The Hong Kong Marathon (www.hkmarathon.com), run every February, breaks participation records every year since the marathon began in 1997. The Hong Kong Sevens (www.hksevens.com), an international rugby tournament held in March or April, is also quite popular. Other annual sporting highlights include the Tennis Classic (www.hongkongtennisclassic.com) and the Hong Kong Open Golf Championships (www.hkga.com).
Without a doubt, horse racing is by far the most popular sporting event in Hong Kong. It's not, perhaps, the sport itself that draws so much enthusiasm, but rather the fact that, aside from the local lottery, racing is the only legal form of gambling in Hong Kong -- there are more than 100 off-course betting centers throughout Hong Kong -- and winnings are tax-free.
If you're here anytime from September to mid-June, join the rest of Hong Kong at the races. Horse racing got its start in the colony in Happy Valley more than 165 years ago, when British settlers introduced the sport, making the Happy Valley track the oldest racecourse in Asia outside China. A newer, modern track is in Sha Tin (the New Territories), which can accommodate 90,000 spectators.
Races are held Wednesday evenings and some Saturday and Sunday afternoons, and both tracks feature giant color screens that get you up close and personal. It's fun and easy to get in on the betting action, and you don't have to bet much -- the minimum wager of HK$10 is enough.
The lowest admission price is HK$10, which is for the general Public Enclosure and is standing-room only. If you want to watch from the more exclusive Hong Kong Jockey Club (www.hkjc.com) members' enclosure (with benches so you can sit down), are at least 18 years old, and are a bona fide tourist, you can purchase a temporary member's badge for HK$100 on regular race days and HK$150 on rare special race days. Show your passport at either the Badge Enquiry Office at the main entrance to the members' private enclosure (at either track) or at designated off-course betting centers up to 10 days before the race, including those at 10-12 Stanley St. in Central and 2-4 Prat Ave. in Tsim Sha Tsui. Tickets are sold on a first-come, first-served basis. Note that shorts and flip-flops are not allowed in the members' enclosure.
To reach Happy Valley Racecourse, take the tram to Happy Valley or the MTR to Causeway Bay (take the Times Square exit and walk toward Wong Nai Chung Rd.). To reach Sha Tin Racecourse, take the MTR to the Sha Tin Racecourse Station.
You can also join a guided tour to the tracks. For information on current sporting events and future dates, contact the Hong Kong Tourism Board (tel. 852/2508 1234) or check its website at www.discoverhongkong.com.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.