If there were a definitive list of Singaporeans’ favourite cities, Melbourne would definitely be within the top three. In fact, these days you see more Singaporeans on the streets of Melbourne than you do at Boat Quay.
With more hipster cafes than Singaporeans can handle, great food and stunning natural landscapes just a short-ish drive away, Melbourne offers a great way to escape our terrible weather without having to travel halfway around the globe.
While nobody in their right mind would call Melbourne a budget destination, a spectacularly low Australian dollar means the time to go is now. We break down the cost of a week-long trip for you.
Now that budget airlines have muscled in on the Singapore-Melbourne route, flights have gotten a lot cheaper. Gone are the days when you would have to shell out almost a grand to take a Qantas or Singapore Airlines flight.
However, flights to Melbourne tend to be in huge demand because of the zillions of university students at Melbourne Uni, Monash and RMIT. This means trying to find a last minute flight before and after the uni semesters (July, Dec to Jan) can cause prices to get as crazy as 1,400 SGD.
On the other hand, at most other times of year or if you book 3 months in advance, you should be able to get flights for around 600 SGD to 800 SGD. Of the non-budget airlines, Emirates, Qantas and Malaysia Airlines tend to offer the best deals.
Cost: 700 SGD
Budget accommodation like hostels aren’t as cheap in Melbourne as they are in many other developed countries, and you might be made to pay exorbitant prices for wifi.
In general, a dorm bed in the city centre will cost you around 30 SGD, while private rooms at hostels will set you back around 35 SGD to 60 SGD and make sense if you’re travelling with a companion.
On the other hand, if you’re travelling with someone you can consider accommodation on Airbnb as well. While there are tons of beautiful rooms located in the suburbs, as a visitor it’s best that you stick to either the city centre or a district on the fringes of the CBD such as Fitzroy, Carlton, Collingwood, Richmond or Prahran. Most rooms in central areas that sleep two will set you back about 100 to 200 SGD, while in the inner city suburbs you might be able to get a room for 60 SGD to 100 SGD.
If you’re travelling alone on a budget, a hostel is probably going to be your best bet. With a travel companion, if you’re willing to increase your per-person cost per night to 50 or 60 SGD, you should be able to find fairly luxurious accommodation in the city on Airbnb. Be sure to book in advance, though, as the cheaper rooms are quite few and far between.
Cost: 50 SGD per night / 250 SGD for one week
Most visitors get around the Melbourne city centre and inner city suburbs by taking the iconic trams. Admittedly, they aren’t exactly the fastest or most frequent, but hey, if we wanted to run around like headless chickens we’d have stayed in Singapore.
There are also buses, but few visitors use them as the routes can be confusing and the trams already cover most of the main areas of interest.
If you want tap-on, tap-off convenience, get a myki card (costs 6 AUD or 6.70 SGD) at 7-11, which is their version of Ez-Link. A 2 hour ride costs 3.58 AUD (4 SGD) in Zone 1 (the central area).
Since single rides aren’t cheap, it makes sense to get a day pass, which costs 7.16 AUD (8 SGD) on weekdays and 6 AUD (6.70 SGD) on weekends and public holidays.
If you’re travelling within the city centre, there is also a free tram that plies the Circle Line. It basically just goes round and round in circles but is useful if you want to get from one end of the CBD to the other, or go to Docklands.
The cheapest way to get to and from the airport is by taking the Starbus. A return ticket costs 30 AUD (33 SGD) to 34 AUD (38 SGD), depending on where your accommodation is located. Call 24 hours before you arrive to book and ask if they can drop you off directly at your accommodation. This beats the more popular SkyBus, which is the same price but deposits you at Southern Cross Station and only provides transfers to selected hotels.
Cost: 30 AUD (return airport transfer) + 7.16 AUD (day tickets on weekdays) x 5 + 6 AUD (day tickets on weekends) x 2 = 83.75 AUD (93 SGD)
Sightseeing in Melbourne can be divided into two categories. The first includes visiting the various inner city suburbs, such as Fitzroy for its bohemian vibe, Prahran for shopping and Richmond for Vietnamese cuisine. This costs nothing but the price of a tram ride.
In the second category, there are several day trips you can make to outlying areas, the most famous of which are the Great Ocean Road, Phillip Island and the Grampians. Lunch is usually included.
A day tour will usually set you back about 100 AUD, but make a trip down to Half Tix located at the Melbourne Town Hall on Swanston Street and you can get most of the main tours at half price.
If you take two day trips during your week in Melbourne, it should cost you about 100 AUD.
Cost: 100 AUD (111 SGD) to keep yourself occupied for a week
If you’re truly on a budget, you’re probably going to want to cook at least some of your meals at your accommodation if there’s a shared kitchen, because food in Melbourne doesn’t come cheap.
However, you’re going to have a hard time abstaining, as Melbourne is a foodie’s paradise. Whether you’re into sushi or steak, pancakes or pho, there’s something for everyone.
A sit-down meal at a cheap eatery (think fried rice or a sandwich) generally costs about 10 AUD (11 SGD), while mid-range restaurants will set you back about 20 AUD (22 SGD).
However, if you’ll be staying in the CBD or North Melbourne, we highly recommend having breakfast or lunch at the legendary Queen Victoria Market, where you can stuff yourself with jam doughnuts, fresh oysters and hotdogs for a few dollars each.
Cost: 30 AUD (33 SGD) per day / 210 AUD (234 SGD) for a week
Total cost of a week-long holiday in Melbourne: 1,388 SGD
We’ve tried to be a little more generous in our calculations, factoring in the cost of two day trips and the cost of eating out every day. If you stay in a hostel dorm or cook some of your meals in the kitchen of your apartment or hostel, you can save quite a bit more.
And let’s face it, there are so many Singaporeans in Melbourne that half of you are just going to get free accommodation by freeloading off your friends anyway.
If you are looking to get away, make sure you’re able to travel with peace of mind with a good travel insurance plan. You can check out all the best plans available on MoneySmart’s new Travel Insurance Comparison Page now!