7 Reasons Why Macao Should be Your 2018 Year End Getaway

While we can only daydream about Christmas and the holidays right now, it’s never too early to start planning your year-end getaway. After all, we all need time in advance to get leave approval and sort out travel logistics, don’t we?

Malaysians are blessed with plenty of viable travel destinations. These could range from road trips within Malaysia to typical overseas hotspots like Bangkok or Singapore. Heck, with the many routes on offer at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, we can even jet off to our own winter wonderland in Europe as 2018 winds down to a close.

However, travelling to the snowy alps of Switzerland or the chilly meadows of France aren’t exactly easy on the wallet. Even trips to Japan or South Korea tend to be more expensive during this peak travel period.

But at the same time, Malaysians want nothing more than to experience the “Christmas atmosphere” during our year-end holiday. You know, the chilly weather, the giant Christmas trees, atmospheric streets filled with the sweet tidings of Christmas carols. That’s why Bangkok and Singapore don’t quite cut it either.

Thankfully, there’s Macao. While most people are more familiar with Macao’s glitzy neighbour, Hong Kong, the “Las Vegas of Asia” certainly offers plenty of enjoyable experiences, especially during the holiday season. Here are 7 reasons why Macao should be your 2018 year end getaway!

1. The weather is perfect!

Image credit: Jim 陳

Let’s be honest, reading that point alone already nudged you a little, didn’t it? Yes, while you won’t see any snow in Macao, the weather between November and December is simply perfect for Malaysians.

Measuring between 15 to 23 degrees Celsius, it’s chilly but at the same time, it’s not too cold, and there’s little chance of rain too. If Thanos were Malaysian, he’d say this climate is perfectly balanced.

You might wonder what the big deal is with cool weather. Well, most of Macao’s most notable heritage attractions, Senado Square, Mandarin’s House, Fisherman’s Wharf and more are all located outdoors. The cool weather makes this the perfect time to explore all of Macao’s hidden corners in relative comfort and without having to sweat buckets from the summer heat.

2. Senado Square becomes doubly ambient

Image credit: Global Reactions

Even though the Macao Tower can be seen from almost anywhere in the city, Senado Square is Macao’s most iconic location. Steeped in cultural tradition and dotted with architecture containing Portuguese influence, it is the number one tourist spot in Macao.

Located at the foot of the famous Ruins of St. Paul, Senado Square is a cauldron of shopping, scenic photography spots, and tantalising street food. In the months leading up to Christmas, Senado Square becomes even more captivating as charming decorative lights adorn the buildings in the area.

Colourful Christmas displays that look like they belong in a theme park further enhance the Christmassy ambiance. On certain nights, you could even run into choir groups belting out classic carols along the street. Coupled with the cool weather, you could even say it’s a Christmas scene right out of a romantic movie.

3. There are plenty of stunning performances to enjoy

Image credit: Mark爱生活

True to its moniker as the Las Vegas of Asia, Macao is truly a bonafide city of entertainment. While there are plenty of entertaining shows all year round, the city usually takes it up a notch with their spectacular Christmas-themed shows and parades.

The Magic of Christmas is a spectacular outdoor show run by the Venetian Macao from late November till early January. The show is filled with dazzling lights and exciting performances, taking place in the spacious open area in front of the hotel lobby.

In addition, you might even be able to experience the annual Macao Light Festival! As the name implies, this year-end “festival” features plenty of mesmerising light shows and art installations. Popping up at various locations in Macao (usually in December), the Macao Light Festival is a celebration of Macao’s local art scene, guaranteed to leave you awestruck.

4. There are plenty of public Christmas trees to admire

Image credit: Tzuhsun Hsu

What’s Christmas without extravagant Christmas trees? At home, Malaysians get to enjoy loads of flashy Christmas trees in malls. However, they pale in comparison to the ones in Macao. While people in Macao don’t put up Christmas trees in their homes due to spatial constraints, that is simply not the case when it comes to popular public spaces and Macao’s luxurious casino hotels.

From the streets of Senado Square to Macao’s ever-present casino hotels (Venetian, Galaxy Macao, City of Dreams, to name a few), there are plenty of beautiful public Christmas trees on display.

Not only are they pleasing to look at, but their presence further drums up the Christmas spirit and holiday atmosphere, making them a crucial part of any year-end visit. Make sure to grab a few photos before you leave! If you’re really feeling up to it, you could even go Christmas tree hopping!

5. You can enjoy specially-crafted Christmas dinners at Michelin Star restaurants

Image credit: Venetian Macao

The 2018 Michelin Food Guide saw a total of 65 eateries in Macao making the highly-esteemed list. Out of these 65, 18 of them were awarded Michelin Stars. So, it’s safe to say that Macao has plenty to offer in terms of gastronomic indulgence.

Yes, I know what you’re thinking: Michelin-anything restaurants are bound to be expensive, right? Well, only to a certain extent because there are some Michelin restaurants in Macao that actually won’t make you go bankrupt.

Yes, they are still more expensive than the average restaurant in Malaysia (about 200 MOP – RM105 on average), but considering the quality of the food they offer, I think it’s okay to let your hair down once in a while.

And there’s no better time to do that then during the year-end holidays as various restaurants in Macao come up with special Christmas menus. Tuck into some of the most scrumptious and aesthetically-pleasing meals as classic Christmas carols fill the dining area. It’s been a good year in general for Malaysians, indulge a bit!  

6. It’s the best time and place for (window) shopping

Image credit: Tristan Schmurr

Much like its illustrious neighbour, Macao is known as a shopping paradise. You can find plenty of choices for any budget, from international brands in glamorous shopping malls (usually housed within casino hotels) right down to quirky trinkets sold on the streets of Senado Square.

During the year-end holiday season, many stores offer discounts to attract customers. This is because they know that plenty of people will be out and about hunting for Christmas gifts. Take advantage of this and shop till you drop! From personal experience, retail outlets like H&M are especially good this time of year.

Even if you don’t plan on buying anything, it’s still a nice experience to window shop in Macao during the Christmas season, admiring the well-polished jewellery adorning the display windows. The best place to do this is in The Venetian Macao where a large number of shops are housed within a maze-like interior complete with a canal and gondola ride!

7. There are plenty of direct flights to Macao from Malaysia

While plenty of Malaysians know that there are cheap, direct flights to Hong Kong, not so many of us are aware that we can fly directly to Macao too. In fact, did you know that starting from 2 November 2018, you can fly direct to Macao with AirAsia from Kota Kinabalu? Oh yes, you read that right!

This newly-launched route is part of AirAsia’s bid to strengthen its Kota Kinabalu hub, which is definitely good news for our friends in East Malaysia. With four weekly flights, getting to Macao has never been easier and convenient. No more long stopovers in KLIA, I guess.

What’s more, to celebrate this momentous occasion, AirAsia is offering special discounted fares from Kota Kinabalu to Macao! Simply book from now till 19 August 2018 to enjoy all-in base fares (one-way) from only RM129 (AirAsia BIG Members; non-members from RM134). The travel period starts from 2 November 2018 till 29 March 2019, so if you book fast, you too could experience a magical Christmas in Macau!

What are you waiting for? Hurry on over to AirAsia and secure your tickets today!

By Darren

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