Just a 40-minute ride from Hong Kong by ferry, Macao has been called ‘the Vegas of the East,' but the bustling island is more than just a gambling mecca. It’s also home to tropical blue-green waters, scenic hiking trails, ancient temples, quiet, sandy beaches, and breathtaking views, all within a five- to ten-minute drive of the bustling city center.
Because Macao spent its first 500 years as a Portuguese colony (it’s now an autonomous Chinese territory) you’ll also find yourself in the middle of a fascinating combination of Eastern and Western cultures—think laid-back fishing village in the midst of a booming metropolis. Old meets new and spicy meets savory, particularly with regards to its tasty local cuisine, a unique fusion of Portuguese and southern Chinese food seasoned with Southeast Asian spices and prepped with European cooking methods.
Here, how to experience the resort city in two days.
Book a spacious Lyon Suite at The Parisian, a luxe European-inspired hotel, or check into an oversized grand deluxe room or apartment-sized Metropolitan Suite at the St. Regis (known for its decadent spa) located across the street.
Start the day with an authentic French breakfast at The Parisian's Brasserie, helmed by an experienced French chef. Opt for the Niçoise salad with seared yellowfin tuna.
From there, climb the 68 steps to view the ruins of St. Paul’s church. At the top, you’ll get panoramic views of Macao and a glimpse of mainland China as you tour the grounds of the Fortaleza do Monte, the UNESCO World Heritage Site once used to defend the city. Head back down to explore cobblestone streets en route to Senado Square, the Instagram-worthy crossroads ringed by Portuguese colonial buildings, temples, and 16th century churches.
For lunch, hail a taxi to A Lorcha, which features Portuguese comfort food and is regularly found on Michelin lists. Try the sautéed bacalhau (cod) or coconut-and-turmeric chicken. Then enjoy a few meditative moments at the 15th century A-Ma Temple a few hundred feet down the street at Barra Square.
Adrenaline fans won't want to miss bungee jumping off the 763-foot tall Macau Tower, the highest commercial skyjump in the world. For non-jumpers there’s the comparably thrilling, out-on-a-ledge walk around the sky-high outdoor perimeter platform, while tethered to a safety harness and clip line. You can also take in the heart-stopping views from the indoor observation deck. If you prefer to stay on the ground, hit the links at the Macao Golf and Country Club.
Grab an early dinner at The Venetian’s Indian restaurant The Golden Peacock, and then head upstairs for the straight-from-London’s-West-End production of Thriller LIVE (through September 3, 2017), a musical recap of Michael Jackson hits, or take in a performance of the Crazy Horse Cabaret(opening November 1, 2017).
Post-performance, ride to the top of The Parisian’s over 500-foot tall half-scale Eiffel Tower replica for night-time views of the Macao skyline, ablaze with sparkling lights.
Head to The Manor at the St. Regis for a sumptuous brunch buffet featuring everything from freshly-shucked oysters to beetroot cured salmon and black forest ham.
After breakfast, make your way to the Taipa Trail, a few minutes walk from the hotel. Hike or run along the gently sloping, paved path that loops through the lush, hilltop highlands. Along the way, you’ll be treated to panoramic views of the turquoise sea, tropical islands, the Chinese mainland, and the picturesque ships and bridges.
Next, visit the Crouching Dragon Hidden Tiger-like Macau Tin Hau Buddhist Temple, which includes an impressive 65-foot tall Goddess A-Ma statue, patroness and beloved protector of Macao’s sailors and fisherman. From there, don't miss the historic Taipa Village, where you can explore the quiet colonial backstreets lined with shops, galleries, cafes, and hole-in-the-wall restaurants. For lunch, stop in at Antonio’s, a neighborhood institution, which offers delicious seafood and vegetarian options.
Then, walk the 15 minutes back to The St. Regis' Iridium Spa. Sign up for an indulgent two hour and 50-minute “Revitalizing Journey,” that takes you on a treatment tour of ancient Asian massage traditions, including a signature bath ritual and personalized gemstone scrub.
Afterwards, head across the street for an early dinner at The Four Seasons' Zi Yat Heen for the most elegant dim sum in town, or do a deep dive into the restaurant’s haute Cantonese cuisine. End the trip with The House of the Dancing Water, a jaw-dropping show featuring 80 performers and acrobats, sets that float and fly, and 3.7 million gallons of water.