Weekend getaways have this attractive characteristic. They’re short, which means they concentrate on packing all good things into a 48-hour window. That is why putting your finger on a destination that promises you all of this is not the easiest task. Macau does. With its wide array of attractions, ranging from UNESCO Heritage Sites to party destinations that can put some popular party places to shame, it makes for a magical mix of experiences. Its Portuguese colonial impressions still shine bright as they’re painted on a canvas depicting Chinese colours and vibe. It wears a look that’s different from any other destination on the blue planet
There are no direct flights from India to Macau. You’d have to make a stopover at Hong Kong and catch a ferry to Macau from the airport. For added convenience, you can collect the luggage directly at Macau, so there is no need to wait at baggage belts or get your luggage checked again at Hong Kong airport. It would be best to start off early so that you can make the most of the weekend.
If you’re there to roll the dice, then The Venetian Macao is a hotel you need to check into. Other than being located along the casino boulevard, this sprawling resort offers the indulgences of its Vegas cousin. It has its own golf club, spa and fitness centre, and an unimaginable spread of eating options. The Michelin-starred The Golden Peacock restaurant serves Indian delicacies. For a touch of Portugal, head to the Madeira Portuguese Restaurant and if you are into dim sums, the Imperial House is your best bet for oriental dishes. In all its opulence, The Venetian is a great destination if you're travelling with kids.
Alternatively, you could check into The Parisian, Macao, as it teleports you effortlessly to Paris. It shows off its very own 162-metre Eiffel Tower on the façade, while the lobby welcomes you with a style not too different from the Fontaine de Mers. With over 3,000 rooms to pick from, The Parisian Macao takes a toll on your punctuality as the check-in process is long. You could play safe and settle for The St. Regis Macao, also located at the Cotai Central.
Shop before packing
Macau opens up the world of shopping. From luxury items to local goods, you can grab them all. Being a free port brings in some great brands. The Portuguese influence adds a unique flavour to the antiques available here. You can take your pick from the downtown area, the inner harbour or the outer harbour.
Once you’ve dusted off the experiences of revelry and discovery, you can make your way back, but we assure you that you wouldn’t find Las Vegas as exciting, now that you’ve visited its Asian doppelgänger.
If not casinos, try these…
If casinos aren’t your thing, the island of Cotai is where you can escape to and experience Las Vegas in Asia. Though a weekend trip may not allow you the time for sight-seeing, you could spend your mornings visiting the UNESCO World Heritage sites.
The 16th century A-Ma Temple is a must-visit if you want a taste of historical magnificence. The Largo do Senado area has the Senate Library that leads up to the ruins of St. Paul's church. Both spots merit a stop and an Instagram story. Check out the Museum of Macao, before heading to the Monte Fort for spectacular views.
To understand how the rural folk get about their life, a short bus trip to the Coloane Village will leave you surprised and impressed with its retention of Portuguese-styled houses.
You can keep your evenings cheerful sans the sin of gambling by indulging in live music at the Live Music Association. Or take a gondola ride on the river in a recreation of the magic of Venice. The boatman will even sing you a song, much like a true Venetian, if you’re nice to him.
Eating & drinking
While eating at The Golden Peacock at The Venetian is an obvious recommendation, there are several other gastronomic experiences that Macau offers. The Parisian hosts fare at the La Chine that is known for its Chinese and French cuisines. You can enjoy your meals while taking in the panoramic view of the Cotai strip.
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You cannot do Macau and not enjoy the exquisite street food culture. While you toy with the idea of our usage of both those words in the same sentence, you should know that street food from Macau was instrumental in the inclusion of street food to the Michelin Guide of Hong Kong and Macau. Egg tarts. That’s where we’ll start from. Available at the famous Lord Stow's bakery, this dish deviates from the classic Portuguese recipe, adding its own touch to the tarts. The Fong Kei bakery is well known for its lard-made delicacies, which are prepared in a quaint little kitchen that has attained local fame and attracts international tourists.
Then there are the sweets. Starting with the steamed chilled milk pudding at the Yi Shun. You can pick from the red bean and original versions. If you want to lose yourself in the local flavour, don’t miss out on durian ice cream made with premium durians or the lemoncello gelato that is available in over 30 flavours.