By Jonathan Evans
Given its profile as a refuge for high-net-worth individuals spending megabucks at high-end stores in integrated resorts – think the soon-to-expand Sands Cotai Central – it might come as a surprise that a territory as small as Macau also comes laden with smaller-scale independent stores that bear witness to the city’s creative and entrepreneurial spirit.
Photography: Cotai Strip
Such eclectic, bohemian retail specialists are also complemented by larger mercantile enclaves such as city-centre markets, and these two very different shopping experiences collectively offer a far fuller flavour of both the past and present of Macau while holding some intriguing finds to take home. What’s more, haggling is sometimes permitted in smaller stores, adding to the fun of bargain hunting in an otherwise expensive city.
Photography: Senado Square
Macau has a well-established garment manufacturing industry, so without the added cost of import taxes, finding affordable clothing here is straightforward. Starting at the heart of the Historic Centre, Senado Square and its surrounds hold a host of shops that sell cheap clothes of all types and accessories. Three Lamps District (named for a three-bulbed lamppost in the central Rotunda de Carlos da Maia) is another popular hub for budget shoppers, packed with small shops and boutiques. This Asian market district is also good for fresh flowers and inexpensive clothes.
Nearby, behind Senado Square, San Domingo Market is another bargain hunter’s mecca, with stallholders flogging everything from women’s clothing and souvenir T-shirts to household linens and dried shark fins. The municipal market at its centre sells foodstuffs such as fresh meat, vegetables and fruits.
Photography: San Domingo Market (left), Dasanba Street
Close to the Ruins of St Paul’s, bustling Dasanba Street (Rua de Sao Paulo) is a tried-and-tested hunting ground for shoppers seeking out baked goods and traditional Chinese preserved-meat snacks known as “food souvenirs”, such as black-pepper pork pies. Sampling these delicacies is encouraged here, so feel free to try before you buy. Along this street you can also browse at numerous furniture and antique shops that sell vintage curiosities like authentic porcelain, ancient coins and rosewood reproductions of traditional Chinese furniture.
Photography: (Top left) - BBQ Meat Jerky, Serradura, Portuguese Egg tarts. (Bottom left) -Almond Cookies, Pork Chop Bun Read More about street food HERE
Located at No 42 GUAN QIAN Street, one of the best stores along the cosmopolitan street is A Porta Da Arte, a creative space that combines Macanese culture and living art. This 60 years old four-storey high building was redesigned and restored by the top 100 local artists in 2017. Redefining new and old, it is devoted to humanities, culture, art and design.
Photography: GUAN QIAN Street
On Rua do Cunha, you’ll also find a wealth of bakeries, restaurants and cafés, but also plenty of gift shops selling souvenirs and accessories. The mural art helps to enliven the touristy experience, as well as adding to your Instagram cachet. At the end of Rua do Cunha, Cunha Bazaar – a beautifully decorated four-storey shop – is a treasure trove for unique souvenirs (ceramics, notebooks, sketches) created by local artisans. The first floor is dedicated to Macau’s Soda Panda, the grumpy cartoon bear whose image is depicted alongside Macanese icons such as egg tarts.
Photography: Rua do Cunha Street Read More about Taipa Village Here
Taipa Flea Market, the most popular flea market in Macau, takes place every Sunday near Bombeiros Square. Soak up the atmosphere of Taipa Village as you peruse dozens of stalls in search of a perfect memento, and feast on local delicacies while you rummage. There are also regular afternoon performances such as magic, stilt-walking and puppet shows, and diverse sounds from singers, orchestras and folk musicians.
Photography: Red Market
Further north, Red Market, a three-storey wet market in San Antonio, is an excellent spot to gauge the pulse of daily life for Macau’s people. Seafood, meat, poultry, vegetables and fresh fruits are on offer in this distinctive building that dates back to 1936.
Photography: Rua de Cinco de Outobro
When the buzz dissipates at these mercantile hotspots, by night there’s a different kind of retail therapy on offer. A walk through the vintage-themed weekend night market in Rua de Cinco de Outobro, once the busiest thoroughfare in the city, is like being transported to an earlier age. Vendors gather along this atmospheric street to sell traditional food, vintage toys and craft items, while there are also game booths for younger visitors.
Photography: Lin Kai Temple
Another nocturnal offering is Cinema Alegria Night Market, also known as the Lin Kai Market, a quintessentially oriental parade of stalls set up under the glow of lanterns and neon signs. While it’s rightly known for cheap fabrics and ready-made clothes, as well as local delicacies, take the opportunity to explore the Lin Kai temple and the Cinema Alegria itself, an Art Deco structure that’s packed with visitors at weekends.
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