The quiet side to MacauMacau, China
For a centre considered one of the most densely populated in the world, Macau has its share of leafy parks and tree lined walking trails to retreat to, as well as historic forts and even cute pandas. Just a stone’s throw from Hong Kong, Macao is an independent territory where historic UNESCO World Heritage sites get cosy against modern skyscrapers.
A short gondola ride will carry you to the Guia Fortress, a 17thcentury colonial fort perched on the highest point of the peninsula. From here you can peek into mainland China, or wander inside the fort and adjacent chapel for a little artistic fresco action. The 91 metre-high whitewashed lighthouse is a highlight.
If you need a little peace and quiet, head to the Lou Lim Ieoc Garden, secreted away behind high walls within a busy neighbourhood. This public park was once a private garden created by local merchant Lou Kau in 1906. Lose yourself on narrow paths through groves of bamboo and flowering bushes en route to a pond filled with lotus flowers and golden carp. A nine-turn bridge is said to foil evil spirits who can only move in straight lines.
Everyone loves a panda and on the outlying island of Coloane you’ll find Seac Pai Van Park, home to four resident giant panda. On loan from China as part of a breeding campaign, this family of four regularly put on a show as they wrestle and roll down grassy slopes. Make sure you meet the two red pandas too.
Coloane is also home toHac-Sa Reservoir Country Park, often considered the ‘lungs’ of Macao. Here you can wander mountainous forest trails, canoe on the reservoir, get lost in a plant maze, or just fire up the barbecue and chill out.
Finish up at Camoes Garden, once part of a property belonging to the Chairman of the British East India Company in the 18thcentury. This heavily wooded garden is the place to go to watch locals busting out a bit of morning tai chi under towering banyan trees, while caged birds watch on.
If you thought this part of the world was lacking in greenery, think again.
Fly Cathay Pacific, Virgin Australia or Qantas to Hong Kong with connecting TurboJetSea Express swift ferry service from either HKIA or from Hong Island or Kowloon to Macao (takes 1hr). Alternatively, shuttle bus across the new over-the-sea bridge linking Hong Kong with Macao (around 35 minutes).
Also, fly via other Asian hubs into Macao International Airport (eg Xiamen Airlines via Xiamen from Sydney or Melbourne). Integrated Macao resorts and hotels offer free shuttle services from Macao or Taipa ferry terminals as well as Macao International Airport.
Hotel prices start from around US$40 per room per night for something basic, up to US$200+ per night for a palatial abode. Wandering is free.
Wander at your leisure