One part cultural melting pot, one part casino mecca, Macao is undoubtedly a city of contradicting identities. It’s the fusion of European and Chinese culture that made me immediately fall in love with the city; it’s also why I’ve visited six times within my first year of living in Hong Kong. A weekend in Macau feels like a world away.
Although I should admit: the food is probably the main reason I love visiting Macau so much. I find that my visits inadvertently revolve around the three key times of the day. For me, a pork bun, a Portuguese egg tart and a visit to Fernando’s should be on every Macau itinerary.
That said, here’s a sampling of where to go, what to do, and of course, what to eat, should you be spending a weekend in Macau as much for the food as for the sights.
Saturday: Macau City
Enjoy a late breakfast
Munch on the endless free samplings of jerky and cookies from Senado Square, winding your way through small pedestrianized alleys, and up toward the impressive façade of The Ruins of St. Paul.
From here, walk up to your right for a stop at Mount Fortress, where you’ll get great views across residential buildings, the tourist eye sore that is the Grand Lisboa (which I can’t help but love anyway), and the Chinese Mainland.
…hop in a taxi and head to the Macau Tower for an indulgent buffet! This gives you access to the observation deck for more incredible views as well.
Afterward, head over to A-Ma Temple for a dose of Chinese tradition and a good nostril-full of incense.
Then from here, walk to the Mandarin’s House, Macau’s largest residential building with its fascinating fusion of Chinese, Western, and other foreign influenced architecture.
…another savory buffet awaits once you cross over to Taipa and the Cotai Strip. At The Venetian, don’t miss a stroll through the quaint streets, under the permanent blue skies next to the canal with its serenading gondoliers, and stop by Venetian Bambu restaurant for your last fill of the night.
Next, at City of Dreams, cap off the day with what is undoubtedly one of the world’s greatest shows: The House of Dancing Water.
Sunday: Taipa and Coloane
Begin with breakfast
…in the lesser-visited parts of Macau. In Coloane’s center you’ll find Lord Stow’s Cafe and its simple but delicious fare, featuring the buttery greatness of Macau’s original Portuguese Egg Tart.
You can then make a stop at Seac Pai Van Park to visit Kai Kai and Xin Xin, the park’s giant pandas.
…move eastwards, where you’ll eventually come to the soft black sands of Hac Sa Beach. Enjoy a stroll by the water before paying a visit to Fernando’s, for the most mouthwatering Portuguese cuisine you’re ever going to eat. You’ll always find me ordering the garlic prawns and African chicken with the delicious homemade bread to soak up the juices. There isn’t a booking policy on weekends, but once you’re enjoying an alfresco glass of sangria and Portuguese sausage while you wait, you’ll be less than bothered.
Once you are able to move again after such a feast, make your way to Taipa village, where you can spend the afternoon roaming the small, colorful alleyways – it’s a delight for budding photographers.
To wind down, grab a drink at a tapas restaurant spilling out onto a courtyard. Just don’t forget to try the famous pork chop buns, over at Tai Lei Loi Kei!
Visit off-season (i.e. in the winter and not around major holidays) or, even better, on a weekday. You’ll find that accommodation is much cheaper, and you’ll probably be able to score a bargain room, too!
Getting around: Although Macau has a fairly efficient bus system (pick up a map, with the routes clearly marked, upon arrival at the ferry port), it’s always a faff dealing with patacas and finding the change. Taxis are in abundance, and they’ll make your trip stress-free.