The locals tell me Macau used to have a sleepy village feel. Not so now. It’s not only woken up, it’s practically an insomniac.
The little former Portuguese colony, is the only place in China you can gamble legally. Since changing the gambling laws in 2002, new casinos have been springing up all over the place sending Macau’s gambling revenues through the roof – it’s now 6 times that of Vegas and there’s no sign of a slowdown.
Since getting shacked up with a girl from Macao in 2004, I’ve been coming here every year or two. Each time it seems busier and there’s usually another big casino just opening. When I first visited The Venetian it was the biggest and most ostentatious of the lot. But since then the Galaxy Macau has taken the biscuit with world’s largest rooftop wave pool (complete with sandy beach), and for HK$12,500 (£1,050) a night you get a spa pool in your room.
They’re even taking on Vegas in the boxing stakes – Manny Pacquiao fights here in November. It’s part of a conscious effort by the Macau government to diversify the economy and encourage hoteliers to put on more shows.
For the locals it’s a double edged sword. While they love the employment opportunities, the investment in infrastructure and the entertainment. The old Macau has gone and they’re not so keen on the traffic, number of tourists, lack of space, and the unaffordable property prices… Where’s it all gonna end?
Casino Map (from macautripping.com)