Two weeks ago, City Pass team and I went to Vung Tau to check the latest and greatest to see whether the destination still deserves a visit. We arrived on Saturday night and that means the greyhound races are the place to be. The races are very popular with tourists, expats and locals as it is the only activity in Vietnam where people can actually bet money. The first race starts at 7:15pm with a total of 12 races with 8 dogs competing in each race.
The selected greyhounds belong to a tall and large hunting dog breed from Ireland. A mature greyhound that weighs 22-30kg is imported at a price of nearly US$2,000. When the greyhound is four-month old and weighs 3-14kg, a five month training regimen is introduced to get them in shape for the races. A mature greyhound weighs 22-30kg and can have a racing career that lasts at least 4 years.
Dog Racing Stadium
The Greyhound Racing Track – Lam Son Stadium at 15 Le Loi Street can hold up to 5000 spectators (including 500 VIP seats). Races take place there every Saturday from 7 PM until 10:30 PM. There are many monitors spread throughout the stadium that give you the current tote odds on WIN, EXACTA and TRIFECTA betting. These monitors also televise the races. Each circuit is 450m long and involves eight dogs that run at a speed of nearly 60km/hour or about 30 seconds per lap on average.
Win – Runner must finish first
Exacta – The bettor must correctly pick the two runners which finish first and second
Trifecta – The bettor must correctly pick the three runners which finish first, second, and third
Spending most of the time on moving back and forth, we found that there are 3 types of spectators which makes for quite a different experience depending on where you watch the races.
The serious gambler is the first type of visitor. They are usually Vung Tau locals or HCMC visitors who are well-dressed. Quite a diverse crowd, there is one thing they have in common: they are very serious about betting money on the races. You can see these types of gamblers in the VIP area surrounded by waiters, waitress and more importantly brokers. These gamblers are constantly receiving tips from brokers and always try to get the inside scoop to beat the odds. However, for most spectators, it is almost impossible to find the excitement and enjoyment of the races in these too serious surroundings.
To experience the true excitement of the races, one must plant themselves in front of the fence next to the track. This is where you will find most of the spectators. They usually bet a small amount of money and are there for the experience and exhilaration of the races. “The purpose of this fun activity is to bring a happy night-out to visitors. With a bit of luck, you can win back your entrance fee. With a bit more, you can end up a day in a local bar.” said by Mr. John – a visitor from USA.
In the middle of the stands, you will find couples, groups of friends, families gathered together. Betting even more infrequently than the previous type of visitor, they are more concerned with spending time together than watching the races. These groups will occasionally cheer after a race finishes but they are usually there to soak up the friendly atmosphere good friends and close family bring to the racetrack.
The complete guide
City Pass is happy to share our fantastic experience with visitors on the activities to do in Vung Tau.
As soon as you arrive at the gate, go to the ticket booth and pay VND60,000 for a regular ticket. When you are inside, head to the betting areas to receive the tote odds. If you have any questions, feel free to ask any of the English-speaking staff in and around the betting area. The minimum bet is VND10.000/race and there is no limit to what you can bet on a race. There are total of 12 races and there is a 15 minute break between each race. Plenty of time for you to check out the greyhounds, make that last-minute bet or just grab a beer at one of the many stands dotted around the track.
By the end of the races, the City Pass team did win some money, and we enjoyed the winnings with a few drinks at the Surf Club, a favorite in Vung Tau.