A brief history of Macau
Macau is a delicious mixture of old and new. At every turn, there seems to be a juxtaposition of the two that surprises and delights. Past and present collide here, its rich history standing strong amidst the development and 21st-century progress that surround it. The Portuguese settled Macau, the last European colony in China, in the 16th century and the island was handed back to China in 1999. Now, along with Hong Kong, Macau is considered a Special Administrative Region (SAR). An SAR is an area that straddles autonomy and inclusion in China as a whole, under the principle of "one country, two systems," proposed by politician Deng Xiaoping. Today, Macau is a wonderful combination of Chinese and Portuguese food, culture and customs, making it a unique and intriguing place for travellers to explore.
Where to stay
Casino hotels abound in Macau and the smaller neighbouring island, Taipa. Though all are huge, impressive structures with distinctive selling points, not all are equal. The variety certainly means choice and can accommodate most any taste. However, the MGM Grand Macau stands out among the others. Its avant-garde design and colourful, mirrored exterior make for a warm welcome and the friendly staff echoes this sentiment immediately upon arrival. This hotel has 35 stories, 600 rooms, 300 table games in the casino and 1,000 slot machines. (It sounds enormous but isn't when compared to the mammoth Venetian in nearby Taipa – which clocks in at a whopping 10.5 million square feet.) The lobby is bright and colourful and the adjoining atrium feels like something straight out of a fairy tale, full of brilliant oversized flowers and butterflies hanging overhead. The rooms are generous in size and are modern, too. The hotel has 12 restaurants, bars and lounges, a 222,000-square-foot casino and a spa. The Six Senses Spa's menu has everything from body massages to facial treatments, Thai massage, hot stone therapy, acupressure and Indian head massage. After you've totally blissed out at the spa, head over to the outdoor pool where you can order freshly barbecued food and sip cocktails poolside as you gaze out at the South China Sea.
Page 1 of 2 — on page 2, did you know that Macau is one of the world's most renowned gambling destinations?Casinos
It's known to Europeans as the Monte Carlo of the East and to Americans as the Asian Las Vegas. What you call it may depend on where you hail from but either way, Macau has earned its place as one of the world's most renowned gambling destinations and people the world over are coming here to make a date with Lady Luck. It's not like the locals are big gamblers, but the never-ending construction of one casino/hotel after another is luring gamblers from as near as Hong Kong and mainland China and from as far as Europe and North America. Whether or not you're a gambler, there's an energy here that's tough to resist. You don't have to blow the down payment for your new home to join in the fun, either. It's more about being a part of the action, even if only as an onlooker. Get dolled up, enjoy a few drinks and after you've blown your limit, enjoy watching others. It's so much easier when it's not your money on the line!
Macau is delightful for its old-world charm and unexpected mélange of Portuguese and Chinese cultures. It's charming, the people are wonderfully friendly, the food is scrumptious and there's something about looking out on the South China Sea that's truly special.
For more information, visit: www.macautourism.gov.mo
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Natalie Bahadur is a regular contributor to CanadianLiving.com and the editor of StyleAtHome.com.
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