Macao a perfect blend of historic charm, modern flair
Heritage meets innovation
Published: Jun 20, 2024 11:13 PM
A view of the Ruins of St Paul Church in Macao Photo: VCG

A view of the Ruins of St Paul Church in Macao Photo: VCG

The Macao Special Administrative Region (SAR) has been named "Culture City of East Asia 2025," according to a recent Xinhua News Agency report, which cited the Office of the Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture of the Macao SAR government. 

The Culture City of East Asia program is an art and cultural event launched by China, Japan, and South Korea initiated in 2012. 

Each year, the three nations will name one or two cities from each country as the Culture Cities of East Asia to promote cultural exchanges and cooperation.

In 2024, this title was awarded to Huzhou, East China's Zhejiang Province, as well as Macao, the first Chinese city outside the mainland to be given the honor. Even before the nomination, Macao was renowned for its traveling industry. 

Macao's beauty lies in the integration of past and present, East and West. 

Visitors can savor history, enjoy the present, and appreciate the harmonious blend of Western and Chinese architecture, all within one city. This unique combination has made Macao a beloved destination for tourists from around the world.

Renowned sites

Macao had been occupied ­by the Portuguese for over 400 years until its return to China on December 20, 1999. As a result, many historical buildings in the region retain Portuguese characteristics.

The Historic Centre of Macao, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since the 29th session of the World Heritage Committee, is an example of its rich historical legacy. 

This area links over 20 historic buildings, including the Moorish Barracks, the Mandarin's House, the Lou Kau Mansion, the Dom Pedro V Theatre, the Ruins of St Paul's Church, and the Mount Fortress. 

These landmarks reflect the deep historical layers of Macao, offering visitors a glimpse into its storied past.

Macao has undergone rapid development since its return, injecting new vitality into the city. As night falls, the Cotai Strip lights up, with its glittering hotel complexes and entertainment hubs forming a dazzling urban landscape. 

These integrated resorts offer a one-stop experience, containing water parks, the teamLab interactive art ­exhibits and culinary adventures­. 

In February­, the Forbes Travel Guide awarded 22 of its ­establishments ­five-star ­ratings, making this the second year in a row that the city has more Forbes-approved top-tier accommodation providers than anywhere else in the world, local media outlet The Macao News reported. 

A street view of Macao  Photo: VCG

A street view of Macao Photo: VCG

Cultural fusion

The allure of Macao extends beyond its historic sites. It is a city where Chinese and Western cultures coexist harmoniously. 

Traditional ­Chinese temples like the A-Ma Temple (a temple honoring the Chinese sea goddess Mazu), the Kun Iam Temple, and the Lin Fung Temple stand as symbols of Chinese heritage, while Western-style buildings such as the Taipa Houses and Senado Square showcase its Western past. 

Macao's serene islands like Coloane offer a peaceful retreat from the bustling city. The Lai Chi Vun shipyards on Coloane, a well-preserved site of Macao's shipbuilding industry, are being revitalized to tell the story of the city's maritime history. 

The Macao SAR government and private enterprises have made efforts since 2023 aiming to turn it into a cultural and tourist hub. 

Macao's various sporting events further enhance its global appeal. Each major event held at venues in the city brings a surge of visitors to nearby hotels and restaurants, contributing to the local economy. 

In May, the 2024 FIVB Volleyball Women's Nations League Macao leg was held. Besides, the city hosts the Macao Grand Prix, the Macao International Marathon, the Macao ITTF World Cup, and Macao International Dragon Boat Races, among others. 

Various dishes are a must for visitors to the city. From aromatic Portuguese-style chicken to mouth-watering pork chop buns, Macao offers a diverse range of culinary delights to tantalize visitors' taste buds. 

These delicacies include egg tarts, bacalhau, traditional Chinese dim sum and seafood dishes. 

What can't be missed is the local Macanese cuisine, which presents a unique blend of Chinese and Portuguese influences, such as minchi and African chicken. 

Wang, who comes from East China's Anhui Province, visited Macao in 2023. According to Wang, the city makes her feel "quiet," "at peace," and surrounded by "charm."

"We visited some famous local attractions, such as the A-Ma Temple, but the most enjoyable part was tasting the local cuisine and visiting several shopping centers to buy souvenirs," Wang told the Global Times.

A recent survey by the China Tourism Academy showed that in the first quarter of this year, Macao has become the most satisfactory destination for outbound tourists from the Chinese mainland for the first time. 

The abundance of tourism resources, high-quality services, a safe and orderly tourism environment, friendly and humble residents, and colorful festive events together constitute the "mystery" that attracts tourists to Macao, said Li Xi, executive associate dean of the faculty of International Tourism and Management at the City University of Macau. 

As a city where history intertwines with modernity and East merges with West, Macao offers diverse experiences for every visitor. Whether you're exploring its ancient architecture, indulging in its opulent resorts, or immersing yourself in its lively cultural events, this city assures an unforgettable journey.