Las Vegas + Lisbon = Macau

Known as the Las Vegas of the East, Macau is famous for it’s casinos, bright lights, luxurious hotels and shopping facilities.

This bright and glitzy part of this former Portuguese colony is evident along the famous Cotai strip.

Macau’s version of the Eiffel Tower @the Parisian, Macau
Macau Cotai strip skyline
The Venetian mall, Macau
The Hard Rock Hotel, Macau
Hotels and brand outlets in the midst of casinos along Macau’s Cotai strip
Hotels, malls and casinos dot the Cotai strip
The glitzy and colourful casinos and hotels, Macau
Bright and glitzy Cotai strip
Glitzy walkways connect the casinos, malls and hotels on Cotai strip

But behind the scenes, lies the older part of Macau, the parts where early Portuguese settlers  built their townships.

Ornate and colourful old buildings, squares, churches, theaters dot this part of the city.

St Lawrence’s church built in 1560 used to have a view of the river. Portuguese families used to congregate at the steps to wait for their loved ones return from voyages.
Interior of St Lawrence’s church built in 1560, Macau
Small quaint lanes connect neighbourhoods in the historic centre of Macau
The Dom Pedro V theatre built in 1860 used to serve as a venue for public events and celebrations
Church of St Augustine built by Spanish Augustinian priests in 1591

This part of Macau oozes with mysterious charm, with it’s quaint homes, cobblestone streets, steep alleyways, squares for relaxation and social activities, and steps that allow pedestrians to take a short cut to the next neighbourhood.

Cozy spot for a break – Lilau Square
Cobblestone streets, Taipa Old Town, Macau
Cobblestone lane at Sao Lourenco, Macau
A quaint cobblestone lane that connects neighbourhoods in the historic centre of Macau
Shops offering an array of goods, services and food along narrow lanes in the historic centre of Macau
The 17th century St Paul’s ruins is features in most of Macau’s travel brochures
A portion of Macau’s old city walls can be seen here in a cobblestone lane that leads up to the back portion of St Paul’s ruins
Quaint and colourful buildings dot the historic centre of Macau
17th century St Paul’s ruins
Fountains like this can be seen in squares and rest areas all around the historic centre in Sao Lourenco
Senado Square where most tourist congregate used to be a meeting point for Chinese and Portuguese. It faces the Leal Senado Building – the seat of the Portuguese government in Macau.

The best way to explore this part of Macau is by foot. I managed to get around despite a sprained ankle bound nicely with an ankle guard – after a minor incident at the Hung Hom in MTR station in Kowloon involving me, my phone and lack of attention to steps ahead of me.

If you do get tired, there are plenty of small cafes in the nook and crannies along the cobblestone streets and lanes.

Shops offering an array of foods and services and cafes along narrow cobblestone streets

Alleyways and steps connect streets and neighbourhoods in old Macau
Window display of a Chinese medicine shop in Sao Lourenco
Shops and cafes along the narrow streets of Macau’s historic centre
A shop along a cobblestone alley selling delicious local desserts

These shops usually cater for the locals and serve some of the best local fares.

Steps connecting neighbourhoods in Macau’s historic quarter
St Joseph’s seminary and church built in the 18th century
A quaint cobblestone road in Macau’s historical centre
Night view of St Paul’s ruins, Macau

If you do get tired there are buses and taxis but the difficult part about hailing taxis in Macau is that they don’t just stop anywhere, in the busier parts of town there are designated taxi stops, you just have to figure out where exactly.

Communication is another issue. The main languages spoken here are Mandarin, Cantonese and Portuguese.

So I would suggest taking snapshots of the sites you would like to go to on your phone, or circle it on a map  to show your driver. It is better to use websites or maps with Chinese characters. Wikipedia works fine.

For example:

Getting to Macau from Hong Kong:
Cotai Jet:

Turbo Jet:

Macau is the last European colony in the Asian region. The Portuguese ruled Macau from 1557 until 1999 when it was returned to China.

The development of Macau has been rapid, and it is well known for it’s casinos nowadays than its grandeur as a trading port.

Much of the land around has been reclaimed, changing the face of the city.

But, Macau has somehow managed to hide some of its heritage and history in parts of the city that are neatly tucked away.

It is amazing how it offers the glitz, glamour and bustle for those who want it, and quiet solitude in its quaint old world – if that’s what you seek.

More on Macau Travel and Food at:

Macau: Last Colony of the East

Food Trail: Macau


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