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Cities | Attractions | Hotels
24 sq km
Subtropical climate. Hot humid summers and mild winters.

This former Portuguese enclave was initially established as a missionary trading post in 1513 and thereafter became Asia's first European colony. In December 1999 it was reunited with China and, like Hong Kong, established as a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China. Just an hour-long, 60km (37 mile) boat ride from Hong Kong, Macau draws thousands of tourists each year.

Macau itself is tiny. It covers a mere 24 sq km, a figure that includes its 2 offshore islands Taipa and Coloane. Despite its small size, Macau has a feel and flavor all its own. Over 400 years of Portuguese rule has endowed it with a distinctly southern European feel. Macau's balmy climate, outdoor cafes, Portuguese place names written on colorful tile squares, cathedrals and public squares make it easy for visitors to forget they are in Asia.

Macau boasts numerous historic buildings dating back to the beginning of its colonial period. The most famous relic is the Ruins of St. Paul, once dubbed the "greatest monument to Christianity in all the Eastern lands". The grand church was destroyed by fire in 1835 and only the front facade and a few blocks remain. The area under the site of the old church has been transformed into the interesting Museum of Sacred Art. Many less famous Baroque churches and pastel-colored mission houses bring charm to Macau.

A main attraction of Macau is its liberal gambling law. For many tourists, Macau is regarded as a very large casino. The 4 story casino in the Hotel Lisboa is the largest and flashiest casino in Macau and is often a part of Hong Kong gangster movies. If the heady wheeling and dealing becomes overwhelming, visitors can view the many priceless antiques and artifacts dotted around the hotel, all of which have clearly written English descriptions. Much of the money generated from this industry is being used to finance large-scale construction, such as the new airport.

Taipa and Coloane are notable for their fine Portuguese restaurants, white sand beaches and tranquil atmosphere. Excellent resorts make the islands a tranquil and secluded getaway.

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