By Alison Lam and Sarah Lau
Asia is filled with numerous countries with distinct cultures that one can travel to and explore: Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Thailand… the options are endless. However, unlike Europe, where you can take trains to nearby countries, or US, where road trips are popular, in Hong Kong, a plane journey is required to travel pretty much anywhere. So what happens if you want to go on a short trip over the weekend without shelling out the big bucks? The answer? Macau. A place known mainly for over-the-top hotels and gambling, we’ll aim to teach you how to get the most while spending the least.
Hong Kong is known for being a foodie’s paradise, but Macau is a close competitor. Protip: you may think Openrice is a site/app exclusively for Hong Kong restaurants, but you can actually change your location to Macau to find more restaurants there. Our recommendations are:
Address: Rua do Almirante Costa Cabral, No 55A, Costa
Stir-fried beef rice noodles (乾炒牛河) is a local dish that is equal parts fattening and delicious, but at this restaurant, they serve it with macaroni (乾炒牛通) instead, which makes for a very different textural experience. They also introduce the unique combination of pork chop bun (豬扒包) and pineapple bun (菠蘿包) to create… what else? A pineapple pork chop bun (菠蘿豬扒包). For a dessert to complete your meal, order the extremely thick French toast (厚切法蘭西士) dripping with butter and syrup.
Cafe e Nata Margaret’s
Address: G/F, 17A Rua Alm Costa Cabral R/C, Avenida de Almeida Ribeiro
Macau was a Portuguese colony up until 1999, so it is no surprise that its Portuguese tarts are famous. Yes, you may be able to find something similar in Hong Kong (and even KFC), but nothing beats these freshly baked ones from the streets of Macau.
Address: 1047, 1/F, Galaxy Macau
Alas, Macau is not just for local street food. For those seeking Instagram-ready aesthetics, hit up this relaxing cafe that features a beautifully decorated floral wall and royal blue sofa– sure to be the backdrop of your next profile picture. A location that doubles as your caffeine provider and a photo-op. What’s not to love?
An Asian city with European roots… sound familiar? Like Hong Kong, Macau’s identity as an ex-Portuguese colony is still very much present, especially in its architecture. Whether you’re looking to learn something about its history, or just to take a quick snap to send to your mom, make sure to check out the following locations!
The Ruins of St. Paul’s is probably Macau’s best known landmark and a destination every first-time tourist needs to tick off from his/her checklist. As we have so helpfully demonstrated in the photo below, the typical tourist shot includes sitting on the steps, while a helpful photographer-friend goes in from a low angle to include all of the Ruins. In the 1800s, the St. Paul’s College and Church of St. Paul were destroyed in a fire, and all that remains today is the facade. To learn more about what once stood here, venture into the small exhibition room at the back of this landmark.
Just a short walk from the Ruins, the St. Dominic’s Church, with its bright yellow facade, is hard to miss. Its architectural design contains features from both European and Macanese origins, along with statues of Mary, Jesus and a number of saints. Since its renovation in 1997, there is now also a museum inside with artworks and artifacts.
Senado Square, also just a few minutes from the Ruins, is markedly different from day to night. In the daytime it is bustling with tourists and locals alike. At night, the centrepiece fountain, along with all the buildings surrounding it, radiate and come to life, creating a romantic atmosphere that will be perfect place to end your day. Many festivals, flea markets, and performances are also held here, so make sure to check if any events coincide with your visit.