- Historic gambling city with colonial past offers more than just roulette and blackjack for visitors
- Check out the sights in this entertainment hub
While Macau’s 30 million annual visitors are primarily looking for casino action in the world’s most lucrative gaming market, some head there for the entertainment and the culture. This former Portuguese colony is home to some historic landmarks and has a vibrant entertainment scene, great retail spaces and beautiful scenery.
Whether you are coming for a break that doesn’t involve gambling or you just want some time away from the tables, this beautiful region has so much more to offer.
Take a look at our guide to Macau’s other highlights – things you might miss if you think a trip to Macau only involves wagering your hard-earned cash.
Glamor and glitz in Cotai
Macau’s main gaming area is the Cotai district, a sprawling downtown complex built on reclaimed land which now connects the former islands of Taipa and Coloane.
The region was purposefully created to cater to the tourists after gambling was legalized in the Chinese territory, and it is home to some of the world’s best known casino brands such as Wynn Resorts and MGM International.
Gambling laws in Macau allow for the building of ‘integrated resorts’, rather than stand-alone casinos. This means that your casino hotel will be a one-stop shop filled with entertainment venues, retail spaces, restaurants, bars and pools.
The Venetian is a prime example of a entertainment venue, rather than a casino with some hotel rooms bolted on.
Away from the tables, players can enjoy a dip in the pool or chill out the spa, before enjoying some gourmet dining or unwinding with a cocktail and some tasty bar snacks.
Watch the light and water show on the Wynn Palace’s 8-acre performance lake, catch a basketball game at The Venetian’s 15,000-seat arena, and let your little ones run wild at the Warner Brothers Fun Zone inside Melco’s Studio City.
Every venue has so much to offer guests, so you’ll be spoiled for choice when you stay in the heart of the gaming district.
Top performers are often booked for the big venues, so you could see your favorite global superstars performing their biggest hits if you time your stay just right.
If you have a few hours of downtime, why not check out the cultural heritage of this ancient city?
Tour guides offer a range of language choices, including English, and you’ll get to see some of the most important landmarks and sites in Macau. Most tours include a trip to the A-Ma Temple, a Unesco World Heritage site, and the stunning ruins of St Paul’s cathedral.
More modern sights on the must-see list include the Macau Tower, a 223 meter spiked structure with a glass elevator you can ride to the 61st floor. If you have a head for heights, explore the Adventure Center and tackle the Sky Walk. Adrenaline junkies won’t want to miss the once in a lifetime chance to bungee jump from the platform!
If you prefer to keep your feet on the ground, head to the public gardens located around the city. Lou Lim Leoc Garden and the Flora Garden are bright, peaceful and beautiful. The expansive Seac Pan Vai Park is the ideal place to spend a lazy afternoon, while the Sai Van Lake is great for running or cycling and offers incredible views.
Museums and exhibitions
Take the family out for the afternoon and learn a little about Macau’s fascinating history. The Macao Museum features a view out over St Paul’s, and is filled with treasures from the city’s past. Military base Monte Forte is located very close to the museum. This 16th Century fortress has been partially preserved, with some of the land turned into a park and observatory for visitors to enjoy.
Sports fans will love the Grand Prix Museum, which celebrates Macau’s links with motor racing. Real cars and bikes which were used by the sport’s biggest stars are on display, including Ayrton Senna’s race-winning McLaren. There is also a free driving simulator so visitors can get a taste of the action for themselves.
To see local art from across the centuries, visit the Macau Museum of Art. It includes ancient Chinese calligraphy displays, modern artworks, period sculptures and more.
For a more niche art experience, head over to the Michael Jackson Gallery. This permanent exhibition is filled with tributes to the late pop superstar – including a pair of his trademark crystal gloves.
Much more to Macau than just gaming
Of course, casinos remain Macau’s largest source of income and tourists will continue to head to the region for the incredible gaming scene.
However, there is so much more to enjoy in the city. Even those who don’t gamble can find plenty of ways to spend a fun filled week or two. In addition to the landmarks and venues outlined above, Macau is home to high-end stores, five star restaurants, lively nightclubs and quaint coffee bars.
If you are heading to Macau for a break, be sure to head out of your resort and spend some time exploring the rest of the city – it would be a real shame to spend it all indoors.
The entertainment district is packed with fun activities, but you don’t want to miss the chance to discover a fascinating district with a rich culture. And unlike in the casino – what have you got to lose?
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