Despite being a small city known for its casinos and high end luxury hotels, Macau – a special administrative region of China – has preserved its colonial Portuguese roots. As Asia’s Las Vegas, the eclectic mix of new and old architecture can either captivate you or make you feel quite dizzy. Food here is delicious, affordable and varied, and almost everything is walking distance. Otherwise you can take a taxi quite cheaply or use public transport.
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Due to the mixture of Portuguese and Chinese cultures an interesting array of handicrafts, art and souvenirs can be bought here and the arts scene is pretty decent. However there are no big chain stores selling craft supplies so everything is pick’n’mix from different stationery stores, markets and tailors. The weather is almost always hot and sunny or humid and wet. We don’t get much of a winter here.
One of my favorite places to go bargain hunting is the Sunday Flea Market in Old Taipa Village. Locals set up their wares which are mostly handcrafted things such as leather pouches sewn by hand, accessories for hair or delicate jewelry and sell them from 11am – 8pm. It is really lovely to chat with the artists who make the products and usually you can get their business card to meet them in their workshop or studio. I bought myself a thin and delicate silver ring from a silversmith there and I still wear it. Crafters can rent a table to sell their wares here. Another wonderful place to go shopping for fabrics, fruit, cheap clothes and flowers is the Three Lamps Roundabout District in Barra. Almost every weekend we go there to buy flowers for the house. There is also a local there who sells an assortment of buttons, beads, lace, ribbons and more for a reasonable price. However if you really want to go all out and shop till you drop you should get a China visa and cross the Macau-Zhuhai border and go shopping in China - shopping heaven!
The beautiful mint green Old Taipa Mansions are colonial buildings converted into museums located not far from where I live. Overlooking a wetland enclosure and the Cotai Casino Strip you’ll see Venetian, the City of Dreams, Four Seasons and Cotai Central from here. The Strip sparkles at night with its LED lights that look modern instead of tacky. I also really enjoy finding peace during late night walks at the Taipa waterfront promenade where you can admire the bridges of Macau and the Macau Tower, which boasts the world’s highest bungee jump.
Another inspiring place to visit is the Sir Robert Ho Tung Library. It is a yellow colonial Portuguese building with modern glass and steel extension, fountains and an outdoor area where you can relax in the sun. Here you can watch films and read awesome craft books, novels, non-fiction and magazines but to borrow these you’ll need a library card which means you’ll need Macau ID.
While in Macau you must visit the St. Paul’s Church Ruins - the icon of Macau. You can climb up the stairs behind the stone façade to take photos at the top. Before you get to St. Paul’s make sure to check out the markets and shops in San Ma Lo shopping district. With its cobbled stone pavement and large circular fountain in the center of the square, be sure to take a mandatory photo here too!
Eat & Drink
Fernando’s restaurant in Coloane for Portuguese food. Their prawns with garlic, large crusty bread rolls with olive oil and vinegar, roasted chicken and chips, grilled sea bass and crunchy salads are to die for.
For those with a sweet tooth Macau has many local dessert shops. I suggest Savory Crab's vanilla ice cream, caramel sauce and apple pie tea set right below Nova Taipa Gardens. Next door there is also Italian inspired Il Cafe which has delectable cream puffs and banana splits. Limoncello in Old Taipa Village has homemade gelato that is cheaper than and just as tasty as Haagen Dazs next door and they have one in San Ma Lo too. And don’t forget to try the Portuguese Egg custard tarts! They are amazingly addictive.
I don’t drink or go to bars but I have been to Old Taipa Tavern (also in Taipa Village) where there is a wonderful relaxed atmosphere and food is delicious there too. Café Deco in Venetian is pretty awesome with great food and live music on most evenings. Clubbers who want a more upbeat experience should head to Club Cubic in City of Dreams.
There aren’t any specific places where I go to craft here in Macau other than my home mostly because there are so many people in Macau who share the same eateries and seating is hard to come by. You can always craft in the library though. Due to the intense heat and humidity I don’t think anyone would like to craft outside in the park here.
Creative Macau and Casa de Portugal are the two organizations I am aware of that work with artists, designers and crafters in Macau. I am currently taking jewelry design under a designer associated with Casa de Portugal.
You can meet other crafty people at Sunday Flea Markets in Old Taipa Village, the Cultural Center of Macau, the Macau Art Museum etc.
See Something Special
Find the Casino Grand Lisboa – named as one of the world’s weirdest buildings. I call it “the pineapple building”, or any of the odd gimmicks which the different casinos have to attract people to gamble - Wynn has a spray painted "tree of fortune" which comes out of the ground complete with lights and music which people throw money at in the hopes that it will bring them luck. City of Dreams has a better show involving a mythical story about how the hotel came about involving pearls and dragons.
Take Home A Souvenir
A little miniature of the Portuguese rooster, egg tarts and some postcards.
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