Macau is a Special Autonomous Region of China (SAR). At first, I thought it is a country itself, luckily I’ve learned from an acquaintance that it is a region of China. Well, I was maybe sleeping when our Social Studies’ teacher taught that. Hehe 🙂
Macau also was known as “The Vegas of China”, it is widely famous with Casino and luxurious hotels, gambling, and glitz. The word “CASINO” is prominently displayed in every corner of the street, but beyond that, Macau is very rich in cultural history.
Macau was formerly a colony of the Portuguese Empire after Ming China leased the territory as a trading post in 1557. Originally governing under Chinese authority and sovereignty, Portugal was given perpetual occupation rights for Macau in 1887. Macau remained under Portuguese control until 1999, when it was returned to China. As a special administrative region, Macau maintains a separate political and economic system apart from mainland China. The People’s Republic of China’s obligation to run Macau a special administrative region per the Joint Declaration on the Question of Macau expires on December 20, 2049.
Macau is the gambling capital of the world. Its economy is heavily dependent on gambling and tourism, with the largest gaming revenue since 2006. It has a very high Human Development Index and the fourth-highest life expectancy in the world. Macau is among the world’s richest regions and its GDP per capita by purchasing power parity was higher than that of any country in the world 2015, Macau was ranked as the No.1 of the Fastest Growing Metropolitan Areas in the world by Brookings Institution.
We went there last August 25-30, 2018. We came via 45 minutes sailing via Cotai Water Jet departing from Hong Kong Ferry Terminal. Ferry
fare cost us Hkd 185/pax (Php 1,295). It causes us seasick due to the bad weather that has been hitting during our travel, it made me uneasy for I was traveling with my daughter, the boat was shaky and the sea was rough. Anyways, after all those shaking, we eventually arrived in Taipa Ferry Terminal. It was a long walk before you reach the immigration, approximately 20 minutes of walking. We were given and allowed to stay for 30 days. Upon getting our passports back and going to the arrival lounge, my daughter has a hard time understanding the Portuguese translation posted an inch of every corner.
One thing that I like the most about this place, transportation everywhere is free. Majority of the hotels provide shuttle bus for their clients, for the tourist or even for the locals. Wandering and discovering Macau is my most inexpensive travel (transportation wise). We only spent MOP 12 for transportation when we went to A-Ma Temple, well; we did not know that there is an available shuttle bus going there provided by Galaxy Hotel, Parisian and Holiday Inn, those are the 3 buses that I saw at the vicinity.
Okay, so that was our first day, we arrived at around 5 pm. We stayed in my friend’s apartment sharing with other Filipino who are working in different hotels. I and my daughter were so excited to explore this little place that seems so huge in terms of economic advantage.
Places to Visit
Ruins of St. Paul
A walking distance where we stayed in San Malo, the ruins of a 17th-century complex in Santo António, Macau, China. It includes what was originally St. Paul’s College and the Church of St. Paul was also known as “Mater Dei”, a 17th-century Portuguese church dedicated to Saint Paul the Apostle. In 2005, they were officially listed as part of the Historic Centre of Macau, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This is referred to as the most touristic spot all over Macau. I can attest to that, there are lots of tourist in this place, it’s even hard to take a good shot for as everyone was trying to get a good angle or a good selfie without photobombers. We went inside the museum, you could see the ancient living testimony of almost 400 years aged history. On the top, it is a clear semi-aerial view of Senado Square.
Fortaleza do Monte and Macau Museum
Built in conjunction with the Jesuits from 1617 to 1626, this was the city’s principal military defense structure and was crucial in successfully holding off the attempted Dutch invasion of Macao in 1622. The fortress was equipped with cannons, military barracks, wells and an arsenal that held sufficient ammunition and supplies to endure a siege lasting up to two years. In 1998 the Macao Museum was installed at the site, consisting of two underground levels and a third one above the fortress’ top platform following the location, volume, and design of the old military barracks that existed at the site before the area was demilitarized in 1965. The designs of military structures in Macao inspired the southern Chinese authorities to start building fortresses of a similar kind to defend their extensive coastline.
Mount Fortress is built on top of Mount Hill, which rises 52 meters above sea level. The fortress covers an area of approximately 8,000 square meters, in the shape of a trapezoid. The four corners of the fortress protrude to form bulwarks. The northeastern, south-eastern and south-western walls are built on 3.7-metre-wide granite bases. The walls, 9 meters high narrowing upwards to 2.7 meters wide at the top, are made of solid rammed earth, further strengthened by a thick stucco of ground oyster shells. The parapets were crenelated for the installation of 32 cannons and the two corners of the southeast wall have watchtowers. The walls facing the Chinese Mainland do not have any battlements, indicating that the fortress was built only for defense against attacks from the sea.
It is located at the right upper side of The Ruins of St. Paul. You can also found the Macau Museum in this area, unfortunately, we went there Monday, it was closed when we visited, but my daughter enjoyed discovering the top of Mount Fortress. She was amazed by the huge canyons which surround circular on the top. Another thing was the big telescopes that let you gazed the whole city.
Fortress and gardens
07:00 – 19:00
10:00 – 18:00
closed on Mondays
Largo de Senado (SENADO SQUARE)
Another part of UNESCO Historic Centre of Macau World Heritage Site. Even just going around in this square is as much as touring around the whole city. You can find several churches and historic heritage in the footage of the square. There are lots of photographic site in this area.
We first went to Igreja de Se Cathedral (Cathedral Nativity of Our Lady), then to the Bishop’s House, and some others touristic spots along the neighborhood. I was not allowed to go inside for I was wearing short shorts, but the Chinese attendant was so accommodating she let me borrow a sarong as a cover-up. My daughter has been studying in a Catholic school and she was molded as a religious child(proud mom here), so it was just very natural for her to go straight to the altar and prayed. We spent a few minutes of praying and lurking our eyes to the church structure and beautiful altar.
Na Cha Temple
The Na Tcha Temple, built in 1888, is a Chinese folk religion temple in Santo António, Macau, China dedicated to the worship of the deity Na Tcha. The Na Tcha Temple was built in homage to the child god of war.
we did not stayed longer in this temple, we just passed by on our way to the Ruins of St. Paul. Nevertheless this is also one of the main touristic places of worship spots of Macau.
One of the oldest temple of Macau. History said that the name Macau derives from A-Ma Temple. It is located in São Lourenço, Macau, China. A-Ma is said to be the goddess of the fisherman also known as Mazu.
It was raining hard when we visited this place. From Centro Enrique de Infante bus stop, we rode bus no. 10 and goes down at the last stop which is Templo A-Ma. There are also several buses the passes by in this area, some that I remember are Bus No. 8. 9 , 10a, 10b, 11 and 88. I am really not sure about these buses, my bad I did not take down the information.
As a born Catholic, there are lots of unfamiliar things that captured our tenacity. One of those are the giants’ twirls of twig, best to describe as a giant coil, I really have no idea how to call those things but the temple is surrounded by those. I would assume it is an incense to cast away the bad spirits.
In this area where the temple is located, your eyes can enjoy a lot of Macau Outer Harbour Attractions. Museu Maritimo is just across the temple; few blocks away you will find Chapel of Our Lady of Penha. Mandarin’s House is also nearby, but sadly, due to the heavy rain, we did not able to see these places.
Macau Tower Convention & Entertainment Centre (Chinese: 澳門旅遊塔會展娛樂中心; Portuguese: Centro de Convenções e Entretenimento da Torre de Macau)
Also known as Macau Tower, is a tower located in Sé, Macau. The tower measures 338 m (1,109 ft) in height from ground level to the highest point. Its observation deck features panoramic views, restaurants, theaters, shopping malls and the Skywalk X, a thrilling walking tour around the outer rim. It offers the best view of Macau and in recent years has been used for a variety of adventurous activities. At 233 meters, the Macau Tower’s tethered “skyjump” and Bungee jump by AJ Hackett from the tower’s outer rim, is the highest commercial skyjump in the world (233 meters), and the second highest commercial decelerator descent facility in the world, after Vegas’ Stratosphere skyjump at 252 metres. The tower was created by the architecture firm of Moller Architects.
The tower is one of the members of the World Federation of Great Towers. Besides being used for observation and entertainment, the tower is also used for telecommunications and broadcasting. It and the Grand Lisboa hotel are the most recognizable landmarks in the Macao skyline.
The weather is not friendly during our visit, after visiting A-Ma Temple, my daughter and I tried to lurk in this tower, we do not know how to get there by taking bus so we decided to just walk it through, it was just close but it was raining hard that we re-scheduled our visit and end up just taking pictures along the lake.
Glamorous Hotels and Casino
Hotels are everywhere, you would know bu just looking outside the building that majority of the hotels are a high end 5-7 stars rating. Grand Lisboa, Venetians, Parisian, Wynn Palace, Grand Emperor, Galaxy are just a few from the hotels in there that we checked. Wynn Palace extremely blew me away when I had the chance to witness their Tree of Prosperity Show. At first, I thought it was just a ceiling designed with the zodiac sign animals in gold plated, and on the floor is a half circle in gold plated, I was already mesmerized by the design and I could take my eyes off, when suddenly the background music started, I never knew that there would be a show that is going to happen, the base is surrounded by a bunch of tourists so we decided to wait for the show. a chandelier of beads suspended from the ceiling meets a man-made tree painted in gold emerging from beneath an opulent gold-colored dome with carvings of the symbols of the twelve zodiac signs never fails to attract and mesmerize the crowds who pass by Wynn’s Casino daily. The show captivated and made my vacation calm. I really enjoyed the show and the hotels.
Overall, how is Macau?
Well, this region is quite small, we stayed for 5 days and we almost explored every corner from North to South, West to East. Too bad, it was raining hard on our travel date. But everything went smoothly that we manage to enjoy and we able to see the glitz of this region. I can rate this as one of the cheapest countries that I visited (in terms of transportation). 5 days, we just spent MOP 12 for bus fare. From arrival to departure, the shuttle bus is always available. If you are looking for sight-seeing and relaxation I would humbly recommend this place, if you want to explore and learn about history and culture, this place will suit you, the historical facts are well kept and taking care off the way it should be. It is safely guarded and open to the public and tourist. If you are looking for past time, well, you can find casino everywhere, just make sure you bring a huge amount of money to gamble.
My daughter enjoyed every place that we visited, she loves Macau more than Hong Kong, oh well, of course, she’s a kid, obviously, on her no, 1 list is Disneyland.
There are lots of Macau to see, it was just too bad the rains stops us from completing every place on our list. I will surely come back again to complete all the sceneries to update on this blog.