For many, the mention of Macau would conjure up scenes of dashing mega casinos as glamorous as they are glitzy. 

But if one were to look beyond the region’s booming gambling industry alone, it’s also one brimming with rich history–histories of lucrative trade led by Portugese colonial rule. 

As a result, charming streets juxtapose the high-flying extravagance of this densely-populated city. And out of all these streets, Rua de Felicidade is the most popular.

Photo from Adobe Stock

Rua de Felicidade can be translated to “Happiness Street.” Travellers come here to sample a taste of local fare–from shark fin to congee to wonton noodles. Traditional almond cookies from the street’s bakeries make for the ideal souvenir befitting of its location as well. 

With its signature crimson doors and nostalgic shophouses, the street has also become a popular spot for photo opportunities. Much like the heritage lanes of Penang, Malaysia.

Traditional Macau almond cookie. Photo from Adobe Stock

But the “Happiness” in Happiness Street stems from a seedy past. Up until the 1960’s, Rua de Felicidade was Macau’s trademark red-light district. Brothels made up a good portion of the street, while gambling reigned and opium was rife. 

The street today may not be what it was in its yesteryears, but it certainly makes for a spectacular film location sought after by some of the most renowned in the trade.

Most recently, Rua de Felicidade made an appearance in “Now You See Me: The Second Act”–the 2016 sequel to the heist thriller film “Now You See Me”. The Macau-set film also features other prime locations from the likes of Macao Science Center and Sands Macao Hotel. 

Photo from Macau Tourism

Drawing in the reel a little further back to the 80’s, Steven Spielberg’s “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” anchors off the street’s old oriental charm to emulate Shanghai in a car chase scene.

This comes as no surprise, as then and even today, Hollywood filmmakers veer away from China as a filming location due to overwhelming restrictions and stringent guidelines. Instead, Macau and Hong Kong are opted for in its place.

Other films in Rua de Felicidade’s arsenal include Hong Kong films “Isabella” and “2046”, which feature San Va Hotel as a filming site, transforming Macau’s oldest guesthouse into something more than just a temporary accommodation.

Text by Ng Shen Lee

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