City Trips, Travels

Macau: Mediterranean Las Vegas in China


re you in Hong Kong or Southern China and you feel like doing something different? Maybe something European or someplace were you can blow your life savings in one go? Check out Macau! From Hong Kong it takes about an hour by ferry and you are in a different world altogether.

While Hong Kong was a British colony, Macau was a Portuguese colony and this interesting Chinese-European mix is still very present in the city. Not everybody seems to love the place, but we decided to check it out for ourselves.

So we headed to Macau for a day and were pleasantly surprised. The old town was a nice change from all our Asian adventures. You could easily fool yourself thinking you were in Southern Europe, be it flooded with Chinese tourists. We stroll past mediterranean style squares with leafy trees and little benches, tiny southern alleys with atmospheric street lighting, convents filled with nuns, whole rows of shiny vespas … We light candles in beautiful churches, and snack on Portuguese specialities (bacalau, pastéis de nata, …). While the sun sets, the old town even fades to a Mediterranean orange yellow hue. Feels a bit like home or at least close to home. If only we would have been able to score a nice bottle of wine and a little sidewalk table, it would have been picture perfect.

This is of course only one side of the old city center, you can also light incense in small Chinese temples tucked in between the city wall and a monumental church, try out strange looking Chinese medicine or snack on Cantonese cuisine. This place is quite a blend!

However, Macau is not famous for its old city centre, because the casinos get all the headlines. Apparently the casinos in Macau bring in as much cash as all other gambling jurisdictions put together. The house always wins!! Although you could try to get luck on your side by lighting candles in one of the many churches or incense in the Chinese shrines or hedge your bets and do both. In any case while gambling revenue has recently experienced a downturn in Macau, apparently due to the new anti-corruption campaign in mainland China, the casinos still had a full house.

So after having strolled through Portuguese streets past churches and squares – European style, you can bet away all your money on red in massive casinos – Las Vegas style. And if you haven’t had your fill of Southern Europe just yet, you can always head to the Venetian Casino. They have built a faux Venice. Why you ask? Just because they can… You can fulfil your gondola fantasy, including opera singing gondolieri, past chique shops, under stone bridges admiring the elaborate Venetian facades, or walk your feet of from bridge to bridge. Macau is really a bit like the Mini-Europa amusement park, but way better.

And if you don’t want to lose your cash? The casino’s have lots of entertainment, both inside and outside. Shopping centers, little Venices or jungles, blingbling bars, fancy restaurants, impressively lit up buildings, neon and flashing lights. They even make it snow outdoors in Macau… just to give you that extra wintery feeling… Need we say more?

Macau is definitely worth the trip, especially when you are in HK. Go have a look for yourself! You can already browse the city here by having a look at our pictures.

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We love exploring, writing stories, housesitting, but especially love having no plans, enjoying small things, travelling and eating. So that's how we now live.