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Overview

This Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China and former colony of Portugal has become the undisputed "Las Vegas of the East," raking in more annual gambling revenues than Las Vegas itself. Macau's population — the most densely crowded in the world — inhabits a small peninsula west of Hong Kong on the South China Sea. The southeast sector of the city, known as the NAPE, is dominated by garish gambling halls and luxurious hotels with familiar brand names, from MGM Grand and Wynn to Mandarin Oriental and the Sands. South of downtown are two islands, Taipa and Coloane, connected by bridges and causeways. Coloane Island is a refuge from the ...

This Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China and former colony of Portugal has become the undisputed "Las Vegas of the East," raking in more annual gambling revenues than Las Vegas itself. Macau's population — the most densely crowded in the world — inhabits a small peninsula west of Hong Kong on the South China Sea. The southeast sector of the city, known as the NAPE, is dominated by garish gambling halls and luxurious hotels with familiar brand names, from MGM Grand and Wynn to Mandarin Oriental and the Sands. South of downtown are two islands, Taipa and Coloane, connected by bridges and causeways. Coloane Island is a refuge from the card tables and nightclubs, providing outdoor pleasures such as swimming, hiking, bicycling, and golf. Coloane and Taipa Islands have been joined together recently by a massive reclamation project to create Cotai, Macau's answer to the Vegas Strip. The Cotai Strip is home to ever-expanding rows of lavish casinos and hotels, including the Venetian, the world's largest casino hotel. Macau's unique Portuguese/Chinese legacy is concentrated in the Historic Centre District, located downtown along picturesque Avenida de Almeida Ribeiro. Old Macau's centerpiece is St. Paul's Church, built 400 years ago as the largest Catholic cathedral in Asia. Other sites on the UNESCO World Heritage list for Macau are bustling Senate Square, the East India Company Cemetery, and lofty Mount Fortress, a stronghold developed by Jesuit missionaries in the 17th century to ward off pirates. For an even loftier view of the West's first trading post in the East, there's Macau Tower (2001), a 1,109-foot pinnacle offering daring around-the-rim walks and bungee jumping for truly high rollers.

J.D. Brown
About the Expert

J.D. Brown is a contributor to Frommer's China and Frommer's Beijing, coauthor of Frommer's China: The 50 Most Memorable Trips, Berlitz Shanghai, Berlitz Singapore, and other books.

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J.D. Brown for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Macau borders Guangdong province to the north and faces the South China Sea to the east and south
  • Language: Cantonese
  • Currency: Macanese Pataca
  • Research: Wikitravel
  • Weather: Daylight | Rainfall

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Summers are hot and humid, while winters are fairly mild. Typhoons can strike from the middle of summer into the fall.