Discover Macau: a weekend in Coloane
There’s more to Macau than the bright lights of the casinos, as a weekend visit to Coloane reveals a more peaceful part of the city
With a quaint village and green open spaces, Coloane is a haven of peace and tranquillity. Miles from the hustle and bustle of the casinos and the shopping on the Cotai Strip, Macau’s southern-most territory has more to offer than just egg tarts and pandas, as it was discovered on a recent weekend.
Begin your Coloane staycation with a bit of huffing and puffing as you hit the trails and scale Macau’s largest “mountain”, Alto de Coloane. At 170 metres, it’s no Mount Everest, but it should be enough to get the heart pumping. With a variety of access points and trails, there are plenty of options for a range of fitness levels, and there is also a shuttle for those unable to hike or who are short on time.
You can spend a good hour at the top admiring A-Ma Cultural Village. The intricately decorated pavilion-style front gate ushers you towards the village’s gem at the centre, Tin Hau Temple. There are also a handful of other things to see in the 7,000-square-metre complex.
Nearby is a 20-metre statue of the goddess A-Ma. A popular local legend tells of the story of a junk sailing across the South China Sea which was caught in a tremendous storm and on the verge of sinking until a beautiful young woman, A-Ma, ordered the elements to calm down, allowing the junk to reach land safely. The goddess remains an important figure in Macau, having inspired the original name of the territory - A-Ma Gau, or “Bay of A-Ma”.
After breathing in the fresh mountain air, make your way to Coloane Village. While the Chapel of St Francis Xavier is Coloane’s most selfie-worthy spot, the monument standing at the opposite end of Eduardo Marques Square is drenched in history. It commemorates a victory over pirates who had routinely pillaged peasants and fishermen in Coloane for decades. In 1910, the pirates captured a group of local children and held them for a hefty ransom, but the residents fought back and after days of intense battle, the children were freed.
When lunchtime arrives, dine at one of the al fresco restaurants near the monument. Locals and tourists love Nga Tim, which offers good Macanese food. The hot coals put under tables in the colder months will keep you nice and toasty. For dessert, it has to be an egg tart from Lord Stow’s Bakery, a Macau original. Pair it with a cup of coffee from the new and trendy cafe Amigo located just around the corner.
When your caffeine-induced second wind has kicked in, hire a bike from Island Bicycle and spend the rest of the afternoon exploring Coloane on wheels. Check out the northern area of the village, where stilted houses and dried-fish shops dominate the sea-facing side of the road.
If you veer up Estrada de Lai Chi Vun to check out the old docks, be sure to visit Hon Kee Coffee. After returning your bike, catch the sunset over Hengqin Bay. It’s a spectacle of sorts to see the garish lights of the Chimelong Hengqin Bay Hotel lighting up the horizon.
Next, it’s time for dinner. Miramar and Fernando’s offer authentic Portuguese and Macanese food, but both restaurants are also tourist hotspots and are likely to be packed and noisy.
For an equally authentic meal in a more sedate atmosphere, head to the newly revamped Cafe Panorama at the Grand Coloane Resort. The new menu offers an artfully presented and delicious African chicken that will hit the spot after a long day of activity. The real draw of the cafe, however, is the al fresco patio, which features a large, open fireplace that keeps diners warm when the temperatures plummet.
Start your second day by learning a new skill at the Macau Horse Riding School near Cheoc Van Beach. Aimed squarely at beginners, it’s particularly good for children or curious adults. Around Hac Sa Beach is the Macau Golf and Country Club, but in order to play the links you must either be a club member or a guest at the Grand Coloane Resort.
Kwun Hoi Heen at the Grand Coloane Resort offers a great dim sum lunch. During the week it can be busy with hotel guests and locals, and on the weekend it’s practically impossible to dine there without a reservation. Try the deep-fried barbecue pork buns, a dish unique to the restaurant, or the tri-colour prawn dumplings. Ask for a table by the window so you can see why the restaurant is called Kwun Hoi Heen, which means “view to the sea”.
Wrap up the weekend at Cheoc Van Beach. Cleaner and more picturesque than the popular Hac Sa Beach, it’s a great place to take a stroll. Follow it up with a jug of sangria at La Gondola Italian restaurant or on the terrace at Pousada de Coloane.
Take a hike
Coloane is home to 11 walking trails which vary in length and difficulty, and can keep you busy well beyond a weekend. Hikers with children can try one of the four family trails or the short trail that leads around Panda Park. If you’re really looking to break a sweat, hit the Coloane Fitness Trail, which includes pieces of exercise equipment along the route.
If you’re really looking to break a sweat, hit the Coloane Fitness Trail, which includes pieces of exercise equipment along the route.
History buffs can explore Seac Min Pun Ancient Path. Traversing the valleys from Hac Sa to Coloane Village, it was once the only route between the two places for transit and trade until the first road was paved over 50 years ago. Work to restore the path started in 1999, and it opened to the public in November the following year. The trail gives hikers a taste what locals once had to go through in their day-to-day lives.
Tel: (853) 2888 2086
Visit: Go at lunchtime, when the restaurant isn’t as busy.
Lord Stow’s Bakery
Tel: (853) 2888 2534
Visit: To avoid long lines, try to visit around opening and closing hours, which are at 7am and 10pm.
Tel: (853) 2888 1810
Visit: The cafe doesn’t open until 11 am on weekends and 12:30 pm during the week, so if you’re looking for an early morning caffeine fix you’re out of luck.
Hon Kee Coffee
Tel: (853) 2888 2310
Visit: Lines are the norm, so as with Lord Stow’s, visit early or late. The shop opens around 7 or 8am and closes at 6pm.
Tel: (853) 8899 1020
Visit: In the evenings, when it’s most likely the fireplace will be lit.
Kwun Hoi Heen
Tel: (853) 8899 1320
Visit: Between 11am and 3pm, when the dim sum lunch is served.
Tel: (853) 2888 0156
Visit: Afternoons are best to enjoy the warmth of the sun on the patio.
Pousada de Coloane
Tel: (853) 2888 2143
Visit: Go in late afternoon to enjoy a cocktail, or for afternoon tea, which is offered from 2pm to 5pm.
Grand Coloane Resort
Tel: (853) 2887 1111
Attractions and Activities
A-Ma Cultural Village
No telephone number
Visit: Apart from holidays, the village is never very busy. The late afternoon sun lights up the temple, allowing for great photo ops.
Tel: (853) 6636 0060
Visit: Late afternoons are best to catch the sunset, but keep in mind the shop closes at 6:30 pm.
Macau Horse Riding School
Tel: (853) 2888 2303
Visit: Both Morning and afternoon sessions are both good times to visit. However, book in advance as spots fill up quickly on the weekend.