Executive summary by darmansjah
See – Best For Architecture
Built by Jesuits between 1852 and 1602, the former Cathedral of St Paul was one of Christianity’s greatest monuments in Asia until 1835 when a fire struck, leaving just a façade and a stairway. (macautouristguide.com; Rua de Sao Paulo; free)
Best For History
Behind the 17th-century ramparts of the Monte-Fort, Macau Museum does an excellent job of introducing the island’s history and culture, including a re-created firecracker factory (00 853 2835 7911; macaumuseum.gov.mo; Fortaleza do Monte; closed Mondays; US$2, free on the 15th of each month).
Best For Temples
Built in traditional style an possibly even predating the arrival of the Portuguese, the Unesco World Heritage Site A-Ma Temple is dedicated to Macau’s incarnation of the Chinese sea goddess Tin Hau, or Mazu (macautourism.gov.mo; Rua de Sao Tiago de Barra; 7am-6pm).
Best For Shopping
The streets between the square of Largo de Sao Domingos and the Ruins of St Paul are great for browsing, specifically on Rua dos Ervanorios and Rua de Nossa Senhora do Amparo. There are shops selling jade and incense, and when the afternoon arrives, flea-market vendors spread their wares on the ground.
Best For Relaxing
In the world’s most densely populated territory, the island of Coloane provides some welcome green space. Coloane Village still has a sleepy feel, while the coast leads on to Hac Sa Beach and Cheoc Van Bay.
Why Go – The Las Vegas of the East already makes more money than its American rival – yet behind the mega-casinos is a distinctly non-Vegas sense of heritage. The Portuguese ruled Macau from 1557 to 1999, creating a Chinese city with more than a touch of southern Europe.
When To Go – summer (June-August) in this subtropical climate can be unbearably humid, making October, November and December the most temperate months to visit
How To Go – From Singapore, fly to Macau International Airport with Tiger Airways (tigerairways.com). from Kuala Lumpur, fly with AirAsia (airasia.com). Macau is also just an hour from Hong Kong by catamaran (turbojet.com.hk, uwtt.com.hk, cotaijet.com.mo).
Eat & Drink – the cosy Lord Stow’s Café serves baked goodies from the well-known bakery around the corner. It’s best known for its pastels de nata, scrumptious egg custard tarts with a flaky crust (00 853 2888 2174; lordstow.com; 9 Largo do Matadouro, Coloane; 10am-6pm; desserts from US$1).
Lung Wah Tea House is a place of old Cantonese tradition. There is no English menu – you can just grab what you like the look of from the dim sum cart (00 853 2857 4456; lungwahteahouse.com; 3 Av do Almirante lacerda; 7am-2pm; dim sum from US$1.50).
If you only visit one Portuguese restaurant in Macau, make it Antonio. Try the goat’s cheese with acacia honey and olive oil, or a lavish seafood stew for two (00 853 2899 9998; antoniomacau.com; 3 Rua dos negociantes, Taipa; lunch and dinner ; mains from US$19).
Litoral is renowed for its solid Macanese and Portuguese cooking, in particular its baked duck rice and shrimp soup served in a bowl made from bread (00 853 2896 7878; restaurant-litoral.com; 216 Rua do Almirante Sergio; lunch and dinner; mains from US$24).
If you hit a lucky streak, consider three-Michelin-starred Robuchon au Dome, previously Robuchon a Galeria and now at a new location. Dishes include pan-fried Iberian cod 900 853 8803 787; grandlisboahhotel.com/dining; 43/F, Grand Lisboa, Avenida de Lisboa; lunch and dinner, set lunch from US$57, degustation menus from US$275).
Sleep – Sitting atop Mong-Ha hill near a ruined nineteenth-century fort is the Pousada de Mong-Ha, a traditional Portuguese inn run by local tourism students. Rooms are well-appointed and service is attentive (00 853 2851 5222; ift.edu.mo/pousada; Colina de Mong-ha; from Us$72).
The 30-room Pousada de Coloane is excellent value in an often-pricey city, and a good choice if you want to be based somewhere a bit quieter. All rooms have balconies and sea views overlooking Cheoc-Van beach (00 853 2888 2143; hotelpcoloane.com.mo; Praia de Cheoc-Van, Coloane; from US$95).
Like its Las Vegas parent, The Venetian recreates the city of gondolas in its own brand of loud, kitschy excess. You’ll need a map to find your way around this vast complex of suites, casinos, shops and restaurants. See the website for packages that often come with complementary ferry tickets (00 853 2882 8888; venetian.com.mo; Estrada da Baia de Nossa Senhorra da Esperanca; from US$210).
The Wyn Macau is a more restrained Vegas-inspired casino hotel. Rooms are suites have high ceilings and almost everything is automated. Bonuses include the superb outdoor swimming pool and seriously good restaurants (00 853 2888 9966; wynnmacau.com; Rua Cidade de Sintra; from US$225).
Built into the ruins of th 17th-century Barra Fort, the landmark Pousada de Sao Tiago is Macau’s most romantic place to stay. All 12 elegantly furnished, and the hotel still has an old-world glamour (00 853 2837 8111; saotiago.com.mo; Avenida de Republica; from US$385).
Essentials – Getting Around – Central Macau is walkable. Buses cost around US$0.50. You can download route details at macautouristm.gov.mo. The big-name casinos run free shuttle services which you can still use if you’re not a guest, but only if you’re over 18.
Your Recommendation – Fusion Food Espaco Lisboa is a pretty Portuguese-style restaurant in Coloane that does good Macanese cuisine with friendly service. It has two tables on a balcony which, during the temperate times of the year, are good spots. Apart from the usual Macanese food, such as African chicken, their standout dishes are clams in garlic, Portuguese sausage, duck rice and curried crab. Their desserts are also excellent, especially rice pudding and serradura – a type of layered cake (00 853 2888 2226; 8 Rua dos Gaivotas, Coloane; lunch and dinner; mains from US$14). – by George Goulding
Flying The Flag – The forum users rate the Leal Senado, on the cobbled Largo de Senado square. You can look inside the courtyard of this grand 18th-century building, which takes its name from the ‘loyal senate’ that refused to recognize Spain’s 1580-1640 annexation of Portugal (admission free).
Bamboo and Lotus – Forum users also rate Lou Lim leoc Garden. This picturesque Chinese Garden dates back to the 19th century, and contains huge, shady trees, lotus ponds, golden bamboo groves, grottoes and a bridge with nine turns (since evil spirits can only move in straight lines). Local people use the park to practice tai chi or play traditional musical instruments (Jardin de Lou Lim loc, 10 Estrade de Adolfo de Loureiro; 6am-9mp).
More details of sightseeing dan local dining plus downloadable maps, can be found at macautouristm.gov.mo. The bewitching Braid, by Henrique de Senna Fernandes, is set in 1930s Macau.