The Sydney Opera House is one of those sights everyone recognises but many haven’t actually seen in real life. Singaporean tourists in Australia often forgo a trip to Sydney in favour of the theme parks on the Gold Coast or the cafes in Melbourne.
Sydney may be less hipster (sorry cafe hoppers), but it has its fair share of awesome beaches, atmospheric markets, museums and more than its fair share of iconic sights. Here’s how to do it on a budget:
Before the rise of budget airlines (if you’re old enough to remember), a flight to Sydney usually cost at least 1,000 SGD. Now, many budget airlines like Air Asia fly to Sydney.
If you watch prices on Kayak or Zuji, you are usually able to snag tickets for about 500 SGD to 600 SGD. Just avoid the school holidays and the periods during which the thousands of Singaporean students in Australia fly back and forth in July, December and January.
Cost: Approx. 550 SGD
Getting from the airport to the city costs 17 AUD/SGD by train, while a taxi costs about 19 AUD/SGD (to Central) and 35 AUD/SGD (to Circular Quay). So long as you’re not travelling alone, you should probably just share a cab.
There’s also a much cheaper way to get to the city if you’re able to handle a 1.5 km walk with your luggage. Just walk to the closest train station and then ride to Central Station, which costs only 3.60 AUD/SGD. Alternatively, hop on a bus headed to the city for 2.20 AUD/SGD to 3.60 AUD/SGD. If you’re there with nothing but a backpack, this is an easy way to save a bit of cash.
Sydney has a decent backpackers’ infrastructure, with lower budget and higher end options available for travellers who don’t mind roughing it out and those who are more squeamish. But these don’t come cheap at about 30 AUD/SGD for a hostel bed and, to make matters worse, you can never assume that the wifi will be free.
If you’re travelling in a party of at least two, the most cost-effective way to keep yourselves off the streets is to jump on the sharing economy bandwagon and check into a property on Airbnb or similar. You’ll be paying slightly more but won’t have to endure the grossness of shared toilets or copulating bunkmates.
We like this 109 AUD/SGD room in a centrally-located condo that comes complete with swimming pool, jacuzzi and amazing view of Sydney Harbour from the rooftop. If you don’t mind paying more, we like this luxury studio on Bridge Street smack in the middle of the CBD, going for 167 AUD/SGD. You can also rent this entire apartment for 113 AUD/SGD in the inner city suburb of Paddington.
Cost: 60 AUD/SGD per night / 360 SGD for a week
Sydney isn’t as compact as Melbourne, and getting around is a little less straightforward and a little more expensive. If you’re staying for more than few days, buying a rechargeable Opal card makes sense, although you should note that you’re forced to top up the card in multiples of 10 AUD/SGD, so monitor the value close to the end of your trip.
A MyMulti day pass costs 22 AUD for adults and 11 AUD for kids, and gives you unlimited rides for a day. We say it’s pretty unlikely you’ll be able to get your money’s worth with this pass, unless you’re trying to squeeze every single attraction known to man into a single day.
There’s also a weekly MyMulti pass. If you get one for only the city centre, it costs you 44 AUD.
For travel around the city centre, check out the CBD free shuttle bus 555, which makes a pretty straightforward, non-confusing loop around the city.
Now all this can get a bit confusing, so you’ll want to consult this very useful journey planner to learn how to get to all the places you’re interested in. Download the TripGo mobile app as well—it will save you from a lot of frustration.
Cost: 60 AUD/SGD for a week
Sydney is famous mainly for its harbour, opera house and beaches, and these are thankfully free to visit/look at. On the other hand, if you’ve got kids to entertain and want to visit the zoo or theme park, be prepared to pay, as these prices can rival even Singapore’s. Never buy a ticket for a tourist attraction without first checking if you can book online, as that could shave a few dollars off the price.
- Sydney Opera House – free
- Sydney Harbour / Darling Harbour – Free
- Bondi Beach / Manly Beach – Free
- Taronga Zoo – 46 AUD/SGD or 41.40 AUD/SGD if you buy online / 26 AUD/SGD for kids aged 4-15 or 23.40 AUD/SGD if you buy online
- Luna Park – day pass 52 AUD/SGD or 48 AUD/SGD if you buy online / Lunacy Pass for entry after 6pm 52 AUD/SGD for two adults / Mini Money Mondays (only during school term) 40 AUD/SGD
Cost: 100 AUD/SGD for a week
So you’ve decided to skip the expensive theme parks? Good. Then you can spend a bit of money on what really counts here—food. Sydney is home to quality food from all over the world and lots of fashionable mid-range to high-end restaurants, but what options are there for budget travellers?
In Sydney, smaller “ethnic” eateries usually cost less—think of Thai, Malaysian, Vietnamese and Indonesian restaurants, where you can usually sit down to a full meal for about 10 to 15 AUD/SGD. Pubs also serve basic food like steak and fries at fairly low prices. For mid-range restaurants, expect to pay between 20 and 35 AUD/SGD.
As an added note, if your accommodation allows you the use of the kitchen, you might want to save a bit of money by preparing a meal or two there. Late risers will appreciate the ability to have a bowl of cereal or an omelette at “home” instead of being forced by your stomach to get out of the apartment early in the morning.
Cost: 30 AUD/SGD per day / 210 SGD for a week
Total cost of a week-long trip to Sydney: $1,280
Given the fact that the AUD and the SGD are almost on par, now is definitely a good time to head Down Under! Just make sure you’re well covered by a good travel insurance plan, and that will ensure that trip truly remains as affordable as it should be.
Are you planning a trip to Sydney? Tell us about your plans in the comments!
Dennis Goedegebuure, hopeless128, Andrea Anastasakis, Corey Leopold