Macao is an ocean of neon, a never-ending cyclone of lights, a feverish nightmare that doesn’t really make sense but still frightens you to the core. The shady streets are bathed in the cold colored glow of neon. The air smells of seafood and frying oil, exhaust fumes and rain. Transsexual prostitutes all dolled up are strolling the streets looking for clients. Chubby tourists take pictures of neon signs with no comprehension of what those signs are saying. Me among them.
Gambling in Macao
Macao recently surpassed Las Vegas as the #1 money maker for casinos. This gambling mecca is a special administrative region of China, but there is barely a trace of authentic Chinese heritage to be seen here. Macao was actually a colony of Portugal until 1999, explaining the unique Portuguese flare.
Either way, this is not the place for any kind of authentic culture. This is a land of neon and gambling.
If you want to gamble, the options are nearly endless in the “Monte Carlo of the Orient”. Macao has 33 casinos, including the legendary Grand Lisboa as well as international chain casinos Wynn, MGM, Sands and the Venetian.
The Venetian brings a bit of Venice to Macao
Hong Kong to Macao
Macao is easily reached by ferry from Hong Kong. The cruise takes less than an hour and ferries operate regularly all day and late into the night, making this an optimal day trip. Just make sure you spend some time in Macao after dark, because the city is especially affecting at night.
Macao Beyond the Casinos
Casinos are clearly the biggest draw for visitors, but there is more to Macao. The city has a wonderful old town reminiscent of its Portuguese past, full of narrow cobblestone alleys and beautiful colonial architecture. Popular street foods include sausages, fish balls and various kinds of beef jerky.
Signs of Macao’s Portuguese past
Macanese street food
Macao’s Senado Square
Macao’s old town seems a world away from the neon glow of the casinos