Think Las Vegas is the place to go for the best gambling experience you can get? Then you’d be wrong. The Nevada city has been dethroned by Macau in recent years as the global hotspot for gambling. Not only is it a place visited every year by millions of tourists, it’s also an economic powerhouse with a booming economy and a rich culture that blends together elements of both Portuguese and Chinese history. If this sounds exciting enough to make you want to take a trip to the Far East and experience a taste of Macau’s nightlife, we’ve got you covered with some fun facts about this truly unique place.
Macau is the most densely-populated region in the world
With over 21,000 people per square kilometre packed into a total land area of just 12.7 square miles, Macau is a small place with a lot of people. Despite the small size of the region, however, Macau’s Venetian Casino is the largest in the world – with 640 gaming tables and an astonishing 1760 slot machines.
Gambling makes up more than half of Macau’s economy
As the only place in China where gambling is legal, it’s not surprising that the gambling industry in Macau is pretty healthy, constituting over 50% of all industry in the region. The fact that more and more people visit Macau each year probably accounts for how quickly the economy is growing – as the ninth fastest-growing economy in the world, it’s set to overtake Qatar as the richest place on Earth by 2020.
Macau boasts some innovative architecture and infrastructure
Macau has also become well-known as a hub for state-of-the-art design. In 2018 the Morpheus Hotel, designed by architect Zaha Hadid, opened to great fanfare. The first high-rise building with a free-form exoskeleton, the building’s zigzagging frame and distinctive twisting patterns give it an oddly surreal appearance. There’s also the scenic Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge which stretches all the way from Hong Kong to Macau – 20 times the length of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge – which cost a cool $20 billion.
Despite a long gambling history, Western games are relatively new
Gambling has been legal in Macau since the 1850s, but Western casino games didn’t take off there until the end of the 20th Before that, Macanese gamblers would play a variety of Chinese games, such as Mahjong and Fan Tan. These have declined in popularity in recent years: Baccarat and the slots are now the most popular games in Asia.
Macanese cuisine is excellent
Surprisingly little-known outside of Macau, Macanese food is an unusual blend of Portuguese and Chinese influences. Popular dishes include Minchi, which consists of minced beef and diced potatoes and often comes with a fried egg on top, and Capela, a sort of meatloaf packed full of beef, pork, chorizo, and olives. A common street food is the pork chop bun, often thought of as the Macanese equivalent of a hamburger.