|The beautiful night view of Macau, a city built on a fusion of nearly 500 years of a Portuguese presence and thousands of years of Chinese culture.(Shanghai Daily/ Patsy Yang)|
While famous as a glittering gaming and shopping destination that last year attracted 25 million visitors, there's more to Macau than casinos and malls. Yang Di explores the city's rich Chinese and Portuguese heritage in search of hidden charms - and don't bet against her finding them.
With the latest mega-hotel rising out of the glittering Cotai Strip, Macau is now for many people outshining other gaming cities around the world and has become the place to live the high life without stepping out of a casino resort.
Last month, saw the opening of the latest addition to Sands Cotai Central integrated resort - the Sheraton Macao Hotel.
This has the double distinction of being the largest hotel in Macau and the largest Sheraton in the world. The first of the Sheraton Macao's two hotel towers - Sky - is open for business, while the second - Earth - will open early next year, bringing the total guestroom count to 3,896.
The much-awaited opening of the Sheraton Macao Hotel also takes the city a step closer to fulfilling its ambition and defining itself as a world center of tourism and leisure, beyond its reputation as a gaming city.
Located on a strip of reclaimed land that connects Macau's islands of Taipa and Coloane, the Cotai Strip - where most prestigious hotels choose to locate - is Asia's answer to Las Vegas in the United States. Inspired by the glitz and excitement of the Las Vegas Strip in Nevada, developers are spicing up the gambling hotspot with luxury hotels, Las Vegas-style casinos, a huge choice of dining, world-class entertainment and luxury duty-free shopping.
Last year, Macau attracted almost 25 million tourists, and some 27.4 million tourists will visit the city this year, according to the Pacific Asia Travel Association's predictions, with the majority coming from China's mainland.
Five years ago, Macau surpassed Las Vegas as the biggest gaming city in the world, making it the wealthiest city in Asia.
Gambling and shopping are the main reasons Chinese mainland tourists visit Macau, yet the city, built on a fusion of nearly 500 years of a Portuguese presence and thousands of years of Chinese culture, is a charming destination. So step out of the hotel and uncover the treasures of Macau.