China Expat & Travel Blogger. ATTRACTIONS & THINGS TO DO IN CHINA. See My Fun TRAVEL Adventures in China!
It’s the gambling capital of the world, and nope, it ain’t Las Vegas. It’s Macau—special administrative region of China, neighbor to Hong Kong, and it’s outpaced Vegas’ annual gambling revenue by as much as 7 times. And yep, I’ve been!
Several times to be exact. Seriously, it’s just something about Macau that makes me want to visit each time I travel to Hong Kong. Actually, I know just exactly what it is:
For one, there’s Cotai Strip, Macau’s version of the Las Vegas Strip. It’s home to some 50 casinos at the moment, which include world renown brands like The Venetian, Wynn, Lisboa, and MGM.
I’ve read that gambling brings in as much as 50% of Macau’s economy, and as crazy as it is, that sounds just about right.
Heck, I’ve seen it with my own eyes. How well-off Chinese flock to the only region in China where they can legally gamble and drop boatloads of cash on Baccarat, Sic bo, Fan Tan, and Black Jack tables like it’s nothing.
And by the way, unlike Vegas, you won’t find any small-time casinos out and about across Macau. Instead, Macau is home to the biggest casinos around the globe.
The Venetian Macau, for instance, is the world’s largest casino. It’s 39-stories, contains 3,000 rooms, and is equipped with a 550,000 sq. foot casino that’s got 3,400 slot machines and 800 gambling tables. That’s incredible!
And that brings me to my next point…
Like it’s Vegas counterpart, the Venetian Macau is that cool, and I’ve barely even seen even half of the building in the two times I’ve visited.
But that’s all the more reason you should go there…now. Gamble in the world’s largest casino? Now that’s a memorable experience you’d want to check off the bucket list when visiting in the gambling capitol of the world.
Into fancy decorations and vibrant atmospheres? Well you’ll definitely want to see the Venetian’s beautifully crafted Great Hall and long corridors resembling the San Luca Canal in Venice, Italy. Or how about catching some neat displays just outside its doors during the holidays?
On top of that there’s a 15,000-seat indoor area, Playboy Club, Manchester United Experience, Fatburger, and … well, you just need to experience it yourself!
And then there’s the Historic Centre of Macau—this lively cultural and historical hub that’s a true showcase of what happens when East meets West, when Chinese tradition met Portuguese influence.
Mark this one as a must-do when visiting Macau. No kidding, do NOT leave Macau without stepping foot there.
The Historic Centre’s got everything from Chinese temples, churches, and buildings teeming with traditional Mediterranean architectural design, to gardens, street performances, street snacks, and a whole bunch of shops selling souvenirs and apparel.
And with Cotai Strip just down the street, the Historic Centre’s also got … people. Crowds, large crowds of people—tourists, moving in and out of its tight alleyways at all hours of the day.
That makes it one of thee best places to see locals and the variety of faces around the Far East. C’mon, you can’t just gamble all day!
It’s sitting at the backend of the Historic Centre of Macau. It’s 25.5-meters tall, 23-meters wide, and was originally built way back in the 16th century—it’s the Ruins of St. Paul’s Cathedral!
And “ruins” is exactly what it is—the stone façade of a once blossoming Catholic church that was destroyed by fires and typhoons back in 1835.
Today it’s a UNESCO World Heritage site and top tourist attraction of Macau. In the several times I’ve been to see it I’ve taken my mom, visited with friends, and even examined it up-close on a solo adventure.
One thing’s for sure, I’ve always found it mind-blowing that a façade that ancient and exceptionally detailed could be kept so well-preserved over all these years. But hey, seeing how incredibly popular it is, I guess so does everyone else!
There’s another tourist nugget tucked inside of Macau’s Historic Centre—it’s the Macau Museum. Learn some cool facts about Macau’s history and culture. Check. Observe some ancient relics and religious artifacts. Not bad. Discover more about contemporary life in Macau. Yep, that’s cool.
But to be honest, I only go to the Macau Museum to check out the views. It’s a sad truth, but I find it way more interesting, and here’s why:
From atop of its roof you can spot two stark contrast across Macau’s landscape. Look one direction and therein lies many of the hotels and casinos belonging to Cotai Strip. They’re tall, they’re polished, and they’ve got millions of dollars moving in and out their doors at any given moment.
And in the other direction? Nothing but rusty, ravished, worn-torn buildings and apartments that look as though they hadn’t seen an ounce of new paint since they were built—and that’s going back as far as your eyes can see. And wait, they lie just up the street from the gambling capitol of the world? Are you freaking kidding me!?
The 360-view of Macau from atop Macau Museum evokes much more of a food for thought scenario than examining any ancient remnant ever could. Take a look at the pictures yourself. What do you think?
And well, that’s my take on Macau. I haven’t been everywhere, but even with the few attractions I have visited, I know that it’s definitely not a place to skip if and when you journey over to East Asia.
And for me, there’s just so much more left in store. Macau Tower, Taipa Village, A Ma Temple, Hac Sa Beach—I can’t wait to experience them all and share my next adventures. Until next time, safe & happy travels!