Macau is a fabulous place to explore with a group of friends. And if you’re holidaying with a group of girlfriends, you’ll have a fun time hitting the shops, spas, restaurants and bars. Throw in Macau’s impressive World Heritage sites and you’ll easily plan a perfect getaway. Keep reading my Macau travel blog and you’ll find out why.
Many years ago, while searching for places to go in Macau, I also discovered something about myself – that is, I have never taken the notion of good luck too seriously.
Back in university, my Asian roommate used to sweep the floors and corners spotlessly before New Year’s Eve because she swore it improved the feng shui.
She also had me change my black turtleneck to a red one because red was the colour of good luck.
Unlike in Asian cultures where superstitions are often strongly held, I subscribe to the belief that ‘whatever happens, happens.’
But I did take my former roommate’s pearls of wisdom with me on a trip to Hong Kong making a side trip to Macau.
After several days experiencing Hong Kong’s frenetic pace, friends coax me to shift gears and visit nearby Macau to see the bougainvillea in full bloom.
“Besides, you’ll really get a taste of this former Portuguese colony that is being transformed before our eyes,” Winnie says as she accompanied me to the jetfoil ferry, which would bullet me over to Macau in less than an hour.
I figure if I really wanted to see Old Macau, I’d better do it now.
My earliest impressions of Macau came during high school and, in later years, on a visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art where I came across the self-portrait of George Chinnery, whose bespectacled profile had a sombre look.
The British painter’s landscapes of Macau, completed during the mid-1800s, are now eulogised as part of the old city that is fast disappearing in the 21st century.
Crossing the murky brown South China Sea, I recall Chinnery’s face and make a mental note to visit his final resting place in Macau at the Old Protestant Cemetery.
Exploring Macau solo
At the Macau pier I leave the madding crowds of Hong Kong arrivals, who are undoubtedly headed for the ubiquitous Macau casinos to try their luck.
Instead, I dart to where Macau really started.
At A-Ma Temple, Mr. Ho, my gracious driver, drops me off and declares: “This is where Macau began.”
According to legend, a poor girl named A-Ma was seeking passage to Canton.
A fisherman gave her refuge and then a storm hit, destroying everything but his boat.
When land appeared, she vanished into the hills and reappeared to seafarers as a goddess. At the site of the near-tragic incident, a temple was erected.
Walking in between a pair of ornate stone lions, I head to the Chinese-styled Prayer Hall.
Smoke wafts from the smouldering honeycomb incense burners to the rafters above.
It’s these sights, sounds and smells that makes a Macau travel blog come to life.
Finding George Chinnery’s grave
An Australian woman whispers that I should seek a fortune teller.
“There are plenty at Kun Iam Temple performing all kinds of ancient rituals,” she suggests, then with great ceremony drops her wooden sticks on the stone floor.
While I could easily fill a Macau travel blog with historic places to explore, it’s those personal encounters that will never leave my mind.
I wander over to Largo do Senado (visiting the square is one of the top things to do in Macau), where a lively scene unfolded as musicians plied their craft.
This famous square, surrounded by colonial buildings, is located near the Ruins of St. Paul’s and teems with markets and Chinese medicine shops.
Among the ruins a series of vignettes form impressions of another era: tinsmiths ping bowls, locksmiths prepare intricate padlocks and, tucked further down the alley, tailors measure their customers for suits and brocade dresses.
Along the way, a mélange of canvas sacks brimming with dried chanterelles and tables of dried fish are the prizes for the passersby who are welcomed by friendly vendors waiting for a sale.
Along Rua da São Paulo antique shops are crammed between ateliers, calligraphers and woodworkers carving fine wooden furniture.
A lacquered wooden chest revealing a scene of cranes on a desert isle catches my eye.
Somewhere I had heard an ancient Chinese belief that the crane represents longevity but it’s the simple design rather than the folklore that sold me.
Clutching my new purchase, I head over to Camões Gardens, a quiet oasis that typifies the sweet lingering lifestyle the Macanese are renowned for.
Crimson bougainvillea cascades over a wall where a bird seller reading a newspaper sits next to his gilded cages, while a mother and her child play ball by the jacarandas.
“This is where I should find the Old Protestant Cemetery,” I think to myself when, suddenly, I see the entrance gate.
I’m drawn to the choral sounds from the Morrison Chapel and wait for a pause when the choirmaster speaks.
He obligingly opens the gate and directs me to George Chinnery’s gravesite.
It occurs to me that perhaps some good luck from earlier in the day had brushed off on me after all.
“Whatever happens, happens,” I muse as I finally arrive at this restful place in Old Macau.
Macau Blog – Girlfriend Getaways
These days, a solo or getaway in Macau with the girls is a fun way to bond while exploring a destination with glamour and history.
Around Macau, ladies (and guys if they want to join in) have a ball with Macau nightlife fun and pleasure in this fun city.
1- Shopping getaways for the fashionista
Every fashionista loves a great bargain.
In Macau, duty-free shopping gives retail therapy a new meaning. Head to the many malls like Venetian Macau for a fun faux Venice experience.
The lighting effect at the Shoppes at Venetian turns the mall from day to night at a blink of an eye giving the illusion of sunset and sunrise.
Picture over 350 shops in 9 hectares of mall space – that’s the size of nearly 17 American-sized football fields. The best time to shop is arguably during Macau Fashion Week.
2- Historic getaways for the old timers
That is in old finds like antiques – the best spot a gal can resurrect and breathe new life in some classic chinoiserie is to visit the cramped narrow streets around the ruins of St. Paul off Rua San Paulo.
Find lacquerware, bronze ware and some nice Chinese wood carved repros.
3- Diamonds (and gold) are a girls’ best friend
As hubby or your significant other is making big at the slots why not use some of the big winnings to spend on some amazing jewellery.
The gold shops along Avenida Horta e Costa, Avenida do Infante D. Henrique and the Avenida de Almeida Ribeiro are well known.
Make sure you ask for a certificate of guarantee when splurging.
With loads of private pampering, you could totally have your head reach the clouds from all the great treatment options at Altirai Macau’s Spa and The Spa at Encore at Wynn Macau, among other amazing spas.
At Wynn Macau, you can enjoy the privacy of your own suite spa that comes with a steam room, sauna, and a hydrotherapy bath.
Now let all the stresses wash away with one of their signature spa treatments.
No flashing lights, no slot machine bells — its tranquility and peacefulness now.
Any place known as the ‘City of Dreams,’ gets a huge thumb’s up.
That goes for the luxurious spa at the City of Dreams in the heart of Cotai.
The spa has a hefty spa menu that includes facials, body wraps, customized body massages and hair and nail services.
The sky is the limit there.
5- For the internationalist-ah
This is for the gal who likes being in Macau but wants to feel like she’s flown somewhere else.
That place could be nicknamed Nirvana.
You wouldn’t be wrong either.
The Nirvana Spa located next to Nam Van Lake specializes in Hindu wellness philosophies.
For the gals who have a fixing for Mediterranean dishes, they will not be disappointed at the legendary La Paloma Restaurant in the highly sought after Pousada São Tiago.
The setting alone makes you feel as if you’ve arrived to a rich Portuguese pousada (meaning “inn”) with its ancient stone steps and exquisite blue azulejo tiles.
Overlooking the picturesque Macau Harbour, the magnificent 1629 Barra Fort is the enchanting setting for La Paloma Restaurant which specializes in authentic Spanish cuisine.
Macau is an aquatic paradise of amazing swimming pools that get bigger and better as each new resort is built.
Picture floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Macau’s dramatic peninsula with the skyline of skyscrapers as its backdrop now smile.
As you submerge, the sound of music underwater reverberates.
After you’ve soaked long enough (how could you not since the water is at a sinful 29 Celsius that’s bathwater warm), leave the luxury pool and towel off at the outdoor terrace with a poolside cocktail in hand.
7- For the champagne girl
For the gals who like to raise a glass and toast to a great day of exploring Macau, there’s not a nicer way than indulging at these Macau bars.
From chic lobby bars decorated in fun tones of fuchsia, orange and honey yellow to sleek sky high rooftop bars.
If you want to feel like a million bucks there’s nothing wrong with the swanky surrounds by Wynn Macau’s luxurious Bar Cristal.
Cocktail patrons are spoiled as the ambiance radiates in this classical looking hotel bar that’s been transformed into a work of art.
The showstopper there is a French imported antique crystal chandelier.
Luxurious silk fabric inspired from a 17th century Chinese Venetian design seduces the walls.
Everything sparkles in this giant jewel box of a lounge.
8- For the Sweets Lover
There’s a nice assortment of almond cakes, moon cakes, candies and Chinese cakes made from heavily guarded recipes that use only the finest ingredients.
We love the citrus mooncake using dried tangerine peel with the finest walnut paste.
9- For the yoga girl
Namaste, it’s time to perfect your downward dog as yoga lovers unite at a yoga class. Most top Macau hotels offer yoga and there are several independent yoga studios, such as Yoga Loft, which is located in the heart of Macau overlooking the fabled Senado Square.
The staff there is preparing for some fun social programs like movie screenings and dance sessions.
There’s a nice selection of classes from which to choose.
10- For the fitness buff
After sitting in front of the slots for days on end, it’s nice to stretch the loins at one of the local fitness centers.
Macau’s hotels have mega huge fitness centres equipped with all the latest equipment.
Go for a run on the treadmill, give the weights a work-out, and twist and twist some more at one of the group fitness classes scheduled weekly.
Looking for small boutiques and galleries in Macao? Here’s where to go shopping in Macau.
Do you like parades and parties? You’ll be amazed at how much there is going on in Macau.