A meeting place of east and west for almost 500 years, Macau offers visitors an enticing blend of high life and history
Over the past 500 years, Macau’s fortunes have dipped and soared like those of a high-stakes gambler. Originally a small fishing community, the city first flourished as a Portuguese silk trading port in the 16th century, only to be eclipsed a century later by Hong Kong’s rise. After a long period in which it was seen as little more than Hong Kong’s charming-but-sleepy neighbor, Macau has today re-emerged as a vibrant and lively city, and as an attractive destination in its own right.
Macau S.A.R was established in 1999, as the government ended the monopoly system of gambling, the Cotai Strip has been expanded rapidly and driven brilliant success in the past 15 years. Yet, while the promise and glamor of the glittering new casinos might attract visitors to the city, it’s Macau’s rich heritage and unique local culture, not to mention the delicious food, excellent shopping and world-class entertainment on offer, that keep people coming back for more.
Across Macau, candy-colored historic buildings, incense-filled temples and classical Chinese gardens are linked by a charming network of black-and-white cobbled streets and patterned pavements. As a testament to the city’s past as a meeting point between East and West, 25 of Macau’s most important historical buildings – from forts to pawnshops and merchants’ houses – have been grouped as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Many older buildings are now set against a backdrop of 21st-century skyscrapers, creating the striking contrast between old and new that has become one of Macau’s hallmarks. Sandwiched between the mouths of the Pearl and Xi rivers, Macau once comprised three separate islands: Macau, Taipa and Coloane. Long ago, the rivers’ silt-rich waters deposited a sandbar that created a slender peninsula connecting the northernmost island of Macau to the mainland. Once the heart of the old Portuguese settlement, today the peninsula holds many of the city’s historic buildings, and is home to most of its 640,000 people.
Tai Chi with fans
Lou Lim Ieoc Garden
The Ruins of St. Paul’s
A traditional lion dance
Clonial Portuguese tiles
Along with Macau’s international airport, Taipa is home to quaint Old Taipa Village, where a sprawl of atmospheric backstreets surrounds popular Rua do Cunha, with its thronged restaurants and busy pastelarias. Further south, quieter Coloane is leafy and casino-free with a network of pretty hiking trails and Macau’s only beaches. Ambitious engineering projects have seen Macau’s original area – barely more than a square mile – swell to more than 11. Foremost among the reclamation projects has been the creation of the Cotai Strip, which has fused Coloane with Taipa, and been the focus of much of the city’s recent growth and development. Asia’s answer to the Las Vegas Strip, the Cotai Strip is home to many of Macau’s finest hotels, casinos and restaurants. Along with superlative accommodation and dining, the area now offers some of the region’s best shopping, with spacious and creatively designed malls offering a huge range of international brand names.
“Ambitious engineering projects have seen Macau’s original area – barely more than a square mile – swell to more than 11”
Each year, Macau plays host to a full calendar of cultural and sporting events. The hottest names in music play to packed audiences in the Cotai Arena, while lovers of classical music flock to the city’s concert halls, churches and theatres each autumn for the Macau International Music Festival. Motorsports fans pack the stands at the November Macau Grand Prix, while keen golfers watch the action at the Macau Open each October. Traditional Chinese festivals are enthusiastically celebrated here too – thousands visit for the Lunar New Year celebrations and teams from around the world sweat it out in the city’s dragon boat races each summer. Around the time of the Mid-Autumn Festival, the night sky lights up as participants compete in the famous Macau International Fireworks Display Contest.
Flavors from East and West meet and mingle on Macau’s dining tables. Local restaurants serve up an enticing range of dishes – from bite-sized dim sum and fresh Cantonese-style seafood to hearty Portuguese meals. Street food fans will enjoy hunting out the best spots for egg tarts (pastéis de nata), milk pudding and pork chop buns, while gourmands will find much to savor in the city’s fine dining establishments. With something to appeal to all travelers, a stay in Macau will leave you feeling as though you’ve journeyed far beyond the coast of the South China Sea, whether you’re enjoying the high life – shopping, sipping sangria in a beachside restaurant, indulging in a luxurious spa day – or busy discovering the city’s unique local culture and its long, fascinating history.
15 things to do in Macau
Venture beyond the city’s glittering casinos with our list of
experiences not to miss while you’re in Macau
1. Walking Tours
Discover Macau’s unique architectural heritage with a walking tour of the historic center, starting with Senado Square
2. Macau Tower
Take in the view over coffee on the 58th floor, or get your heart racing on the Adventure Deck, 233 meters up.
3. Macanese Food
Surprise your taste buds with Macau’s indigenous cuisine, a delicious fusion of culinary influences.
4. The Taipa Houses Museum
Step back 100 years in these peppermint-green villas shaded by ancient fig trees.
5. Hiking in The Hills
Head for the hills in Coloane, where you'll discover a network of hiking trails and family walks.
6. Coloane’s Beaches
Dig your toes into Hac Sa’s volcanic black sand, or soak up the sunshine on Cheoc Van’s smaller crescent of golden sand.
7. Lou Lim Ieoc Garden
Relax amid the classical pavilions of this formal Chinese garden, built for a wealthy merchant in the 19th century.
8. Macau Grand Prix & Grand Prix Museum
Catch an exhilarating weekend of racing during the mid-November Grand Prix, or perfect your racing line on the museum’s simulators.
From high-end malls to quaint backstreet boutiques, Macau’s shops are a delight to explore.
10. Macau International Fireworks Display
The night skies over Macau light up each autumn as experts compete with dazzling firework displays.
11. Wine Museum
Learn all about Portugal’s wines before trying a selection for yourself.
12. Macau Giant Panda Pavilion
Visit giant pandas Kai Kai and Xin Xin in their custom-built enclosure set in a leafy park criss-crossed with gentle hiking trails.
13. A-ma Temple
Light a coil of incense to China’s patron goddess of seafarers in Macau’s oldest temple, situated near where the Portuguese first landed.
14. Guia Fortress
Ride a cable car up to this atmospheric 17th-century military fort, chapel and lighthouse complex and enjoy the panoramic view.
15. Events, Concerts and Festivals
Take your pick from Macau’s non-stop schedule of headline events, from pop concerts at the Cotai Arena to the annual arts festival.
Ruins of St. Paul’s
Calçada de São Paulo / Rua de São Paulo
112, Praceta do
Museu de Macau
Lou Lim Ieoc Garden
10, Estrada de Adolfo Loureiro
Largo da Torre de Macau
Grand Prix & Wine Museum
431, Rua Luis Gonzaga Gomes
The Taipa Houses Museum
Avenida da Praia, Taipa
Macau Giant Panda Pavilion
Avenida de Seac Pai Van,
Macau on a plate
Food is an essential part of the Macau experience, from regional Chinese dishes to Portuguese-influenced specialities
Whether you’re eating at the simplest street stall or in the grandest Michelin-starred restaurant, Macau’s unique history shines through in each bite of the city’s cuisine. Local chefs turn out a rich spectrum of dishes from delicate Cantonese dim sum to hearty Portuguese roasts, with hundreds of delicious variations in between. Macau’s restaurant scene has flourished over the past decade, and dining out is one of the foremost pleasures of a stay in the city. While it’s now easy to find excellent international establishments and tasty Chinese regional cuisines, it’s definitely worth seeking out Macanese and Portuguese restaurants for a true taste of Macau.
Macau was virtually uninhabited when the Portuguese first landed in the 1550s. With little other option, these early settlers used their familiar European cooking methods – stewing, roasting and braising – to prepare the new Chinese ingredients they found locally, establishing the foundation of Macanese cuisine. Macau became one of the key stops on Portugal’s maritime trading routes, and flavors from Portuguese outposts in Africa, Asia and Brazil gradually found their way into Macau’s kitchens, as you can taste in dishes like African chicken (galinha à Africana), where the meat is roasted in a spicy peanut and coconut sauce, Brazilian feijoada and the Goan-inspired shrimp curry (caril de camarão).
Litoral on Rua do Almirante Sérgio is a great place to try Macanese classics – but beware of their huge portion sizes. For home-style local cooking, pop along to Riquexo (69 Avenida Sidónio Pais), a humble café down a quiet lane that serves up delicious dishes of salt cod in scrambled egg with onion (bacalhau a bras). Sweet-toothed travelers should head down to Rua do Cunha in Taipa Village where small and highly popular outlet Serrdura specializes in the Macanese dessert serradura (‘sawdust pudding’) – pillowy whipped cream layered with crushed biscuits and pieces of fresh fruit. Eat it on the street or take a tub home with you.
As sailing between Portugal and China grew more viable, Macau’s wealthier residents began to import traditional ingredients such as bacalhau (salted cod), chouriço (pork sausages flavored with paprika) and olive oil, reverting to a purer version of Portuguese cooking that still thrives in the city today. Restaurants that once catered to homesick civil servants now serve a new audience as visitors flock to try their robust meat and seafood dishes. Start your meal with grilled sardines or potato and cabbage soup (caldo verde), before moving on to a main course of succulent roast beef or lamb with rice and vegetables. You may not have space for dessert, but do make sure to try a flaky egg tart (pastel de nata) at some point during your stay. One of the most atmospheric places to try authentic Portuguese cooking is at the Macau Military Club. A bastion of Portuguese culture housed in a striking pink-and-white building on Avenida de Praia Grande, the club’s excellent restaurant is open to non-members for lunch and dinner. For atmosphere of a totally different kind, head south to Taipa and Coloane, where the likes of A Petisqueira in Old Taipa Village, and Miramar on Coloane’s Hac Sa Beach are sure to satisfy hungry travelers.
The delicate flavors of Cantonese cooking are showcased across Macau in both sumptuous Michelin-starred restaurants and modest teahouses. For authentic Cantonese dishes – succulent roast meats and excellent dim sum – served in elegant surroundings, head to Dynasty 8 at Sands Cotai Central. Elsewhere, seafood-lovers should visit the ever-popular Tou Tou Koi on Travessa do Mastro, while Casa de Cha Long Wa on Rua Norte do Mercado Almirante Lacerda dishes up old-time atmosphere along with its delicious dumplings. This popular, character-filled restaurant has operated on the same site since 1962. Macau’s restaurants also offer a wide range of cuisines from elsewhere in China. Test your taste buds on spicy stir fries from Sichuan and Hunan, enjoy refined flavors from Shanghai, or dine on juicy roast duck from Beijing; while at Xin restaurant at Sheraton Macao Hotel in Sands Cotai Central you can select your own ingredients to create the ultimate Asian hotpot.
It’s hard to avoid Macau’s snack scene, and you’ll see pastelarias – bakeries selling traditional Cantonese biscuits and roasted meat jerky – doing a roaring trade. Even if you’re not planning to buy, most are happy to give you a free sample or two, with packets of pork jerky, almond cookies and egg rolls making particularly popular souvenirs. Koi Kee and Choi Heong Yuen Bakery both have branches across the city. Other popular street eats include pork chop buns and milk pudding – best savored at Yee Shun Milk Company on Largo do Senado.
1. Riquexo69, Avenida Sidonio Pais
6. Koi Kei Bakery
23-24, Rua de São Paulo
5. Yee Shun Milk Company
60, Avenida de Almeida Ribeiro
4. Macau Military Club975, Avenida da Praia Grande
2. Litoral261, Rua do Almirante Sérgio
Praia de Hac Sa, Coloane
10. A Petisqueira
15, Rua de São Joao, Taipa
7, Rua dos Clerigos, Old Taipa Village, Taipa
Shop AA, G/F, Block 6, Phrase 1, Chun Fuk Sun Chun, Rua do Regedor, Taipa
7. Choi Heong Yuen Bakery
9, Rua de São Paulo
9, Praia de Hac Sa, Coloane
13. Albergue 1601
8, Calçada da Igreja de São Lazaro
14. Lord Stow’s Bakery
1, Rua do Tassara, Coloane
From art and antiques to luxury goods and designer labels,
Macau’s retail outlets will have something to tempt you,
whatever you’re in the market for
With hundreds of duty-free shops, spacious malls and added extras that include indoor waterfalls and singing gondoliers, the Cotai Strip is Macau’s top destination for those seeking a spot of high-end retail therapy. The biggest names in luxury gather in the newly renovated Shoppes at Four Seasons, with the likes of Armani, Hermès and Shanghai Tang offering glamor and high fashion from around the world. You’ll need a map to navigate the million-square-foot mall at Shoppes at Venetian, where 350 stores fill a remarkable replica of Venice’s Grand Canal. For family-friendly shopping, head to Sands Cotai Central, which offers a diverse mix of international brands to keep the whole family happy.
- Shoppes at Four Seasons
- Estrada da Baía de N. Senhora
- da Esperança, Taipa
- Shoppes at Cotai Central
- Estrada do Istmo, Taipa
- Shoppes at Venetian
- Estrada da Baía de N. Senhora da
- Esperança, Taipa
Recent years have seen Macao’s design talent flourish, with homegrown designers opening boutiques across the city. At Obése Plein, US-trained local Robert Lai offers edgy all-black collections of urbanwear. Over at Nega C, Isabella Choi focuses on quirky street fashion, combining playful details and unusual fabrics. Avant-garde fashion collective C presents the work of local designers like Common Coma alongside newer names from Europe and Japan.
- Obése Plein
- Cave 3-D, Calçada do Gaio
- Nega C
- 25A, Avenida do Ouvidor Arriaga
- C at C-shop
- Avenida Doutor Mário Soares
Furniture & Antiques
Macau’s antique and reproduction furniture stores are conveniently concentrated near the Ruins of St. Paul’s. Many of the shops do a brisk trade in fine reproductions – if you’re looking for the genuine article, make sure to check the item’s certificate of authenticity before making a purchase. Old House Gallery is one of the best stores in the area, custommaking furniture to your specifications; they can even arrange shipping if your purchase won’t fit in your suitcase. Near A-Ma Temple, 285 Signum Living Store is a treasure trove for interior designers with its combination of contemporary furniture, creative home accessories and local artwork. A little less high-end, but with fascinating browsing, Rua da Tercena is the most popular flea market street in Macau.
- Old House Gallery
- 19-27, Rua de São Paulo
- 285 Signum Living Store
- 285, Rua do Alm Sergio
Food & Wine
Traditional Macanese sweets and delicious honey-roast pork jerky are among the most popular souvenirs from the city, with busy pastelarias lining Rua de São Paulo and Taipa’s Rua do Cunha. Bakery Koi Kei is one of the best known, with branches right across the city. Another favorite is Lord Stow’s Bakery, which has six outlets in Macau. For European flavors, head to the back streets of St. Lazarus Quarter, where Mercearia Portuguesa sells imported food and drink from an old-world store – shop here for paté and Portuguese chocolate, or stock up on Madeira and Port. More great Portuguese wines are available to buy from Macau’s Wine Museum, but the best range can be found at specialist wine importer Vino Veritas.
- Koi Kei Bakery
- 23–24, Rua de São Paulo
- Mercearia Portuguesa
- 8, Calçada da Igreja de São Lázaro
- Vino Veritas
- 39D–34B, Avenida de Almirante Lacerda
7. Shoppes at Cotai CentralEstrada do Istmo, Cotai
1. Shoppes at Four SeasonsEstrada da Baía de N. Senhora da Esperança, Taipa
2. Shoppes at VenetianEstrada da Baía de N. Senhora da Esperança, Taipa
3. Old House Gallery27-27A, Rua de São Paulo
4. 285 Signum Living Store285, Rua do Almirante Sérgio
5. Mercearia Portuguesa8, Calçada da Igreja de São Lázaro
6. Mercearia Portuguesa39D-43B, Avenida de Almirante Lacerda
The St. Regis Macao, Cotai Central
Dear Readers and Valued Guests,
Please allow me to introduce The St. Regis Macao, the most elegant, sophisticated address from which to explore the very best this destination affords. Discover Macau’s distinctive heritage and thrilling cultural destinations in true St. Regis style with our signature Aficionado packages: exclusive experiences that give you access to some of the region’s most interesting and alluring attractions.
Our refined hotel is the ideal gateway to Macau’s historic ruins, spiritual temples and imposing fortresses, which illustrate the evolution of Western and Chinese civilizations over more than four centuries. To further enhance your stay, our hotel offers convenient access to more than 600 designer boutiques and several premier shopping centers. We warmly welcome you to Macau, and promise you an unforgettable stay in this unique and cosmopolitan city – St. Regis-style.
The St. Regis Macao, Cotai Central
The hotel is in the most desirable position on the Cotai Strip, and is perfectly situated within a prime center for dining, shopping andentertainment. Guests can enjoy the finest restaurants and amenities, aided by the expert guidance of the St. Regis Butler Service. Refined comforts and elegant furnishings await in each of The St. Regis Macao’s 400 guest rooms and suites, where state-of-the-art amenities combine with traditional Chinese architectural elements and spectacular views of the Cotai Strip.
Enjoy one of five unique dining experiences at The Manor, sample a speciality cocktail at The St. Regis Bar, or relax in the outdoor swimming pool.