Macau minus the gambling


A rich Portuguese history and an evolving cityscape means there’s more to Asia's Vegas than casinos.

9 things to do in Macau, aside from gambling

To the foreign eye, Macau makes little sense. It’s Chinese, but isn’t 100% part of China. It also happens to be Portuguese, with a buttload of egg tarts to show for it. And all those casinos? It might be the Vegas of the East, but that doesn’t make those Scorcese casino ads any easier to watch. Mega-cheese.

Considering one flipping long bridge will stretch from Hong Kong to Macau by late 2017, the {insert whatever the heck kind of geography this place is} of Macau can expect a whole lot more travellers pouring in. Some of which might want more than a spin at the pokies.

Fortunately, Macau’s rich Portuguese roots and its dynamic, transitional cityscape means it has more to discover than just casinos. Here’s where to start…


St. Paul’s ruins

St. Paul’s is at the historical heart of Macau, so begin your day here. The ruins are the architectural opposite to the mullet: bewitching in the front, without much going on in the back. The 17th-century church and college burnt down in 1835, leaving only its unique facade standing.

So make your way to this iconic Macau landmark and gallop up its 68 stone steps for a closer look. It’s also UNESCO World Heritage listed, so get snapping baby.


The hidden gem of Travessa da Paixao

A sweet hidden spot which offers an alternate viewpoint of St. Paul’s is Travessa da Paixao. This quiet street bordering the ruins is unique for its pink buildings, cobbled road and ‘Love Lane’.


Portuguese tart your heart

Visiting Macau without tasting a Portuguese tart would be like going to Paris and skipping the Eiffel Tower, or going to Narnia without being serenaded by Mr. Tumnus’ flute. It simply must be done. Head to Koi Kei Bakery or Lord Stow’s for a flakey yet creamy piece of Portuguese-Chinese history. Now that’s a description just waiting to be taken out of context.


Have your own photo tour

Be sure to bring your camera along to make a creative day of it. Mosey about the streets of Santo Antonio and check out the East-meets-West architecture. The {whatever it is geographically} of Macau is like an old film set, it gives the impression that Bruce Lee could’ve totally shot one of his lesser-known films here.

9 things to do in Macau, aside from gambling


Sail the seas on a junk boat

If you’re well versed in the ways of neighbouring Hong Kong, you’ll know the weekend ritual that is the junk. In Macau, you can hire one of these traditional fishing boats for ocean swims, bevvies or whatever else enters your Macau state of mind.


The Michael Jackson gallery

Calling all PYTs. There’s a shrine to the King of Pop in Sofitel* Macau. Why? It’s best not to question such things. The small and inexplicable gallery features original memorabilia of Michael’s, plus photos and records. And it’s free to enter!

*There’s something funky going on with Sofitel and their novelty features. Out the back of Sofitel Bangkok, I also found a phallic shrine with HUNDREDS of penis statues. Coincidence? Perhaps. Conspiracy? Yes hell yes!


Bird’s eye view at Macau Tower

If you like the cut of Macau’s jib, try seeing it from above. Macau Tower is a 338m needle-looking thing with viewing platforms at various heights. From the platforms, you can enjoy a 360° view of Macau, Taipa, and even mainland China.


Bungee Jump the tower

While you’re up there, you might come to the realisation that Macau ain’t for you. Luckily, you have the opportunity to fling yourself from the tower. At a stomach-falling-through-your-ass height of 233m, Macau Tower is also the world’s highest bungee jump. You can even make the most of Macau’s twinkling cityscape and jump at night. I would personally opt to bungee right on the cusp of a lunar eclipse, just to get the best value and variety for money.


Museum hop

Why listen to any of my garbage when you can learn about Macau at one of its many museums. Seriously, Macau’s number of museums might just rival its number of gambling dens. At Macau Museum you can discover the rich history of Macau within a 16th-century fort setting, and at The Grand Prix Museum you can and perve on sweet black and white shots of hunky F1 champs.

– – –

So how did I go? Feel free to pepper the comment box with any queries or advice you might have regarding the fair {whatever geographical thing} of Macau. Macau trivia is also encouraged. I’ll start: that Bond film totally CGI’d the hell out of Macau. It looks nothing like it. This might be common knowledge.

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9 alternative things to do in Macau, besides gambling

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  • Reply
    April 9, 2017 at 4:37 pm

    Amamzing! Very few people actually care to explore Macau beyond the big hotels and casinos, your Macau diary really inspires to explore! On my visit to Macau, apart from the casinos and hotels, I visited their beautiful beach and really had a good time there! Keep exploring and inspiring

  • Reply
    April 9, 2017 at 11:01 pm

    Macau has much to offer away from the casinos: it also offers adventure, culture, food, and a gorgeous location ! This is good to know that Macau has a plethora of cultural spots to visit, courtesy of 400 years of European and Chinese influence into the area. Thank you for sharing !

  • Reply
    April 10, 2017 at 2:40 am

    The Michael Jackson gallery sounds hilarious! Don’t know if I have the courage to bunjee jump though haha. Great list!

  • Reply
    John Russel
    August 20, 2019 at 6:45 pm

    I’m going to Macau on a business trip next week and i’m taking my family with me, thank you for recommending things i can do with them!

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