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24 hours in Macau (1)

Just an hour from Hong Kong by high-speed ferry lies the former Portuguese colony of Macau affordable China tours. Its colonial architecture sits easily alongside incense-scented temples and shrines, and the Portuguese spoken by some long-time residents intermingles with the Mandarin and Cantonese of the crowds from mainland China. Though 24 hours is not nearly enough time to take in all of Macau’s attractions, this itinerary will help you make the most of your day.

Morning: admire the colonial architecture

Start early and stroll along the shard-like Largo do Senado square, past Leal Senado, Macau’s most important historical building, which faces the square to the west. Grab a pastry and coffee at Ou Mun Café, a favourite with the local Portuguese and Macanese community, then head west through the Largo de S?o Domingo square for a peek at the Igreja de S?o Domingos – an appealing 17th-century Baroque church with a wealth of ecclesiastical art in its airy interior.

Carry on north along Rua de S?o Paulo and up some flights of stairs to Macau’s most famous landmark – the ruins of the 17th-century Church of St Paul. Only the five-tiered facade is still standing, richly decorated with stone carvings of the Holy Virgin atop a dragon, Chinese lions and the infant Jesus. Through the gateway to nowhere you can see a skyscraper – a neat juxtaposition of the old and the new. Those with a taste for the macabre can stop by the crypt and ossuary to view the remains of martyred Japanese and Vietnamese Christians dating back to the 17th century.

Just east of the ruins, ride the escalator up to Monte Fort Educational tours in China and pop into the very worthwhile Macau Museum, which captures the rich history of the colony, comparing and contrasting the cultures and achievements of China and Portugal through the centuries. There’s a playful element to the exhibits: you can press buttons to hear the cries of street vendors, and walk a miniature street lined with recreated traditional buildings. From the fort, walk three blocks southeast to the main Rua do Campo and catch bus 2 or 2A to Guia Hill. You can either stroll up to Guia Fort, the highest point of the Macau Peninsula, with expansive views from its battlements, or take the Guia Cable Car (8am to 6pm, Tuesday to Sunday) from the Flora Gardens entrance. Walk past the dragon-shaped topiary to the whitewashed, picture-perfect Chapel of Our Lady Of Guia, and check out what looks like contemporary art sculptures in the small gallery just below – these are symbols used to indicate the different strengths of a typhoon.

It’s lunchtime now, so take any bus heading south along Rua do Campo, alight at Avenida de Praia Grande, and follow it to the splendid colonial Clube Militar de Macau China Photo Tour, where you can grab a good-value Macanese lunch of tender ribs, roasted for 12 hours, or braised cod with black-eyed beans, accompanied by a fine selection of Portuguese wines.

More at such as Shanghai Attractions


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