The exciting skyline of Macau offers visitors a combination of luxurious “Las Vegas” style hotels and casinos together with old world charm of its rich Portuguese colonial heritage. This was my third visit to Macau and each one afforded an entirely new experience; one of expansion, development, world class luxury hotels such as MGM GRAND, Four Seasons, Mandarin-Oriental, The Sands, Trump International, the fantastic Galaxy Resort where I stayed and of which I will write and post separately and the brand new Venetian. Macau offers a unique travel destination for everyone; lavish shows and entertainment, shopping, casinos, a unique Eur-Asian history, great cuisine and is also quite affordable.
Macau is only 37 miles from Hong Kong and is quite accessible as mentioned in my previous post about the Macau Ferry System. Macau is one of the two very special SAR (Special Administrative Regions) of the People’s Republic of China; the other being Hong Kong. A former Portuguese colony, Macau was administered by Portugal from the mid-16th century until 1999 when it was the last remaining European colony in China. The Sino-Portuguese Joint Declaration and the Basic Law of Macau stipulate that Macau operate with a high degree of autonomy until at least 2049. You do not need a VISA to enter Macau. Macau has its own currency, the Pataca which currently is more or less equivalent to the Hong Kong Dollar. HK$1=MOP1.03.
Interspersed between the luxurious brand new development of hotels and casinos; you will find charming little streets of old Macau again with a unique blend of Asian as well as Colonial architecture.
The colorful street markets of Old Macau are full of surprises; together with the classic Portuguese Egg Custard Tart; one also finds Asian inspired food such as the above: An assortment of honey cured meats including Beef, Chicken, Pork and Duck.
Probably the most famous historic landmark of Macau: The ruins of St. Paul’s Cathedral built in 1602. In 1835 a fire destroyed most of the Cathedral except for the remaining stone facade which stands to this day as a major historic symbol and landmark. There is quite an extensive museum and garden which is connected on the upper terrace of the Cathedral. The Museum has several floors of rooms explaining the history of Macau and offers the visitor a unique historical journey.
The World Tourism Organization reports a staggering growth rate for Macau from 9.1 million visitors in the year 2000 to more than 22 million in 2006.