Whether or not you’re into betting, attending the horse races at Happy Valley and feeling the energy in the air is an unforgettable experience.
The racecourse, located in Happy Valley on Hong Kong Island, is the oldest race track, having been around since 1846. Today it is a world-class racing venue, hosting not only international championships, but also lots of entertainment and events, such as live bands and beer festivals.
The racetrack is surrounded by a ring of towers and modern skyscrapers, making a very photographic backdrop for horse racing as the city lights begin to shine.
Races take place on Wednesday nights from September to July, and close in the summer due to the intense heat and humidity. The gates open at 5:15 p.m., with the first race at 7:15 p.m., so best to go around race time. You pay a mere HK$10.00 entrance fee to enter the Public Enclosure—only members are allowed to go through the Members Entrance. If you’re feeling lucky, place your bets at the Betting Halls, located near the entrance gates.
Horse racing is a billion-dollar industry in Hong Kong, and hardcore race enthusiasts tend to sit up in the stands, clutching the racing results and watching closely. But if you’re like most people who go simply for the fun of it, just stay in the Beer Garden, right next to the racetrack, where you can stand so close that you feel the ground shake as the horses go thundering by.
‘Happy Wednesdays’ at the Beer Garden are a firm fixture especially for the Hong Kong expat community, so you can expect a party-like atmosphere as the night goes on, with frequent trips to the food and beverage stands for cold pints, and boisterous HK$2.00 bets made amongst friends and strangers alike.
To really have the quintessential night out at the races, be sure to take the historic Hong Kong Tram to (or from) Happy Valley. The classic double-decker trams run an east-west route across Hong Kong Island, with one designated route to Happy Valley. At the front of every tram is a sign showing their destination, so just make sure you get one which says ‘Happy Valley’. The tram, or ‘ding ding’ as the locals call it, makes a loop all the way around the racecourse and then back to Causeway Bay. It’s a bit of a slower ride, but definitely a great way to take the scenic route through this fast-paced city.