Macau is a place of fascinating contrasts, where East meets West, and the old intertwines with the new. Located on the southeastern coast of China, at the mouth of the Pearl River, it is a special administrative region of the People's Republic of China and, much like Hong Kong, operates under the "one country, two systems" principle. Macau, once a Portuguese colony, is the perfect blend of Chinese and Portuguese cultures, with its colonial architecture, Chinese temples, bustling streets and Portuguese-infused cuisine.
Macau became a Portuguese territory in the mid-16th century, serving as a vital trading post between China and the West. The city's colonial era ended when it was handed back to China in 1999. Now, its unique cultural heritage and historical sites coexist harmoniously with its reputation as the 'Las Vegas of Asia', due to its sprawling casinos and vibrant nightlife.
Today, Macau is known for its rich cultural tapestry, from the historic center of Macau (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), to the glitz and glamour of the Cotai Strip, to the serenity of Coloane Village. It's a gourmet's paradise, famous for its fusion of Portuguese and Chinese cuisine, and a haven for adventurers with an array of water and land-based activities to enjoy.
Macau is also notable for being one of the most densely-populated places in the world. Spread out across an area just five miles wide and six miles long, Macau is not only home to nearly 700,000 people, it also welcomes a massive amount of tourism. The special administrative region recorded just under 40 million tourists arriving in the year 2019, not just from mainland China but from all over the world.
History and Culture
Macau's history and culture are a mesmerizing blend of Portuguese and Chinese influences, reflecting its unique past. The historic center of Macau, with its well-preserved colonial buildings and Chinese temples, tells the story of its multicultural past. The region also celebrates a multitude of Chinese and Portuguese holidays and festivals throughout the year, reflecting its unique blend of cultures.
Macau is famous for its vibrant arts scene, from traditional Chinese music to contemporary art exhibitions. The city hosts various cultural festivals throughout the year, including the Macau Arts Festival and the Macau International Music Festival. Additionally, Chinese New Year, Mid-Autumn Festival, and the Dragon Boat Festival are popular cultural events, along with Portuguese holidays like the Lusofonia Festival (three days, December), which showcases Lusophone cultures from around the world.
Located in the subtropical zone, Macau has a humid subtropical climate. Summers, from June to September, are very hot and humid, with occasional thunderstorms and typhoons, while winters, from December to February, are mild and relatively dry. We recommend autumn (October-December) as the best time to visit when the weather is warm and pleasant, fairly dry, and crowds at tourist attractions will be smaller. The average high temperature in summer can reach up to 90 degrees Fahrenheit, and in winter, the average low is around the mid-50s, so those are the types of extremes you can expect in Macau in terms of temperature readings.
All About Macau
In Macau Peninsula, you'll find the Historic Centre of Macau, which houses more than 20 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the Ruins of St. Paul's, Senado Square, and the A-Ma Temple. The peninsula is also home to various casinos, like the grand Casino Lisboa, and numerous Portuguese-inspired eateries.
To the south of the peninsula lies Taipa, an island where you can experience Macau's village life. Visit the Taipa Houses Museum for a glimpse into the region's past and wander around the charming streets lined with traditional Portuguese houses. Taipa is also home to the sprawling Venetian Macao, the largest casino in the world.
Further south is Coloane, the least populated and most natural of Macau's regions. It offers beautiful beaches, hiking trails, and Coloane Village, a quiet fishing village where you can escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. Visit the famous Lord Stow's Bakery, known for its Portuguese egg tarts, a delightful blend of Portuguese and Chinese culinary traditions.
Connecting Taipa and Coloane is the reclaimed land area known as the Cotai Strip, a hub of entertainment. Here, you'll find many luxury resorts, casinos, and shopping malls, including the City of Dreams, The Parisian Macao, and the Galaxy Macau Resort.
Food & Drink
Macau's food culture is an exciting blend of Chinese and Portuguese influences, reflecting its unique history. The city is renowned for Macanese cuisine, a fusion of Portuguese, Southeast Asian, and Chinese cooking techniques and ingredients. Noteworthy dishes to try include Portuguese egg tarts, pork chop buns, and African chicken (a spicy chicken dish that's a legacy of Macau's connections to Portuguese Africa). Seafood is also a staple in Macau, with a plethora of options from fresh catch of the day to delicately prepared seafood rice. For those with a sweet tooth, make sure to try the almond cookies and peanut candies available in local bakeries and street stalls. Pair your meals with Portuguese wine or the local Macau Beer to complete your gastronomic journey. For more detailed culinary information on Macau, visit the Chinese cuisine page.