What to See and Do in Macau

Facade of Saint Paul Cathedral, Macau, China
••• Charles Bowman/Photolibrary/Getty Images

Glitzy Casinos, unspoiled beaches and top-class restaurants, Macau is a glorious slice of the Mediterranean tucked away on the South China Sea. A Portuguese colony for nigh on 500 years, Macau has retained much of its colonial charm - and if the culture doesn't interest you, there is always gambling. If you need to know how to get to Macau, and for other essential travel planning tips, check out this Macau travel guide.

What to See and Do in Portuguese Macau

If you're looking to explore the Portuguese angle, then there are a couple of streets that are a must. Largo do Senado (Senado Square) contains some of the most quintessentially Portuguese buildings in the city, such as the Leal Senado Building and the Holy House of Mercy. The square is next to the main road, Almeida Ribeiro. Just north of the square lies the impressive ruins of Sao Paulo, (St Paul's), once the biggest church in Asia. The church was destroyed by fire in 1835, but its impressive facade and staircase still make it worth the clamber up the hill.

Chinese Macau

Those seeking the Chinese slant on the city should head for a stroll along Rua De Felicidade. This former red-light district is packed with traditional shops selling various jerky and cookies, as well as Macau's oldest restaurant, Fat Siu Lau, which serves up a mean roasted pigeon. Another building worth visiting is, Temple da Deusa A-Ma, (A-Ma Temple), which is just next to the inner harbor at the bottom of Barra Hill The temple is over 600 years old and was erected before the Portuguese ever arrived.

Casinos in Macau

The majority of visitors come to Macau for one purpose only and that is to try their luck at the casinos. The 'Las Vegas of the East' has a dizzying range of gaming tables on offer; the monumental Sands; the newly opened Wynn and the more traditional Lisboa. Dress code is extremely relaxed at most of the major casinos, shorts and sandals are no problem.

Macau Beaches

Macau's 'other' two islands contain the majority of the region's beaches. One of the best is Hac Sa beach, which stretches for miles and has 'relatively' clean water. Hac Sa beach is on Coloane island and it will take you at least 30 mins to get there from Macau proper. Macau's minibusses frequently change their routes and numbers. Currently, number 56 is the best bus out to the island, but it's best to check.

Restaurants in Macau

Macanese cuisine is unique; a blend of Chinese and other Asian flavors, as well as influences from Portugal and its colonies. Despite the misleading name, Macau's most famous specialty is African Chicken, which is chicken baked in coconut and peanut paste, with garlic and chilies. For a taste of Macanese cuisine, and excellent African Chicken, Henri's Gallery has over thirty years of experience and the taste justifies the expense. For a taste of Portugal, Fernando's is a must. Set-up on the edge of Hac Sa beach, the restaurant is famous from here to Lisbon.