Macau

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Macau

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Across the bay of the Pearl River, about an hour’s boat ride west of Hong Kong sits the anomaly of China: the special administrative district of Macau. Colonised by the Portuguese in the mid 16th century, Macao has retained its thoroughly European style and flair, whilst remaining essentially Chinese in character.

Macao, at only 31 sq km is a tiny blip on the side of the Goliath that is mainland China, yet the popularity of this tiny region cannot be understated. The churches and fortresses of the Portuguese golden age share real estate with ancient shrines of the Qin dynasty. Take a walk down the Avenida de Almeida Ribeiro and the Portuguese legacy could not be more prevalent, and indeed the recent history of pirates around Coloane Island stirs one’s romantic spirit. However, Macau also draws a different crowd and every year over 28 million tourists descend from all over the world to take part in an activity illegal in the rest of China: gamble.

Sometimes labelled the ‘Vegas of the East’, Macau offers a different experience from its hyper younger sister, Hong Kong. Luxury villas stand in place of high rise apartment buildings and Portuguese-style egg tarts replace fragrant Cantonese street food. Never a dull moment, Macao caters to those who want the full Chinese package seasoned with the class and culture of Europe.

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