Jun 30, 2016

Travelling to Macao with Kids? Here's How to See & Do the Most in 4 Days

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One doesn't usually lump the words “family-friendly” and “Macao” together in the same sentence.

But over the years, Macao has evolved into a vibrant city with colourful events & festivals all year round and a foodie paradise. Oh yes, that last bit there is enough to make me salivate - think Portuguese egg tarts, pork chop buns, egg rolls, peanut candies, roasted sliced meat and many other local specialities!


Food aside, what makes Macao awesome for families is its history as a Portuguese colony from the mid-16th century to 1999. Portuguese influence is still visible in the colorful, colonial architecture that almost makes you forget you are in China. The great thing about Macao is it is relatively small so it will not take long to get from one place to another.


Personally, I think the best time to visit Macao is during the final third of the year - September to December - due to the sheer number of festivals happening then. There is the Macao International Fireworks Display Contest on every Saturday in September & 1st October, Macao International Music Festival  in October, Macao Food Festival in November, Macao Light Festival and a Parade through Macao, Latin City in December. Definitely an extremely vibrant and lively end to the year!


I reckon a 4D3N visit to Macao should give one ample opportunities to visit most of the family-friendly attractions. So if you are thinking of planning a trip there, here is how you can get the most out of Macao in 4 days.

DAY 1 - Day of Entertainment & Thrills

If there is one thing certain about Macao, it has got be that it provides lavish contemporary facilities with non-stop entertainment and diverse range of activities for all visitors. And that includes the kiddos too.

Batman Dark Flight

In partnership with Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment, ‘Batman Dark Flight’ is the world’s first flight simulation ride themed around DC Comics Super Hero “Batman” with the intellectual property franchise. Immersed in the flying theater, adventure-seekers can virtually soar over Gotham City with Batman through the action-packed storyline.


Enhanced with the latest in flight simulation technology and the very best in audio design and visual graphics “Batman Dark Flight” provides a whole new dimension of super-heroic entertainment. The incredible multi-sensory, action-packed ride throws consumers among all of Batman’s heart stopping encounters as he combats the hair-raising terror of Gotham City’s Super-Villains.

Golden Reel 

Suspended between the twin hotel towers of Studio City at a height of 130 meters, the Golden Reel is the world’s first and Asia’s highest figure-8 Ferris wheel. Born from an epic Hollywood-inspired tale of two asteroids careering through Studio’s City main façade and leaving a perfect “8” shaped hole, it is panoramic spectacle that promises to thrill and amaze visitors.


It features 17 “Steampunk”-themed cabins, each accommodating up to 10 passengers on a memorable ride around the uniquely-shaped figure-8 track. Once aboard, you can admire the breathtaking views of the city in different angles.

The House of Dancing Water 

Whatever you do, do NOT miss the world’s largest and most spectacular water-based show. Inspired by the Chinese culture, the show takes the audience through 7 emotions: Joy, Anger, Sorrow, Fear, Love, Hate and Desire and is unique to Macao. Oh, and it cost a whopping $250 million to create it.


The stage holds 3.7 million gallons of water and can transform from a pool deep enough for high diving to a completely dry floor  in a matter of seconds. Expect plenty of water diving stunts, motorbikes acrobatic stunts, and aerial acrobatics - all in a 2,000-seater dancing water theatre where spectators can have a 280-degree view of the show!

DAY 2 - Day of UNESCO World Heritage & Cultural sites

Macao is a city of rich multi-cultural heritage that blends the rich traditions of Chinese and Portuguese cultures. And it sure helps that it is also home to many stunning historic sites with UNESCO World Heritage status!

Ruins of St. Paul’s 



In the Historic Center, one will find one of the most photographed spots on the island: the ruins of the Church of St. Paul. The Ruins of St. Paul's refer to the facade of what was originally the Church of Mater Dei built in 1602-1640, destroyed by fire in 1835, and the ruins of St. Paul's College, which stood adjacent to the Church. Nowadays, the facade of the Ruins of St. Paul's functions symbolically as an altar to the city. The site is unlike no other, and you can also visit the St Paul’s Museum on the site to see the original city walls.

Senado Square


Having been Macao’s urban centre for centuries since the port of Macao was opened for trade, Senado Square is still the most popular venue for public events and celebrations today. The Square is paved with Portuguese beautiful cobblestones and surrounded by pastel coloured neo-classical buildings - reminiscent of a picturesque European city.

Macao Museum

The Macao Museum is a historical and cultural museum with a vast number of objects of great historical value, which demonstrates the way of life and cultures of the various communities which have been inhabited the city for ages.


The Macao Museum is located in the Mount Fortress, which was built by the Jesuits in the early 17th century. For a long time, the Fortress was the city's principal military defence structure where public access was restricted. In 1965 this Fortress was converted into the Meteorological Services and later opened to the public. Built on top of the Mount Hill, the Mount Fortress offers a panoramic view of the city. On its west is the Ruins of St. Paul's. On 15th July 2005, the Historic Centre of Macao was officially listed as UNESCO World Cultural Heritage. The Mount Fortress and the Ruins of St. Paul's are significant historical monuments of the Centre.


The first floor is a short and comparative presentation of the way western and Chinese civilizations were developed before the arrival of the Portuguese in the Pearl River Delta in the 16th century. Besides, history of Macao, commercial activities, religions and cultures of the two civilizations are also displayed. Mounting the stairs to the second floor, visitors have the opportunity to come into contact with different aspects of the popular art and traditions of Macao; such as people's daily lives, entertainment, religious ceremonies and traditional festivals. The third floor shows contemporary Macao including the characteristic aspects of city life. The way Macao has been portrayed in literature and the arts is prominently highlighted.

Tap Seac Gallery


If you have time to spare, a visit to Tap Seac Gallery is highly recommended too. An exciting gallery devoted to promoting both cultural and artistic exhibitions, the Tap Seac Gallery features distinctive design and construction having two wells inside the building, plus a patio in the centre of the building which allows in daylight to add a unique dimension to exhibitions and displays.


DAY 3 - Escapade to Taipa Island

Old Taipa Village

Journey to one of the only traditional villages remaining in Macao. It’s quieter over here, with pedestrian-only alleys and small shops and restaurants.


The Taipa Houses-Museum
The Taipa Houses-Museum which includes five typical green houses with Macanese architectural characteristics of Portuguese matrix, is considered one of the cultural relics and heritages of the Island. 


The Taipa Houses-Museum was built in 1921, which had been the residences for high superior civil servants and Macanese families.  In late 90's, the government decided to fully remodel them, recognizing its important architectural value, transforming them into museums.

The "Macanese House" is one of the Macao's typical houses in colonial style.  It reminds visitors a period of Portuguese splendor that was characterized by frequent affluence of the British, Manchu, Mandarins and traders in this tiny territory.

DAY 4 - Day of Relaxation

Lou Lim Ieoc Garden

When the glitz gets too much, the Lou Lim Ieoc Garden is a tranquil escape located in the northern part of Macao. Modelled after the classical Chinese gardens of Suzhou, the garden features a miniaturized landscape with narrow paths winding through groves of bamboo and flowering bushes, under moulded concrete "mountains" to a large pond filled with golden carp and lotus flowers. 


A nine-turn bridge zigzags across the pond (according to legend, evil spirits can only move in straight lines) to a large pavilion combining Classical and Chinese architecture elements. There are frequent art and craft exhibitions in the pavilion, which also serves as an auditorium for recitals during the annual International Music Festival.


Truth is, there are simply too many attractions and sights in Macao for me to squeeze into a 4D3N itinerary! I have included more arts and cultural attractions in my itinerary as I believe that a visit to these places in Macao allows for an enjoyable and insightful experience that showcases the rich cultural and historical heritage of Macao in a unique perspective for the kids.

Of course, you are more than welcome to experiment and plan your own itinerary when visiting Macao. In fact, you can experience Macao in your own style by experimenting and mixing your own desired attractions at Macao Government Tourism Office's website.

Or you could WIN a pair of tickets to Macao for yourself!

Click to enlarge
1. Fly over to ExperienceMacao.SG's Facebook page, like the page and leave a comment there on what you would want to Eat, See, and Stay while on vacation in Macao. Contest ends 5 July 2016. Remember to include the hashtag #MacaoOnSocialSG!

2. If your entry is picked, you will win a pair of flight tickets to Macao! Stay tuned for the announcement of the lucky winners on ExperienceMacao.SG's Facebook page.

GOOD LUCK! :)



For more information on visiting Macao, visit Macao Government Tourism Office's website, Facebook page or Instagram account.


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Jun 29, 2016

All You Need to Know about the NEW Marine Cove at East Coast Park - including the Massive Children's Playground!

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After 4 years of closure, Marine Cove at East Coast Park officially opens TODAY once again! And this time, it sports several brand new amenities for families - including a massive children's playground.


The great news is visitors to Marine Cove will be able to look forward to MORE open spaces with vistas of the sea, improved connectivity, family-friendly facilities and dining options.

But make no mistake, there can only be ONE main highlight in the eyes of a child.

THIS.


The colourful 3,500sqm children’s playground boasts a range of play equipment suitable for children of varying ages. Located close to the beach, it was designed to integrate with the surrounding greenery and the beach setting within East Coast Park.


And it is ALL FREE for everyone!

TOWER

The 8m high tower is a focal point of the playground. Located in the centre of the playground, it is a three-storey tower modelled after a lighthouse. Suitable for older children aged five to twelve years old, it consists of many play elements including three slides of different levels, a rope bridge and climbing net courses.


The great thing about the tower is it is entirely sealed at the top - there is no other way down except via the three slides. Kids climb up the tower through a funnel net in the middle.


Of the three slides, the most fun (and fastest) has got to be the family slide which comes in a wider version for parents to slide down together with their kids!


UPDATE: A reader has shared that the metal slides can get pretty hot in the day, so do check before letting your kids go on them.

The tower also acts as the central connection to the various play zones as it is connected to slides and rope bridge.


PLAY AREA FOR TODDLERS

For kids aged two to five years, they can also join in the fun at a gated toddler play area.


The play area comes with a huge running space, mini crawling tunnel, fun mirrors and spinning optical illusions.


Did you know that this is the FIRST playground in the history of East Coast Park?


Frankly, I am absolutely impressed with the playground. Not only is it HUGE with plenty of spaces for kids to run amok, there are many different types of play equipment to keep them occupied.









INCLUSIVE PLAYGROUND

But MORE IMPORTANTLY, the outdoor playground also comprises inclusive elements to encourage children of different abilities to play together. Like this accessible swing seat which is equipped with a safety harness for security.


Kids who have a weaker lower body half can try the rolling panel, where they can lie on their backs and use their hands to grab onto the semi-circle bars and pull themselves from one end to the other.


For kids who can be easily stressed with large crowds or need a quiet time on their own, there are two 'timeout' pods at the playground which offer them a brief respite and their own temporary private space.


The playground is also designed to be as wheelchair-friendly as possible. Some of the play equipment have flat and wide open spaces which makes it easier for kids on wheelchairs to join in the fun too.


Even at the climbing structures, sensory and percussion panels have been added to the sides of the structure so that every single child, able-bodied or not, can play together.


The inclusive play equipment is designed with a range of motion, such as spinning, rocking and swinging to improve muscle control.


In addition, there are also play equipment that incorporate technology into the fun of play.



Can you tell that I love this Children's Playground already?

OPEN-ENDED PLAY AREAS

But there's MORE! A nice touch to the area is the inclusion of several play areas which offer open-ended play - areas that leave the rules of play entirely up to the kids' imagination.

A Wavy Platform
A Maze-like  Mini Play Area
Lumps in the ground that will definitely encourage kids to jump from one to another
An Artificial Grass Area for kids who are allergic to real grass
Adequate seating areas are also located around the playground for families to rest while the children enjoy the playground.


Family-friendly facilities include a new standalone public toilet facility which incorporates toilets, sinks and shower facilities tailored to young children.



How cute are these kid-sized toilet bowls???


Famished after all the play? Families can choose from a host of family-friendly F&B establishments with dining concepts ranging from local favourites to Western café food, all located in the previously SuperBowl building.


The five dining outlets, which will open from 2 July 2016, include the following:

Babalicious


Babalicious is a family friendly restaurant which serves authentic Peranakan Cuisine together with Hainanese chicken rice (served by Tong Fong Fatt). Babalicious has a specially designed kid’s corner to complement the outdoor playground at Marine Cove. Families with young kids can have a peaceful meal while their kids keep themselves busy.


Hill Street Coffee Shop


Diners will be brought back to the early days of coffee shop culture where they will find themselves surrounded by the aroma of freshly brewed coffee, strong flavours of Kaya and the hustle and bustle of a coffee shop in the golden era. Kids will love the Central Fire Station murals that line the walls of the eatery, and the fire station-themed environment!


McDonald’s


Ah, the iconic McDonald's that hold a special place in hearts of those who had fond memories of the one at the old Marine Cove. One of the largest McDonald’s stores in Singapore, the new Marine Cove restaurant sports a unique look and feel that reflects its distinct beachside location, and features a salad bar, a dessert bar and a trio of premium burgers.

My Briyani House


My Briyani House is a Halal certified restaurant, specialising in local Indian-Muslim food such as prata, goreng, thosai, nasi briyani and its signature curry fishhead. The outlet at Marine Cove has included a fresh concept which features a children’s corner. The design caters to a more family theme where parents can dine with their children while enjoying the comfort of having their meals at the children’s corner.


The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf


Well, nothing much to be said about the oldest and largest specialty coffee and tea retailer in the United States except that... this flagship store is the largest outlet in Singapore! Parents can get their caffeine fix while their kids keep themselves busy at the kids' corner.


To complement its beach setting, more open spaces and vistas have been created at Marine Cove to provide visitors with a clear view of the sea. Park users can look forward to soaking in the beach view while enjoying the facilities and dining in the area.


In addition, the redeveloped Marine Cove boasts a well-connected network of footpaths that provides park users dining at the F&B establishments with better connections to the children’s playground and rest of the park.  The footpaths are also designed to be wheelchair-friendly and accessible for parents with baby strollers.


To increase accessibility, a new linkway has been built to connect the dining outlets with the nearby underpass to Marine Terrace. The two car parks at Marine Cove, C2 and C3, have also been reconfigured and the number of parking lots increased to better serve park users who drive to East Coast Park.

Layout of Marine Cove at East Coast Park (Photo Credit: NParks)
How to get to Marine Cove

Marine Cove is located at East Coast Park Area C and is accessible via East Coast Park Service Road. It is a 5-minute walk from the underpass linking Marine Terrace to car park C3.

Car park C2 has 331 parking lots, 36 motorcycle lots and 4 handicapped lots while  Car park C3 has 99 parking lots, 24 motorcycle lots and 2 handicapped lots.



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