Redolent with colonial Portuguese flavour, Taipa Village shows that Macau isn’t all about the bling.
While the historic area neighbours the colossal gambling complexes of the Cotai Strip, its quaint, cobblestoned alleyways and low-slung, pastel-coloured colonial shophouses seem a world away from the ostentatious glitz of the casinos. These days, it makes the perfect day trip from Hong Kong for history lovers and those looking for a bit of authentic European flavour without having to hop on a 10-hour flight. Keep reading for Home Journal‘s itinerary for this slice of old Macau.
Tai Lei Loi Kei 大利來記
Reward yourself for making it to Taipa Village with one of Macau's most famous culinary concoctions – the pork chop bun. Tai Lei Loi Kei has a claim to its invention, which explains the long (but fast-moving) line snaking out the front door. There's only really one choice to be made: a succulent marinated pork chop cushioned in between a crispy pineapple bun to sate your deepest cravings.
35 Rua Correia da Silva, Taipa Village
Gelatina Mok Yi Kei 莫義記
Next up, cool off with dessert at this eight-decade-old institution. Best known for their creamy durian ice cream made using Musang King durian from Malaysia, as well as the appetisingly named "sawdust" pudding (which actually features a dusting of fine cookie crumbs on top of ice cream), Mok Yi Kei is a must during the summer months.
9 Rua do Cunha, Taipa Village
Pasteleria Fong Kei 晃記餅家
History (literally) watches over this Michelin-recognised traditional Chinese pastry shop, best known for its almond cookies, wife cakes and egg rolls. Everything is made and sold on site, making for the freshest taste – a necessary measure given the susceptibility of the cookies to the region's oppressive humidity. As is standard on this street, you will have to line up for the goods although the wait is deceptively short.
14 Rua do Cunha, Taipa Village
Photo: Gavin Yeung
Taipa Village Art Space
As a venue for cultural events in this historically rich neighbourhood, the Taipa Village Art Space frequently hosts exhibitions that draw on Macau's past as well as engaging in contemporary local and international artistic discourse. Currently hosting a body of work by local watercolour painter Lio Man Cheong that depicts Macau's traditional firecracker manufacturing industry, stop by for a look into the livelihoods of Macanese before the arrival of poker tables.
10 Rua dos Clerigos, Taipa Village
Photo: Courtesy of Quarter Square
Quarter Square Lifestyle Boutique & Espresso Bar
Opened by former realtor Alberto Chan, this design boutique and cafe stocks a range of well-designed homeware goods from the US, Sweden and Denmark. Browse through the store's selection of candles, ceramics and lighting, enjoy creative coffee drinks such as the Coppercino and Matcha Tonic on the rooftop space, and get to know resident French Bulldog and PR director Copper, before continuing on your tour.
89 Largo Maia de Magalhães, Taipa Village
Photo: Courtesy of Taipa Village Macau
O Santos Loja Portuguesa 山度葡國商店
Stop by this one-of-a-kind grocery store for a myriad of Portuguese specialty goods that you would be hard-pressed to find anywhere else outside of the Iberian peninsula. From donkey milk soap and Portuguese tinned sardines, to authentic port, limoncello, olive oil and wines, make sure to stock up on gifts for your Lusophile friends back home.
2 Rua das Gaivotas, Taipa Village
One good ice cream deserves another. Head to this small dessert shop for novelty flavours such as coriander (above) and rose with a black sesame cone, or quench your thirst with a selection of coffees, frappes and slushies to beat the heat. The leafy green wall in the upstairs sitting area makes for the perfect Instagram backdrop to snap your choice against.
58 Rua Correia da Silva, Taipa Village
Opened by high-school friends Rafaelo and Justin, this oasis of calm makes the most of its tiny space, somehow managing to fit a coffee bar, a lifestyle boutique selling well-designed tools, souvenirs and homewares, plenty of succulents and a T-shirt customisation service within. The quaint rooftop also provides a view over Taipa Village, making for a well-appreciated moment of respite from any sightseeing itinerary.
49 Rua Correia da Silva, Taipa Village
Photo: Eugene Lim
Our Lady of Carmel Church
Dating back to 1885, this Roman Catholic church was built in a neoclassical style and has become one of Macau's architectural and historic icons. Standing on a small hill with views over Taipa Village, thus making it a popular wedding photography spot, stop by to admire the surrounding gardens. Unfortunately, the church is only open for praying – tourists will have to make do with the cream-coloured exterior.
Av. de Carlos da Maia, Macau
Photo: Eugene Lim
Housed within five former residences of senior civil servants originally built in 1921, the Taipa Houses-Museum showcases the former way of life of the Macanese ethnic group and the Cotai district at large, along with exhibits of Portuguese culture. The jade green colour and colonial architecture of the houses also make them one of the most Instagrammed locations in Macau. Once you're done looking at the exhibitions, break out your snacks and sit down by the lake to enjoy a moment of serenity.
Avenida da Praia, Taipa Village
Photo: Courtesy of La Famiglia
After a full day of sightseeing, it's time for dinner. Grab a table at the family-run La Famiglia, which serves up homemade Portuguese dishes true to what Macanese would indulge in pre-Handover. Run by Chef Florita Alves, the restaurant serves classic and very filling Macanese dishes such as capela meatloaf, Fried Bacalhau a Brás, and fried shrimp with butter garlic sauce. Wash down the scrumptious food with a robust selection of Portuguese wines.
76 Rua dos Clerigos, Taipa Village
Feed your wanderlust with the rest of our features in the Travel section.
Top image: Eugene Lim