Macau - Asian Las Vegas
Located just an hour's ride by ferry from Hong Kong, the Las Vegas of Asia has a lot to offer tourists.
It is comprised of two main islands: Coloane and Taipa. The entire economy is greatly reliant on tourism and gambling, although they do have some manufacturing plants as well.
It was the Portuguese settlers who gave it the name "Macau" early in the 16th century, meaning the goddess of seafarers and fishermen. They managed the place as one of their colonies until the handover to China in 1999.
In as early as 1847, gambling was already introduced into this area but it didn't really pick up until 1962 when the sole permit for operating casinos was granted to a Chinese businessman through a public auction.
They gave this businessman, Stanley Ho, authority to effectively monopolize the gambling industry for several decades, and he made a fortune doing it. The monopoly however, ended in 2002 when numerous hotels and casinos from Las Vegas were finally allowed to operate and given their own gaming licenses.
With more than 20 million tourists visiting each year, it's no wonder that the casino businesses prospers so much. In recent years, Macau has been getting higher revenues than Las Vegas, making it the number one gambling destination in terms of revenue in the world.
Traditionally part of the success of Macau is that it is the main casino city in Asia, as many countries do not allow casino, including China, Hong Kong and Japan. There are some in Australia and New Zeland, but they attract a more local clientele. Other casinos in Asia are mostly small operators.
Right now the largest hotel and casino in Macau is the Venetian. The entire complex is a reproduction of Venice, Italy including the clock tower, its historic places, as well as the canals and its singing gondoliers. The entire establishment was the first one to be built on the swampland that connects the two islands.
Currently, there are more than 30 casinos in Macau. Aside from the numerous casinos, there are other attractions that can be enjoyed by tourists of all ages.
There are a lot of beautiful museums, temples, shrines, and parks that you can visit. There is the Exhibition Gallery set in a colonial villa from the early 19th century. If you want an exhilarating view of the city, you can get that at the Macau Tower Observation Deck 338 meters high.
Or if you prefer a more tranquil place, there is the Penha hill, which gives an excellent view of the city below. The Macau Cathedral, Church of St. Lawrence, and the Chapel of St. Joseph Seminary, quite magnificent to behold, are also top tourist destinations. Built in 1576, 1560, and 1758 respectively, they hold their own share of rich history, architecture, and art.
Beach lovers would love to go to Cheok Van Beach especially in the summer. The European style Don Pedro V Theater from 1858 is still in use for cultural presentations and the $100 million dollar Macau Cultural Center is the leading venue for opera and theater.
Last but not least, if you like fast paced action, visit when the Macau Grand Prix takes place in Novemnber.
But do not forget to play the games moderately. Avoid any gambling addiction problem. This is entertainment, nothing more, nothing less.
Anyway small or big, let's enjoy gambling with reason.