Out on the town: experiencing Macau is far from a gamble
With its regular sporting attractions and parades, and its many shops, eateries and nightlife venues, the city has far more to offer than just gaming
The 35th Macao Galaxy Entertainment International Marathon is hitting the starting blocks on December 4 this year. This is one of Macau’s biggest sports events, catering to up to a 1,000 athletes and runners from all around the world.
The marathon comprises three races – the 42km marathon, the 21km half marathon and the 5.5km mini-marathon starting and ending at the Olympic Sport Centre Stadium in Taipa. The route takes the runners through both islands – Taipa and Coloane.
In the afternoon starting at 4pm, organisers are putting on a Mardi Gras show with a parade through Macau, the annual Latin City. In celebration of Macau’s 17th anniversary of its reunification with China, this year’s theme is coined “VIVA’s Adventures through Shan Hai”, with installations based on Classic of Mountains and Seas as its backdrop. Music, dance, face painting, Italian majorettes and giant balloons are all on the menu making for a spectacular festivity.
If you want to take a breather from the masses, Macau has more to offer than its many gaming and integrated resorts. A wide range of alternatives allows you to see the other side of Macau, such as the Macau Giant Panda Pavilion which hosts two giant pandas, Kai Kai and Xin Xin in their 3,000-square-metre facility in Coloane.
The city is also home to a number of Portuguese-heritage churches beyond the iconic Ruins of St. Paul’s, which was originally the façade of the Church of Mater Dei built 1602-1640.
Take the quaint colourful chapel of Saint Francis Xavier for example. It sits in a small square on Coloane surrounded by restaurants and cafés.
If you prefer running around on a shopping spree rather than running in a marathon, Taipa Old Village is just the place to be. The area is often referred to as a treasure trove for those looking for souvenir trinkets, quality homeware or a taste of traditional pastries. Its hidden lanes and alleyways are home to many charming shops that feature Mediterranean-style, Portuguese and Chinese architecture.
For fashion, tech and sports items, Saint Domingos district is a sure bet. And if this isn’t enough for the modern-day fashionistas, the shopping malls in Cotai District offer international luxury brands. Their newest addition is the Parisian Macao, a 28,000 square meter gem of retail and entertainment hotspots.
By the end of the evening if you want to take things further after the parade, you may find Macau’s nightlife scene to be right up your alley. In comparison with Hong Kong, the former Portuguese colony has space to cater for newer and larger venues, attracting many international DJs and music artists. The largest club in Macau, boasting a 2,800-square-metre facility of pure party blast, is located in the City of Dreams which everyone knows as Club CUBIC.
For the latest in entertainment, you can head over to world-renowned nightlife brand, Pacha, which opened in 2015 in Macau in Studio City, and has since taken the local leisure scene to a whole new level with celebrity heavyweights such as Flo Rida and Grammy-nominated DJ Morgan Page.
And there is no need to stick to the clubs, if all you want to do is sit down and enjoy a fine glass of whiskey or wine.
There is no visiting Macau without finding time to taste authentic Macanese cuisine. A marriage between Portuguese and Chinese food, this fusion cuisine has stood the test of time for four centuries, since the Portuguese first set foot on the territory. But the cuisine has become obscure to the visiting masses and there hasn’t been a proper Macanese restaurant in any of the big hotels and resorts.
Taipa-based Café Litoral may be one of the best known Macanese restaurants and their Macanese chicken is to die for on their traditional menu. Don’t forget to try out the local egg tarts. They are the single most recognised sweets that are synonymous with Macau. Lord Stow’s on Coloane Island is best known for these pastries.
Another well-known street food is the pork chop bun, for which the humble Tai Lei Lok Kei eating establishment in Taipa. consistently receives the highest accolades from visitors and locals.