Macau is one of the two Special Administrative Regions of the People's Republic of China, the other being Hong Kong. Macau lies on the western side of the Pearl River Delta just across Hong Kong, and is also bordered by the Chinese Guangdong Province to the north and the South China Sea to the east and south. With an estimated population of around 624,000 living in an area of 31.3 square kilometres, it is the most densely populated region in the world. Further, Macau is one of the world's richest regions. It also became the world's largest gambling centre (2006), with the economy heavily dependent on gambling, tourism, as well as in manufacturing.
What to see & do
Ruins of St. Paul's – The Ruins of St. Paul's refer to the facade of what was originally the Church of Mater Dei, built in 1602-1640 by Macau's Portuguese colonisers. The original structure, including the adjacent St. Paul's College and Mount Fortress were all Jesuit constructions and formed what can be perceived as Macau's 'Acropolis', which was destroyed by fire in 1835. The facade is mannerist in style and carries some distinctively oriental decorative motifs. It also includes biblical images, mythological representations, Chinese characters, Japanese chrysanthemums, a Portuguese ship, several nautical motifs, and many other depictions of Macau's history.
Senado Square – Perceived and reminiscent of Europe's main Parliament squares and adjacent buildings, the Senado (Portuguese/Spanish for Senate) Square is a paved town square and is considered as a UNESCO Historic Centre of Macau World Heritage Site. While it is beautiful in the morning with its pastel and light-coloured buildings, it becomes livelier at night when it is lit up with lights. Fountains also adorn the centre of the square, seemingly putting life elements in the rather architectural and rock-steady buildings.
A-Ma Temple – The A-Ma Temple is one of Macau's oldest and most famous Taoist temples. Built in 1488, it is dedicated to Matsu, the goddess of seafarers and fishermen. The temple consists of six main parts: the Gate Pavilion, the Memorial Arch, the prayer hall, the Hall of Benevolence (which is the oldest part of the temple), the Hall of Guanyun, and Zhengjiao Chanlin – Buddhist Pavilion.
Macau Tower – Built and commissioned by Hong Kong casino billionaire Stanley Hung-Sun and inspired by the similar Sky Tower in Auckland, the Macau Tower (convention and entertainment centre) is a tower complete with many entertainment facilities including panoramic views, restaurants, theatres, shopping malls, and the Skywalk X, a thrilling walking tour around the outer rim.
Grand Prix Museum – The Grand Prix Museum is a motor racing museum in Macau inaugurated during the 40th Macau Grand Prix in November of 1993. The museum is an echo of Macau's colourful history when it comes to racing and the Grand Prix.
How to get around within Macau
Small and compact, Macau is best explored by foot. It is a tourist-friendly and pedestrian-friendly area, and a lot of the destinations can only be caught when walking. There is a chance that walking would even be faster, as roads are usually crowded with cars and other vehicles, although the kerbs and the sidewalks are usually filled with locals coming from all directions, so maintain focus. Buses meanwhile provide cheap transport around the city, as provided by three different bus companies. Scooters are also popular here; they are the go-to mode of transport for locals. Other modes include taxis and cars, while cycle rickshaws can also be rented. Haggle or negotiate prices when riding these 'tricyclos', as they tend to charge more to tourists.
How to get there
The Macau International Airport is the main airport serving the special administrative region of Macau. It is located off the shore of Taipa Island, and has basic facilities which can handle various international and domestic flights. Airlines that travel the destination include Air Macau, AirAsia, TigerAir, Thai Smile, Philippine Airlines, and JinAir. Most South-East Asian cities have direct flights to Macau, but if your country of origin is not part of the lucky ones, you may as well fly to Beijing (Beijing International) then ride a ferry to Macau.
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