Welcome to Macau, the sin city of Asia. The biggest casino town in the world. The weekend getaway for the Chinese whales of Shanghai. This is where Patacas gets turned into baccarat cards and rolling dices on green tables. Go here if you want a piece of Asian extravagance you didn’t think existed.
The casinos of Macau triple the revenues of Las Vegas. Because gambling is banned in mainland China, the rich of Shanghai, Beijing and Hong Kong go here for a holiday treat. To make things even more exciting, they have built replicas of the major casinos in Vegas. But of course, just a little bit bigger.
Macau is the perfect getaway from Hong Kong if you want something unique. Boats departs daily from Kowloon and Hong Kong Island and the trip takes less than an hour.
The Grand Lisboa is the oldest casino in town. Located in a decadent but charming building, it’s a prime example of the city’s colonial heritage. But it’s the newer casinos that stand for the real show. And I’m talking about a big show. As when I was on my way into the MGM casino an early morning and suddenly got interrupted when something grabbed my attention.
I looked up and from an opening in the roof, as of an act of God, a crystal chandelier slowly sank down to meet a golden tree. All to the sound of Tchaikovsky playing violins. A bit surreal. Not to mention the giant aquarium with living mermaids swimming around next door.
When night falls, Macau turns into a neon light bonanza. I wanted to try some gambling. After all, I had all these Patacas (yes, they have their own currency) in my pocket. Maybe Black Jack? Or some James Bond style Roulette. Just had to find the tables. It must be here somewhere.
I zig-zagged my way through blinking slot machines, ran up the golden decorated escalators, and searched the private chambre séparée. I finally stopped and asked one of the dealers. The croupier grinned at me: “Here, we only play Baccarat. And the minimum bet is 100 dollar.”
Luckily, Macau is not all about gambling. The city is overseen by the Macau Tower, a three hundred something high entertainment center. Go there for some outdoor skywalk or enjoy the panorama observation deck. They also have the highest bungy jump platform in the world. Give it a try.
You will be totally lost in translation in Macau if you don’t speak Mandarin. Not a single restaurant have English menus and you will be on a strict Chinese diet for the rest of your stay. I had a McDonald’s meal for the first time in five years.
The most bizarre casino in Macau is The Venetian. Inside, they have built a replica of the city of Venice. Italian singing gondoliers (with an overdose of Chinese accent) take you around water canals under a bright blue Venetian sky. Yes, you guessed right, two days are more than enough in this city.
All images © 2019 Erik Ekberger.
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