TRAVEL: Why a trip to Macao offers perfect blend of Asian, European culture

TRAVEL: Why a trip to Macao offers perfect blend of Asian, European culture

SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — Travel enthusiast Dana Rebmann says vacation choices can be tough, especially when you’re planning a once in a lifetime trip to faraway destinations like Asia or Europe.

Dana introduced KRON4’s Marty Gonzalez to a mix of Asia and Europe all wrapped into one destination: Macao.

Like Hong Kong – which is just 37 miles away – Macau, is a special administrative region of China.

But thanks to a long history as a Portuguese settlement, surprises are everywhere. There’s the colorful square in front of the Chapel of St. Francis Xavier. Senado Square is paved with Portuguese cobblestones and surrounded by pastel neoclassical buildings. A short walk away there’s the Ruins of St Paul’s in Macao’s Historic Center. (St. Paul’s was established in the late 1500s. The ruins you see today are all that’s left after a fire in 1835.) You can have many moments where you’re asking yourself, “where am I?”.

Just keep moving and views change in an instant.

Na Tcha Temple is steps from St Paul’s. It was built in 1888 and renovated in 1901. Two diverse cultures coexisting right next to one another.

A-Ma Temple dates back to the late 1400s and is the oldest temple in Macao.

Take a walk through Red Market, one of the busiest markets in Macao, it’s easy to forget about the city’s Portuguese qualities.

Macau is the only place in the world with a mix of Chinese and Portuguese culture. It’s only 12 square miles, so not a whole lot bigger than San Francisco.

Macau is the only place in China where casinos are legal. But there’s more to it than gambling. Macao has more five-star properties than any other destination in the world. The glitz and glamour factor is huge here.

Massive floral displays are waiting steps off the lobby at the MGM Macao. Those massive flowers are swinging seats. The aquarium is more than 25 feet tall and once a day divers put on an underwater show as well.

You might feel a bit of that Portuguese charm here as well. This space is inspired by Lisbon’s Central Train Station.

The flower power continues at Wynn Palace. This is carousel contains more than 83,000 flowers, including roses, peonies, hydrangeas and delphiniums. The Fabergé Egg contains more than 60,000 flowers, including roses, azaleas, spray roses and hydrangeas. But then there’s that rising Phoenix that can catch you by surprise.

Wynn Palace is located in the Cotai strip area. It’s an area that many compare to the Vegas strip.. but just five minute cab ride away….

These guys are waiting at the Macao Giant Panda Pavilion. It’s in a setting very much like what we would consider a zoo, but the four Pandas, a mother, father and twin boys, that will be two years old next summer, are the star residents. Your ticket in is going to cost about $1.25. (The cab ride there and back from the Cotai Strip cost me less than $10.) It’s hard to go wrong with a quick visit here. Admission into the indoor panda area is done in ticketed intervals. (Visitors watch the giant pandas through glass.) The morning I was there, maybe there were a dozen other folks in the area with me.

Chinese and Portuguese are the official languages of Macao with Cantonese widely spoken. That said, English is everywhere, and generally used is tourism and commerce instances.

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