Macau, the Vegas of Asia, is a small island (and some of the adjacent mainland) just off the coast of China. It is home to the huge private games that took Tom Dwan and Phil Ivey out of the American poker scene for nearly a decade.
It’s also the setting of Bond’s casino visit in Skyfall. But, if you’re not there chasing assassins, there’s still plenty to do after your poker game ends.
From historical sites to bungee jumping off of skyscrapers, here are seven of our favorite things to do in this weird and wonderful city.
7. A-Ma Temple
In the morning, when you wake up after a late night at the poker tables, you might want something to do to relax.
A calming first stop is the A-Ma Temple. Also known as Ma Kok Miu, this historic site is the possible source of the name “Macau” and is supposedly the first place the Portuguese landed.
The complex contains shrines and pavilions dedicated to numerous Chinese gods and religious figures. Over its long history, this syncretic temple has fused together Confucian ideals and folk mysticism into a unique style of worship.
Visitors can light incense at a shrine or just absorb the relaxing atmosphere, making this an ideal place to get away from any poker-induced spiritual tilt.
6. The Macau Giant Panda pavilion
One of the icons of mainland China, the panda, also lives in Macau. Another calm, daytime activity might be to visit them in Seac Pai Van Park.
At the center of a beautiful public garden, you can find the panda enclosure. Here Kai Kai and Xin Xin (originally of Chengdu) raise their twins Jian Jian and Kang Kang in an all-you-can-eat-bamboo environment.
The four of them can be seen playing together and watching the humans go by as they tumble about.
5. Historical center
In Macau, the remnants of Portuguese colonialism are sandwiched between modern and historical China. This is part of what gives the city its strange and unique feel.
The historical walking area is home to old churches, public parks, cobbled streets, and small dining experiences. Enjoy the 19th-century European-style architecture, the Macau Museum, a historical Mandarin house, and Portuguese custard tarts.
4. The ruins of St. Pauls
Rounding out your historical walking tour, you might want to stop at the iconic ruins of St. Paul’s cathedral. This is one of Macau’s most recognizable spots.
One relic of Portuguese colonialism is the presence of Catholic churches throughout Macau. The old Portuguese name for the city translates as “Port of the Name of God.”
The ruins of St. Paul’s make up one of the most notable of these colonial relics. This Spanish-style edifice was decorated by Japanese monks. It stands in the middle of another beautiful walking area near cafes and restaurants.
3. Macau Tower and Convention Center
If the attractions so far are a little too staid for you, you could always try bungee jumping off the tallest structure in Macau.
The Macau Tower serves primarily to hold up various antennae. But it also comes with a viewing platform 223 meters up its 338-meter length. This platform can be reached from the ground in roughly 60 seconds by elevator. Through the elevator windows, you can watch the view developing below.
Once at the top, the platform has 360 degree views of the city and Macau Bay as well as a cafe and an outdoor walking area.
2. The Fortune Diamond Light Show
Follow your map to the road named Avenida de Cotai. There, you’ll find the home of Galaxy Macau’s world-famous Fortune Diamond Light Show.
Eight times a night, they put on an astonishing laser show. You don’t actually need to go all the way to the Fortune Diamond, because the lights can be seen flashing from all over Macau.
This is another of the truly iconic sights that Macau offers.
1. The Venetian, and other casino experiences
Like in Vegas, the casinos of Macau aren’t just there to keep the rain off of your card table. They are also home to tourist experiences. Or they’re experiences in themselves.
If you’ve just left your game, you might need only step outside the poker room to find something to do.
The Venetian is surrounded by replicas of Venice’s canals, on which you can ride a gondola. The Wynn Palace has free cable car rides. And the Parisien has a replica of the Eiffel Tower to climb. The view from the top comes with a mock-Lutetian street below.
When you’re done, the casinos all house top-notch restaurants, perfect for a late-night meal. When you’ve eaten and recharged, you should be ready to dig even deeper into the astounding attractions the city offers.
Featured image source: Flickr by Global Reactions