One of the oldest temples in Macau, A-Ma temple was built in 1488 and commemorates A-Ma, goddess of the sea (also known as Mazu and Tin Hau). Featuring multiple prayer pavilions set on different levels of a hill overlooking the Inner Harbour, A-Ma Temple forms part of the Historic Centre of Macau, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The temple comprises six main parts: Gate Pavilion, Memorial Arch, Prayer Hall, Hall of Benevolence, Hall of Guanyin, and Zhengjiao Chanlin. The number of pavilions at the temple that are dedicated to different deities is representative of the influence of Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, as well as various folk beliefs that are held in Macau. As you wind your way through the temple, notice the stone lion guardians, the poems engraved in rock, distinctive red walls, and the roofs decorated with porcelain. Don’t miss the views overlooking the water, particularly from the uppermost pavilion, dedicated to Kun Iam.
Most sightseeing tours of Macau will feature a stop at A-Ma Temple, along with other top attractions, such as the Ruins of St. Paul and Macau Tower. Day-trips from Hong Kong and Shenzhen are also available. Or visit on a hop-on hop-off bus to explore at your leisure.
Things to Know Before You Go
- A-Ma Temple is a must for first-time visitors to Macau.
- This is a place of worship, so visitors should be quiet and respectful.
- The temple is free to enter, but donations are accepted.
- Wear sturdy, comfortable shoes, as there are a lot of steps at the temple.
- Day tours from Hong Kong can last upward of 11 hours.
How to Get There
A-Ma Temple is located near Barra Square, in the southwest part of Macau Peninsula. It’s about 20 minutes’ walk from Senado Square. Bus routes 1, 2, 5, 9, 10, 11, 18, 21A, 28B, 55, MT4, and N3 also stop near the temple.
When to Get There
The temple is open year-round. The most festive times to visit are during Lunar New Year celebrations, and during the A-Ma Festival, which honors A-Ma’s birthday on the 23rd of the lunar third month. Most tour groups tend to stop in the mornings; visit during the afternoon to avoid these crowds.
How Macau Got Its Name
Legend has it that when the Portuguese first arrived in Macau, they landed at a promontory near A-Ma Temple. They asked local villagers for the name of the land, and the villagers replied, “A-Ma-Gau,” meaning Bay of A-Ma, which was later changed to Macau.