48 Hours in Macau

We took a ferry from Hong Kong to Macau on New Year’s Day. My husband and I spent just two days exploring the Macau Peninsula, the Cotai Strip, and Coloane. Although our time was short, I really enjoyed our stay — especially the town center of Coloane.

Macau surprised me. I’m not sure what I expected: perhaps an Asian version of Las Vegas, and nothing more. I didn’t know much about Macau before our visit, other than it was a former Portuguese colony and known for its high-limit gambling.

The Historic Centre of Macau, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a mix of Asian and Portuguese influences, from its numerous churches (like pastel yellow St. Dominic’s Church) to its very European town squares (like Largo do Senado, a gorgeous plaza with smoothed Portuguese pavement).

There’s so much more to Macau than the few images I’ve shared below — I’m tempted not to publish this post at all. But I’m happy to have squeezed in a visit and started 2015 in such an interesting place.

Ruins of St. Paul's, from the 16th century, in the old town of Macau.
The Ruins of St. Paul’s: a facade of the Cathedral of St. Paul, built in 1602, in the Historic Centre of Macau.
Colorful flags hanging in between buildings in the old town of Macau.
Colorful flags hanging between buildings in the old town.
A bookstore in the old town.
A bookstore in the old town.
Geometric art on a street not far from the Ruins of St. Paul's. (Photo by Nick Rowlands.)
Geometric street art not far from the Ruins of St. Paul’s. (Photo by Nick Rowlands.)
Residences in Macau.
Looking up at residential buildings.
More street flyers.
Street flyers in the old town.
Smoothed Portuguese pavement in the historic center of Macau.
Portuguese pavement throughout the Historic Centre of Macau. I’m reminded of my time in Lisbon five years ago, when I slipped on the city’s smooth pavement numerous times.

The casinos not far from the Historic Centre — notably the Grand Lisboa, Casino Lisboa, and the Wynn Macau — add the sparkle and light to the skyline of the Macau Peninsula.

Over on the Cotai Strip, an area of casinos and resorts that joins Taipa to Coloane, there are more high-end hotels, like the Venetian, which looks just like its sister in Las Vegas, only bigger. It’s currently the largest casino in the world.

The famous Casino Lisboa was built in the 1960s. It stands between the Grand Lisboa and the much newer Wynn Casino.
The quirky, old-school Casino Lisboa, built in the 1960s, stands between the Grand Lisboa and the much newer Wynn Casino.
A view of the Grand Lisboa, from the front of the Wynn Casino.
An evening view of the Grand Lisboa, from the front of the Wynn Casino.
The trippy entrance to the City of Dreams, an entertainment and hotel complex on the Cotai Strip.
The trippy entrance to the City of Dreams, an entertainment and hotel complex on the Cotai Strip, across the street from the Venetian.

* * *

Coloane, the island directly south of Taipa, is a fifteen-minute drive from the crowds of the Macau Peninsula and the glitz of the Cotai Strip. We stayed at Pousada De Coloane, a hotel overlooking Cheoc-Van Beach. While a bit outdated in some parts, it’s a lovely hotel, with beautiful tilework and finishings — and a great view of the sea.

In the town center of Coloane, I reunited with one of my favorite treats: pasteis de nata. Coloane is the birthplace of the Macanese egg tart: Asia’s version of Portugal’s famous pastry. But that wasn’t the only reason why I liked Coloane. This part of Macau is quieter and slower, and I’m glad we stayed here instead of one of the casino resorts. The bus system connecting Coloane to the rest of Macau is inexpensive, efficient, and easy to figure out, so it was fine being a bit out of the way.

View of the beach from our balcony (room 212).
View of Cheoc-Van Beach from our balcony at Pousada De Coloane (room 212).
Headboard details at Pousada De Coloane.
Headboard details at Pousada De Coloane.
The leafy plaza in front of the Chapel of St. Francis Xavier.
The leafy plaza in front of the Chapel of St. Francis Xavier in the town center.
A closed storefront in the town of Coloane.
A closed storefront in the town center.
The entrance of a small temple in the town of Coloane.
The entrance of a small temple near the center of town.
Fish for sale at the Coloane Pier.
Fish for sale at the Coloane Pier.
The queue outside of Lord Stow's Bakery, home of Macau's famous egg tart, just off Coloane's town square.
The queue outside of Lord Stow’s Bakery, home of Macau’s egg tart, just off the town square.
Lord Stow's egg tart: the Macanese version of Portugal's pasteis de nata. So, so, so yum.
The Macanese version of Portugal’s pasteis de nata. So, so, so yum.
Macau beer at Nga Tim Cafe on Rua do Caetano.
Macau beer at Nga Tim Cafe on Rua do Caetano.

Photographs taken with a Canon G11 and iPhone 5s. More on Instagram.

28 Comments

  1. I’ve yet to visit Macau even though I’ve been in Hong Kong, which is a ferry ride away, several times. It’s refreshing to see more of the cultural side of Macau, whose reputation as the ‘Las Vegas of Asia” tends to overshadow everything else on the peninsula. Lovely pictures!

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  2. glad you decided to publish the photos!

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  3. Excellent images Cheri ~ you begin to capture what is special about Macau. Most of my friends when I tell them about Macau imagine it as an Asian Vegas…but as you mention, Coloane is anything but…I go there for the great Portuguese food and then just relaxing within the village ~ and your photos show this great hidden side of the enclave. Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you — what a wonderful thing to hear from someone who knows Coloane. Macau really did surprise me in different ways, and I was so glad we stayed in this area.

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  4. My Wanderlust is out of control, after reading this… Lovely photos and impressions, thank you for sharing this with us!

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  5. I really enjoy your photos. I can get a view of places I will most likely not visit. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Like you, I imagined Macau as a place filled with casinos. When you wrote that there was a European feel, I paid extra attention to your gorgeous shots and found the tiny bookstore very European looking. The pastry reminds me of the French Far Breton (custard pastry from Brittany). It always amazes to me to see how the influence of history (sadly often through colonization) left deep marks, years and years after independence. I understand your hesitation about publishing the post since there is so much history and humanity behind the facades of gorgeous buildings and historic monuments. Impossible to say it all in a blog post. Thank you for the glimpse, though.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Beautiful photos. So impressed with your eye for details!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. love it!! I’m planing a trip to Hong kong and Macau this coming July and your photos just reinforced my desire to go! oh, and I love the Portuguese egg tart too!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Amazing photos!! I never though about going to Macao but after reading your post, i just need i have to meet that place! Thank you for sharing!!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Interesting photos. Never had a desire to go. The flag photo reminded me of the flags car lots sometimes fly to try to get your attention.
    My kind of bookstore…
    Photos and words gave a great story. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Such a fab start to 2015! Your post and gorgeous photos make me want to visit there. Thanks for sharing this delicious slice of your life.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I love your photography. Particularly the rich, vibrant colors; somehow suggesting texture and depth; (quite an accomplishment across the digital divide)…My favorite? Your view from room 212. Now THAT is a destination to dream about. :o)

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Wow, it looks really beautiful. Love the images and colors you use in your photos.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. moosha23

    This looks so beautiful! I love how Macau had a fake St Paul’s – that’s very intriguing especially when you think about the difference in architecture between St Paul’s Cathedral in London and Macau’s one.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. There’s so much more to Macau than the few images I’ve shared below — I’m tempted not to publish this post at all.

    I’m glad you resisted this temptation. As much as I adore Instagram (I’m a new convert), the images sometimes take place in a vacuum. I’ve been following your feed, excited with each new photo you’ve published, and I wanted backstory for the photos. So thank you for publishing this 🙂 What a vibrant, colorful place.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. What a wonderful travelogue! I also had the (apparently mistaken) impression that Macau was just about gambling, but your narrative and photos have really captured its cultural complexity. Well done, Cheri. And I wish you many more wonderful adventures in the New Year ahead!

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  17. Great selection of shots. I love the geometric street art and the trippy entrance. What a fantastic place.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Looks beautiful! We weren’t able to make a Macau trip when my friend and I went to Hong Kong, but I definitely plan on going one day.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. sophierose233

    I loved this post. I went to Macau a few times back when I lived in Hong Kong but that was 2011 and so I want to go and see how much it’s changed over the past few years – which i’m guessing is a lot!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m guessing it’s changed quite a bit since you were there — there was so much construction, especially around the airport and Cotai Strip (that area looked rather ugly during the day!).

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      1. sophierose233

        Yeah when I was there, there was absolutely nothing on the Cotai strip apart from the Hard Rock and the Venetian! I bet it all looks pretty lit up at night though!

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  20. Love the entrance to City of Dreams!!! All your pictures are so good. I feel as if I am there.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Again great photos of yet another interesting place. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. City of dreams entry is great — it looks organic.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. ThePlexusMan-Chris O'Gwynn

    Wow!! this place is spectacular!!

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Yes, Coloane would be my choice too. Great pics!

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Coloane looks really lovely!

    Liked by 1 person

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