A glamorous city with a fascinating mix of Cantonese and Portuguese influences, Macau was a Portuguese colony for over 300 years, a fact that’s still reflected in its food and buildings. Nowadays, it’s known as the ‘Vegas of the East’, thanks to its casinos, but you don’t have to spend too much money here, as there are so many other things to do, from free World Heritage Site buildings to affordable wildlife parks and museums. Here’s what to do if you only have 48 hours in Macau.
Day One – morning
First of all, make a beeline for The Historic Centre of Macau, classified as a World Heritage Site. The standout building is St Paul’s Church, where all that remains after a fire is the façade and stairways, but you can still scale it to see the intricate architectural details. The nearby 400-year-old Monte Fort is a great place to catch the sunset, up on the battlements and you can learn about the city’s history at the Masau Museum. You’ll find more information on the Macau’s historic quarter and other highlights in this extensive Macau travel guide.
Day One – afternoon
If you like to shop, Macau has all sorts of options and at duty free prices. Gold jewellery is particularly popular here and you can pick up designer clothes at places like Rua S. Domingos, or follow the street to Senado Square for everyday fashion. A characterful place to pick up fruit and vegetables, just as much as fashion pieces, the Red Market is housed in 20th-century Portuguese red buildings. Head here to see how the locals shop.
Day One – evening
Make sure you book ahead to dine in the Macau Tower’s revolving restaurant, the 360° Café. This 338-metre-high tower lets you take in all of Macau and beyond, as the restaurant slowly rotates, so it carries out a full revolution in an hour and a half. The food is served buffet style, with a selection of Portuguese, Indian and seafood dishes. Even if you don’t want to eat here, the tower’s level 58 observation deck has impressive views. The braver among you might like to try a bungee jump or skywalk around the top – firmly attached by ropes that is!
Day Two – morning
Animal lovers will be in their element at Macau Giant Panda Pavilion. It’s a special experience to see these once-endangered giant pandas and there are also red pandas, lemurs and birds here too. Wander along the viewing platforms, throughout the huge dome and outdoor area, for the best views of the creatures.
Day Two – afternoon
The panda pavilion is on the adjoining island of Coloane, so stay here to head to the ancient Coloane village. It’s here that you’ll get a feel for old Macau, complete with cobbled streets and traditional fishing boats. The Macanese (Macau-Portuguese) culture is perhaps most apparent in Coloane, as the Buddhist A-Ma Temple sits close to the brightly coloured, but unmistakably Portuguese, Chapel of St Francis Xavier.
Day Two – evening
Head to the Cotai Strip to have a flutter in one of the huge casinos and really understand where Macau gets its nickname of the ‘Vegas of the East’ from. In fact, the Venetian Macau casino is modelled on the Vegas version, so it has the same gondolas and epic scale. When you’re done on the tables and slots here, head to the City of Dreams Casino for some entertainment. It houses a Bubble Dome laser and light show, House of Dancing Water spectacular show and Club Cubic for dancing into the small hours.
If you’re just stopping off in Macau on your travels, it’s not far across the water from Taiwan. You can also fit in a visit to the Taiwanese capital Taipei for tea houses, markets, museums and nightlife.