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What it’s really like to live in Macao

“I only go to casinos once a year, on Chinese New Year,” says Vivian Lai, a second-generation Macao resident who is training as a nurse. The tradition of gambling is said to bring good luck for cryptoboss the year to come, whether you win or lose.

Macao, the Chinese special administrative region (SAR) often twinned with Hong Kong, is known as the Las Vegas of Asia. As the only place in greater China where gambling is legal, the city’s skyline is a who’s-who of the biggest names in the gaming industry.

Home to just 600,000 residents – compared to seven million in Hong Kong – visitors to Macao might feel like the rest of the city lost in the shadow of the towering hotels and casinos. But travelers who are willing to dig in a little deeper can explore Macanese culture, which mixes Portuguese, Chinese and Southeast Asian heritages.

Macao is comprised of two islands – the north one, Macao itself, and its southern neighbor Taipa. For a long time, Taipa was relatively rural, and people had to travel between the two islands by boat. The first bridge connecting the two was completed in 1972. Now, there are three, with a fourth in construction.

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