If like me, you are fortunate enough to be in Hong Kong on a Wednesday evening during the racing season, (September to July) then Happy Valley Horse racing course is a fantastic venue where you can go, watch the horse racing, mingle with the crowds and generally have a really enjoyable evening.Perhaps even finish off with a few dollars more than when you went in! I wasn't so fortunate though! No worries, the whole event was exciting and I wouldn't have missed it for the world.
Happy Valley is set amidst Hong Kong's towering skyscrapers, all looking down onto the course, their lights twinkling in the night sky. The backdrop could not be more spectacular.
The races are held from 7pm until 11pm. Usually around 10 races per session. As I mentioned above, the night skies adding to the buzzing and electric atmosphere all around you.
The race track is centrally located on Hong Kong Island, you can reach it easily by taxi cab, there are plenty around except when it rains so be warned. I found it quite amusing how taxi's become non-existent the minute you feel a drop of rain. Even so, taxi's are the best way to get to the course and they are inexpensive to use. Buses are frequent too and not forgetting Happy Valley also has a tramway circling the course for a more laid back journey to the races.
The entrance fee is around HK$10 per person, this will give you access to ground level beside the track with concrete steps where you can sit and watch the races from. Only 18 year olds and over are allowed inside the track. Oh, if like me you have less than perfect eyesight, then don't forget your glasses. The other side of the track looks a long way away when you can't focus on your potential winning horse on the other side of the track!
Then, there are the members enclosures and private boxes for the more serious racegoers. However, these come at a hefty price tag for the visiting tourist like me! I would say stick to the HK$10 entrance fee, a better night out for that price tag is hard to come by in Hong Kong.
Throughout the season Happy Valley is the centre stage for some very prestigious and very popular race meetings, most notably the BMW Derby, usually held around mid March. There are a number of race meetings throughout the season whereby it will be busier than normal. Ensure you check beforehand, forewarned is forearmed.
My night at the races was really fun, we started off putting (our loosing bets) on as soon as we arrived, followed by a nice cold beer "for him" and a nice chilled wine "for me" drinks are served from beside the track with a good choice of beers, wines and Champagne. Even if betting isn't your thing, just to be inside the course, people watching is quite entertaining in itself, especially if they are on a winning streak! No kidding yourself, this is Hong Kong, it's busy and people love a bet; a great combination if you ask me!
There are numerous restaurants where you can dine at Happy Valley, I have been fortunate enough to sample one of the restaurants, not on a race night but over a lunchtime period where the dim sum was just "D E L I C I O U S" The restaurant I am speaking of is the Moon Koon, where we sampled a wonderful array of dim sum amidst a superb setting overlooking the track. An altogether different vista during daylight hours, however one I would never tire of. Even the cemetery on the hill holds a fascination for me! What a nice place to have as your final resting place :-)
To summarise, even if you don't like gambling, this weekly event during race season is a must do when you are visiting Hong Kong! Not just for the setting, but the convivial atmosphere, and just the sheer fun of the place. I really loved it.
Moon Koon restaurant
2/F Happy Valley Stand, Happy Valley Racecourse
Reservations Non-Racedays 2966-7111 (Reservations begin at 9am), Racedays 1817 (24-hour booking service)
Monday to Saturday: 12:00-15:00 / 18:30-22:30
Sunday and public holidays: 10:30-15:30 / 18:30-22:30
Moon Koon restaurant website
Happy Valley Racecourse
The closest MTR station to Happy Valley Racecourse is the Causeway Bay Station, Exit A.
Happy Valley racecourse is easily and relatively inexpensively reached by taxi. From the north side of Hong Kong Island around HK$ 45 and from Kowloon around HK$ 80
From the north side of Hong Kong Island, take any tram marked "Happy Valley". Trams are not usually the fastest mode of transport, but at HK$2.3 they are the cheapest!
Happy Valley Racecourse website