Macau’s unique blend of Chinese and Portuguese culture and history make it a truly unique place to explore, shop and dine. Thanks to the Distinctive Shop Programme, an initiative launched by the Macau government in 2020 to lend support to small businesses with “local characteristics”, visitors can discover the city’s renowned heritage as well as unique experiences easily now.
Not only do these specialist boutiques offer one-of-a-kind products or items, they are also an amazing window into Macau’s culture and heritage; plus, they often make fantastic photogenic spots with their unique atmosphere and cool vibes. Where else can you catch a Cantonese opera performance in a teahouse, take home a historical piece of Macau printed on a skateboard, or watch noodles being pulled into form from scratch?
Furthermore, many of these unique establishments can be found at different districts around Macau, so these shops will make curious and interesting attractions for travellers looking to discover more beyond the city’s surface. Through this inspiring feature on the city’s diverse and one-of-a-kind shops, travel agents can discover and recommend the incredible products and possibilities awaiting their clients in Macau when borders reopen again.
1. Bring home a piece of Macau
Portuguese Street Souvenir has been a staple on October Fifth Street from its early days, frequented by “many overseas stars since 30 years ago”, recalls current second generation owner, Anabella Fung, who began helping out at the family-run store as a kid.
As one of the oldest souvenir shops in town, second generation owner Anabella Fung hopes to retain Macau's history while attracting younger travellers too.
Following her studies in the UK, which exposed her to the variety of vintage markets and the importance of protecting a brand’s history, Fung returned to Macau and realised that today’s travellers wanted a slice of the city’s Portuguese past too. “Our shop has a story to tell people who come here to Macau —and we are the middle ground between Chinese and Portuguese cultures,” she adds.
Traditional Portuguese brick series and rooster-design souvenirs are evergreen favourites among visitors, as are unique product collaborations with Macau’s most talented artisans and craftsmen — think Macau-inspired skateboard with local clothing brand Tuberose.
While already a popular Instagram spot, Portuguese Street Souvenir is currently undergoing a refurbishment, which Fung says will help the shop retain its unique brand history while injecting more contemporary elements to attract the younger set.
2. Where heritage is sewn with love
In Macau, Quinquilharia 168 is a household name specialising in the making and renting of the kwan kwa, the traditional Chinese wedding costume embroidered with auspicious motifs such as dragons, phoenixes or peonies. This elaborate art form has also been inscribed as part of Macau Cultural Heritage List since 2020.
Many overseas and local customers make a special stop here at Quinquilharia 168, a household name producing and renting the traditional Chinese kwan kwa since 1988.
This is one of the few shops where visitors to Macau can get an up-close look at the remarkable handiwork of an exquisite kwan kwa, as well as the many colourful items and accessories such as shoes, hairpieces and duvets that are used in a traditional Chinese wedding.
If your clients are getting married soon or are simply curious about Chinese wedding customs, get them to speak to friendly shop owners who are passionate about preserving this traditional form of craftsmanship.
3. A fresh, juicy recipe for everlasting bliss
Did you know the humble coconut bears a significant purpose in Macau’s traditional wedding culture? According to customs, the groom’s family should prepare a pair of old coconuts as its name in Cantonese sound similar to ‘grandfather-grandson’, symbolising a family blessed with good luck and many descendants.
Traditional wedding 'good luck' coconuts still adorn the decades-old Cocos Hung Heng, now popular for its handmade coconut ice-cream.
Keeping strong to these customs is Cocos Hung Heng, a decades-old shop that is now in the hands of the fourth generation. The storefront has largely retained its original look, adorned with coconuts stuck with double happiness stickers, transporting visitors back to Macau of old times past.
Recommend your clients to make a stop here for the handmade coconut ice cream, as well as other items such as stewed coconut cups, coconut chips and coconut juice – perfect after a day of walking and sightseeing.
4. Going nuts over traditional snacks
Si Heung has stood at the same spot since 1962, selling an array of snacks perfect as souvenirs.
It’s impossible to miss Si Heung, a quaint shop standing at the same spot on October Fifth Street since 1962. The task of keeping the store going has been handed over to the family’s second generation, Mr Sam, who imports nuts from Qingdao and Guangzhou and stick to the traditional process of deep frying, stir-frying and roasting, before finally coating the nuts in various flavours unique to Si Heung – think red fermented tofu, spicy fish skin, charcoal roasted almonds and abalone flavoured nuts. Be sure to make this a requisite stop to bring home a unique taste of Macau.
5. Smooth operator: Watch a noodle master at work
Come early to catch a glimpse of the noodle-making process, not forgetting a cold bowl of Ving Kei's signature silky beancurd. Photo Credit: Macau Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation Department
Tofu or bean products are extremely popular amongst Macau’s street food scene, where for more than half a century now, Ving Kei noodle has stood firmly as the authority in this arena. Early birds to this tiny shopfront may catch a glimpse of the noodle-making process, which involves grinding and boiling the soybeans over an open fire followed by the coagulation process. The result is silky and fragrant bites of sweet ginger tofu pudding and hot/cold beancurd, as well as a menu of savoury items such as boiled goose intestines, squid and noodle dishes.
6. Songbirds and foodies like to gather here
For the unique experience of savouring traditional Chinese tea while enjoying a live Cantonese opera performance, look nowhere else further than Tai Long Fong, whose owner is committed to preserving the traditional song form.
Nowhere else in Macau is it possible to tuck into traditional dim sum while enjoying a live Cantonese opera performance.
It’s not just music for the ears at this teahouse. Tourists to this teahouse can bite into dim sum whose recipes remain unchanged for more than 70 years, such as the lotus seed paste puff, jumbo steamed chicken bun, baked chicken-liver and pork rolls. One of the last of its kind in Macau, it’s common to see patrons have breakfast at six in the morning with newspapers in hand, regular faces drop by for the daily 2pm Cantonese opera singing session, or supper buddies hang around until 1am.
Think these specialty shops cater just to the good old days? More local startups are giving Macau’s traditional streets a modern face — think coffee appreciation cafes, egg bubble waffles, and even a SWAT military supplies store. Click here to discover more of Macau’s Instagram-worthy stops.
This article is brought to you by Macao Government Tourism Office.