The Macau attractions that draw the most tourists into this vibrant city include, of course, the glittering Cotai Strip and the Macau casinos, earning the city the moniker, “Las Vegas of the East.” Macau has been a casino destination for decades, although recent developments in the Cotai Strip have made it even more appealing internationally. Aside from the casinos, however, there are many things to do in Macau for visitors interested in the city itself. Senado Square and St Dominic’s Church form the heart of the historic old city, along with the iconic St Paul’s Cathedral. Meanwhile, a trip up the Macau Tower gives you panoramic views of the whole city.
The casinos are the top Macau attractions in this special region of China, bringing international visitors as well as regulars from China and Hong Kong, who take advantage of Macau’s close proximity. The most famous historic hotel and casino is the Grand Lisboa, a gracefully aging giant whose seventies décor will appeal to visitors who want a glimpse of Macau’s history as a gambling destination. The hotel also boasts a Michelin-starred restaurant by restauranteur Joel Robuchon. Newer hotels abound to the south of the Grand Lisboa in the Cotai Strip, the giant casino development modeled after the Las Vegas Strip.
Reclaimed land has been set aside for the Cotai Strip casino developments, in which new casinos have been springing up every year since Macau was handed back to China in 1999. The largest and most visible casino is the gigantic Sands hotel. It is the largest casino in the world, and will likely be the first casino you see as you step off the Hong Kong-Macau ferry. A visit to the nearby Venetian Hotel and Casino is one of the top things to do in Macau—this casino resort has a huge indoor mall, gondolas floating along its fake canals, and all the perks of its Las Vegas location, with the bonus that it is newer. The smaller Wynn Casino is one of the newest casinos in town and has garnered a reputation for its design and style. You could spend your entire stay in Macau at the casinos, but do plan a day to see some of the other Macau attractions.
Senado Square is the heart of Macau’s historic district and a visit there is one of the most interesting things to do in Macau. Here you can glimpse Macau’s history as a Portuguese colony, and you can follow the pedestrian walkway all the way to St Paul’s Cathedral. The wavy mosaic pavement of the square is a famous sight, and the square is lined with historic buildings such as the Old Senate and the colonial Post Office. A visit inside the latter is recommended, as the Post Office is still in operation and is a great place to mail a few postcards while admiring the period architecture. Surrounding the square, dozens of small shops sell local snacks and specialties, so be sure to pick up some almond cookies, beef jerky, and a few Portuguese egg tarts.
St Dominics Church
St Dominics Church
Located at Senado Square, St Dominic’s Church is a distinctively Spanish-style church in the heart of East Asia. Its creamy yellow walls are adorned with white embellishments in a colonial style, and the inside of the church is brightly decorated with paintings and statues.
A trip up the Macau Tower allows visitors to glimpse a 360-degree view of the city of Macau. An interesting touch are the arrows pointing to different destinations in East Asia (such as Hong Kong and Beijing), accompanied with the distance (as the crow flies) to the destination. If you feel like being adventurous, you can also go bungee-jumping or walk around the outside of the tower on the SkyWalk.