The love story linking Portugal, East Timor and Macau isn’t recent although memorable, when Portugal colonized both countries centuries ago. Even though they don’t belong to Portugal anymore (if even such a concept like that ever existed), the Portuguese heritage is undeniable and something one can feel with eyes closed and open heart.
The smiles, the people, the places, the food, the landscapes are a true blend amongst the European cultural vibe and the Asian beautiful historic traditions.
Macau and East Timor are most of the times upstaged by their internationally famous siblings: Hong Kong and Bali, respectively. But if you’re more into discovering new places instead of hitting the main travel hubs, give them a try. Their proximity and uniqueness make them conveniently superb places in your journey.
Macau | The Asian pearl with European soul
If you’re travelling to Hong Kong, before departing to another destination, don’t miss Macau which is just from a short boat ride away (unless you’re an eccentric millionaire and have your private jet). You’ll get a bit of the Portuguese flavor within China mixed with world-class hotels, incredible entertainment options and unique heritage sites. Macau is officially the chinese version of Las Vegas and the casinos are definitely worth a visit even if you don’t gamble, their shows are amazing with performances you never saw in your life!
Macau is a unique cultural and entertainment melting pot despite of its size
Once you start listening those amazing live bands with incredible singers with the Philippines stamp, you’ll understand where Bruno Mars came from. The best part: free entrance as long you’re +18. Since Macau can be experienced just in a few days, don’t miss out the opportunity to visit Mainland China which is just a few minutes away. There, you can also request a 1 day visa, take the bus, cross the border and visit Zhuhai (part of Guangdong province) – did we mention the shopping madness there? You’ll feel like a true celebrity: all the vendors want to meet you… your pocket! Bargain like there’s no tomorrow please otherwise you’ll get ripped off. If you don’t know how to do it, read this: 15 best travel tips for a first trip to Southeast Asia – Part II
East Timor | The undiscovered Asian gem
We’d describe East Timor – or just Timor – as that familiar place you never heard before. Pretty much everyone already heard about it although never visited it or included it on the next-vacation-bucket-list. Flights wise, there are few companies operating with one flight per day usually in the morning meaning you have to be smart when looking for the best time to book a ticket. Just like Macau, Timor is an awesome option to combine with a trip to Bali as is just 2 hours away by plane. Therefore, we recommend staying in Bali first and then head to Timor.
East Timor is totally off-the-beaten, perfect for who wants wild nature, incredible landscapes and unknown adventures
Timor, oh Timor! If you actually make to visit it, it will be one of the humblest lessons of your life. When you see the real joy of people that have pretty much nothing to offer but an honest and shy smile, you stop bitching about the struggles you think you face everyday. Due to the long history of conflict and colonialism related to Portugal, Holland and later Indonesia, the locals might appear and sometimes be a bit cold towards foreigners. However, remember they’re rebuilding their own identity, independence as well as their core national values and it definitely takes time. Don’t take it personally though. East Timor still remains among Asia’s poorest countries despite all of its richness.
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Just make sure you rent a good jeep with a local skilled driver since the roads are still undeveloped. Timor has amazing surf and scuba diving spots, consensually considered as some of the world’s best. Both the capital (Díli) including the areas nearby as well as big Atauro island in the north and the uninhabited Jaco island are a must-go. Bear in mind to bring basic food supplies (especially water) when visiting Jaco island since it’s uninhabited. Negotiate the two-way 10 minutes’ boat ride and ask the fisherman for the fish of the day, grilled and served on a banana leaf – incredibly fresh and juicy!