Although you cannot deny the fact that expensive is one the best words that describe when exploring Sydney. Renting a house during your visit or buying the basic supplies will be the least of your worries. What you need to prepare for and plan well will be how you will dine, where you will have some drinks, and which spots you want to visit.
You need to know where you have to go so you can stretch your budget and make most of the Sydney holiday.
If you are on a budget, don’t go for the well-known hotels and all the nice pictures that you may take in their suites. Go for a hostel which may charge between $30 to $80. You can book a room with YHA, a known Sydney hostel that boasts of a decent environment, friendly staff, and clean rooms.
Another good option is the 3-star Australian Heritage Hotel which has a great pub and decent rooms starting at around $70. Hotel 59 along Rushcutters Bay and Saint Marks Lodge charges $88 per night. Other cheap but nice accommodations include the St. John’s College and the Wesley College offering rooms at $65 per night.
You can also look for some hostels a few minutes from the CBD. These will be a lot cheaper. The good transportation system of the city means no problem for you commuting to the different places that you want to see.
Based on my personal experience, I would recommend walking as the best mode of exploring the CBD. You can take the 555 bus which goes around the area for free. It is not advisable to ride the water taxis or the monorail since where you can go to will be very limited.
If you are going beyond the possibilities of strolling, I suggest you take the train or bus. The taxi drivers in Sydney are really courteous but they also are not cheap.
Get those passes which will allow you to go on and off the bus, ferry or train for a whole day or even for a few days. This will save you a lot of money.
Aside from taking a picture with the Sydney Opera House in the background, there’s a ton of stuff you can do while in Sydney. Yes, even on a budget. You do not have to pay for a tour of the city and join other tourists. Browse the interwebs and download a walking tour to your IPod or mp3 player which you can listen to while walking around. Conquering the Harbour Bridge might set you back $200 so an alternative will be to go up the Pylon Lookout.
There are also a lot of art galleries if you are an art lover. Check out the Contemporary Art Museum, Art Gallery of New South Wales, and the Powerhouse Museum. When you explore the Rocks, you can check a number of galleries featuring aboriginal arts.
Dining and Entertainment in Sydney
With all the walking that we are suggesting here, a sandwich will not be enough when you go around Sydney. You need some good, satisfying meal. You can grab a bite without spending $20 for a burger and fries. Look for cafes which serve real treats for just around $6. There are a lot of nooks which serve good food and give you a discount if you order the food for take-out instead of dining in.
If you are around the Circular Quay, get those meat pies which are quite heavy for around $5. Just near the CBD, you can find Chinese, Indian, and other Asian restaurants which will please your palate and not hurt your pocket. The Chinatown in Sydney is home to almost 70 restaurants which can serve you a wide range of dishes that hit the spot. I personally go for the dimsum and yum cha at Marygold Citymark.
Visit Cheers along George Street in the CBD for their $10 fish and chips, burgers, or schnitzel every night. Vegetarians will find the Big Bite Sydney as their paradise in the Sydney with a gigantic sanga for only $9. Plan B serves soups, sandwiches, and Wagyu burger for around $10. The Flying Fajita Sistas can give you some Mexican treats like sot tacos for $3 every Tuesday which comes with a shot of tequila.
If you are planning to have some cocktails or a round of beer, get to the bars or pubs before 7pm or their usual happy hour. You can get a glass of wine for $4 from bars along the Darling Harbour. The Sanctuary Hotel and the Mars Lounge serve cocktails for $4 to $10.
Experiencing a show at the Opera House will set you back around $35. You can watch the Conductor Series presented by the Conservatorium of Music for just around $20. Of course there are free shows along the Darling Harbour which is best enjoyed while enjoying the breeze and a bottle of beer. In case you want to watch a film while in Sydney, go on Tuesdays when tickets are on a discount by 50%.
Considering that you are on a budget, it will be wise not to be tempted to visit signature shops like Gucci and Burberry. Instead go to the Paddy’s Market at Darling Harbor where for very low prices, you can shop for souvenirs, clothes, and a ton of other items. You should also checkout Hot Dollar if you pass by the Westfield Mall and Birkenhead Point at Drummoyne.
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