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With a diverse amalgamation of centuries of history, culinary ecstasy and intriguing events all over, Macao has rapidly emerged as one of the most intriguing places to visit in the world. And how could it not be? As well as its glitz and glamour, the Special Administrative Region of Macao also boasts a wide range of travel troves that guarantee a memorable trip for visitors of any age.

Located on the Pearl River Delta, 64 kilometres off Hong Kong, Macao has welcomed around 2 million visitors to its region this year alone. The sterling amount of tourists is not a total shock given the appeal that Macao has as a destination. What are they? Here we have gathered five reasons why you have to visit Macao, the hottest destination in 2017.

History Lesson

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For nearly 400 years, Macao was governed by the Portuguese Empire—from the 16th century until it was handed back to China in 1999. Being what was the last remaining European colony in Asia, Macao now has numerous advantages thanks to this part of its history—a perfect balance between East and West can be found all over the area. Imagined traversing through the roads of Macao, gazing at its stunning Baroque buildings juxtaposed with modern shops, and ancient Chinese temples and bright lanterns suspended above the ground. “Melting pot” definitely rings true in Macao. Also, what a great way to experience two cultures at the same time.

Architectural Grandeur

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Continuing with the East meets West theme, travellers will be amazed at amount of authentic historical landscapes in Macao. Senado Square is a good example to start with. Sprawling over 3,700 square metres, Senado Square is one of biggest public squares in the region. Paved with a coloured-stone mosaic floor, the square is also a home to myriad historical Portuguese buildings constructed with Baroque designs.

Next, travellers should drop by The Ruins of St. Paul’s, where grand stone stairs and a granite Baroque façade awaits. After catching fire during a violent typhoon in the 16th century, The Ruins of St. Paul's, once the biggest Catholic Church in Southeast Asia, remained as a glorious vista of the yesteryear. But don’t miss out on the Asian roots here, like the 500-year-old A-Ma Temple located on the southeast peninsula, which was constructed in the 14th century by the Ming Dynasty to commemorate the sea goddess, Mazu. Each architectural landscape in Macao comes with its own striking beauty that makes it the most Instagram-friendly spot!

Tourist Haven

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Photo: Photo Courtesy of Macao Tower

Moving on from the beauty of the ancient, Macao is also known for its urban tourist spots. Let’s take Dom Pedro V Theatre as an example. This gorgeous, 276-seat venue was built in 1860 and still provides excellent music shows and dance for modern travellers today. For art lovers, a visit to Macao Museum of Art is also a must. Built in 1999, the 10,000-square-metre area features different types of exhibition area, ranging from a gallery of Chinese paintings, calligraphy and ceramics through to contemporary artworks and Western paintings along with unearthed potteries and stoneware.

Designed by renowned Chinese-American architect I. M. Pei, the Macao Science Center is the perfect place for a fun family getaway. Comprising three main areas: an exhibition centre shaped like an inclined cone, a dome-shaped planetarium with a high-resolution 3D screen and a convention hall, Macao Science Center takes pride on its multiple galleries covering educational topics like space, science, robotics, genetics and even food science, all aimed at encouraging kids, adolescents and even adults to enjoy science in a unique way. The science hub also provides a nursery room and restaurant.

Last, but not least, prepare to be dazzled by Macao Tower with its observational deck located on level 61, followed by rows of restaurants offering Japanese and Chinese cuisines and yummy patisseries as well as shopping venues. In the mood for something adventurous? Climb to the top of the tower and do a 200-metre bungee jump, or take a stroll on the tower’s skywalk without a handrail!

Restaurant Calling

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Photo: Photo Courtesy of Robuchon au Dôme

Slowly becoming a hot destination for gourmet lovers across Asia, Macao has a flourishing culinary scene. Perched atop of the Grand Lisboa Hotel is the three-star Michelin Robuchon au Dôme’s luxurious restaurant, which serves lobster, foie gras and truffles among Asian dishes like salmon tartar with caviar and Kagoshima beef served with potato soufflé and shallots in red wine.

If you’re craving for Japanese cuisine, give the newly opened Mizumi at Wynn Macao a try. The restaurant is helmed by three chefs and offers classic dishes, including sea urchin tempura and Japanese wagyu beef from the Yaeyama Islands. Next, indulge in delicious Portuguese dishes at António in Taipa, where the eponymous chef serves his signature seafood rice with crab, mussels, clams and prawns served in a ceramic pot.

Macao is also known for its refined fusion cuisines blending Portuguese with Asian flair. Some of the country’s popular signature dishes include African Chicken, Pork Chop Buns and, of course, Pastel de Nata, also known as Portuguese Egg Tart.

Events in 2017

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With numerous events held in different places around the region, visitors will not only be amazed by the ceremonies, but will also be able to witness a new cultural experience. This year’s annual 29th Macao International Fireworks Display Contest returns in September at Macao Tower Shorefront, while Macao Food Festival takes place in November bringing delicious cuisines from Asia, China and Europe! Elsewhere in September, Macao will again welcome the Feast of Hungry Ghosts month celebration, where paper money is piled high, lanterns hang above or float on the water, and dishes left outside the house please the spirits of the ancestors.

Fly Me to Macao!

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It takes around eight hours to reach Macao, with plenty of airlines offering affordable prices, making it reasonable to bring the whole family or to ask your best friend to come along to explore the region together. For a more practical way of booking your ticket, log on to Wego, the award-winning travel search website and mobile app that automates the process of searching, and which compares results from hundreds of travel products to provide you with the best deals. Renowned for its five-star hotels and other spacious accommodation, travellers planning to fly to Macao, also shouldn’t worry about not finding a comfortable abode, especially since you can now book any hotels with just one click using Wego. What you waiting for?

From Baroque buildings, science hub to extravagant culinary scenes, frequent visitor or a first-timer will agree that Macao has a slice of paradise for everyone. Happy vacations!

See also: What, Where and How To Visit Sydney, The Things You Might Not Know 

Tags: Travel, China, Vacation, Macao, Wego, Macanese, Portuguese, Trip