MACAU has been listed by Lonely Planet as one of the top 10 regions in the world to explore in 2015.
The giant guide book publisher ranked the former Portuguese enclave with such fascinating destinations as Italy's Milan, Malta's Valetta, Austria's Vienna, India's Chennai, Canada's Toronto, Argentina's El Chaten, and, of course, Turkey's Gallipoli which is to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Anzac landing in World War I.
“Macau has grown out of its rep as a Las Vegas knock-off and into a mélange of new world glamour and old world grit,” wrote Lonely Planet travel writer Megan Eaves.
“With six times more revenue from gaming than Las Vegas, Macau has seen a huge boom in recent years,” she wrote. “Nouveau riche mainland Chinese have begun to flock here to enjoy the buzz of China's gambling hub.
“But the casino culture belies Macau's true charms. Its Portuguese heritage has created a fusion cuisine that combines European, African, Indian and Chinese elements.
“And where else in the world can you make an incense offering at an ancient Chinese Buddhist temple in the morning, take the world's highest bungee jump in the afternoon, have a Michelin-starred meal in the evening topped off with a bottle of Portuguese vino, don your finest for a glitzy show and then pull up a plastic stool for some Chinese street food as a midnight snack?”
Ms Eaves continued by writing: “With a spiffy new light rail system connecting the peninsula and islands in the works, as well as major hotel brands like Ritz Carlton and JW Marriott arriving and a slew of new glam casinos under construction, 2015 promises to be a banner year for Macau. And the completion of the world's longest sea bridge between Macau, Hong Kong and mainland China means it'll be easier than ever to get here.”
In writing her review, Ms Eaves drew a list of “life-changing experiences” such as exploring the back streets of Macau's UNESCO World Heritage old town – “a mix of Portuguese and Chinese architecture found nowhere else on earth”.
“Sampling the delights of Macanese cuisine, which mixes elements of Portuguese, African and Chinese food – think prawn, chorizo and olive-laden 'Portuguese fried rice',” she wrote.
“Thrill-seekers shouldn't leave without a leap off the world's highest commercial bungee platform or a cool stroll around the 233-metre-high Skywalk at Macau Tower,” she summed up.
Details: Macau Government Tourist Office, phone (02) 9264 1488, www.macautourism.gov.mo.
Lonely Planet - http://www.lonelyplanet.com/best-in-travel/regions