Mention Macau to most, and ‘whose cow?’ will most likely be the automatic response. But in the ‘The Las Vegas of Asia’, it really is a case of if you know, you know. Just a short ferry ride from Hong Kong, this once peaceful city is in danger of outgrowing its older sibling, with the glitz, glamour and good times turned up to 11 and a sense of fanfare at the forefront of everything the area has to offer. 

There are now more than 40 casinos in Macau and the city even has its own answer to strip, Cotai, with glittering skyscrapers offering all sorts of delights on either side of the boulevard. Moreover, with a mix of Ancient Chinese history and Portuguese influences from colonial days gone by, there’s much more to this city than just giant casinos. It can therefore be difficult to narrow down the abundant entertainment options to fit one holiday sized itinerary. Well, we’re here to help, with our 5 IDEAL things to do in Macau.

REVEL IN THE RAZZLE DAZZLE

Even if you don’t intend to have a flutter in the casinos, you’d be crazy to miss the buzz and excitement of the strip. The Grand Lisboa, for instance, is more famed for its awe inspiring architecture than for long nights spent at the blackjack table, so it’s definitely worth a visit. The sheer spectacle of the lights all turning on at night, in unison, is worth the trip alone. While you’re there, be sure to check out the nightly light show hosted in the foyer of the Galaxy Hotel, and take in a show, too – fireworks, magic, singing; you name it.

If you are going to try your luck at the table, be sure to have a little practice first. Sites such as www.cashino.com offer the opportunity to play for free, with zero necessity for getting your wallet out. More is gambled in this former Portuguese colony than anywhere else in the world, so learning to play a round of roulette or a bit of blackjack beforehand will stand you in good stead for the good times ahead.

DINE ECLECTICALLY

Though Macau boasts a number of multi-Michelin starred establishments, you don’t have to spend big to eat like a king in the city. Indeed, the most famous edible delight on offer here actually hails from Portugal; the classic, world famous pastel de nata – or custard tart to those monolingual among us. There’s nowhere better to try this treat than Lord Stow’s Bakery in the Venetian Macao Resort. In fact, there’s plenty of fine Portuguese cuisine on offer, owing to their mass migration to Macau in the 1980s. Grilled cuttlefish or sardines makes a cracking lunch before a day’s sightseeing, that’s for sure.

If you’re looking to eat like the locals do, then you can’t go wrong with roast duck; crisp skin, peppery sauce, tender meat, and sold on many street corners. And if fine dining is your thing, then Macau has got you covered, big time.

Pastéis de nata | © Jpatokal / Wikimedia Commons

OLD TAIPA VILLAGE

If you want the perfect microcosm of Macau, where Portuguese and Mediterranean influences blend seamlessly with their Chinese counterparts, then Old Taipa Village is the place that encapsulates it all. Here, churches rub shoulders with temples but seem to rub along happily together; rissoles and dim sum adorn neighbouring menus and you could be forgiven for forgetting which continent you were in. Amazing stuff. Be sure to check out Pak Tai Temple; quaint and majestic somehow simultaneously.

GO SAINT-SEEING

Although the Ruins of St. Paul is one of the must-visit spots for some sightseeing, there are many other churches dedicated to saints which are well worth your attention. On Largo de Sao Domingos, just a short walk from the Ruins, St. Dominic’s offers stunning architecture and historical intrigue. St. Augustine’s, St. Joseph’s and St. Lawrence’s Church are all in close proximity, too, meaning you can get five saints in one sitting and still be home (or to a fancy restaurant) for supper.

STROLL SENADO SQUARE

Protected on UNESCO’s World Heritage List, Senado Square has a rich history, and even richer visitors. Shopping, souvenirs, snacks; there are plenty of ways to empty your purse here. It’s also visually stunning, with a monochrome, wave-patterned floor as the focal point. Great stuff!

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Rachel is the beauty and fashion director at IDEAL. She loves trying new products and is an avid fan of London's fashion, from the high end to the high street.