Macau is known to some as the sin city of Asia, but to me it’s my birthplace where good food is to be had around every nook and corner. With gambling being illegal in surrounding communities (China and Hong Kong), many of the tourists who visit Macau are there for the luxury hotel and casino experience. I’m there to revisit childhood memories, and discover new neighbourhoods.
Macau is generally looked at in two separate sections. The north, which is made up of the Macau Peninsula, and the south which is made up of Taipai, Cotai, and Coloane.
I arrived via the Zhuhai border around 11am in the morning, and left the next day around 3pm. We spent our first day on the Macau Peninsula, and the second day exploring Cologne Village across the bridge. We didn’t find the time to visit Taipai Village or Cotai this time around. But if your travel interests are similar to mine, then you should feel okay with skipping those neighbourhoods since they’re mostly made up of luxury hotels.
Sights Around Town
Most of my time was spent wandering around the neighborhoods and reliving childhood memories. Below are a list of places I visited during this stay:
Ruins of St. Paul’s: currently regarded as a symbol of Macau (also a UNESCO World Heritage Site), the Ruins of St. Paul’s stood as the facade of St. Paul’s College since the 1600s. It was destroyed by fire in 1835, leaving the facade of the College perched on top of a hill, and peering over the skyline of the city. Walk up the steps, and enter the site to visit the underground Museum of Sacred Art and Crypt. Ruins of St. Paul’s is located on the Macau Peninsula, just a 15 minute walk northwest from the Grand Lisboa Hotel.
Na Tcha Temple: also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this temple is tucked in to the left of the Ruins of St. Paul’s. It was built in the 1800s to pay homage to the child god of war, and remains as a symbol of Macau’s multicultural identity and religious freedom.
Largo do Senado: Senado Square has been the town square of Macau historically, and still acts as the urban centre for today’s locals. The square is surrounded by beautiful pastel colored neo-classical buildings, creating a mediterranean ambiance. Small streets filled with markets and local cuisine run off from the Senado Square. The square is a 10 minute walk northwest from the Grand Lisboa Hotel.
Lou Kau Mansion: just steps away from Senado Square is the Lou Kau Mansion. Built in the 1800s, this grey-bricked courtyard home belonged to a wealthy chinese merchant. It’s a quick visit, but you will feel as if you went back in time. Across the street is a popular curry fishball joint, but you will have to stand around to enjoy the curry.
Cologne Village: located on the south island of Macau, this island was recently joined to Taipa Island with the Cotai strip. This island is a peaceful getaway from the main city, and has a great combination of architecture resembling its Portuguese colonial times and Chinese traditions. The two has blended in together, and it’s reflected in some of the Macanese cuisine restaurants in the neighbourhood. You can catch a bus from the bus loop in front of the Grand Lisboa Hotel. The trip will take around 30 minutes, and costs around MOP5 per person. While you’re there, take a stroll along the seawall and capture a few pictures in front of the yellow coloured Chapel of St. Francis of Xavier.
It’s hard to keep track of where Macau’s restaurants are. Their online identity is hard to find, and they tend to relocate often. Here are the places I enjoyed:
Estabelecimento de Comidas Va Kei (Macau Peninsula): this restaurant is not touted around on travel guides, but this place has been my go to spot every time I visit Macau. You will have to travel outside of the usual tourist attractions, but you will also find yourself in the heart of local Macau. The restaurant is in the neighborhood of the Red Market (I will update the blog later with the exact address). Order yourself a mild-spicy house special with thin noodles (comes with beef brisket, fish balls, fish cakes, and squid) for MOP29.
Yee Shun Milk Company (Macau Peninsula): known best for their dairy dessert, this place has been a staple to locals and tourists. Their prices have increased quite dramatically since gaining wide popularity, but it’s a treat to pay a visit to this longstanding establishment. My go to items are either the milk pudding or ginger milk pudding (order either hot or cold), for around MOP35. Their current location is just half a block away from St. Dominic’s Church.
Tai Lei Loi Kei Pork Chop Bun (Macau Peninsula & Taipai): Another staple for locals and tourists, this place boasts the best pork chop bun. Think thin and tender pork chop, tucked into a toasty dinner roll. It’s very simple, but this place attracts lineups all the time. It’s more accessible now that they have opened a location by the Grand Lisboa. Expect to pay MOP48 for one pork bun, or pay MOP2 more for it to be in a pineapple bun.
Lord Stow’s Bakery & Cafe (Coloane Island & Cotai): I have tried portuguese egg tarts from many places (except for in Portugal), but none tastes the same as Lord Stow’s. It’s a creamy egg custard baked within a flakey crust. It’s a great snack for when you’re wandering around Cologne Village (they have opened a location in Cotai also). I bought one for the road for MOP9.
Han Kee Cafe (Coloane Island): This restaurant’s claim to fame is their creamy hand made coffee. If your taste pallet is used to a cup of classic cappuccino, their coffee may be too sweet for you. But after walking around in hot humid weather, their iced coffee hits the right spot. You can also expect some decent cafe food (such as a variety of sandwiches and noodle soup). Drink and food alike, you can expect their items to cost around MOP20-30 each.
Where to Next
I never stay long enough to thoroughly explore Macau. I’m definitely leaving something for myself to go back to.
Up next, I’ll be blogging about my trip to Japan. Check back soon!