Like many languages around the world, Portuguese has a proverb advising against putting new wine in old bottles – yet that’s exactly what’s happening in Taipa, the historic fishing village that’s reinventing itself for the 21st century. And the renewal of Taipa Village is proving to be a roaring success.
Temporarily overshadowed by the vast casino developments in neighbouring Cotai in recent years, Taipa is now back in the ring and punching well above its weight, backing up its storied past and graceful architecture with new arts expos and dining venues that trumpet a spectacular renaissance.
Old Taipa Village
The Village occupies the oldest and best-preserved part of the former island of Taipa. With its traditional shophouses and quaint cobbled streets, it’s the polar opposite of the marching band of whistles and bells that is Macao’s casino land.
Blessed with a melange of Portuguese and Chinese architecture, and with distinctive Mediterranean touches, Taipa Village is a culturally diverse destination that allows visitors to get a taste of the original, authentic Macau.
“Macao is a charming city which unfolds a unique blend of the east and west, but the jewel in its crown is Taipa Village,” said Pamela Chan, Senior Marketing Manager of Taipa Village Destination Limited.
Taipa Village Attractions
“Visitors can spend time in their resorts, then saunter through the tranquil alleyways of Taipa Village and soak up the authentic essence of this culturally-rich destination.”
Wherever visitors wander in Taipa Village, there’s a huge amount to experience and enjoy. Smack in the centre, Art Space was set up to promote the cultural and creative industries in Macao, providing a forum for local and international artists to showcase their work in a traditional shophouse. The exhibition by Macao’s home-grown star Tong Chong proved a winner, with seven sculptures crafted from plywood.
“As the first sculpture show at Taipa Village Art Space, this exhibition marks another step in the transformation of the Village into a lively centre for artistic and cultural endeavours,” said Joao O[SIC], President of the Taipa Village Cultural Association.
“The diversity of artworks on show demonstrates the continuing evolution of the association as it fosters new talent in the cultural and creative industries.”
Taipa Houses Museum
Perhaps one of the most picturesque sights in the village is the Taipa Houses Museum, a sedate row of five distinctive peppermint green houses, which were formerly private residences.
A quintet of time capsules, low-rise and distinctively Portuguese, their lakeside location and gentle aura makes them a popular site for wedding photography shoots, and it’s a rare day when there’s not a bride and groom being put through their posing paces by an insistent cameraman.
Against the village’s cultural backdrop, a fair few artisanal shops are doing a brisk trade, be it jewellery at Dora Tam Design, or the teak and mahogany furniture at City Square.
However, Taipa Village’s forte is food, and it’s difficult to take more than a few steps without passing some sort of eatery. And new restaurants and cafes have been opening on a regular basis in recent months, catering to all of Macao’s diverse culinary tastes.
In the heart of Taipa Village, King’s Lobster Restaurant opened its doors last January  and has had barely an empty table since.
Its variation on a theme – adding succulent lobster to a bun rather than the traditional slice of pork – had customers clamouring for more, and its other dishes, such as Boston lobster and juicy beef burgers have proved incredibly popular. And – given Macao’s fondness for good wine, it’s no surprise that there’s an excellent selection from both Old and New World, with Portugal being especially well represented.
Very much a fusion restaurant, Portugues Pescador allows visitors to enjoy a true taste of both Portuguese and Macanese cuisine. The ground floor sets the scene with an authentic local tea house ambience – check mobile tea stall, traditional chequered tiles, and slowly turning four-bladed fans – where customers can enjoy traditional local snacks such as buns with spicy fish or curry sirloin, and classic beverages like clay pot brewed milk tea.
Upstairs it’s a tad more Mediterranean, with iconic blue and white tiles the signature décor and favourite dishes such chicken and pork knuckle on the menu.
More Taipa Village Food
Digreen is short for “Diamond in Green”, and is a typical tale of Macanese entrepreneurialism. Having looked around and decided what Taipa Village needed was somewhere selling cool, healthy snacks, four passionate young locals decided they should go into business together.
After finding their feet in wholesale, they branched into retail, picking Taipa Village as the right spot to sell their low-sugar treats made from fresh and natural ingredients.
Digreen’s popsicles’ and cones’ flavours range from mango, durian and coconut to popcorn and black glutinous rice, and they also serve coffee, frappes, and other beverages to round out the menu.
From food to art to shopping, Taipa Village has staked its claim as Macao’s newest, oldest, and hippest hood.
Ed Peters is a freelance writer who lives in Hong Kong.
Where is Taipa village?
Taipa Village is located on Taipa Island near Macao’s International Airport. Macao is a Special Administrative Region of China that consists of a peninsula and two islands. Taipa Island s linked to the Macao peninsula by a bridge.
Taipa Macao Ferry
The new Macau Taipa ferry terminal began operating in June 2017. Located on Estrada de Pac On, the Taipa ferry terminal is a massive facility for ferries and cruise ships. The Macau Taipa terminal is close to resort hotels in Cotai and provides connections by ferry to Hong Kong, Shenzen Airport and Shekou in Guangdong province.
Hotels in Taipa
Taipa is not far from the Cotai strip luxury resorts but a Taipa hotel, like the Taipa Square Hotel or Ramada Taipa, is less flashy and easier on the budget.