Travel

Travel idea: 5 reasons to visit Macau

Author: Canadian Living

Travel

Travel idea: 5 reasons to visit Macau

About an hour ferry ride from Hong Kong in the South China Sea lies the island of Macau. This former Portuguese colony was settled by Portuguese explorers in the 16th century, but the land was handed back to China in 1999. Today, Macau is a mixture of Portuguese and Chinese cultures with foods, customs and architecture that sometimes make you forget where you are. Europe? Asia? It's an interesting combination of both, a place where old world charm meets 21st-century progress. Here are five things to do in Macau.   

What to do
1. The Macau Tower
The Macau Tower dominates the skyline. You can't miss it and if you're brave, you might just work up the nerve to allow a group of friendly strangers strap you into a harness so you can take the plunge from the top. At 338 metres, the Macau Tower is the tenth tallest tower in the world (eighth tallest in Asia) and challenges daredevils to take a leap of faith … literally. The bungee jump, or Skyjump as it's called, from the tower's outer rim is from a height of 233 metres and is said to be the highest in the world. If you're not a jumper, the breathtaking bird's eye view of Macau is still worth the journey up. If your sense of adventure falls somewhere in between jumping and staying safe behind the glass windows of the observation deck, visitors can still experience the thrill of suiting up, getting harnessed and walking along the outer rim of the tower for a spectacular view uninhibited by glass.

2. The Ruins of St. Paul's
The Ruins of St. Paul's are an imposing piece of history, looming high above Senado Square. Built between 1582 and 1602 by Jesuits, it was once the largest Catholic church in all of Asia. But the church was destroyed by fire in 1835 and all that remains now is the façade. It's a popular attraction in Macau, partly because of its central location and proximity to Senado Square.

Page 1 of 23. Senado Square
Senado Square is a must-see. It's a popular public square and sure, it's touristy, but there's also a local flavour here, more Portuguese than Chinese, though definitely a blend of both. Paved with a colourful assortment of stones in a wave pattern, the streets feel like old world Europe and show off a Portuguese sense of style and design. Beautiful old colonial buildings flank both sides of the streets and it's easy to forget where you are. For pedestrians only, the square is full of cafes and fashionable shopping and visitors can easily while away a relaxing day here, sipping on fresh fruit slushies under the hot afternoon sun. From glassware and artwork to designer clothing and bags, this outdoor square is a worth exploring. When you get hungry, there are endless options from savoury dim sum to those sweet and delicious Portuguese custard tarts, pasteis de nata

4. Restaurante Litoral
Much like Thai food, food in Macau is known for its exceptional blend of flavours: sweet and sour, salty and bitter and sometimes even mingling textures like crunchy and smooth. And let's not forget the most obvious marriage of flavours: Macanese cuisine is part Chinese, part Portuguese. Whatever the secret, the food is delish! Restaurants abound in Macau. Many purely Chinese restaurants and many purely Portuguese; while you're visiting, be sure to visit a place that serves Macanese food, that delectable blend of both. Restaurante Litoral is a good place to start but be sure to arrive hungry. The options are plentiful here and you'll want to try traditional favourites like African chicken and minchi (minced pork). And always, always leave room for dessert.

5. Foot massages
The massage business is a burgeoning industry in Asia, and Macau is full of places to sit back, relax and get pampered. But be aware. We're not talking about luxurious spas that cater to your every whim in a pristine environment, with the faint tranquil sounds of classical music filling the air. Sure, there are lots of hotels that offer up the flawless spa experience we Westerners have come to expect. But for something a little more local, wander the streets and you're sure to stumble upon a massage parlor that offers up a limited but reasonable menu of services. A foot massage is likely your safest bet. For about $10, you can relax for an hour and get your tender tootsies ready for more exploring. For more information, visit: www.macautourism.gov.mo

Read more:
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Your tour guide
Natalie Bahadur is a regular contributor to CanadianLiving.com and the editor of StyleAtHome.com.
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Travel idea: 5 reasons to visit Macau

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