Looking for a destination as food-obsessed as you are? Meet Macao. Just a short trip across the Pearl River from Hong Kong, this tiny peninsula is packed with holiday options and a rich culinary culture you won’t find anywhere else.
Its former life as a Portuguese territory, centuries as a lively trading port, and 20 years as a SAR (Special Administrative Region of China) city has given Macao a remarkable heritage. Little wonder this pioneer of fusion food is a newly designated member of the prestigious UNESCO Creative Cities for Gastronomy, celebrating innovation in both cuisine and food sustainability. Enjoy a delectable voyage of discovery, from traditional Cantonese tea houses, hot pot eateries and Portuguese bakeries to award-winning Macanese street food and a sensational, Michelin-starred restaurant scene.
Come for the food but stay for Macao’s incredible choice of luxe hotels, resorts and spas, superb shopping, and wealth of UNESCO World Heritage sites, including the historic Old Town. The landmark 17-century Ruins of St. Paul’s and delightful Tiffany-blue residences of the Taipa Houses-Museum are also not to be missed. For a gastronomic getaway, cultural adventure or entertaining escape, Macao offers a melting pot of charms.
Next-level fine dining
Food-lovers love Macao. Renowned for its quality street food and unique Chinese-Portuguese fusion cuisine, the city is also peppered (pun intended) with Michelin-starred restaurants, many with a celebrity chef at the helm. The Cantonese delicacies at Jade Dragon have just earned it three Michelin stars, joining the impeccable Robuchon au Dôme and auspiciously-named The 8 Restaurant (both at Grand Lisboa Hotel) in this elite club.
The two-starred Alain Ducasse at Morpheus has become an instant classic, while you could easily spend your whole trip eating your way around the enticing offerings at the MGM Cotai. Just don’t forget to pick up a box of freshly baked Portuguese egg tarts (pastéis de nata) on your travels. True tart devotees should head to Lord Stow’s Bakery in the charming Coloane Village or Margaret’s Café d Nata near Senado Square. Believe the hype, these custard delicacies are worth the trip!
Stay, play and spa
‘Plush’ is a word that comes to mind when describing the many five-star hotels and resorts opening not only in the Cotai area (which links the southern islands of Taipa and Coloane) but along the Macao peninsula. Naturally, the accommodation is top-shelf, but so are the surrounding day spas, leisure areas, shopping centres and restaurants (some headed by celebrity chefs).
When you’re not soaking up the sweeping harbour views, shopping up a storm or catching one of the city’s giant Vegas-style shows, add spa-hopping to your Macao itinerary. Many of the most indulgent wellness escapes are housed in big-name resorts and hotels, including the ESPA at Ritz Carlton Macao, Banyan Tree Spa Macau, Spa at Mandarin Oriental, and the decadent private therapy rooms at Spa at Encore inside Wynn Macau. Or tap into the gemology trend 38 floors up at the city’s highest spa, Iridium Spa at St Regis Macao.
Macao to Hong Kong: easy access, double the fun
Both known for their fabulous food, shopping and sightseeing, Macao and its close neighbour of Hong Kong make a superb combined holiday option.
Travel via the world’s longest sea crossing bridge from Hong Kong to Macao (the longest section of bridge spans 29 kilometres!). Or, set sail and connect between the sister SAR cities by ferry in around an hour. They’re part of a region now known as the Greater Bay Area of China (previously called the Pearl River Delta), with links to other cities in neighboring Quandong province.
Traditionally, Macao is a safe city with tourist-friendly transport. Travelling from Australia? You won’t even need a visa to explore and enjoy Macao for up to a month.
Couples will love: Seven magical Macanese experiences
For a romantic evening walk, take a stroll past the Portuguese architecture of the Taipa Houses-Museum to experience the neon lights of glittering Cotai at their best. Also, visit the Coloane Island fishing village in the south of Macau for an alfresco Chinese meal or seaside Portuguese dinner at Miramar.
Exploring Macao hand-in-hand is a must-do before you hop back on the plane. The narrow lanes of historic old Macao, the gorgeous Cameos Garden & Grotto, the charming Guia Lighthouse, the upmarket Penha Hill – they’re all sights you have to tick off the list.
Looking to take things to the next level? Zoom to the top of the 338-metre Macau Tower for a bird’s eye view of the city and beyond. Or, up the luxury level and treat yourselves to a once-in-a-lifetime dining experience at the three-Michelin-starred Robuchon au Dôme, located at the top of the Grand Lisboa Hotel. Top things off by enjoying a cocktail in either the St Regis Hotel Bar (famous for its Bloody Mary) or the Ritz Carlton top floor bar. And be sure to fit in time for marvelling at the 17th-century Ruins of St Paul’s in the evening, when the crowds have disappeared – magical!
Thinking of discovering this unique destination? Find more travel inspiration on the Visit Macao website here