Macau is a small peninsula in China, southwest of Hong Kong. There are scheduled charter flights to and from Macau and Hong Kong throughout the day. It’s an easy day trip from one place to another. If you’re planning a trip to Hong Kong, you should also consider spending a little time in Macau.
The total population of Macau is close to half a million people. Most of the residents are of Chinese origin from various Chinese provinces. The remaining population (approximately 5%) is of Portuguese and European descent. Macau used to be a colony of Portugal before it was returned to Chinese control in the late 1990s. In case you were wondering, Macau is sometimes referred to as ‘Macau’, due to the Portuguese history of area. The official languages are Chinese and Portuguese, with Cantonese being the most widely used. English is mainly used for tourism and business.
Macau’s many attractions make it well worth a visit. Due to the Portuguese settlement, there are old forts, churches, temples, and gardens to tour. There are more than a dozen museums to see, including the Macau Museum, the Maritime Museum, the Wine Museum, the Grand Prix Museum, and the Gift-Giving Museum. Every year around November, there are Macau Grand Prix car and motorcycle races. The Macau Tower, at 338m high, is definitely worth a visit. Throughout the year there are many other events and festivals that you can take part in. Walking tours and shopping opportunities also abound. In addition to many new casinos being built, you may want to try your luck at some of the older casinos, or even horse racing and greyhound racing.
There is a lot of development going on in Macau, and this development will soon bring even more visitors. Many hotels, casinos, resorts, and convention centers are currently under construction, with the first ones scheduled to open in 2006 and 2007. Some of the development is occurring on the Cotai Strip, which is reclaimed land between two Macau islands called Coloane and Taipa. . The spelling of ‘Cotai’ comes from the names of these two islands. These developments are being planned by combinations of world-class hotel chains and major Las Vegas casinos, so they are sure to be impressive. The developers’ goal is to make Macau an international destination for resorts and casinos, and you often hear the term ‘Asia’s Las Vegas’. Up to six billion dollars are being spent on these developments, with 10,000 hotel rooms in the initial phase and expansion to 60,000 rooms in the third phase. Gambling in Macau will be a big draw in the years to come.
If you spend any time traveling around Macau, you will probably cross the bridges on the peninsula. The names of two of the bridges are Nobre de Carvalho (the Friendship Bridge) and Sai Van Bridge. The Friendship Bridge is the longest and goes directly to the Macau International Airport. Yes, you can fly directly to Macau! The airport is located on the island of Taipa.
In closing, if you are interested in experiencing a mix of two cultures in a small area, with many unique tourist opportunities and attractions, then Macau and the Cotai Strip should be your next vacation!