Beyond the obvious well-trodden trails, the Macao peninsula district has some seriously swell secret spots to check out – and you won’t find a selfie stick in sight. We meander through the cobblestone streets and uncover some true hidden gems.
Three Lamps district
Centring around the Rotunda de Carlos da Maia, this district – named after the streetlights in said rotunda (roundabout) – is the best place to mingle with locals, mostly the friendly shopkeepers as they ply their trade in tiny kiosks. More importantly, though, it’s home to Macao’s unofficial Burmese district, which means some of the most authentic eats this side of Mandalay. Rotunda de Carlos da Maia.
Live Music Association
Warehouse rock – literally
Approaching its 10th anniversary, think of LMA as Macao’s version of our own Hidden Agenda. The warehouse venue right next to the hilly Mong-ha Park is the city’s go-to for underground music gigs, with a packed roster of international artists. And while Macao’s hotels might draw the big-name acts that don’t always come to Hong Kong (we’re looking at you, Katy and Mariah), LMA is cold hard proof that the city’s indie scene is just as strong. 11B, 50 Avenida do Coronel Mesquita Freguesia de Nossa Senhora de Fátima; lmamacau.com.
Tea and zen
A zen Japanese tea room in our neighbouring SAR? Why not. Tucked away in the maze-like streets of central Macao, this blink-and-you’ll-miss it tea room brings an authentic taste of Japan to visitors, from the tatami mats and the paper fans to the beautifully handwritten menus on each table. All the teas here are imported from the Land of the Rising Sun and are steeped to order by waiters in their traditional garb. This beautiful room makes a strong case for heading to places where nobody knows your name. 57 Rua da Barca, +853 2855 7002; tealosophymacau.blogspot.com.
‘Good garments, good food, good juice’. Thus reads the motto of this uber-cool spot near Monte Fort. And Oops Warehouse certainly lives up to its mission, with a range of cool accessories and threads from the likes of WTaps and Comme des Garçons, as well as possibly Macao’s largest Bearbrick selection. It’s all facing a long bar that serves freshly squeezed juices, smoothies, teas and light snacks. Grab a sip and explore the backstreets behind the Ruins of St Paul’s. 10 Travessa de Se, +853 6399 6866; fb.com/oopswarehouse.
More than just a mall
Recently opened in the heart of Centro, Village Mall is Macao’s latest creative hub. Over three floors, it houses retail, art, fashion, design and performance spaces, with a running theme of cultural creativity. There’s also a dining area dishing up local favourites and a café for you to refuel in between performances. 258 Rua do Campo, +853 6532 0008; villagemacau.com.
Rua dos Ervanarios
Just a short stroll from some of the most popular tourist spots in town, walking down Rua dos Ervanarios is like walking through Macao before Instagram was a thing. A one-time centre of the city’s Chinese trading community, there’s a real old-world charm about this street and its branching alleyways. Marvel at row after row of coloured shutters behind which lie trade stands selling everything from mahjong tiles to fireworks. Rua dos Ervanarios.
Macao’s men about town are looking as fly as ever thanks to old-school barbershop 2Legit. The head stylist here, known as Rocklee, has been making a name for himself both in and out of Macao, having popped up at several of Asia’s best barbershops of late. The 2Legit team was also chosen by Madonna’s crew to provide fresh backstage cuts for her backup dancers on her recent Rebel Heart tour. 1 Rua de San Miguel, +853 6814 0940; fb.com/2legitcutz.
Livraria Seng Kwong
Keeping print alive
A true Macao institution, the Seng Kwong literary emporium has been in business for more than 60 years. Tucked away in a pretty if nondescript street between Monte Fort and the Portuguese consulate, the deceptively large space houses books in several languages, a dedicated children’s area and a coffee and tea corner for you to settle in and lose yourself in a tome or two. 3 Calçada do Monte, +853 2837 8734.
Home is where the art is
Ox Warehouse is home to Macao’s local underground arts scene. As well as being an art and performance space, the non-profit is also an exchange platform for local artists to meet and share ideas through internal events and collaborations with other local initiatives. Corner of Avenida do Coronel Mesquita and Avenida Almirante Lacerda, +853 2853 0026; oxwarehouse.blogspot.com.