With the inaugural Art Macao well underway, Macau has cemented its place in the global art scene. But the five-month international arts and cultural extravaganza is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the Special Administrative Region’s world-class attractions and facilities. Home to a host of Michelin- starred restaurants, top-rated hotels, and must-try activities, Macau is a destination like no other.
In its final month, the inaugural Art Macao festival is a citywide celebration of Chinese and international creativity and culture.
Projections of asteroids. A Renaissance-style dome crafted from wire mesh. A large-scale wooden sculpture that resembles a skull-headed Mickey Mouse —These are perhaps not the first things that spring to mind when you think of Macau. But over the last four months, the city has been transformed into an art lover’s paradise, with hundreds of thought-provoking sculptures, paintings, multimedia works, and performances popping up around town, showcased in exhibitions and events as part of the inaugural edition of Art Macao (until Oct. 31).
Conceptualized as a way to celebrate Macau’s history—which this year includes the 20th anniversary of the former Portuguese colony’s establishment as a Special Administrative Region of China—the five-month international art extravaganza is the largest and longest festival of its kind to be hosted here. And everyone from glitzy hotels to world-class galleries and foreign consulates has been involved, some even crafting custom spaces to hold creations from a globetrotting group of artists.
By the end of October, the festival will have presented more than 41 events across 55 venues. This month alone, there are around 20 exhibits to check out, including the headlining spectacle “Art Macao: International Art Exhibition,” for which the entire second floor of the Macao Museum of Art has become a cocoon for visual arts. If you’re a fan of Chinese art, this is your chance to glimpse some 90 works borrowed from the National Art Museum of China.
In parallel, the Macao Museum of Art has called in an astounding selection of works by late artist Chen Zhifo, known globally for his intricate paintings of flowers and birds. Because of his regional appeal, Chen’s creations will be on display in the exhibition “Quietness and Clarity” for an additional 11 days after the official festival concludes (until Nov. 11).
Held across both the Macao Museum of Art and the gallery space at No. 55-57 Avenida do Coronel Mesquita over the festival period is the second installation of the Annual Art Exhibition between China and Portuguese-speaking Countries. As its long name suggests, the event was created as a way to celebrate the rich links between Macau and Portugal through visual mediums, not to mention a series of workshops and lectures.
You don’t even need to leave your hotel to find creative inspiration in Macau this month. If you’ve checked in to Morpheus at the City of Dreams, you’ll find that Mickey Mouse–inspired sculpture at the hotel’s Art on 23 gallery; titled Good Intentions, the piece is by American pop artist KAWS. Meanwhile, over at the Wynn Palace in Cotai, you can take in the “Garden of Earthly Delights,” an exhibition of installations and digital art pieces including Herb Alpert’s Spirit Totems Series and Refik Anadol’s hypnotic Melting Memories, a five-meter-high media wall of “data” sculptures driven by custom software. And then at Sands Resorts Macao, you can pay homage to one of China’s greatest artistic achievements: ceramics. Curated by notable potter Caroline Cheng, the “All That’s Gold Does Glitter” exhibition features more than 80 ceramic masterpieces by 20 global artists, including Cheng’s own Prosperity: a ceramic dress covered by thousands of ceramic butterflies.
For a city of its size, Macau punches well above its weight when it comes to Michelin stars. In 2019, the culinary guide awarded accolades to 19 restaurants, including three stars for Cantonese eatery Jade Dragon, putting it in good company alongside Robuchon au Dôme and The Eight. This year also saw Alain Ducasse at Morpheus elevated to two Michelin stars, a category it now shares with four other Macau restaurants. Three of our favorites are highlighted below.
Macau’s first Chinese restaurant to be awarded three Michelin stars, The Eight is the sparkling culinary jewel in the Grand Lisboa’s crown. While many come here for the impeccable dim sum—there are 40 dishes to choose from—many more linger over banquets, highlighting chef Joseph Tse’s kitchen prowess through delicacies like a roasted goose with wild mushrooms, and sautéed garoupa in XO sauce. The dining room is a lesson in luxury, with silk wallpaper, a crystal ball as the centerpiece, and the recurring motif of figure 8, symbolic of wealth and luck.
Alain Ducasse at Morpheus
French chef Alain Ducasse has dozens of restaurants around the world, each more applauded than the next. But his newest outlet, within the Morpheus hotel at the City of Dreams, may be his most memorable yet. The two-starred dining room is a shimmering dreamscape in design, lit by dramatic crystal chandeliers reflected in pools of water. The menu is French with Asian overtones: think, gamberi prawns with caviar and rockfish gelee, and steamed foie gras with figs and brioche. It’s complemented by one of the most extensive wine cellars you’ll find in Macau.
The Golden Peacock
Named for India’s national bird, this lavish one-star venue at The Venetian Macao is sumptuously accented with copper leaf and sadeli mosaics. But the main draw will always be the food, which encompasses regional delicacies from across India: chicken tikka; Hyderabadi biryani, Punjab-style chole (chickpea curry); Kashmiri rogan josh made with Australian lamb shank. Whatever you choose, it’s all delicious.
Macau’s Other Michelin-starred Restaurants
Robuchon au Dôme
43/F, Grand Lisboa
Level 2, The Shops at The Boulevard, Hotel Crown Towers
Feng Wei Ju
5/F, StarWorld Hotel
G/F, Encore Hotel
The Tasting Room
Level 3, Nüwa, City of Dreams
G/F, Wynn Macau
G/F, AIA Tower; 853/2875-7218
8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo Bombana
1/F Galaxy Macau
51/F, The Ritz-Carlton Macau
Level 2, Star Tower, Studio City
Shinji by Kanesaka
Level 1, Nüwa City of Dreams
3/F, Grand Lisboa Hotel
G/F, East Wing, Hotel Lisboa
G/F, Wynn Macau
Level 11, Altira Macau
Zi Yat Heen
G/F, Four Seasons Hotel Macao
There’s no shortage of stylish places to stay in Macau, including no less than a dozen hotels with five-star ratings from Forbes Travel Guide.
From walk-in wardrobes to circular stone tubs, no expense was spared fitting out the 216 rooms in this tower. There are seven restaurants and bars, and a top-of-the-range spa with crystal steam rooms and an ice fountain.
Billed as an urban high-rise resort within the Galaxy complex, Banyan Tree’s 256 rooms each feature private pools—villas also come with butlers. Don’t miss the spa, with a focus on holistic wellness.
Conrad Macao Cotai Central
This 636-room hotel has direct access to the Shoppes at Cotai Central mall, although you’d be hard-pressed to drag yourself away from the pools, of which there are five.
Part of the Wynn Macau resort, Encore’s 410 suites are as exclusive as they come. Across the property, there are 11 places to wine and dine, not to mention a lobby aquarium full of luminous jellyfish.
The East-meets-West design of this hotel’s 360 rooms flows into public spaces, including five outstanding bars and restaurants (Zi Yat Heen has a Michelin star). There are just as many pools, with two designed for kids.
The stellar views here—over the inner harbor and Nam Van Lake—are matched by 213 luxe rooms, four restaurants, and a standout spa.
From its wave-like exterior to its 600 rooms, MGM Macau makes a serious statement. The centerpiece is the Grande Praça, a European-inspired plaza housed under a stunning glass ceiling.
One of the most exclusive hotels in Cotai, Nüwa stands out for its superb restaurants, all three sprinkled with Michelin stardust.
One of two hotels in the gargantuan Studio City complex—which features a 4D Batman ride, 30 restaurants, and a sandy beach—Star Tower’s 600 lavish suites come with incredible Cotai views.
There are 230 suites at this stylish bolthole in the middle of the Galaxy complex. Understated elegance is the design mantra, from the four restaurants and bars to the oh-so-zen spa.
Wynn Macau dazzles from the moment you arrive, from its dancing fountains to its Michelin-starred restaurant, high-end shopping, and collection of original art across 598 rooms.
The 1,700 rooms and suites at this ultra-extravagant hotel are complemented by diversions aplenty: a cable car, a mall packed with big-name brands, and a serene spa.
You could spend every day in October attending an Art Macao event or exhibition. But when you need respite, there are plenty of other diversions to keep you entertained.
Hit the greens
Land is at a premium in Macau—there’s space for just 36 holes across two courses. But what the city lacks in golfing quantity, it more than makes up for in quality. Caesar’s Golf Macau occupies 71 hectares of reclaimed land in Cotai, with most holes built around challenging water features. It’s also home to Asia’s only outlet of the Butch Harmon School of Golf, a training facility conceptualized by one of the most recognized names in the industry: Harmon has helped Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson win championships. A short drive away in Coloane, the par-71 Macau Golf and Country Club has hosted the Macau Open since 1998. Guests play across a picturesque 18 holes, the front nine set mountainsides and the back nine overlooking the ocean.
Jump to It
Adrenalin junkies will not want to miss the chance to plummet 233 meters from the top of the Macau Tower on the world’s highest commercial bungee jump. The experience is run by AJ Hackett, who also look after the tower’s three other hair-raising adventures: the Skywalk, a stroll around the top of the tower’s outer perimeter along a 1.8-metre-wide walkway; the Skyjump, a vertical drop that takes you to the ground in 17 seconds, without the rebound afforded by a bungee cord; and the Tower Climb, taking you 100 meters up the mast to a vertiginous height of 338 meters.
Take a Walk
It’s easy to lose yourself in the charming streets of Macau’s old town, visiting incense-laced temples and watching tai chi in the parks. If you’re looking for tips on where to go, but still want to wander at your own pace, try one of the city’s eight self-guided walking trails. Allow a maximum of 45 minutes for each itinerary, themed around specific sights: you’ll glimpse 16 notable attractions—including Senado Square and St Dominic’s Church—on the Footsteps into the Historic Centre trail, while A Legacy of Arts and Culture takes you past the Macao Museum of Art and the Macao Science Centre.
A duty-free port with no sales tax on most items, Macau is a paradise for shoppers. For big-name brands, make a beeline to Cotai’s high-end malls. They don’t get more lavish than the City of Dreams arcade, where you can pick up Acqua di Parma colognes and Audemars Piguet watches alongside fashion from the likes of Burberry and Kate Spade. At the Shoppes at Parisian, meanwhile, you’ll find more than 170 boutiques, including Sonia Rykiel, PS Paul Smith, and Isabel Langlois outlets.
Take in a Show
Another record-breaking attraction, the House of Dancing Water is the largest water show ever created. Held in a custom-built theater at the City of Dreams, the production is a dazzling union of water stunts, acrobatics, aerial arts, and theater, all produced by Franco Dragone, the legend behind some of Cirque du Soleil’s most memorable performances. The good-defeats-evil love story revolves around an enormous pool, the site of a spectacular “dancing water” scene that involves water blasts choreographed in time with the music.
This article was brought to you by the Macao Government Tourism Office.