Since I had originally planned on exploring more of China on this journey, I bought a flight ticket to Macao, an old Portuguese colony, which is now a special administrative region in China. But I didn’t have time to get my visa to China before I left Denmark back in March, so I decided to change those plans and go to Mongolia instead. But instead of cancelling my flight to Macao and flying directly from Seoul, I decided to fly to Mongolia from Hong Kong, which is located just 70 minutes by ferry from Macao, and that meant that I would still get to explore the city.
Macao is a popular tourist destination, mainly because of its current status as the world’s biggest casino city – in fact, the gambling industry in Macao is seven times bigger than Las Vegas. Thousands come to Macao to gamble in the many fancy casinos and while this is definitely a fun thing to do (but a bit dangerous for the bank account), Macao has much more to offer than just casinos. I’m not particularly interested in gambling, so I decided to explore more of the old town in Macao rather than the glistening modern part.
I arrived in Macao at noon and went straight to the ferry terminal to drop off my baggage. I had a ferry to Hong Kong to catch in the late afternoon, so I had half a day to explore Macao. But for some weird reason, my iPhone hadn’t updated it’s clock to Macao time, so for the entire day, I thought I was an hour ahead of what I actually was, resulting in me rushing around the city in order to see everything before catching the ferry.
I started off by wandering around the historic centre, which reminded me very much of the old parts of European cities, apart from the casinos that were towering above. It was a very interesting contrast and something that I hadn’t expected to find in Macao. I didn’t really know what to expect from the city, but I was pleasantly surprised by the beautiful old town that had me in awe with the stunning architecture and European-style churches. I especially loved the green Chapel of St. Michael. I was completely alone in the chapel and stayed there for a while to enjoy the peace, before moving on. I could’ve stayed there for much longer, but my phone made me believe that I didn’t have enough time.
Close to the church lies the Ruins of St Paul’s, a 16th-century building, which originally included St. Paul’s College, the Church of St. Paul and a 17th-century Portuguese church dedicated to St. Paul. The Historic Centre, which includes the ruins, was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2005.
Right behind the ruins is St. Dominic’s Square, the heart of Macao. This is where all the cozy cafés and small shops are; where I got the feeling of being back in Europe on a summer day. Oh how I love European cities and therefore also Macao! Macao has really surprised me with it’s cozy atmosphere with the cobbled streets and the well-preserved historical sights found all around the city.
Macao is a small place, so the distance from the old town to the glitzy casinos is literally one block. I decided to walk along the busiest casino street on the way back to the ferry terminal. I actually wanted to enter a casino, just to do it, but decided not to, just in case I would get carried away and spend all of the money that I don’t have 😉
I finished off the day by strolling through the Fisherman’s Wharf, which has over 70 shops and restaurants in buildings that are built in the style of buildings from different cities around the world. I then went back to the ferry terminal, collected my luggage and realized that I still had 3 hours left until my ferry would depart…. Oh well, haha! At least I was able to prove that Macao is easily seen in a day, in fact I saw all of the above in just 1,5 hours! Talk about speedy sightseeing!
Although it was a very short visit, I got to see everything that I wanted and I feel like I got a good idea of how Macao is as a city. I would like to go back one day with my pocket full of money, so I can actually afford to stay there and experience the city properly!