'll have plenty of choices with more than 40 Macao casinos full of bright lights, yodeling gondoliers in the local network of canals, and Playboy bunnies. The city turned into one of the world's top gambling spots, with thousands convening on the Vegas-influenced Cotai Strip and downtown Macao. The Venetian Macao luxury hotel has one of the world's largest casinos, featuring over 6,000 slot machines. Macao resorts with casinos offer something for everyone, such as light and laser shows, parties at fancy poolside cabanas, and expensive 18th-century wool and silk tapestries and other lovely art to view at the Wynn Macau.
Locals and visitors out on the town in Macao will find a cultural variety of restaurants open late into the night. If you are seeking Chinese food past midnight, head to Crystal Jade La Mian Xiao Long Bao in The Parisian Macao hotel on Cotai Strip (Saturdays through Mondays they are open 24 hours). Market Bistro, also in The Parisian Macao, serves Asian and international food and is always open. Family-friendly North dishes up Northeast Chinese food in the Venetian Macao hotel in Taipa. Vegetarians and seafood fans will love the Italian fare at Forbes Travel Guide Five Star Ristorante Il Teatro in Wynn Macau in Cotai (closed Mondays). Portuguese and European meals can be found at the award-winning Antonio in Old Taipa.
A favorite Portuguese and European-influenced place to eat is Fernando’s, a restaurant serving seafood and vegetarian options. The alfresco bar in the back garden has a comfortable, easygoing appeal where you can enjoy a pint of Portuguese Super Bock beer and snack on chorizo. Riquexó is an authentic Macanese restaurant run by a family that shares recipes from one generation to another, including Macao specialties like minchi, a pork or beef dish with many variations.
Tips for Going Out in Macao
- Clubs in Macao usually don't come alive until after midnight, so you may want to start partying in a pub or bar before going to your nightclub of choice.
- Avoid counterfeit money scams by using small bills or exact change.
- The legal gambling age 21 for Macao casinos. You'll need a passport or a Hong Kong identity card to enter and some Hong Kong dollars to play with.
- Buses and taxis are some of the principal ways of getting around the city. Use a licensed taxi, make sure the meter is turned on, and get your bags before paying and exiting the vehicle. To utilize the free shuttle buses, show your receipt from the casino or proof that you are staying in a casino hotel.
- While it has a seafront location and a few bars, pubs, and restaurants, if you dislike tourist traps, you may want to avoid the Fisherman’s Wharf.