About an hour's ferry ride from Hong Kong is Macau. Known as the Las Vegas of Asia, this little peninsula off the mainland of China is packed with grand casinos and luxurious malls with all the designer name brands you can dream of. While Macau seems like it's all about gambling and shopping, and 80 percent of it probably is, the other 20 percent is definitely worth checking out. This former Portuguese colony is quite charming once you venture away from the casinos.
During our weekend in Macau, we stayed at the Galaxy Macau, the most stunning establishment I've ever set my foot in. It was literally like living in a gold palace built for Midas himself. The best part was that our 3-days, 2-night stay was cheaper than a one-night stay at any 5-star hotel you'd find in New York!
I'll admit, it was hard leaving the comfort of our hotel, but we spent the following day exploring all that Macau has to offer beyond the glitzy casinos. Our first stop was St. Paul's Ruins. This structure used to be a part of a church, but today, only the facade remains. Near the ruins is also Fortaleza do Monte, which used to be the military center of Macau.
As you're following the busy path up to the ruins (Rua de São Paulo) be sure to stop by a pasteleria for some Portuguese egg tarts and almond cookies.
Another notable landmarks is the Macau Tower. If you want to see a panoramic view of Macau, the observation deck on level 61 of the tower would be the best place. For the brave of heart (and $400 USD), you can bungee jump off the top of the tower, which holds the Guinness World Record for highest bungee jump. As much as I love a good adrenaline rush, it was too expensive for me. But, there's a patio where you can watch people jump off, which is half as thrilling but completely free. It also happens to be the best spot to watch the sunset over the Sai Van Bridge.
And if you have time, I'd suggest you have dinner at the 360° Café on level 60. The food was delicious, but seeing all of Macau lit up at night was one of my favorite views.
Another must-see area is Senado Square. Some important landmarks around this area is the Holy House of Mercy and St. Dominic's Church.
We were so lucky to be here during the holiday season. From the Christmas decor, to the projection show on their buildings, to the tunnel of lights, it definitely got us in the Christmas spirit!
Last but not least, it's definitely worth checking out some of the other hotels. Like Las Vegas, each hotel has their own theme. For example, The Venetian is built to mimic San Marco Square in venice and even has a canal running through it where you can ride a gondola. Exploring each hotel is an adventure on its own!
Other attractions worth checking out are the House of Dancing Water show at the City of Dreams resort. Unfortunately, we couldn't fit it in our schedule, but I've heard great things about it! Another reason people visit Macau, especially for Asians, is to try shark fin soup. I’m personally against it, but for the curious foodies, Macau is a good place to find affordable shark fin soup.
This weekend was just what I needed to get away from the busy city life of Hong Kong for a little, and it’s not everyday I get to experience this type of grandeur. Definitely worth a visit if you’re in the neighborhood!
*Originally published on Violets for Vivien