A Rugby Fan’s Definitive Travel Guide to Hong Kong

Hong Kong Rugby Sevens is the biggest sporting event of the year on Hong Kong’s sports calendar, attracting thousands of rugby players and fans from around the world. It is also considered to be the premier tournament in the 12-stop World Rugby Sevens Series.

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March Past and Village People event as part of the Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens at the Hong Kong Stadium on 28 March 2015 in Hong Kong. Photo Credit: Manu Bruque / Power Sport Images

Discover Hong Kong!

The Hong Kong Sevens is a three-day event held each spring in late March or early April.  It will take place in 2018 on Friday 6, Saturday 7, and Sunday 8 April.

Rugby players, officials, and fans start arriving as much as a week before the event so Hong Kong’s numerous party districts tend to be more crowded and festive than usual in the runup to and during rugby weekend.

A two-day women’s tournament precedes the Rugby Sevens, and children aged six to 12 years old  play tournaments before the main matches each day.

The kids also take part in the March Past immediately before the semi-final round of the main tournament.

A Kick Off Concert starring UB40, an eight-piece reggae band, will be held from 8 pm to 11 pm at The Queen Elizabeth Stadium in Wanchai on Hong Kong Island on Thursday 5 April 2018. The stadium is an air-conditioned indoor venue.

Events are held at a festival near the stadium and in other parts of Hong Kong for those that cannot attend the tournament in person.

World Rugby Seven 101

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Action on the pitch at Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens 2017. Photo Credit: Hong Kong Rugby Union.
Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens 2017
Action on the pitch at Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens 2017. Photo Credit: Hong Kong Rugby Union.
Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens 2017
Action on the pitch at Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens 2017. Photo Credit: Hong Kong Rugby Union.
Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens 2017
Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens 2017. Photo Credit: Hong Kong Rugby Union.
Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens 2017
Action on the pitch at Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens 2017. Photo Credit: Hong Kong Rugby Union.

The World Rugby Sevens is an annual series of international rugby tournaments, which are held in a total of 12 cities around the world.

Hong Kong is the seventh stop in the series, and most rugby players and fans maintain that the tournament in Hong Kong is the high point on the schedule.

The World Rugby Sevens kicks off in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates in November.

From the UAE, the sevens moves on to Cape Town, South Africa; Sydney, Australia; Hamilton, New Zealand; and Las Vegas, Nevada, in the United States, before arriving in Hong Kong.

Following Hong Kong, the World Rugby Sevens moves on to Fukuoka, Japan; Singapore; Victoria, British Columbia, in Canada; London, England, in the United Kingston; and Paris, France.

The World Rugby Sevens is contested by 28 national rugby teams, which accumulate points based on where they finish at the end of each tournament.

Teams are divided into four pools and compete in in a round-robin fashion, with players on each side competing for seven minutes each half. The fast-paced nature of play accounts for much of Rugby Sevens’ appeal.

Party Atmosphere

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A fan dressed in a Wonder Woman costume having a good time at Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens 2017. Photo Credit: Hong Kong Rugby Union.
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Fans in costumes having a good time at Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens 2017. Photo Credit: Hong Kong Rugby Union.
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Fans in costumes having a good time at Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens 2017. Photo Credit: Hong Kong Rugby Union.
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Fans in costumes having a good time at Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens 2017. Photo Credit: Hong Kong Rugby Union.
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Fans in costumes having a good time at Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens 2017. Photo Credit: Hong Kong Rugby Union.

The Hong Kong Rugby Sevens is as much about having fun as it is about watching rugby.

Many fans come to the stadium dressed in costumes, creating a party-like atmosphere in the stands.

Fans dance and drink throughout the day. Sometimes they do the wave. Inevitably, somebody streaks across the field – to the amusement of the crowd and the annoyance of organizers.

Hong Kong Rugby Sevens Festival

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Concert at Hong Kong Sevens Central at Chater Garden in Central on Hong Kong Island on 8 April 2017. Photo Credit: Ike Li / ikeimages.
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Hong Kong Sevens Central kick off celebration at Chater Garden in Central on Hong Kong Island on 3 April 2017. Photo Credit: Ike Li / ikeimages.
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Hong Kong Sevens Central kick off celebration at Chater Garden in Central on Hong Kong Island on 3 April 2017. Photo Credit:  Ike Li / ikeimages.
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Community fundraising activities at Chater Garden in Central on Hong Kong Island on 4 April 2017. Photo Credit: Ike Li / ikeimages.
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Concert at Chater Garden in Central on Hong Kong on 8 April 2017. Photo credit: Ike Li / ikeimages.

A 16 day festival will be held outside Hong Kong Stadium at Lee Gardens on Hysan Avenue in Causeway Bay in 2018.

Entry is free, but some events require pre-registration. Highlights include …

  • Sevens Fanwalk – live streaming of the event, street performances, food, and beverage, from Lee Gardens along Hysan Avenue and Yun Ping Road in Causeway Bay6, free entry, 6 to 8 April.
  • Wolfpack Ninja Championship – boys and girls aged six to 16 can compete on a ninja obstacle course for the chance to be crowned Wolfpack Ninja Champion, at the taxi rank outside Lee Gardens One, 33 Hysan Avenue, Causeway Bay, 6 to 8 April..
  • E-Sports – the fourth floor of Sky Garden at Hysan Place at 500 Hennsessy Road in Causeway Bay will be transformed into a state-of-the-art e-sports venue, with NBA2k18, FIFA18, VR Baseball, VR Boxing, and DJI Drone Simulator Game, pre-registration required, 3 to 6 April.
  • Sevens Clubhouse – live screening of the Rugby Sevens on a big screen television and  live acoustic music with four Carlsberg beers or two glasses of Sacred Hills wines for HK$100 at Seasons French Restaurant, 3rd floor, Lee Gardens Two, 28 Yun Ping Road in Causeway Bay, 6 to 8 April.
  • Eggssentgially Art – junior rugby clinics, international team visits, cultural performances, and an Egglette and Milk Tea Festival, 30 March to 2 April.
  • Streetmaze Hunt – street art will pop up all around Lee Gardens, download the game on the HK7s app and collect the QR codes to win prizes.

Most sports bars throughout Hong Kong will broadcast the tournament on large screen televisions.

The parties will continue near the stadium and in other parts of Hong Kong after the end of play each evening.

Drinking in Hong Kong

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Room One is the sports bar in the lobby of The Mira, a trendy hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon. Photo Credit: Miramar Group.

Hong Kong is a party town if ever there was one, and partying is an integral part of the Hong Kong Rugby Sevens.

You will find everything from lobby lounges in five-star hotels such as Room One in The Mira to high-end wine bars to run-down dives scattered all across town – Hong Kong Island, the Kowloon Peninsula, and the New Territories.

There are two things that set Hong Kong apart from many other cities. First, unlike neighboring towns such as Bangkok and Singapore, there are no laws restricting when alcohol can be served or sold.

Clubs are therefore allowed to stay open as long as they have patrons willing to pay (and bartenders willing to tend bar), which means some establishments remain open until it’s time to hit the tea houses for dim sum.

There are also no laws against drinking in the streets in Hong Kong. While bar owners complain about unfair competition, mini-marts such as 7-Eleven freely sell alcoholic beverages to customers, who drink on the sidewalks and in the streets.

Where to Party in Hong Kong

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Nondescript by day, Lan Kwai Fong morphs into Hong Kong’s premier party district after dark. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

While you will find watering holes throughout Hong Kong, the following districts are among the most popular …

  • Lan Kwai Fong – considered to be Hong Kong’s number one party district, Lam Kwai Fong has dozens of food and beverage outlets crammed into an incredibly small warren of streets and alleys. California Tower – a sort of vertical bar street – houses some of the toniest watering hotels in town.
  • SoHo – contrary to what you might think, SoHo has no relationship or resemblance to its eponymous counterparts in London and New York. It actually means “South of Hollywood Road”, which has traditionally been home to antique shops and art galleries. The district started out as a spillover from Lan Kwai Fong, but it has taken on a distinct personality of its own.
  • Wanchai – “The Wonderful World of Suzie Wong” was set in Wanchai, which was Hong Kong’s original red light district. The Wanch is a bit seedier than Lan Kwai Fong or SoHo, but it has an undeniable vibe. Just be careful about that lovely lady who asks you to buy her drinks in a poorly lit bar. There have been stories of patrons running up astronomical bar tabs at some of the sleazier joints.
  • Knutsford Terrace – Tsim Sha Tsui in Kowloon is chock-a-block with food and beverage outlets, but the highest concentration with live and recorded music is located along an alley at the top of a staircase near The Mira, one of Hong Kong’s trendiest hotels.
  • East Tsim Sha Tsui – several food and beverage outlets line a strip along Salisbury Road, with varied menus, live or recorded music, and views of Victoria Harbour.

Mini-marts are ubiquitous in Hong Kong, and they are open around the clock, so you will never go thirsty. Think 24/7!

Many mini-marts are situated in the heart of Hong Kong’s most popular entertainment districts, catering to cheapskates not wanting to pay cover charges or the high price for drinks at expensive watering holes.

It’s not uncommon for them to gather in front of the high-priced clubs, grooving to the beat of the music emanating from within.

Hong Kong Weather

The Hong Kong Rugby Sevens is scheduled in late March or early April, and this is one of the best times of the year to visit Hong Kong.

The weather tends to be warm and sunny with low humidity levels (by Hong Kong standards, at least).

Lows average 20 degrees Centigrade (68 degrees Fahrenheit). Highs average 25 degrees Centigrade (77 degrees Fahrenheit).

Like anywhere else, however, there are no guarantees. Sudden cold snaps or heat waves are also possible this time of year, so dress in layers.

There is also a small chance of rain, but it’s much less likely now than in late spring or Hong Kong’s long hot summer.

Keep in mind that air-conditioning is ubiquitous in Hong Kong, and indoor temperatures can be quite chilly – especially on trains and buses. So sweaters or pullovers are often needed even on the hottest days.

Arrival in Hong Kong

Unless you are arriving from China or Macau – or by ocean liner – chances are you will be traveling to Hong Kong by air.

Hong Kong International Airport is one of the world’s busiest, largest, and most efficient airports, and there are several options for getting from the airport to your hotel.

Click HERE for arrival information as well as transport options from Hong Kong International Airport to your hotel.

Getting Around Hong Kong

Hong Kong has an efficient and inexpensive transport system, and the cheapest – and most fun – way of getting around Hong Kong Island is by tram.

Happily, the tram line runs right through Causeway Bay, and trams stop just a short walk from Hong Kong Stadium.

In addition to trams are  several bus companies, two types of public light buses (usually called minibuses), ferries, and the Peak Tram, a funicular railway that is a must for every first-time visitor to Hong Kong.

There is a also a mass transit Railway, which is usually called by its acronym, the MTR. For first time visitors, the MTR is the most convenient ways of getting around for longer trips.

First of all, most of the hotels you are likely to stay at are located near MTR stations. Secondly, so are most of the places you are likely to visit.

Finally, there are maps and information booths that will help you find your way. At some of the busier stations, staff hover near maps to offer help to passengers.

Click HERE for information on  getting around Hong Kong.

Hong Kong Stadium

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Action on the pitch at Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens 2017. Photo Credit: Hong Kong Rugby Union.

The Hong Kong leg of the World Rugby Sevens is held at Hong Kong Stadium, Hong Kong’s largest sports venue (if you don’t include horse racing).

Opened in 1953, it was enlarged in 1994 and seats a modest 40,000 spectators. It is the largest multi-purpose sports facility in Hong Kong.

The stadium is located in Causeway Bay, an important shopping and entertainment district. It is surrounded by towering residential blocks.

Where

Hong Kong Stadium – 55 Eastern Hospital Road, So Kon Po, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong.

The stadium is a 15-minute walk along Caroline Hill Road from Exit F of the Causeway Bay MTR Station on the Island Line.

The following bus lines make stops near the stadium:

  • Citybus : No. 5B Kennedy Town – Causeway Bay
  • KMB : No. 678 Sheung Shui Bus Terminus – Causeway Bay
  • KMB No. 936 Lei Muk Shue – Causeway Bay (Cotton Path)

A Word to the Wise

When it comes to tickets, supply doesn’t meet demand. As a result, scalping is a problem during the Hong Kong Rugby Sevens, and every year, it seems, there are stories of fans that have purchased bogus tickets.

Chances are you won’t get cheated, but if you do, you will have no recourse.

Make sure only to purchase tickets only from authorized sellers – or attend many of the other Hong Kong Rugby Sevens events that will take place all over town.

 

 

 

 

 

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