Discontinuity of the “new” Macau

There is a kind of discontinuity with the past in Macau as the change imposed was abrupt, massive and radical. The city is divided into an “old” and “new” Macau, which coexist in space and time.


The “old” Macau was full of historical relics with the heritage sites inscribed by the UNESCO. There was a noticeable presentation of “old” Macau in the northern district, where traces of poverty could be easily found (Vong, 2012). The “new” Macau, on the other hand, was built on the reclaimed land that has no history to it, with the template of the Asia’s Las Vegas(Yu, 2008). The urban image of Macau was thus physically and mentally transformed because of the casino liberalization. Physically, the landscape of the city is changed with the emergence of the luxury towers; mentally, the local residents have come to perceive its urban space as being rationed between tourists and locals.


Since the handover, Macau has been transformed into a landscape of consumption. Large parts of land, mainly newly reclaimed land, in this highly congested city have been reserved exclusively for the gambling and tourism industry and other social facilities have to give way to them. Through this process, the spaces of visitors and local residents have become increasingly divided (Vong, 2012).


There is another phenomenon that spurs the separation of the “new” and “old” Macau- the separated public transportations. Free shuttle buses can be found everywhere in the bus station right next to the ferry terminals. The circulations of the local resident and the gamblers are very different that the later can directly go to the casinos and hotels without seeing the “old” Macau. The planning of the casino clusters and construction of infrastructure like the roads are not considering the “old” Macau. It is very difficult for tourists to walk from the island of casinos to the old commercial centers even when they are very close.




  1. “Casino boom in Macau: exploring casino liberalization’s impact on Macau residents’ sense of place and their satisfaction and support for casino development”, 2012, Vong Tse-ngai, Thesis research paper, The University of Hong Hong
  2. “Growth and degradation in Orient’s ‘Las Vegas’: Issues of environment in Macau”, 2008, Yu, X., International Journal of Environmental Studies.

1 Comment on “Discontinuity of the “new” Macau

  1. I can see the separation between old and new areas of Macau, which to me, it is quite a pity that visitors cannot approach those old areas with history background easily. Like the “old” Macau, Penang is a city also full of historical relics with the heritage sites inscribed by the UNESCO. Take Cheong Fatt Tsz Mansion as an example, it is successfully conserved into a museum from a private residence, and awarded as “Best Tourist Attraction” in 2003. Penang developed its tourism industry based on its own heritages and is now renowned for its rich culture. So how would you propose for developing “new” Macau, in order to blend “new” and “old” together?

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.