Ten Things to do in Hong Kong, #6


If you haven’t been to the horse races in Hong Kong, you have missed something special. I particularly recommend the Happy Valley track on a Wednesday night.

The ponies run only two days a week in Hong Kong. On week-ends at the new track in Sha Tin – usually on Saturday, sometimes on Sunday or a holiday. The mid-week meeting is usually Wednesday evening at Happy Valley, where the first race was run in 1847.

Happy Valley Race Track
Happy Valley Race Track

It’s a wonder to me but racing only two days a week, the Hong Kong Jockey Club has the busiest pari-mutuels in the world. Locals love to gamble and horse racing is the most socially acceptable way to do it. (Betting on Mah Jong is illegal.)

If you want to really get into the spirit of things, pay your HK$10.00 (US$1.30) and sit or stand in the grandstand area. The intensity of the crowd as the horses head down the stretch is electrifying. Especially when everybody is waving their racing forms.

There are more sedate venues. Tourists can get a visitors’ pass to the members’ area by going to one of the off-track betting outlets with a passport and HK$50.00 (US$6.50). There are also jaunts organized by the tour companies and if you are staying in one of the better hotels, they can help.

With a minimum bet of only HK$10.00, though, you might enjoy hanging out with the hoi polloi as recommended above. I think you’ll have more fun.

Racing forms are published in the South China Morning Post on the day of the race but even if you can’t read the statistics you can walk over to the paddock area before each race and pick the horse that looks best to you.

Good luck!