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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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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.