Macau Marvels: An Enchanting Island Off China’s Southern Coast

There’s a long history of European and Asian fusion in this former Portuguese colony off the Southern coast of China. Macau is the biggest gambling center in the world, with seven times the gambling revenue of Las Vegas. But look past the casinos, and you’ll find that Macau is not just materially wealthy but rich in history, food and fun. This island and peninsula hybrid is easily the fastest-growing entertainment center in the world with something for everyone.

Getting There

Fly into Hong Kong and take an hour-long ferry ride to the other side of the Pearl River Delta or fly through Taipei directly into Macau International Airport.


The Sheraton Macao is the largest hotel on the island as well as the largest Starwood property in the world, with more than 4,000 rooms. The shopping is even more prominent than the gaming here, with hundreds of duty-free shops attached to the hotel through Sands Cotai Central including De Beers, Adolfo Dominguez and Breguet.

Photo courtesy of the Sheraton Macao.

The Sheraton is the most kid-friendly hotel on the Cotai Strip, thanks to a DreamWorks partnership. Family suites have specially outfitted kids rooms with Kung Fu Panda, Madagascar or Shrek décor, and the “Shrekfast” character breakfast rivals Disney.

Photo courtesy of the Sheraton Macao.

Adults can unwind after a long plane ride at the Shine Spa, where therapists will determine your element (fire, water, metal, wood and earth) for customized massages and you can lie down for a luxurious pedicure on plush treatment beds. 

It’s worth upgrading for club lounge access, which comes with a bountiful breakfast spread of Western and Asian delicacies.


Morning, noon or night, satisfy your sweet tooth with Portuguese egg tarts from Lord Stow’s Bakery. There are several locations on the island, but the original in Coloane Town Square is a sweet, calm oasis for enjoying these warm, flaky pastries filled with egg custard.

Within Cotai Central, the most delicious dining option is Xin, a hot pot and seafood restaurant unlike any other. You’ll get your own hot pot, where you can cook fresh vegetables, seafood and meats from a magnificent buffet in a soup base of your choice—from Nyonya laksa to signature lamb and fish soybean broth.

On the Macau peninsula, visit Wing Lei at the Wynn for sophisticated Cantonese cuisine. Barbecue pork buns get a sweet twist with a crispy dusting of milk powder and abalone is served in savory gravy and sugared shortbread tart. Eat these dim sum favorites while lounging under a magnificent flying dragon made up of 90,000 Swarovski crystals. Save room for steamed cod accented with preserved tree nuts and osmanthus milk pudding, a floral Chinese version of panna cotta.

Photo courtesy of Wing Lei.


The Historic Centre of Macau is a UNESCO World Heritage site and all the major monuments and buildings are within easy walking distance. The hustle and bustle of shops, bakeries (there must be more Koi Kei bakeries in Macau than Starbucks in Seattle) and snack vendors juxtaposed with colonial Portuguese architecture is a sight to behold. My favorite sites were the Lou Kau Mansion, a traditional Chinese courtyard house, and the backyard garden of the IACM Building, which offer peaceful and beautiful oases in one of the most densely populated places on the planet.

In the evening, you must see the breathtaking beauty and mystery of The House of Dancing Water. This show is a gallimaufry of Olympic quality diving and BMX tricks with characters ranging from a Baroque dominatrix villainess to a contortionist wise man. You’ll be on the edge of your seat every minute as the princess’s fate is determined through a series of acrobatic performances, each more stunning than the last.


Jump off the highest bungy jump in the world at Macau Tower. You can also savor the view with a scenic Skywalk, where you can stroll the perimeter of the 746-foot-high building while strapped into a harness. Daredevils can swing off the ledge, although the real daredevils will tackle the bungy.