Macao must be one of the most intoxicating cities this planet has to offer. The destination is just 40 miles from Hong Kong and a one-hour ferry ride away, but enjoys a very different, almost South European vibe to its neighbour. It’s the perfect add-on during a business trip to Asia or, even better, an exciting stopover on your next holiday to the Far East or Down Under.
Within 11 square miles you will find luxury hotels, epic casinos, sleek bars, delicious cuisine – including 18 Michelin-starred restaurants – and no end of festivals and events. Here the nights dazzle and the days unfold with glorious possibility and captivating cultural experiences.
The old and the new
To fully understand what makes Macao so special, you must first understand its history. Fishermen and farmers from mainland China were the first known settlers in Macao. The Portuguese explorers arrived in the 16th century and Macao became established as a major settlement and important trading post between east and west, with the port prospering. It remained affiliated with Portugal for more than 400 years until China assumed sovereignty on 20 December 1999.
This unique Portuguese-Chinese heritage influences all of Macao, from the stunning architecture to its legendary cuisine. You’ll notice this most prominently in the Unesco-listed Historic Centre of Macao, where buildings of both Chinese and Portuguese origin create beautiful streetscapes unlike any you have seen before.
This year, Macao’s food offering is taking centre stage, with 2018 Macao Year of Gastronomy
To immerse yourself deeper into Macanese history, visit the 17th-century Ruins of St Paul’s, or A-Ma Temple that dates back to 1488. Legend relates that the temple gave Macao its name, as it was one of the first landmarks encountered by the Portuguese settlers.
What of modern Macao? The nightlife is a key attraction, albeit far from the only one. Macao is home to a host of glitzy casinos, complemented by stylish bars and lounges, nightclubs, and spectacular shows such as The House of Dancing Water, a breathtaking extravaganza featuring high-dive acrobatics and stunts. On any given evening, you will be dazzled and entertained.
This year, Macao’s food offering is taking centre stage, with 2018 Macao Year of Gastronomy. Anybody who has ever broken bread in Macao will immediately understand why. Macanese cuisine incorporates a fusion of flavours, not only from Portugal and China, but from Africa, India, Malaysia, South America, and other places visited by the Portuguese ships on their trading routes to Macao. Alongside Macao’s fusion cuisine sample everything from classic Portuguese staples to the famous dim sum of southern China, super-fresh street food to glamourous fine dining: you can taste the history of Macao in every delicious meal.
Every foodie must visit Taipa Village, one of Macao’s most atmospheric areas and home to Rua do Cunha, known locally as ‘Food Street’. Taipa has recently welcomed a number of new restaurants and coffee shops, driving an already thriving dining scene to the next level.
Macao has always embraced a spirit of adventure, and its visitors should as well. Allow us to direct you to the 338m Macau Tower, home to the world’s highest commercial bungee jump. If that sounds a bit intense, try the SkyWalk around the Tower’s perimeter for panoramic views of the city at either day or night. (Or both.) For the daredevils, the Tower Climb is a 100-metre scramble up the communication mast to the very pinnacle. Don’t look down.
The vibrant hotel scene is constantly generating ever-more opulent accommodation
Want to escape the rush of the city? Step Out, Macao features eight walking routes around Macao, including the islands of Taipa and Coloane, and the southern countryside.. Fresh air, exercise and some truly spectacular scenery – what more could anyone ask for?
With any luck your visit will coincide with one of the many impressive events in the Macanese calendar. Perhaps the most notable is the Macau Grand Prix from 15-18 November. Held every year since 1953, the Guia Circuit sees the best Formula 3, motorcycle and WTCC racers competing on what is considered to be one of the most challenging street circuits in the world.
Where to stay? The vibrant hotel scene is constantly generating ever-more opulent accommodation. The recently opened MGM Cotai boasts 1,400 stylish rooms and suites, as well as Asia’s first adaptive and dynamic theatre. Targeting a June opening* is Morpheus, a stunning design by the late Dame Zaha Hadid. The building will be the world’s first free-form exoskeleton, and house 772 guest rooms, suites and villas, plus a sky pool 130 metres above the ground. It will feel as though you’re swimming in the clouds.
Food and nightlife, adventure and a culture unlike any other in the world. This is the city where East truly meets West.
Four nights at the Intercontinental Grand Stanford in Hong Kong and three nights at the Sofitel Macau at Ponte 16 in Macao including return business class flights with Virgin and ferry transfers from £2,249pp. Valid for travel 18 Nov-20 Dec 2018. Book by 30 Jun 2018. T&Cs apply. Visit dialaflight.com, 0330 100 2220. For more info, see Visit Macao