By Guest Blogger: Jenn Valentina Photo Courtesy of Guest Blogger
When I first heard about Macau, I wasn’t that impressed to hear it was another “Vegas” in Asia, especially since I’m not much of a gamer nor am I a fan of flashy hotels. But when I recently visited, I was proven wrong as I saw more of it. Amid the fancy, brightly lit buildings, I discovered that the place is a multicultural melting pot and haven for every kind of traveler. Indeed, a quick search on Google will tell you that Macau has a unique history, being Europe’s only colony of a Chinese region.
Despite being a tiny region, I’m convinced that Macau definitely shouldn’t be overlooked. There’s something for everyone — whether you’re the kind of tourist who enjoys history and art, or a food lover willing to fly out for the most decadent egg tarts in the world. Plus, it’s a stone’s throw away from Hong Kong, in case you want to visit there too.
That said, here are my favorite things about Macau:
It’s a haven for foodies
Food is one of the best parts of traveling, and Macau is certainly no exception! In fact, UNESCO has made it one of the “26 Creative Cities of Gastronomy.” Its cuisine is a fusion between Cantonese and Portuguese, with other international influences. With countless street-side eateries and five-star restaurants scattered around the region, don’t be surprised if you find it difficult to decide what to have for your next meal. ForbesTravelGuide.com provides a quick rundown of a number of upscale restaurants you can choose from, such as the Portuguese Albergue 1601 and the five-star Japanese restaurant Mizumi. Meanwhile, the Nga Tim Cafe has shareable platters, such as Portuguese-style barbecue suckling pig.
But if you’re like me and can’t really afford the high-end restaurants, many local and affordable restaurants and cafés serve signature Macanese dishes too. For instance, Riquexo is a cozy eatery with walls decorated with old Macau photos. This particular place is run by Sonia Palmer, who is the daughter of the Godmother of Macanese cuisine, Aida de Jesus. They serve classic dishes, like minchi and porco bafassa. Macau is also loved for its street-food scene, with Taipa Village being one of the best food spots. They have curry fish balls, beef jerky, and steamed milk pudding, to name just a few. And I assure you that a trip to Macau is never complete without trying their famous almond cookies, pork chop buns, and Portuguese egg tart!
It’s teeming with history
As previously mentioned, Macau is the first and only European colony of China. It’s got an interesting blend of Chinese and Portuguese culture — from its architecture to the cuisine. And as a history geek, this unique combination immediately excited me. One of my favorite structures is the A-Ma, Macau’s oldest temple, built in the year 1488. It’s a famous Buddha hall, and history says that this was created to commemorate Mazu, the sea goddess who blesses fishermen. Meanwhile, the Casa do Mandarin or Mandarin’s House has architectural designs that integrate Chinese and Western style. TheTacho.com discusses how the house was owned by Chinese modern thinker Zheng Guanyin 150 years ago. Entering the place feels like stepping into the distant past; a tour of the place gives you a glimpse of how people lived back in the day. The silence makes it even easier to immerse yourself in the history.
For those who want a more in-depth background on Macau, Poker.org recommends visiting the historical center, which is home to old churches and public parks. This center is a UNESCO Heritage Site, where you can see parts of Portuguese colonialism blending with modern and historical China. The ruins of St. Paul’s are one of the most notable colonial relics. Other locations that are part of the historical center include the Moorish Barracks, which is an Arabian-style building; Senado Square, with its old-world charm; and the iconic Macau Museum.
It’s a shopper’s paradise
I don’t consider myself a shopaholic either, but shopping is something you should definitely do while in Macau. Macau has a “free port” status, meaning there are generally less strict regulations in customs. As such, it’s easy to purchase products without having to pay for customs duties. This makes Macau an ideal place to find things such as antiques and high-end clothes, and for a significantly lower price. Taipa Island houses Macau’s largest indoor shopping mall, which is the Grand Canal Shoppes. This is a great place to find designer furniture, couture clothing, and beautiful jewelry. In Rua de S. Domingos, you can find glassware and porcelain ornaments. You can go bargain-hunting in the various malls and outlets in Macau too.
When you think of souvenirs, postcards, keychains, and shirts usually come to mind first — and Macau has plenty of those. But as I looked around, it turns out there are way more choices that also reflected Macau. For one, Macau is one of the best places in the world to get your hands on some Portuguese bottles and delicacies. If that doesn’t interest you, there are also plenty of Chinese antiques, both authentic and replicas. These include traditional Chinese rosewood furniture, porcelain and bronze wares, wood carvings, and paintings. If you’re after the genuine ones, most of them have certificates that confirm their authenticity. Finally, printed cotton is a specialty of Macau since it’s a local tradition to have clothes tailor-made. This is why you’ll see Macau has several fabric shops with a wide variety of prints, and some of these shops also accept stitching orders.
The pandemic has made us miss traveling. So, while you’re planning your next vacation, don’t forget to check out our list of destinations on Soundwalkrs.com.
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