The Red Market Macao (Macau), located near the Three Lamps District, is the largest wet market in Macao. The unmissable red, three level building, is packed with seafood, meat, vegetables and dry goods.
The smell, it hits your nostrils with a whack as soon as you enter the red market. Not a foreign smell and one I expect after visiting numerous markets. But it does take my traveling companion by surprise. I hear her quiet verbal reaction as soon as she smells it.
An unmistakable heady mix of dried seafood, dried herbs, earthy fresh vegetables, vegetables long forgotten somewhere and bustling humans. People like me, that have entered the market and escaped the heat and humidity of Macao. Don't worry your nostrils will acclimatise quickly.
There's no chance of accidentally walking past the Red Market. The building is red. Red bricks were used in the construction of the building and how it gets the name, Red Market. The art deco building was built in 1936 and designed by local architect Julio Alberto Basto. The Red Market Macao is heritage listed.
The outside of the building gives the impression that there are two levels. The tall glass windows give a deceiving illusion, there are three levels inside Macao's most popular wet market. Ground level is for dried goods, fresh fruit, vegetables, eggs, and poultry. Level one is solely for produce that comes from the water. Level three is the meat section.
Sadly I only had a brief 15 minutes to look around. Which didn't give me the chance to chat to vendors and delve deeper into possible discoveries of the wet market. It did give me a taste of what was there. In turn, this allows me to give you a taste of what to expect.
Red Market - Ground Level
The ground level isn't as large as the two levels above, but it is packed with produce. Essential pantry items such as dried pulses, herbs, sauces, condiments and dried noodles. The more you look the more you see crammed into these individual stores.
Keep looking and you will find a variety of dried fish including small dried shrimp and whole fish hanging alongside dried Chinese sausages.
Stalls laden with fresh fruit, fresh vegetables and fresh herbs. Everything from oranges to bitter melon, and some things I've never seen before.
Fresh and some not so fresh eggs from quail, duck and chicken. Keep walking, turn the corner and you will find the poultry section. No longer will you find live chicken at the market due to the bird flu outbreak a few years ago.
Red Market Macao - Level 2 fish and friends
Head up to level two and this is where this wet market gets very wet. This level is dedicated to all things that live in the water. You may no longer be able to see live poultry, but level two will make it up to you.
Expect to see lots of fish splashing around in shallow water baths. They are the lucky ones, others are left to gasp their final breaths on styrofoam boxes and metal trays.
I have no problem at all with live fish for sale. It's a good reminder that it doesn't naturally come on a plastic wrapped tray or in a cardboard box. Plus it is super fresh. I buy my crabs and yabbies live at home, live fish are harder to come by.
What did make me feel sad was the unnecessary gasping of live fish out of water waiting to be purchased. Firstly not a great way to end your life, secondly it stresses the flesh of the fish for eating purposes.
Red Market Macao - Level 3 Meat
You could think that the Red Market got its name from level three, not the bricks that it was built from. The mix of red lamps and red meat gives this area a red glow.
Unfortunately by the time I made it to the top level my time at the wet market was running out. I wasn't able to explore as much as I wanted to.
There is pork, lots and lots of pork. Nothing goes to waste, it is nose to tail all the way. The way it should be.
Individual butchers breaking down cuts of meat. Again a good reminder where your pork chop comes from. I often think we are very desensitised as consumers in Australia, and other western nations, as to where our meat comes from. No doubt about it here.
Red Market Macao - The outside markets
The Red Market is also surrounded by market stalls. Here you will find more fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, and flowers. Also people selling clothing, tee shirts, and other nonedible items.
When in Macao the Red Market is a must visit. Also take time to walk around and explore the surrounding area of the Three Lamps District. You are sure to pick up a bargain or two in this less touristy part of Macao.
If you are wanting to have a bite to eat when you visit, Long Va Tea House is directly opposite. A quaint and traditional tea house where you can watch the bustle of people coming and going to the Red Market.
Corner of Avenida Almirante Lacerda and Avenida Horta e Costa Macau
An easy and relatively flat 18 minute walk from the Ruins of St Paul's
OTHER STORIES ON MACAO
Are Macau and Macao the same place? - What is correct? We explain which one and why to unconfuse you.
Lord Stow's Bakery - The original and the best Macanese tarts in Macao.
Long Va Tea House - Tea and dumpling perfection
Belly Rumbles visited the Red Market in Macao with thanks to Macao Government Tourism Office, but all opinions remain her own.
Become a subscriber and don’t miss a single delicious recipe, restaurant review or travel adventure.
We have been there and the Red Market. The area around, The three lamps District, is so different from the usual photos of Macao. We stayed in Macao for 4 days and thoroughly enjoyed every moment.
I’ve been wanting to visit Macau and this just makes me want to even more. I would love to visit these markets
Well, there's an interesting experience for you -- although I'm not sure my nose would ever acclimatize to the smell of seafood. Don't get me wrong - I do love good seafood, especially fish. But...well, I don't like the smell at all! I kept wondering why they called this a wet market, but you explained it well enough. Were the prices more reasonable here at the market than in a grocery store? Or do they not have traditional grocery stores in this area?
My visit to Macau was a short one. Wish I had the time to visit this market too. I love such local scenes.
They help understand the local life better.
Linda (LD Holland)
We were sorry we did not make it to Macao on our visit to Hong Kong. We do love visiting local markets so would have wanted to see the Red Market. Always cool when you find something you have never seen before. It is fascinating to see that nothing goes to waste. My son is a butcher so I have a better understanding of that now. Maybe on our next visit.
This looks and sounds a lot like the fish markets we visited in Puerto Princesa, Palawan. It's really something to see but I agree with you that they really should kill the fish cleanly and humanely instead of letting them gasp in the air. I'd love to walk through and see all the veggies and fruit. So much! So different than my hometown market.
It would be fun to wander around the markets and see all of the different food/produce! xo Kam
The goods are sure packed into the ground level stalls, would be an interesting place to wander for sure. And I love the idea of people watching from Long Va Tea House.
This is like an aladdin's cave for a foodie! While the distinct aroma may take time to get used to, it's all part of the experience. I like to see my food is fresh, so buying from markets and artisan butchers etc is always my preferred option. If I ever get to Macao, I will definitely visit!
Even with their distinctive aroma, I love wet markets like these. I didn't know about this in Macao. I only went to the glitzy casinos. Did they have a section of eateries, too? They may not be too sanitary but they certainly use the freshest of ingredients.