During our ten day visit to Hong Kong, we took the opportunity to visit the nearby region of Macau, ticking off another country. Whilst technically a part of China, Macau is a Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China, just like Hong Kong – maintaining it’s own legal, monetary and immigration systems but its military defence and foreign affairs are governed by China.
Macau is one of the richest cities in the world, incredibly famous for its gambling scene (it’s gambling revenue exceeds that of Las Vegas!) and luxury hotels, as well as the Portuguese influence that is evident in everything from cuisine, architecture to belief systems.
There is also an abundance of incredible stage shows within the casino and luxury hotels of Macau to rival that of Vegas. With so many entertainment options, as well as fine dining options and the casino scene, a night out in Macau is a must-do for any visitor, and definitely a real treat for those who may not have come across such luxury in their backpacking travels. We decided that we would treat ourselves to a night out in Macau, and purchased tickets to the world-renowned House of Dancing Water, dressed up, dine out, and gambled the night away!
House of Dancing Water premiered at the City of Dreams Resort in Macau in 2010. It’s a water-based stage production, with over 80 performers and and 160 production staff, and performed in a USD $250 million custom built theatre. In the centre of the theatre is a 3.7 million gallon pool, the centrepiece of the show where the sets appear from the water, and the performers dance, act, and perform acrobatics to tell the story.
“The story begins on the coast of Coloane. We follow the fisherman as he is taken by a mysterious force to a place and time of legends. He meets a young, brave stranger who survived a terrible shipwreck and together, they enter a magical kingdom. The stranger and the beautiful princess of the kingdom fall in love but are cruelly separated by the Princess’s evil stepmother, the Dark Queen. Without hesitation, the Fisherman and Stranger join forces to fight against the Dark Queen and rescue the Princess.”
– House of Dancing Water, The Show
We were mesmerised from the moment we sat down in the 270 degree theatre. The lights dimmed, and the fisherman rowed out on his boat before falling into the water, a storm and fog filling the theatre. Out of the mist, a pirate ship rose from the water, easy six metres tall and then a group of bandits appeared from beneath the water – scaring the living daylights out of us (we sat in the fourth row). They engaged with the audience, before backflipping, swimming, climbing the ship and diving into the pool below. We were five minutes in and we already couldn’t believe what we were seeing!
Other highlights included the incredible synchronised acrobatics performed by gymnasts swinging precariously over the pool above us, the stunning dance among the fountains by the Princess and her swans, the contortion and acrobatic work by a group of men, and the dives from a 24 metre platform above the pool. Then there was the incredible motorcycle performance, a total surprise and so very cool!
Not only was the story-telling completely entrancing, but everything else about the show was a total feast for the senses. The beautiful costumes, the incredible audio-visual and projection in the theatre, the rain falling from the ’skies’ and the beautiful music. We have always loved a good theatre show, and attended many when we lived in Australia but this is without a doubt the most incredible show we’ve seen in our lives – it was absolutely astounding!
The 90 minute spectacular came to an end, and we honestly considered purchasing another two tickets to watch the next performance at 8PM. House of Dancing Water is Macau’s must-see show, and is the reason why you should spend at least a night in Macau and not just visit as a day trip. It blew our minds and it will blow yours – you’ll be hard pressed to ever see a more magnificent show.
Our night out in Macau continued, with dinner at my favourite Michelin star restaurant chain Din Tai Fung, who has a restaurant located within the City of Dreams complex. After dinner we hit the casino, spending up big – feeding $20 HKD notes ($3.30 AUD) into the slot machines over and over – at least until the entertainment factor wore off. Mike had hoped to find a Blackjack table but it didn’t seem to be a game of choice in the Macau casinos, and the buy-in price of many of the other games running was just a little too much for what we wanted to spend. Regardless, we had an incredible night – dressed up, watching an incredible show, dining out and spending up – we only wish we had more time in beautiful Macau!
How to get to Macau?
The best way to get to Macau is via ferry from Hong Kong. We booked our tickets online with TurboJet, one of the budget ferry companies. We then took the MTR line to Sheung Wan, following directions to the Macau terminal where we were able to easily collect our tickets via the self-collection machine.
Be sure to arrive early, as you will need to clear security and immigration before boarding your ferry both to and from Macau.
- Where to stay in Macau?
The majority of the budget accommodation as well as the historical sights are located on mainland Macau, but the majority of casinos and luxury hotels and entertainment are located on the island of Taipa. Depending on what you wish to do during your visit to Macau will influence where you wish to stay. We stayed in Macau, just a short walk to many of the historic sights but would have been better off staying in Taipa considering we spent most of our visit on this side of the city.
- House of Dancing Water
This is the absolute must-see show in Macau. Shows are held at 5PM and 8PM, four nights a week so if you are only planning on spending a night in Macau its worth double checking when shows are on. Purchase tickets online before hand, and either print or collect at the theatre. We purchased the cheaper C Reserve tickets, and the view from here was just as spectacular as the rest of the theatre would be. Try and sit around the fourth row – you won’t get as wet as those in the front few rows, but you’re still close enough to see all the action!
- Other highlights in Macau:
Unfortunately we didn’t have as much time to sight see as we’d hoped, with getting a late ferry and having to leave for the show – and the pouring rain the following morning. But, you absolutely can not miss the famed Ruins of St Paul, and the nearby churches and beautiful architecture throughout the streets. Also be sure to consume several Portuguese egg tarts whilst visiting – no one else makes them better!