Thursday, Oct. 16, 2008


Not so long ago, the onetime Portuguese possession of Macau — an hour from Hong Kong by jetfoil — was a quiet enclave of pastel colored villas, sleeping dogs and long lunches on tiled terraces. These days, it has been utterly transformed into a gaudy Babylon of new construction, Russian sex workers and casinos. More dollars are now wagered here a year than in Las Vegas and if you're the sporting type, you'll be in hog heaven in venues like the Venetian, Sands, Lisboa or Wynn.

Cultural tourists will have to work harder at getting something out the trip, but the city's historic center and a number of good Portuguese restaurants have the makings of a worthwhile excursion. If you're staying overnight and want to avoid the casino scene, the suburban and beachfront Westin Resort is the best place to get away.

You can fly by helicopter or sail to Macau; ferries take off from Shun Tak Centre, on the waterfront west of Central (nearest MTR: Sheung Wan) on Hong Kong Island. For more on Macau, see its tourism website.