Macao: the Vegas of the East and the arrival of UFC in Greater China

Culture | by Johanna Hoopes
Posted: November 30th, 2012 | Updated: November 30th, 2012 | Comments
Macau at night Anyone who's ever been to Vegas shares stories involving unparalleled levels of excess you won't find many other places in the world. The gorgeous girls, lavish clubs, high stakes tables and extravagant shows make this entertainment utopia a place where most visitors only need 48-hours to get their fill. My most recent weekend romp in Macau confirmed that the Chinese territory is quickly becoming the Vegas of the East. The tiny island takes in even more revenue than Vegas from gambling, and the entertainment, while slightly less developed in quantity, is certainly top notch in quality. More after the break....

Getting there

If you're traveling from Beijing or Shanghai, round trip tickets to Hong Kong will run you between RMB 1,000-4,000 depending on the dates of your trip and how far you book in advance. You can also Hong Kong Island port on www.turbojet.com or book them once you arrive; the hour-long ferry ride generally runs every 30 minutes from 7am to 10:30pm daily. If you purchase Super Class tickets (HKD 280 per person) you'll recline in plush leather armchairs and be offered a small sandwich, snacks and bottled water while enjoying panoramic views of HK bay and the nearby island. Seats down below are still satisfactory and will lighten your wallet just HKD 140. Be sure to arrive at least an hour ahead of your desired departure time and bring your passport—all foreign nationals must go through customs and immigration since Macau has a separate immigration regime from Mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Old and new

When cruising into Maritmo Port, you'll gaze up at what looks like a miniature Disneyland with fake volcanoes and a recreation of the Alamo. But don't overlook the city's colonial past as the first and last European colony in Asia. In the 16th century China allowed Portugal to settle the island in return for ridding the region of pirates. The old Portuguese architecture of the Macau Peninsula contrasts with enormous casinos now built up into the Cotai Strip, while the southern-most Coloane Island boasts mountainous terrain with several beaches, hiking trails and Macau's first golf course (the other is located on the Cotai Strip) creating remarkably different environments on each island. Our trip centered around the island's most modern commercial development, the world's largest casino at the Venetian Macao. Venetian Macau

Entertainment Mecca

[pullquote]...the highlight of the night was the Cung Le knockout in the prize fight, which put Rich Franklin out cold within the first minute of the fight.[/pullquote]We were in town for China's first UFC fight at Cotai Arena located in the Venetian Macao. On the day of the fight thousands of fans swarmed the hotel lobby, creating an absolutely electric energy. With multiple box offices and entry points, it is clear that the hotel is well equipped to host the nearly 10,000 MMA fans that attended the main event. Tickets to the fight cost RMB 380-3,000 and were well worth it for an action-packed evening with a raucous crowd. After several long bouts, the highlight of the night was the Cung Le knockout in the prize fight, which put Rich Franklin out cold within the first minute of the fight. What a way to end the evening. We proceeded directly to the after-party at Café Deco to celebrate with the fans and dance the night away. UFC Macao: Franklin v Le dim sum at Imperial House, the hotel's sumptuous Cantonese eatery.

Fun for all

A shopping, gambling and partying paradise, even adrenaline junkies will find a thrill here, bungee jumping off the world's second highest tower at 233 m (764 ft). Those enjoying a bachelor party or business weekend can enjoy a round of golf at Caesars Golf Macau on Cotai. Located on 175 hectares (432 acres) of reclaimed land off the strip (about 2o minutes' drive from downtown, the 6,889-yd, par-71 course is known for lots of water and deceptive bunkers that make it a tough one. October through December are the best months to play and prices are reasonable at MOP 1,800 on weekdays, MOP 2,300 on weekends. Caesars-Golf-Course Anyone keen on seeing a show will be blown away by the world's most expensive show at the City of Dreams. The $250 million House of Dancing Water production holds five Olympic size swimming pools worth of water and ushers give out towels to the front rows. Ticket prices start at HKD480 and are often bundled for less with hotel packages. Once gamblers have exhausted the poker table, another popular betting spot is the greyhound track. The minimum bet on a dog is MOP 10 and payouts can be made in both Macanese Patacas and Hong Kong Dollars. All-in-all, Macau is a paradise for those who enjoy major sporting or entertainment events or are just looking for a fun weekend getaway. House of dancing water
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