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Why book a family holiday to Macao?

Macao for families

The bright lights and big city life of Macao Peninsula can easily induce a sense of wide-eyed wonder in adults, let alone children. And while it's true that you can scale the heights of Macao Tower for jaw-dropping views, see buildings of mind-blowing scale and marvel at musical fountains, there's much more to Macao than the metropolis. For one thing, there's a lovely heritage centre to explore and traditional Macanese sweet treats to try, plus there's a sleepy side to Macao too that includes green parks to explore and beaches for bucket-and-spade days. From boat rides at Fisherman's Wharf to meeting giant pandas at Coloane's special pavilion there are some splendid activities and classic attractions for families of all ages.

The intuitive design and top-notch facilities of Macao's world-class family resorts makes travelling with children as relaxed and easy as can be. Central Macao and the Cotai Strip are famous for their glitzy gaming hotels, but the peninsula and its adjoining islands have a flush of excellent family-orientated resorts. Plenty have children's pools and clubs, kid-friendly restaurants and special menus, plus extra-large luxurious rooms to accommodate everybody comfortably.

Family fun

Macao's unique Chinese-Portuguese heritage has bestowed it with a very distinct character that you can get to grips with by taking a short stroll around the colonial heritage centre. The magnificent Senado Square is the focal point, while the haunting UNESCO-listed ruins of St Pauls are a definite highlight. Another fun cultural activity for families is to take the cable car up Guia Hill to explore the Portuguese Lighthouse and fortress with magnificent views over the city. Venturing into the atmospheric A-Ma Taoist temple on the peninsula's eastern shore, full of stone carvings, ornate altars and exotic gardens, gives you an important piece in the puzzle.

Trying local food is a great way to get an idea of the cultural fusion in Macao, and kids in particular will like the sugary treats on offer at Lord Stow's Bakery. There are a few branches scattered around town producing egg custard tarts that are highly sought-after. The original Lord Stow's is on Coloane Island, but there's a branch in the Venetian Resort too, where you can stop for a snack before boarding a gondola for a ride around the three canals. The massive Venetian complex also contains the Qube interactive kids fun zone with play and climbing areas, computer games, pool tables and much more.

There's plenty more family entertainment on offer at other resorts around the Cotai Strip. The fabulous $250 million House of Dancing Water show at the City of Dreams is a unique family-friendly extravaganza utilizing millions of gallons of water for aquatic acrobatics, stunts and displays. Over at the Hollywood-themed Studio City, families can enjoy the Batman Dark Flight flying theatre show and the world's first figure-8 shaped observation wheel - the Golden Reel - that bridges two buildings to offer panoramic views from 130 metres up. Some hotels along the Cotai Strip also offer DreamWorks Experiences especially for kids including exciting parades and Shrekfast with Shrek, Donkey and friends at the Sheraton Hotel and the Holiday Inn.

Perhaps Macao's most appealing attraction for all the family is the sky-high Macao Tower, which has a range of experiences including a 360-degree revolving restaurant with panoramic views, two observation decks, the world's highest bungee jump, and the nail-biting Sky Walk. Down on the ground, the Science Centre stands out amongst Macao's many museums for its interactive, hi-tech educational exhibits and large planetarium.

If you are looking for a more relaxing way to spend the day, head to Coloane island to enjoy its peaceful country park and beaches, its Panda Pavilion with two playful resident Giant Pandas and the A-Ma cultural village. Enjoy the tropical sunshine at 4km-long Hac Sa beach with black-and-golden sand perfect for sand castles or head to less-visited Cheoc-Van beach. There are outdoor play and picnicking areas behind the beach and the renowned family-friendly Fernando's Restaurant is perfect for a bite to eat.

Family-friendly hotels and resorts

If you are travelling to Macao with kids, choose a non-gaming hotel because, unlike in Las Vegas, children are not allowed to walk through Macao's casinos. That said, some of Macao's casino resorts, especially the newer ones in the Cotai Strip, have some of the best family entertainment facilities in Macao. Studio City and the Venetian Resort are two of the top options, but you can visit these from nearby resorts tucked away behind the strip, such as the Conrad, or from a peaceful Coloane hotel such as the Grand Coloane Resort.

The Venetian Macao Resort Hotel is the largest building in the world with the biggest casino, and it contains a dizzying array of attractions that make it well worth a visit for any type of traveller. Mums and dads can browse the luxury Venetian-inspired shopping centre while the kids have fun at the Qube. Studio City's range of unmissable attractions are enhanced by its kid-friendly Cosmos Food Station, where diners can stare into outer space through giant portal windows. The resort also features the huge Warner Brothers Fun Zone playground.

The fantastic family-friendly Four Seasons Hotel Cotai Strip is very close to the City of Dreams and linked to the Venetian Resort, while it also boasts five swimming pools and special kids' menus at its eateries. The five-star Westin Hotel is another good choice for families looking for top-quality rooms, service and food with lots of kid-focused activities nearby.

Far beyond the excitement of the Cotai but still within easy reach by shuttle bus, the wonderful Grand Coloane Resort is one of the best accommodation options for families visiting Macao. The upscale family atmosphere makes parents and children of all ages feel comfortable while the spacious family rooms have enviable views overlooking Coloane's lush hillsides and the shallow southern bay of Hac Sa beach. Not only does the resort have its own kids club with a great programme that includes indoor and outdoor games and sports, arts and crafts and treasure hunts, but there are children's menus at the restaurant to cater for young taste buds. For gambling or luxury shopping, the hotel runs a shuttle bus service to the casinos, airport and the ferry terminal where you can come and go to Hong Kong.

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