Travel: Top 10 Cultural Things to do in Macau
Well, you’ve probably read so many variations of what to do outside of casinos, but here’s my take living here as I continue to discover this weird and wonderful place. If you’re travelling as a couple or with children, these could be fun too, although a little more art and culture skewed.
1. Macao Science Centre Go in the evening so you can catch a glimpse of sunset over the waters. This gorgeous building is designed by I.M Pei, boasts several storeys and is a great place for kids to learn about science with physics and chemistry experiment stations – learning about magnets and gravity, including a mini pip organ to show you how air and sound travels and a 3D cinema with the latest films. There’s also a huge playroom with plenty of colourful balls just beside a Macdonald’s in-house. On a sidenote, the milk tea is also quite nice at the cafeteria.
Admission: 25MOP Avenida Dr. Sun Yat-Sen, Macao Science Center
2. Macao History Museum If you’re here as a tourist, you’ll probably be headed for the UNESCO St Paul’s Ruins to get some photos taken for your social media brag. On the right of St Paul’s is the museum and I highly recommend a visit – it is really well curated documenting the history with maps and trade routes as well as the full Macau inter-cultural wedding set up, including the four post matrimonial bed, outfits and a typical Chinese living room juxtaposed against a Portuguese one. Then, there is the history of firecrackers – once the largest export of Macau (apart from knitted goods) before Casinos came about in the 1970s.
Admission: 10 MOP
3. Tak Seng on Pawn Shop One of Macau’s largest Pawn Shop from 1917 and a UNESCO heritage site, this 4 storey building is quite sparse and simple, but kept the way it was. Kids can play make-belief pawn shop and customer at the large counter preserved as it was.
Admission: 5 MOP
4. Macau Art Museum And the Macau Handover Museum next door Both are free admission unless there’s a special exhibition. Both are definitely worth the visit, the former has interesting exhibitions that is usually hardly publicised apart from giant billboards at the ferry terminals, and the Handover museum is an anomaly because there’s no where else in the world a museum is devoted to giant luxurious precious objects that are political gifts all placed in one museum.
5. Macau Wine Museum Yes, they have a museum a tribute to Portuguese wine, over the centuries of being a colony. Worth a visit only because it’s a novelty and the Portuguese have been producing wines for an equally long time alongside their old world wines counterparts. You can also do wine tastings here for flights of Portuguese wine. (15MOP for 3 different wines – dangerously cheap for anything potable!) It is a strange musky place over 1400sqm, but worth venturing out to, if only once.
431 Rua de Luis Gonzaga Gomes, Macau Admission is free.
The Grand Prix museum is just next door with lots of original F1 cars on display, so if you’re into automobiles and racing, or have kids who are into this, I’d recommend it.
Admission is also free.
6. Red Market This gorgeous art deco building is a landmark in Macau and also a multi storey wet market. Here, live chickens are slaughtered on the spot as are the seafood. Around the area offers a slice of local life, plenty of seasonal fruits and vegetables, spices and homemade tofu, noodles and cake shops leading up to the Three Lamps area.
7. Cineteatro Macau Here is where Bruce Lee’s first film premiered, which no one really talks about since it became a big hit. They were afraid that it wouldn’t take off and decided to premiere the film in the backwaters in Macau instead of Hong Kong. The cinema still screens movies and issues handwritten paper tickets.
If you feel like venturing out of expat zone, instead of watching your movies at Galaxy cinemas, you could come here. :)
60MOP for a 2D movie, 100MOP for 3D, excluding 3D glasses.
8. Walk and eat around Cunha Street
Right in the heart of Old Taipa Village, you can take a stroll along the old shophouses. There are plenty of little boutiques, bars and restaurants in the area as well as old gems that have been around for decades. The mint green Taipa Houses museum is in the area, but doesn’t offer much more information than talking a walk by the water, strolling along the old colonial style houses. If you’re looking to eat your way around Macau, here’s what you can do in 12 hours part 1, and part 2.
9. A-Ma Temple
Another UNESCO heritage site by Barra, for centuries sea faring sailors have come here to this temple to pray for safety and history has it that Macau got its name from the derivative of the name of A-Ma – the Godess of the Sea. Here’s where people go get their fortunes read, go with someone who speaks Cantonese and can translate. You go and offer your wishes and ask for blessings and are given a bamboo container with sticks, you get on your knees and focus on that one particular question (just like tarot card readings) and you shake the bamboo container that contains the sticks. The first stick that drops out is your reading. You bring that to the counter to exchange for a sheet of pre-destined fortune paper and the master will interpret that in context for you.
10. Clube Militar Every last Friday of the month, there’s a classical concert at the Clube Militar, still decked out in its former hey days glory of high ceilings, colonial doors and old school opulent furnitures. Non-members can also dine in and the concert is open to public. I’d recommend stopping by for a walk and cup of coffee to indulge in a little of the old school architectural grandeur.