Some things deserve a second look. And for me, Macau is one of them. Macau is a territory located in southeast China, and a Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China like its neighbor, Hongkong.
Since Macau is a low-cost airline hub, my friends and I flew to Macau via Tiger Airways to reach Hongkong in January 2007. We barely have 10 hours altogether to look around Macau, so we asked my friend, Allan Eleazar, who served as our tour guide, to recommend 5 things we shouldn’t miss while over there. The sights he recommended are: Ruins of St. Paul, Fisherman’s Wharf (including the Vulcania), Macau Tower, Macau Grand Prix, and various Temples.
As I have not seen enough of Macau on my first visit, my prince and I decided to venture in the country again, as part of my week-long “Macau-Hongkong” birthday celebration, kicking off in Macau last September 28, 2008 and culminating again in Macau on October 3, 2008.
The opportunity allowed me to enjoy the Venetian, Ruins of St. Paul (rather extensively), Leal Senado Square, Guia Fortress, St. Dominic Church, and the sights and shows at night in several hotels like the Wynn, Grand Lisboa and Sands. (Grand Liboa Hotel is Macau’s famous landmark for its distinctive “birdcage” tower.)
Casinos? Oh they are elaborate and are all over the place. But we maintained our “No Gambling” sign in our hearts. It was fun, though, to look around and to have an idea of how gaming tables and slot machines look like (hehehe).
Although known for gambling, Macau is extremely rich in attractions and oozing with atmosphere. St. Dominic Church – Founded in 1587 by three Spanish Dominican priests who originally came from Acapulco Mexico.)
As the place is packed with churches, temples, fortresses and other old buildings bearing an interesting mix of Portuguese and Chinese, Macau is a fascinating place to walk around and convinced ourselves that we were in Europe. For me, some of the interesting things to see and do in Macau include:
The Venetian Hotel
- The Venetian is the most famous in Macau now, with its Venice-styled shopping mall with rivers running through, and is also the current largest casino in the world which is even modeled after Doge’s Palace.
The hotel recreates Venice complete with its own version of the Grand Canal. Guests are ferried by gondola while being serenaded as they travel through the Grand Canal Shoppe lined with half a million square feet of excellent shops, and restaurants. And there is a touch of culture inside.
Macau Tower -This is a great place to spend the afternoon. It has awesome views and adventure sports like bungee jumping off the 283-metre Tower, a walk around the rim, and bouldering and sport climbing at the tower’s base are on offer. But for me, thanks but no thanks! I just love the view and my prince remarked that no doubt Macau Tower is my favorite because I would mention it to him in all our conversations while in Macau.
(A walk through the theme park)
Fisherman’s Wharf -
This is one place you shouldn’t miss in your stay in Macau. Fisherman’s Wharf is the first theme park in Macau opened on December 31, 2006 and located near the Hongkong-Macau Ferry Pier. The complex includes over 150 stores and restaurants in buildings built in the style of different world seaports such as Cape Town, Amsterdam and Venice, six rides, a slots hall, a hotel and a casino. What more, entrance is free. And for that reason you may want to come back again and again. The
Fisherman’s Wharf has three major themes: Dynasty Wharf, East Meets West and Legend Wharf. In the East Meets West you’ll see Vulcania, River of Fire and Dragon Quest.
Vulcania , a 40m tall replica volcano which ‘erupts’ every evening and inside of which the ‘River of Fire’ white – water and ‘Dragon Quest’ rollercoaster rides are housed. The exterior of Vulcania includes walkways styled on the Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet.
Alladin’s Fort, an attraction in the style of middle-eastern fort which is home to a variety of children’s funfair rides, and playground for kids and teenagers.
(Formula Car displayed at the Wynn)
Macau Grand Prix Museum - For Formula 1 enthusiasts like me, this is a must-see place, especially if you are visiting Macau on months other than November (second week normally) when the most awaited and celebrated racing event is held. The museum is open daily and entrance is very reasonable for P70-80 for adults and half of that for kids. The museum contains exhibits that are related to Grand Prix worldwide including photos, videos, illustrated articles, cups, records of champions and some commemorative items. It was built in 1993 in memory of the 40th anniversary of Grand Prix Racing in Macau. More than twenty formula cars and motorcycles once driven by world renowned drivers are on exhibits there. The most interesting experience is a being in the two racing car simulators. This will enable you to experience racing on the challenging tracks at an extreme high speed.
Ruins of Sao Paulo (Ruins of St. Paul) - I guess this is Macau’s most famous landmark. The Ruins of Saint Paul refer to the façade of what was originally the Church of Mater Dei built in 1602-1640, destroyed by fire in 1835, and the ruins of St. Pauls’ College, which stood adjacent to the Church. Nowadays, the façade of the Ruins of St. Paul function symbolically as an altar to the city.
“Leal Senado” Square
-Senado Square has been Macau’s urban centre for centuries, and is still the most popular venue for public events and celebrations today. The square is surrounded by pastel-coloured neo-classical buildings, creating a consistent and harmonious Mediterranean atmosphere. The name “Leal Senado” (Loyal Senate), derives from the title ‘City of Our Name of God Macau, There is None More Loyal” which was bestowed by Portuguese King Dom John IV in 1654.
Guia Fortress, Lighthouse and Chapel
-These are the symbols of Macau’s maritime, military and missionary past. The fortress was built between 1622 and 1638. Inside the fortress stands Guia chapel with its elaborate frescoes depicting representations of both western and Chinese themes. Also stands within the perimeter, is Guia Lighthouse, the first modern lighthouse on the Chinese coast.
Na Tcha Temple – Built in 1888, this small traditional Chinese temple is dedicated to the worship of Na Tcha.