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How to survive Hong Kong's wildest sporting event of the year

By Yuen Chong Lau, for CNN
updated 11:51 PM EDT, Wed March 26, 2014
The only large public area where Sevens revelers can drink alcohol, the legendary South Stand -- off limits to minors -- brings together Hong Kong Stadium's most passionate spectators. But it fills up quickly, so you'll need to arrive early if you want in on the fun. The only large public area where Sevens revelers can drink alcohol, the legendary South Stand -- off limits to minors -- brings together Hong Kong Stadium's most passionate spectators. But it fills up quickly, so you'll need to arrive early if you want in on the fun.
HIDE CAPTION
1. South Stand commitment mandatory
2. Serious fans go to East and West Stands
3. For costumes, (almost) anything goes
4. Walk to the stadium
5. Pace yourself
6. Avoid the food stalls
7. Ladies, bring binoculars
8. South Standers, stay waterproof
9. No ticket? No problem
10. Wan Chai has best after-party
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The three-day Hong Kong Sevens is the city's biggest sporting event of the year
  • The South Stand is for fans who like to party
  • Closed-toe shoes and waterproof outfits recommended in the South Stand
  • Indian Recreation Club is one of the hotspots for fans without a ticket

Editor's note: Got your own tips on how to survive the Hong Kong Sevens? Share your experiences in the comments section below.

(CNN) -- "It takes me three days to recover after the Sevens," says referee Robert Esser, who's called the plays at the famed Hong Kong rugby tournament for 12 years.

"If you find out how to survive it, let me know."

The annual Hong Kong Sevens is the city's largest sporting event, attracting thousands of costumed revelers from all over the world.

But making the most of the party atmosphere requires strategy and planning.

With the Sevens on March 28-30, experts and hardcore fans have shared tips on how they'll be getting through the three-day mega party.

Click to enlarge  Click to enlarge
Click to enlargeClick to enlarge

1. South Stand commitment mandatory

Ask not what the South Stand can do for you, but what you can do for the South Stand.

The only large public area where Sevens revelers can drink alcohol, the legendary South Stand brings together Hong Kong Stadium's most passionate spectators -- all dedicated to having an outrageously good time.

The pros advise arriving before 9 a.m. on the first two days, and as early as 7 a.m. for the Sunday finals.

The stand fills up quickly so you'll be stuck in a long line if you're late.

Costumes are the norm and controlled bladders are a must if you want to keep your spot in the South Stand.

Once you're in, be prepared to have things thrown your way, from rugby balls to jugs of beer and other nondescript fluids.

"Despite the boozy reputation, the South Stand remains remarkably fun and harmless, except for the liver," says one frequent fan.

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2. Serious rugby fans head for the East and West Stands

"Don't be afraid to go to the East and West Stands, because that's where everyone goes to watch the rugby," says 28-year-old rugby player Rowan Varty, who has taken part in the Sevens since he was born as both a spectator and a player.

"That's where you get the best view," adds his sister Lindsay Varty, 25, who plays on the Hong Kong women's rugby team.

"Our parents always sit at the bottom left side of the West Stand near the North Stand. Sometimes, they go higher up for a better view."

It seemed like a good idea at the time.
It seemed like a good idea at the time.

3. For costumes, (almost) anything goes

The pros advise against wearing heavy suits, big masks and hats that'll have you drenched in sweat and blocking other people's views.

"If you dress up as a polar bear in 20-something-degree weather, you're going to suffer," says rugby player Tsang Hing Hung, 29, who has watched and played at the Hong Kong Sevens for the last 15 years.

And let your ideas run wild.

"I'm pretty sure every year, there are going to be people dressed as crayons and ballerinas," says Rowan Varty.

"If you come up with something original, you stand a better chance of getting in the newspaper."

"The outfits often prove an irrelevant socio-cultural-political barometer -- think of patches of North Korean leaders, Vladimir Putins and Justin Biebers," adds another fan.

4. Walk to the stadium

Roads are blocked and taxis are scarce.

Once you arrive anywhere near Causeway Bay, start walking.

The nearest MTR subway station to the Hong Kong Stadium is Causeway Bay. Go to exit F, which takes you to a spot directly across from Forever 21.

From there, join the crowds and walk up Caroline Hill Road to get to Hong Kong Stadium.

It's about a 15-20 minute walk.

"As you get closer and closer to the stadium, you see all the people coming from everywhere dressed in their costumes, and it's quite a sight," says Rowan Varty.

"It's one of the things we look forward to when we take the team bus."

MORE: Best way to experience Hong Kong? Climb aboard one of its iconic trams

Big beers allow you to spend less time waiting in line and more time watching the action.
Big beers allow you to spend less time waiting in line and more time watching the action.

5. Pace yourself

Winnie Poon, a fan who has been to the Hong Kong Sevens five times, has her own sage advice for fans -- pace yourselves.

Go overboard too early in the day and you run the risk of passing out next to a toilet many others have thrown up in, she says.

Also worth bearing in mind -- it's a three-day event so you'll need to get up early the next morning to avoid spending the entire day in lines.

"A lot of people spend too much time queuing for beer," says Esser. "It's better to watch the games live than from a screen."

6. Avoid the food stalls

Have a large breakfast before entering the stadium and hopefully you'll last the day, says Lindsay Varty.

Matches only go on for 15 minutes and you could miss an entire game while waiting for a hot dog.

"Go out and eat," says referee Stephan Lehner, who is on his 11th year with the Sevens.

"The food in the stadium is all right, but it's a lot of fast food. There are plenty of decent places outside the stadium."

7. Ladies, bring binoculars

For some, watching athletic young men run around on a field is as much a spectacle as the game itself, if not more.

Zoom in, zoom out and spot this year's hottest rugby men with a bit of help.

"Those players look a lot closer with binoculars," says Amanda Wilson, a fan who has attended the Sevens for more than 20 years.

MORE: Seven reasons to love the Hong Kong Sevens

8. South Standers, stay waterproof

Expect a high chance of beer, cider, water and bodily fluid showers at the South Stand.

Bring an umbrella, waterproof clothes and leave your expensive camera behind.

It may rain, literally, but that's the least of your concerns.

"There are always really drunk people," says Lindsay Varty. "So watch out for flying jugs and cups. They're not always full of beer."

"Ladies, wear closed-toe shoes unless you don't mind all manner of liquid between your toes," advises marketing executive Stephanie Szeto, who is about to enjoy her sixth year at the Sevens.

No ticket? No problem. Hong Kong is full of Sevens viewing parties.
No ticket? No problem. Hong Kong is full of Sevens viewing parties.

9. You can still enjoy the Sevens outside the stadium

If you didn't score tickets, there's always the Sevens Village at the Indian Recreation Club directly opposite Hong Kong Stadium.

The party is just as lively and rugby fans watch the games broadcast live on a giant screen for free.

It has food stalls, a pub and vendors selling rugby memorabilia.

"There's also the HK Fan Zone at the New Central Harbourfront, where you can watch singers perform and the games broadcast live outdoors," says Tsang.

This year, De La Soul, jazz artist Allen Youngblood and local rock band Mr. will make appearances.

10. Wan Chai offers the best after-party

After the games, the fun continues in Hong Kong's Lan Kwai Fong, Soho and Wan Chai neighborhoods.

The real rugby fans and party crowd head to Wan Chai.

"Everybody's there and the streets are packed with people still in crazy costumes," says Lindsay Varty.

"It's a great photo opportunity and lots of fun."

MORE: The dirty-fun guide to Hong Kong's Wanchai bars

Hong Kong Sevens 2014, March 28-30, Hong Kong Stadium, 55 Hospital Road, So Kon Po, Hong Kong

Got your own tips on how to survive the Hong Kong Sevens? Share your experiences in the comments section below.

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