Macao might be just an hour’s trip across the Pearl River Delta, but it can feel a whole world away when you’re ambling down cobbled streets in the shade of buildings still glorious today, hundreds of years from when they were first built.

There are few destinations in China — or the world, for that matter — that have managed to embrace the modern while protecting the past so successfully. Today you can be one minute inside a sparkling new integrated resort, the next taking a quiet moment inside the forecourt of a temple dating back to the 1400s.

Hong Kongers have been heading over for weekend trips — or longer — since the city’s earliest days as a free port. Back in the day, you’d log in for an overnight trip on a (very) slow boat, and pass the time with a dinner and show before turning in for the night. These days access is quick and easy, with the newly built Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macao Bridge adding to the options for travelers.

And there have never been more options once you get there, either, as the Cotai Strip has in just 20 years sparkled into life and quickly become the world’s top gaming destination. Sprawling integrated resorts offer a diverse range of entertainment options, while UNESCO long ago saw the importance of Macao’s heritage — and has ensured it will be protected, adding the Historic Centre of Macao to its World Heritage List in 2005.

And then there’s the food …

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