One of the top vacation destinations among holidaymakers from across the world, Macao is wonderfully diverse.
As both an epicentre for luxury entertainment in the region and a window into East Asia’s history, there’s nowhere else on earth that epitomises ‘east meets west’ better than Macao.
Situated just across the Pearl River Delta from Hong Kong, Macao is easy to reach and the perfect place for a day trip. There’s so much to see and do here, however, that we’d recommend taking a longer trip if you can. Macao has a wealth of accommodation options so there are plenty of places to stay, catering to the most austere all the way to the most lavish of budgets.
As you walk the streets of Macao, you’ll get glimpses of its historical past as well as its bright, modern future. Let us enlighten you about the little-known Macao with these five fascinating facts.
Macao was the Last Asian-European Colony
And first, for that matter!
As a former Portuguese colony, Macao’s association with the southern European country is well known. However, very few people realise it was the last European colony in Asia and became the first when it was initially leased to Portugal way back in 1557.
On December 20th 1999, after being a Portuguese outpost for over 400 years, Macao broke with its historical past (although, not completely) and officially became Chinese. This transfer took over ten years to complete, the Sino-Portuguese Joint Declaration transferring the ownership of the region was actually signed by both countries on 13th April 1987.
Macao is Densely Populated…
So much so that it is actually the most densely populated place on the planet.
Although it covers just 13 square miles of territory, within that modest space it somehow houses over 667,000 residents. That’s roughly 52, 540 per square mile – and that’s not even including tourists or visitors.
Macao is Bigger Than Vegas
For years, Macao was the only place in China where casino gaming was legal. Naturally, that meant many Chinese nationals would flock to its shores to play games like baccarat, poker and roulette.
In 1997, Macao generated the highest amount of slot machine revenues in the world. With the development of mega-resorts like the Venetian Macao and the City of Dreams, it wouldn’t be long before Macao was recognised as much more than simply the epicentre of gaming in the region.
In recent years, Macao has gone on to overtake Las Vegas as the top global destination for gaming, earning itself the reputation of either the “Monte Carlo of the Orient” or the “Las Vegas of the East” depending on your social status. When last checked, Macao had generated three times Vegas’ annual gaming revenue, with gross revenues of USD 28 billion dwarfing that of Sin City’s USD 6.4 billion.
You can still See and Taste Portugal’s Influence
Having been a Portuguese colony for over 4 centuries, it doesn’t take a big stretch of the imagination to picture the influence that has had over the culture and architecture of Macao.
Well, if you head to Taipa Village and the Centro Historico de Macau, you’ll be able to see and even taste the Portuguese influences. In Taipa Village, for example, you’ll find the famous “food street” of Rua do Cunha, which is filled with restaurants, street food vendors and snack shops offering up local favourites like egg tarts, beef jerky, alongside modern Asian cuisine.
The Historical Centre of Macau, meanwhile, features more than 20 landmarks that epitomise Macanese culture. Listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site in 2005, the historical centre officially “provides a unique testimony to the meeting of aesthetic, cultural, architectural and technological influences from East and West”.
Macao is a Mecca for Adrenaline Junkies
You may wonder why so many adrenaline junkies flock to Macao year after year. The answer can be found at the top of the iconic Macau Tower – if you’ve got nerves of steel that is.
Macao is featured in the Guinness World Book of Records for being home to the Highest Commercial Bungee Jump in the world. Situated at the very top of the tower, the jump measures a whopping 233 meters and offers the “ultimate” freefall experience.
Featured image source: Pixabay