Since the handover from Portuguese to Chinese rule in late 1999, Macau (pronounced ma-cow) has gone through a dramatic economic and physical transformation. The Portuguese language is still used officially, and the Macanase dining scene is as vibrant as ever, but vestiges of the 450-year-old colonial era are dwindling.
Since the late 2000’s, the eleven-square-mile territory has been so thoroughly transformed into a casino paradise that its gaming revenue has more than doubled that of Las Vegas, and its hotel boom shows no sign of slowing down.
Explore Both Old and New Macau
Senado Square at the heart of old town Macau is a UNESCO World Heritage Site where side streets are made for strolling and packed with small food and handicraft shops.
The 17th century façade at the Ruins of St. Paul’s serves as Macau’s symbol, and the church’s crypt displays stunning Portuguese silver crosses, statues, and sacred art. There are dozen of other colonial churches as well, of which St. Dominics is one of the finest.
Couples on a honeymoon or romantic getaway will also be drawn to visit small neighborhood Buddhist and Taoist shrines and temples throughout the territory, with the famous A-Ma Temple at Barra Point dedicated to the seafarers’ goddess.
Macau overflows with first-class museums, including the extensive colonial history exhibitions in the Museum of Macau; the Maritime Museum for exotic sea creatures and elaborate ship models; and the aptly named Handover Gift Museum for extravagant artworks and treasures bestowed by every Chinese province to celebrate the 1999 event.
There is also a Wine Museum, a Grand Prix museum, and most recently I.M. Pei’s circular, Guggenheim-like Macau Science Center where couples can while away hours playing with interactive gadgets.
Like its Vegas model, Macau is hopping with splashy entertainment at every turn, but don’t miss the simple couples pleasures like visiting the pandas in the Macau Zoo, riding gondolas through the Venetian hotel arcades, watching Wynn’s high-tech Performance Lake fountain in action, or catching the good-old-fashion transvestite cabaret shows in the StarWorld hotel lobby. Couples looking for more of an adrenaline rush can bungee jump off the Macau Tower.
Best Time to Honeymoon in Macau
Winter can be chilly but is generally pleasant, while spring and fall are the more moderate seasons. May until September is best avoided as it’s typhoon season (the Dragon Boat Race in June might be worth the risk, however). Culture fans who arrive during the Chinese New Year and in May see the procession of our Lady of Fatima, and the Feast of the Drunken Dragon.
Romantic Macau Hotels
Among hundreds of luxury hotels, three are favored for couples on a honeymoon or romantic getaway:
- Part of the Galaxy complex of hotels, the all-suite, five-star Banyan Tree (check rates) is all about pampering.
- Overlooking both the sea and lake, the Mandarin Oriental (check rates) is a premier spot for couples to canoodle.
- At the tip of the peninsula, the Pousada de São Tiago (check rates) is an old Portuguese fort turned boutique hotel with its original walls intact.
Perched under an enormous crystal chandelier in the hotel Grand Lisboa’s dome, Robuchon au Dôme is international superchef Joël’s three-star Michelin enclave in Macau, with over 8,000 wine labels.
In the same hotel, two-star Michelin restaurant The Eight serves Cantonese dim-sum in an ultra-chic setting. On Taipa island, the Altira hotel’s Tenmasa tempura restaurant has private tatami seating and sky-high views over the peninsula from its saki bar.
Finding Romance in Macau
Macau is bursting with so many topnotch international stage productions these days that it can be hard to narrow your choices. The Venetian hosts Cirque du Soleil’s show “Zaia,” while the hotel’s Arena holds 15,000 fans who come out for stars like Lady Gaga.
If you sit up close, prepare to get wet in front of the world’s biggest stage pool built for the House of Dancing Water show at the City of Dreams hotel complex (and you might gush over the love story). In the same complex, the Bubble Show is a dragon-themed tale in a multi-media, surround-sound setting.
For quieter moments, couples can snuggle on rickshaw journeys through the old town. Lotus lake on Taipa island is a favorite site for local wedding photos, while a stroll includes a visit to the Houses Museum showing life in old Macau villas.
Nearby in the narrow streets of Taipa village couples can take a break and sip the Portuguese sour cherry liqueur ginjinha in small cafes like the Casa do Antonio.
In the newly-built area called the Cotai Strip, Hotel Okura in the Galaxy hotel complex offers intimate traditional Japanese tea ceremonies. Ylang-ylang and lavender scented treatments are among the options in the Hard Rock hotel’s Dream Weaver spa.
Couples can wrap up the night with drinks, live music and superb city views at 38 Lounge, the Altira hotel’s indoor/outdoor rooftop space.
Search for a Flight to Hong Kong International Airport
Ferries depart hourly from the Hong Kong airport to Macau.