The California Bucket List: Your daily guide to the best adventures and experiences in the Golden State

Readers' overrated places of the world: Macao

Place: Macao

Last visited: January

My perspective: My husband, Fred, and I are well-traveled, so when it came time to decide where to go on our honeymoon last year, we wanted to choose somewhere we'd never been. We love Las Vegas (and gambling) and try to go there several times a year, so when we started noticing a lot of press about Macao, we thought it might be perfect for us. We decided on a two-week trip to Hong Kong, Macao, Bangkok and Malaysia. Hong Kong was the highlight; Macao was the low point. The ads and stories we'd seen about Macao made it seem as though it was the Las Vegas of Asia. Not so. It was more like the Las Vegas of 1970. Multiple Las Vegas casino companies have built hotels there in an effort to tap into the huge Asian gambling market. We stayed at the Wynn, which looked just like its Vegas sister; our room, a suite, was beautiful. But when we ventured downstairs to the gaming floor, we knew we were in for a different experience. To enter the gaming area, you had to pass through a metal detector and be patted down by a security guard. Once on the floor, we noticed something strange: It was very quiet. No music playing, no slot machines dinging, no loud cheers coming from the craps table, just low murmuring voices. It was so quiet that we spoke to each other in hushed tones. The tables were all packed in the middle of the day, and these people were serious about their gambling. We were also overdressed. When we go to Vegas, part of the fun is getting dressed up and getting into a festive mood. These people were dressed for Thursday night bingo at a VFW hall. Macao is not catering to international tourists, just serious Asian gamblers. Other than the few American casinos that have opened up, Macao is mostly populated by old, rundown Chinese casinos and most of the area looks like the older parts of Vegas. We ended up spending most of our time in the room, or out shopping, as the gambling wasn't very fun and Macao doesn't have all the shows and exhibits that Vegas does. We were there in January, so the weather wasn't very conducive to sightseeing, as it was cold and raining most of the time. I would've liked to have gotten out and seen some of the historic parts of town. On the upside, the restaurants were great and the options for shopping were just as good as the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace. Bottom line, unless you're a very serious gambler, I would stay away from Macao and get my kicks in Vegas.

--Tina Studier, El Segundo

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