Macau, special administrative region of China, on the country’s southern coast. Macau is located on the southwestern corner of the Pearl (Zhu) River (Chu Chiang) estuary (at the head of which is the port of Guangzhou [Canton]) and stands opposite the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, which is some 40 miles (60 km) away on the eastern side of the estuary.
Macau comprises a small narrow peninsula projecting from the mainland province of Guangdong and includes an area comprising the islands of Taipa and Coloane, which are joined by an expanse of land that was reclaimed from the sea and is known as Cotai. Extending up a hillside is the city of Macau, which occupies almost the entire peninsula.
There's nowhere on the planet quite like Macau. One of China's two so-called Special Administrative Regions, the little autonomous territory has evolved (with something approaching insatiability) into a neon-clad jungle of five-star casinos and gargantuan resorts. The "Vegas of the East" tag, however, tells only half the story. This is also somewhere that bears the marks of centuries of Sino-Portuguese heritage, showcasing age-old temples and colonial-era architecture alongside its modern pleasure palaces. The same mix of global influences informs everything from its culture to its cuisine. The destination (made up of three sections: the mainland, Taipa and quieter, greener Coloane) sits within easy reach of Hong Kong, making it relatively straightforward to visit. High-speed ferries make the journey in less than an hour, while the under-construction Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge will form a 31-mile road link between the two.
Top Things to Do in Beijing
- Weather: Macau benefits from a warm tropical climate. Its annual average temperature is about 20ºC (68ºF). Autumn (between October and December) is the best time to visit when days are sunny and warm. Winters (January to March) are cold, while temperatures and humidity spike from April to September, with occasional tropical storms (typhoons). In the summer, wear light cotton clothes while woollens and a thick jacket are recommended during the winter. From March to May as well as from September to November, a cardigan or jumper is useful for the cooler evenings and nights.
- Public transport: The centre of peninsular Macau is compact, and most of the sights and attractions are easily reached on foot. Other attractions, such as the Macau Tower, A-Ma Temple, Guia Hill and Coloane and Taipa islands are further afield and require jumping on a bus or hailing a taxi, both of which are cheap, readily available and efficient.
- Guia Hill Fortress and Lighthouse: Built in 1637 to guide ships through Macanese waters, the still-functioning Guia Lighthouse is also used to warn the city of impending typhoons. You can visit the surrounding fortress, which contains a chapel building noted for its frescoes. A series of wartime bunkers are cut into the hill nearby, and a small museum tells the stories of those who served here.
- Macau Giant Panda Pavilion: Under a seashell-shaped glass roof in Coloane lies one of Macau's biggest tourist draws. Raised walkways mean visitors have a unique vantage point of the resident giant pandas in an environment that is meant to resemble as closely as possible their natural habitat. The complex also houses enclosures for red pandas.
- Venetian Macao: Part of the colossally proportioned gambling-centred glitz of the Cotai Strip is this mega-resort. Named after its sister property in Las Vegas, the luxury Venetian is the largest casino complex on the planet and takes the Venice theme as far as humanly possible, with mock-Italianate architecture and canal-lined shops. It's well worth a visit even if you're not playing the tables.
- Macau Tower: At 338m (1,109ft) high, the skyline-bossing Macau Tower grants wide views across to the Chinese mainland from the 61st-floor observation deck. It's also a magnet for adrenaline junkies, who can skywalk the tower's perimeter, climb to its summit or brave the world's highest bungy.