It is fair to say that Macau isn’t a runner’s paradise. The Portuguese-Chinese enclave is densely populated and land is at a premium, which means there isn’t exactly an abundance of green open spaces. But there are a few places to get in a good run that for the most part avoids areas that are heavily populated or have you dicing with death by playing chicken with local traffic.
If you are looking to run in excess of 20km or so you will have little choice but to find a nice route and do several laps or head into a climate-controlled gym. Training for half-marathons (which I currently am) and shorter distances offers more choice. The following runs are three that I use regularly, with anything longer than 10km needing a switchback or two.
For a short and scenic run to stretch your legs on a weekend morning, head to Macau Peninsula. Being the most populated part of Macau, it’s difficult finding routes that are longer than a few kilometers without running into crowds, so shorter runs of around 5km are the order of the day. This route will take you from Macau Tower, around Sai Van Lake and up to A-Ma Temple. The 5km run is actually a 2.5km path that you double back on, meaning you can start and end at either Macau Tower or A-Ma Temple.
Whether you start at the tower or the temple, you will be on a flat, paved surface that will take you around the north shore of Sai Van Lake. You will likely encounter a few fellow runners or walkers as a fair amount of the route avoids cars completely. The turning point if you start at the tower (or end point if you start at the temple) is a public square that is home to both the Maritime Museum and A-Ma Temple, which was built in 1488 and is probably Macau’s best-known temple.
Running toward Macau Tower give will give you a chance to see (and sometimes even hear) bungee jumpers taking the plunge from what used to be the world’s highest bungee jump.
Good for longer runs, this intermediate route starts at either the St. Regis Macao or Sheraton Grand Macao Hotel and ends in Old Taipa Village where you can soak up a little culture and, depending on the time of day, have a coffee or a beer.
Starting from the door of either Starwood property, head north to the snappily named Baia de Nossa Senhora da Esperanca Wetland Ecological Viewing Zone (return here later to see the beautiful Taipa Houses-Museum, a set of five restored houses from 1920s Macau) where you will bear west. The route along the sidewalk takes you past the Macau Aquatic Centre and the Macao Jockey Club before you arrive at the Taipa Waterfront Leisure Area. This is a great place for people-watching as locals teach their kids how to ride bikes and play badminton. The track is only a few kilometers long but will deposit you on the north shore of Taipa where you can look across Governador Nobre de Carvalho Bridge to the peninsula. The bridge is said to be the body of a dragon with the Taipa Monument, a 300m relief conceived by Portuguese sculptor Dorita Castel Branco on the hill to your right as you run, as the tail and the Grand Lisboa on the peninsula as the head.
Around 2km further on you will find yourself at your end point in Taipa Village. Here you can find whatever you feel is an appropriate treat. The Blissful Carrot is a quaint vegetarian restaurant/cafe that has all kinds of healthy, homemade and organic treats if you are in training mode and there are coffee shops, a good selection of restaurants, including Portuguese restaurant A Petisqueira, and the Old Taipa Tavern (OTT in local lingo) if you are looking for an alfresco drink.
Along with the aforementioned Taipa Houses-Museum and the wetlands, there are several temples in the area including Kun Iam Temple and Pak Tai Temple right next to OTT.
At 170 meters, Alto de Coloane is the highest point in Macau and offers the most difficult run in the SAR. Steep inclines, plenty of steps and semi-rugged terrain make this route a favorite for a weekend challenge.
Starting at Seac Pai Van Park, home to giant pandas Kai Kai and Xin Xin, a couple of hundred steps will get your heart rate up before spitting you out on the Coloane Trail. The entire trail is an 8km circuit and is a combination of flat stretches with some inclines, both gradual and steep. While Coloane is the most popular of Macau’s few trails, it is unlikely you’ll encounter more than a dozen or so people. Good signage makes it a straightforward and easy-to-follow path.
When you complete the 8km circuit, you’ll run back through the park and turn south on Estrada de Seac Pai Van toward Coloane Village a kilometer away. Coloane Village is where locals and tourists come to escape the crowds and casinos, and to get a dose of village life (and egg tarts from Lord Stow’s). Running down Avenida Cinco de Outubro, you’ll pass a few historic landmarks that include the Chapel of St. Francis Xavier, Coloane Library and Tam Kung Temple. When you reach the temple, ascend the hill to the left and continue another 1.5km until you reach the stairs that lead down to Cheoc Van Beach and your end point. At the bottom of the staircase you will find your lunch and a liquid reward at Ristorante La Gondola. Both the stone-baked pizza and Portuguese clams are good, and the beer is cheap and cold.
The intermediate and, to a lesser extent, more difficult routes provide a nice backdrop around sunset as they are, at least in part, on the western side of Macau.
Macau has a subtropical climate, meaning summers are incredibly hot and humid. The depths of winter can be deceptively cold but are almost never too cold to get out and run. There is a monsoon season too, generally between April and September, but a bit of rain during this part of the year makes running more bearable.
Egg tarts from one of the several Lord Stow’s outlets are a delicious way to replace any lost calories and make a great post-run treat.
Have a favorite running route in Macau or another popular destination? Share your tips with the tag #momentumtravel!
Photos: Rob McGovern