Though famed Asia’s Las Vegas, there are just so many things one can do in Macau, even if you don’t fancy gambling. I had a two-days free window during my recent business trip to Macau and explored what the city has to offer beyond the casino. Here are my recommendation based on my 2.5 free days in Macau, where you can explore activities that bypass Baccarat, Black Jack or Big Six Wheels, and see Macau in a different light – You’ll be surprised.
Despite its compact size, Macau’s diverse food scene, architecture, family and kids friendly facilities, rich culture alongside painstakingly preserved historical sites, make it an excellent destination for all.
1. Take A Photo at The Ruins of St. Paul
The ruins of St. Paul is an absolute icon of Macau. So you can imagine how packed it is at any time of the day it is almost impossible to get a decent photo without being photobombed. However, if you take a different route from usual, you’d be able to discover this secret hideout for photos. Please clean up after yourself if you decide to eat here so the rest can enjoy the beauty of this place.
Here’s what I did: I started my day at Monte do Forte, then follow the park connector from Monte do Forte to the St. Paul’s. Take the stairs heading downward at the back of Monte do Forte, and you’ll reach a small park that is connecting the St. Paul’s. This particular photo spot located is right at the park, under a huge banyan tree. You can sit under the banyan tree and enjoy the rather fairytale-comes-alive view in Macau.
Ruins of St. Paul 大三巴牌坊
Rua de Sao Paulo, Macau.
2. Soak in the Local Atmosphere at Casa de Cha Lung Wah
Start your morning early at this old-school Yum-Cha place when you are in Macau. This tea-drinking activity is one of the most iconic pastimes in Macau and Hong Kong. Locals enjoy having dim sum (a bite-sized portion of food served in small steamer baskets) with tea in the morning, and Casa de Cha Lung Wah 龍華茶樓 offers a one-of-a-kind Yum-Cha experience in Macau. The restaurant has been around since the 60s, and everything has a quaint, nostalgic touch – look at the panoramic window with the light green frames, mosaic floor and narrow seating arrangement, it is definitely a hidden gem in Macau!
Casa de Cha Lung Wah 龍華茶樓
3 R. Norte do Mercado Alm. Lacerda, Macao 筷子提督市北街3號紅街市側
Tel. +853 2857 4456
3. Visit the Iconic Grand Lisboa
Featuring odd-shape facade and gold windows, the Grand Lisboa Hotel is probably one of the most iconic hotels in Macau. Be it day or night; the unique hotel makes for an exciting picture! I also recommend wandering around the streets of downtown Macau. Don’t be surprised, any sight of the street at this lovely city might make a great photo.
4. Tuck in a Beautifully Crafted Apple Tart
This is the prettiest and tastiest apple tart I had in my life! Palette Dessert Gallery is a newly opened french patisserie in Macau that serves desserts not only pleasing to the eye but also your senses. I was in awe when I discovered this apple tart “Pomme d’Amour” on the shelf – thinly sliced Fuji apples artfully arranged into a shape of a rose. The taste was divine – from the crisp apple slices, buttery tart and the salted-caramel cheese mousse, each element complement so well. MOP 45 (SGD 8) for a tart, not the most economical but well worth every single penny!
Palette Dessert Gallery
209 R. Nova a Guia, Macao 東望洋新街209號泉同樓地下
Tel. +853 6223 9919
5. Music Fountain Show at Wynn Palace
Not everything grand and shinny comes with a hefty price tag. In fact, you can get yourself a feast in the eyes at almost zero cost in Macau’s most expensive hotel. Spending a night at Wynn Palace‘s luxurious hotel room could be a dream come true, but not all are ready to splurge. How about a music fountain show, right in front of this luxury hotel? The show starts early in the day until late at night, with a 20 minutes intervals in between. I recommend visiting at night for its beautiful light-up.
Wynn Palace 永利皇宮
Avenida Da Nave Desportiva, Cotai, Macau. 澳門體育館大馬路.
6. Free Cable Car Ride
The Skycab at Wynn Palace is another great way to soak in the city’s grandeur at night. It is free of charge, and all you need to do is to follow the signboard in the hotel to the cable car, get in the queue and enjoy the bird’s eye view of the brightly lit hotel, its surroundings, the grand music fountain and the pool from its fully air-conditioned cable car. There are two stations to start with: One within the hotel, the other at the fountain. I recommend to start from the hotel station and alight at the fountain to enjoy the show, before taking the cablecar back to the hotel again.
7. Walk Around Guanye Street in Macau
A historical street with interesting cafes, old-school bakery, fusion Macanese restaurants and traditional craft shops tucked in the alleys, Guanye Street is probably the best place to get lost in Macau. Watch the stories of Macau unfold as you comb through the cobblestoned streets with beautifully painted murals. Then, grab a cuppa at Pace Coffee, try out the Balcahau Tart or Spicy Sardine Tart at Sab8, before continuing your adventures at the downtown of Macau.
Guanye Street 關前老街
Rua do Cunha, Macau.
8. Visit a Beautifully Restored Mansion
One of my favourite places on my Macau itinerary was the Mandarin’s house (Casa do Mandarim 鄭家大屋). It is one of the largest residential complexes in Macau that has been painstakingly restored. The house features a fusion of architectural influences of Guangdong’s residences and western characteristics. It boasts 60 rooms in total – one of the most enormous, and exquisitely built private residences in Macau. I love the comprehensive radio guide tour which provides an exclusive peek into the private lives of the wealthy in the 1860s.
Mandarin’s House 鄭家大屋
Macao Antonio da Silva 10 Travessa de 龍頭左巷10號(亞婆井前地對面)
Opening Hours: 10 am – 6 pm Daily.
9. Relaxing By The Pool
Almost all hotels in Macau comes with a pool. Still, Sheraton Grand Macao beats all by having a cluster of pools for those who prefer a variety of different views – the “Eiffel Tower” at The Parisian and “Ponte Rialto” at The Venetian. Be sure to stay till dark as you will be able to see the light-up of the surrounding buildings!
Sheraton Grand Macao
S/N, Estr. do Istmo, Macao 澳門喜來登金沙城中心
10. Enjoy a Tipple at Ritz-Carlton Bar & Lounge
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The only bar in the city made it to Asia’s 50 Best Bar List – Ritz-Carlton Bar & Lounge Macau should already warrant a visit for any cocktail aficionados. Checking out the posh interior while sipping a Gin (yes, this bar specialises in Gin.) would be one of the must-do here. We love the fact a trolley filled with all sorts of ingredients, from flowers, fruits and spices will be pushed to our table for us to customise our favourite gin. I recommend to visit during the afternoon for their boozy afternoon tea and check out the dreamy views of Cotai just before the sunset.
Ritz-Carlton Bar & Lounge 麗思酒廊
Macao, 51/F, The Ritz-Carlton, MacauEstrada da Baía da Nossa Senhora da EsperançaMacau.
11. Shop Till You Drop
I know everyone has different priority and values in terms of spending, and Macau certainly understands that well. For non-gamblers, you may choose to do some shopping, and they have a massive lineup of brands for shoppers. I especially love Shoppes at Four Seasons Macau, as it is not too crowded, and that I get most of my favourite brands including Moynat, Celine, Dior and Loewe, and I must say the outlets here are really well stocked! I also like the more affordable options available at Cotai Central – such as Zara, Lululemon and Oysho.
12. Eat All You Can
From the affordable street delicacies to fancy Michelin Star Restaurants, Macau offers a wide variety of food selection that fits in any budget. It is a cosmopolitan city with Chinese, Portuguese and Macanese influence, which makes the culinary experience in the city exceptional. During my stay, I tried out fine dining at The Tasting Room, which I’d probably talk about it in another blog piece, Macanese restaurant the Restaurant Antonio, also, street food and Portuguese Tarts, Pork Chop Bun at Cha Chaan Teng and I love them all! The food scene is so diverse here. I am sure you will find anything that suits your palette.