Street performers and musicians are regularly seen in Taipa’s squares. // © 2014 Devin Galaudet
Across the bridge from Macau’s main island, Taipa Village might be easy to overlook with so much glitz, gaming and glamour in Macau’s center, or when compared to the impressive hotel and shopping experiences of Cotai. However, with 28 million visitors annually, Taipa is a getaway within a getaway.
What was once considered a rural fishing village, Taipa has emerged after a land reclamation project created Cotai and transformed Taipa’s shoreline into the entrance to one of the most impressive shopping, casino and hotel developments of the last 10 years. Taipa is only a 10-minute walk — or moving sidewalk ride — from the Venetian Macau. While the distance is short, the differences between the locales are extreme.
Taipa may have a laidback vibe, but it lost its sleepy fishing village ambiance long ago. Visitors will find lots of quaint shops, quick and tasty eats and a place to slow down and absorb Macanese culture. Travelers can expect a break from the brand names and throngs of camera-wielding guests that can clog the tourist areas around the Cotai Strip and Senado Square in Macau’s Historic District. Macau’s Portuguese past is evident everywhere here, seamlessly blending elements of East and West.
First-timers should take a few minutes to get lost among the winding maze-like streets around the Taipa Village. Here travelers will come across scenes that depict the area’s strong culture and traditional life, whether it be an impromptu game of Mahjong, pastel-infused architecture or exploring Taipa’s burgeoning culinary scene, including the iconic restaurant Antonio.
On either end of Taipa’s busiest pedestrian street, which is impossible to miss, musicians busk in the local square. During my visit I saw traditional Chinese dragon dance performances as well as the local children’s orchestra playing Chopin. The whole area is ideal for people-watching.
The Taipa Houses are perhaps the most beautiful section of Taipa. This area features five traditional Portuguese homes that were built in the early 1920s for wealthy Macanese. The attraction is part museum and part park. When I was there, a new garden was nearly complete, creating one of the most idyllic and secluded spots in all of Macau with its dazzling purple, blue and white flowers. Best of all it is only five minutes from Taipa Village’s main square.
Savvy agents should know that Taipa Island includes Macau’s International Airport, which serves much of Asia (most visitors coming from the U.S. to Macau will arrive through Hong Kong) and hosts one of the two ferry connections to Hong Kong International.
And, yes, returning to the glitz of Macau is easy — it’s just a moving sidewalk away.