Art/Style/Travel Diaries

Today’s lifestyle: It’s all in Macau

Eating, shopping, high-adrenaline fun, sightseeing, gaming, conventions—they're packed in this accessible destination, now even for families

Ruins of St. Paul's

Macau is showing off its free and wild, high-adrenaline and interesting lifestyle that encompasses dining, sightseeing, gaming, convention-meeting: a complete experience. For adrenaline junkies, the highest bungee-jumping site in the world is on the 61st floor of the AJ Hackett Macau Tower. At the Studio City Water Park, go on Macau’s first water rollercoaster, or hop from platform diving to rock climbing at its Rockwall Fall, or shoot the Starlight Rapids.

While flying across Lisboeta, a modern Macau-theme destination via urban zipline Zip City, you can either take in the skyline by day or enjoy the audio-visual show at night. For kids not afraid of heights, the Golden Reel, the world’s largest ferris wheel, offers stunning views of the city. Get double the fun of multimedia art at the teamlab SuperNature Macao at The Venetian, which is twice the size of teamlabs in other Asian cities.

Dubbed the “Las Vegas of the East,” Macau lures high-rollers who fly in for the day to play baccarat and Caribbean stud poker. In pre-pandemic times, the former Portuguese colony was reputed to have the world’s most immersive casino gaming experience. Its main economy was derived from casinos and its supporting businesses such as luxury boutiques and wellness places.

After three years of intermittent lockdowns, this Special Administrative Region of China has reinvented itself as a destination for meetings, incentives, convention, and leisure (MICE), and family vacations. As a Unesco Creative City of Gastronomy, it is pushing its fusion cuisine, plethora of Michelin-star restaurants, street food stalls, and Macanese cookery.

General Post Office Building

Macau Fisherman’s Wharf

Still, don’t allow the sensory excesses to overshadow its refined side, such as the landscapes, art galleries, progressive design shops, and chic bars.

“We are getting more independent travelers than groups,” said Ma. Helena de Senna Fernandes, director of Macao Government Tourism Office. “Sightseeing is the main reason for coming. Some 10 percent will profess that they come for gaming, though we have seen a trend for leisure gamers. They are here for the different attractions, and why not try their luck in gaming? We are seeing more people coming here for conferences and concerts.”

Fernandes visited the Philippines recently when Melco Resorts & Entertainment, a developer and operator of gaming and entertainment complexes in Asia, hosted a travel presentation and dinner, prepared by Macau’s Michelin-star chefs. City of Dreams (COD) Manila, the venue, is a property of Melco.

If you have only 24 hours to spare in Macau, Fernandes suggests that first-time visitors should not miss the historic centers of Taipa and Coloane, located on one island with a city center.

Taipa’s cultural district has a pedestrian avenue lined with shops, restaurants, hawkers selling Macanese beef jerky, egg tarts, and almond cookies, and Portuguese colonial homes built in the early 20th century. The Museum of Taipa and Coloane History, a repurposed colonial municipal building, displays crafts that narrate Macau’s history. Built in 1925, the Iec Long Firecracker Factory is a heritage industrial site that highlights the island’s history of a firecracker industry.

The Coloane Village has pastel-colored Portuguese homes and narrow streets, evocative of early 20th-century Macau. The place is known for its Baroque church, traditional Chinese temples, monuments, and resplendent views.

A-Ma Temple

If you want to try local cuisine for lunch, Fernandes recommends minchee, a comfort food made of stir-fried ground meat and vegetables with spices. A must-try, African chicken is a melding of cultures and flavors with its crispy chicken skin and tender meat, potatoes, and peppers blended with coconut milk and peanut sauce.

Retail therapy in Macau

You could likewise spend a whole day at The Venetian, whose architecture captures the Italian city’s canals and landmarks, with 3,000 guestrooms and 330 retail outlets.

The 1,706-room Wynn Palace offers an extensive choice of spacious rooms, suites, and villas, dotted with art, a spa, luxury shops, and gourmet restaurants. You can watch shows at The Performance Lake or take a selfie in front of the spectacle of dancing fountains. Guests can get an aerial tour of the resort via airconditioned SkyCabs and see the views of the Performance Lake and Cotai, the new gaming and tourism site in Macau.

According to surveys on tourist spending, shopping is the no. 1 activity. “It makes up 40 percent of tourist spending,” said Fernandes.

Visitors can walk across three neighboring malls—The Shoppes at The Venetian, Four Seasons Hotel at Cotai Strip, and Cotai Central. At The Venetian, the ceilings reference the sunny sky above the Venice-inspired interiors. The gondolas along the indoor canals can bring you to the high-end shops.

Big spenders indulge themselves at The Billionaire Couture at Four Seasons for bespoke garments designed in Italy. The Promenade at the Galaxy integrated resort is another option for fashion, lifestyle, and food.

Budget tourists can stay in comfortable rooms at the center of town. “Depending on the time of the year, room rates are affordable in the low season, especially on weekdays,” said Fernandes.

Golden Reel

“Filipinos love to have fun. They love to be entertained. That’s what Studio City offers,” said Kevin Benning, SVP of Melco Resorts & Entertainment and Property GM of Studio City, who knows the Philippine market very well, having served as COO of City of Dreams Manila for five years until the lockdown in 2020. Flashy and colossal, Studio City is one of the three major developments of Melco in Macau. “When my Filipino friends go somewhere, they want to do more than one thing. They want to have a trip where they can have a great hotel, go shopping, enjoy the Water Park, ride the Golden Reel Ferris Wheel, go shopping, take the kids to the Super Fun Zone, and have dinner,” said Benning.

Studio City Water Park

This integrated gaming resort is known for its exclusive family-friendly offerings. The Studio City Water Park is an indoor-outdoor facility with water slides, wave pools, and indoor surfing simulator, and a 3.7-m diving pool. The Super Fun Zone consists of themed areas that range from mountains to outer space. The 5,000-capacity Studio City Event Center has had concerts with Madonna and BTS. A cinema will open in 2024.

Super Fun Zone

Studio City Event Center

Studio City’s choice of accommodations includes the affordable 1,000-room Celebrity Tower, the all-suite minimalist Star Tower, the lavish Epic Tower, and W Macau from the upscale lifestyle chain, W Hotels.


Melco’s City of Dreams Macau offers more lavish experiences with such luxury hotels as Nuwa, Grand Hyatt Macau, the Countdown, and the flagship Morpheus designed by the late “starchitect” Zaha Hadid. “The place is more refined. If you love shopping, the range is more extensive with duty-free shops, Louis Vuitton, Prada, and Michelin-star restaurants,” said Benning.

Unlike the behemoth properties, Melco’s first integrated resort and casino in Macau, the 38-story Altira Macau at the city center, is smaller, but a 14-time winner of awards from Forbes Travel Guide. It is famous for the spa, the relaxing infinity pool, and Ying restaurant, specializing in Cantonese cuisine.  “It gets you out of the craziness of Macau,” said Benning. “They specialize in bespoke experiences. Everybody knows your name.”

About author


She is a veteran journalist who’s covered the gamut of lifestyle subjects. Since this pandemic she has been giving free raja yoga meditation online.

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