DIY Trips: Twelve Days In Sydney, Spots and Expenses

I think everyone would be eager to know how much one spends whenever he or she travels. I went to Sydney for twelve days and majority of my friends have asked me, “how much my Sydney trip cost“.

Just a quick background, the main reason why I went to Australia last July is to attend one of the biggest Christian Conferences in history – Hillsong Conference. It has been an item on my bucket list for quite some time. I wasn’t really expecting to attend this year’s conference knowing all the things I have to do and acquire so I can “attend”. But since I was able to score super low return tickets, I gave it a shot.

To know more about my conference experience check, DAY 3,4,5,6,7… Hillsong Conference!

Let’s volt in…

✈️ How to get there

Frankly speaking, Australia is not a cheap place to go to. Fares could go up to 800USD (around 40,000PHP or more). I was lucky to score my return ticket to the Land Down Under for approximately 12,000PHP (around 240USD) only. It was just one random afternoon when a friend dropped me a message to check airfares to Sydney and boom! There it was!

There are a lot of options on how to go to Sydney. There are budget and high-end airlines. You just have to decide which airline you’d prefer. For those who want to save more, watch out for seat sales.

Cebu Pacific has launched lots of new destinations for the past months. Sydney is one of their long haul destinations.

After booking my return ticket, my next hurdle was getting the Australian Visa. Read How To Apply for an Australian Visitor Visa to know about my experience.


🚊 Going around

Whether you take the public transportation or grab a cab, transportation in Sydney is not cheap. But commuting is always better than riding cabs or any TNVS during regular days  especially when you’re traveling solo.

I purchased an Opal card which can be used on almost all public transport (bus, rail, light rail, ferry) in NSW particularly in Sydney and some neighboring areas. It’s a smart card you tap on and off whenever you ride any transport service.

You can purchase an Opal card in most train stations. Note that not all stations sell Opal cards, especially the small ones.

If you’re renting a place via Airbnb, some hosts actually lend Opal cards for free. You just have to reload the card so you can use it. I decided to buy one so I can keep it as a souvenir.


👀 Must-See

Sydney Opera House (Free Admission)

There’s a cliche saying that goes “you’ve never been to ___________ when you don’t have a photo with/of the ____________.”

You’ve never been to (Sydney) Australia without a photo of the Opera House! It’s a touristy thing to do but most people still pose for that cliche photo with the Opera House as their background.

Stalker alert! I admit I’ve checked posts made by my friends and acquaintances who have been to Sydney and I’ve realized a pattern just by seeing all their photos. They’re not even related to each other but all of their photos looked exactly the same! So I challenged myself not to take a similar photo (or angle) with those I’ve seen.

I first saw the Opera House at night while I was on my way to meet some of my friends in Melton’s Point Station. I was commuiting solo on my first night in Sydney! With all the platforms in Central Station, I figured out which train to ride heading to Melton’s Point. I sat near the window and there I had my first view of the Opera House.

On my second day in Sydney, my friend, Jen, brought me to the Opera House after our mini-hike at the beach (Cogee-Bondi). We rode a bus from Bondi Beach to Clarke Quay.

And….voila!

Sydney Opera House
It’s not the typical Opera House photo, I guess. It was really hard to take a good shot with all the tourists around.

 

The Rocks (Free Admission)

It’s right across the Opera House. Some people would say the best spot to take a photo of the Opera House is by Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair Viewpoint. But if you’re feeling a little lazy or if you’re in a hurry, The Rocks would be a perfect spot to take your Opera House photo too.

The first time I went there, a cruise ship had docked covering the view and taking a good angle of the Opera House was impossible.

During my last night in Sydney, we were able to pass by The Rocks again and the timing was just perfect!

FullSizeRender 50

Look at that! It’s not bright and sunny but it sure is dramatic.


 

Coogee Beach and Bondi Beach (Free Admission)

After having a quick run to Grounds of Alexandria, my friends picked me up at my (Airbnb) place and decided to have brunch by the beach. I told them I wanted to go to Bondi but they brought me to Coogee instead.

It was my first time to go to the beach wearing a coat.

IMG_4847.JPG

After a few minutes, we decided to transfer to Bondi, yay! There is a trail from Coogee to Bondi. It would take a 2-3 hour walk to reach Bondi from Coogee. The classic Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk is one of Sydney’s postcard experiences. The walk hugs the six-kilometer coastline from Coogee to Clovelly, Bronte, Tamarama, and Bondi.

We were lazy so we decided to drive down to Bondi instead. We strolled down the beach, amazed by all the murals and the people who were wearing bikinis and trunks with the temperature of 11 degrees or less. I can’t actually imagine how they’re able to stand the cold breeze.

Minions
My Minions having the best time by the beach.

 

Taronga Zoo 

A zoo in the city, that is Taronga. It’s just a 15-minute ferry ride from Clarke Quay harbour. It’s a non-profit organization which supports wildlife conservation. The zoo is open from 9 AM to 4:30 PM on May to August, and 9:30 AM to 5:00 PM on September to April.

Enjoy watching different animals with Sydney’s skyscraper as your background!

Gate tickets cost 26 AUD for kids and 46 AUD for adults. You can book tickets online for a cheaper price.


 

Fish Market

It’s a large marketplace featuring shops for seafood, deli items, wine, and baked goods. You can choose from a wide selection of restaurants or retailers. All you have to do is pick the seafood of your choice, have it cooked, and enjoy the sumptuous dishes by the wharf.

The retailers are open from 7 AM to 4  or 5 PM everyday while restaurant services are open until 11 PM.

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As for the prices, meals prices vary depending on how it will be cooked and how many kilograms. Half a lobster would cost 30 AUD and a huge platter of fish and chips for 25 or more.


 

Grounds of Alexandria

A perfect Pinterest-like place, Grounds of Alexandria is just a walking distance from our Airbnb. We can easily do brunch or lunch with a few steps.

It’s an interesting place really. They offer homestyle food and specialty coffee in a former pie factory with brick walls and an organic garden. There are also mini stalls all over the place. A stall for hot doughnuts filled with chocolate and strawberry jam is just around the corner while another stall for fresh juice and lemonades is right across.

Aside from the cafe, there’s the potting shed, the roastery, the garden, bakery and patisserie.

Others

There are a lot of places you can actually go to. It really depends on your interests and preference. As for my case, I had to depend on what the majority preferred since I visited most places with some of my churchmates.

Here’s a list of other places you should consider checking out (too):

  • Hyde Park and St. Mary’s Cathedral

They’re right next to each other. You can easily ride a train and stop at St. James railway station. Once you exit the station, turn left and you’ll find the park and the cathedral just beside the station.

  • Blue Mountain

It is known for its dramatic scenery and obviously the name itself ‘blue’ mountain. Aside from nature at its finest, they also offer different recreational activities. It’s a two-hour train ride from Sydney proper.

  • Manly Beach

Aside from the famous Bondi, Manly Beach is also known by locals and tourists alike. It is situated among the Northern beaches. You can either take a bus or ride a ferry to get there. You can also incorporate visiting Manly Beach when you visit Taronga Zoo since they’re just near each other.

  • Wollongong

Australians are fond of parks and picnics, basically anything which encourages family time or bonding. Wollongong is a nice place to do your holiday or weekend picnic. It’s like Manly Beach but with a lesser crowd. It’s a 90-minute train ride from Central station.

  • Featherdale Wildlife Park

This is farther than the most known city zoo, Taronga. But if you prefer uncaged animals, this place is perfect for you. What keeps this zoo unique is its interactiveness. You can feed the animals roaming around the fields, pet them or hug them.

  • Hunter Valley

Perfect for wine lovers! Hunter Valley is a two-hour drive from Sydney, a perfect escape from the metro life. Hunter Valley offers exceptional wine and gourmet food. You can explore and discover acclaimed wineries, vineyards, and cellar doors. It’s easily accessible but booking a tour is more convenient.

  • Shopping Places

Among the must-visit shopping places in Sydney are shops in Queen Victoria Building, Pitt Street, DFO Homebush, Birkenhead, and Burwood. You can also score cheap souvenirs at Paddy’s Market. When you shop in Australia, you should always take note that shops, malls, and other establishments close really early, starting from 3 PM to 5 PM. So if you plan to shop, start your day a bit early.


🏠 Lodging

If you must know, I did not travel to Sydney solo. I was with a group from a local church here in Cebu, Citichurch. At first we were looking for a place which could house nine people.  But it was a challenge to coordinate with everyone so we ended up creating smaller groups.

Citichurch represent!

One of the things I heard about Australia is the crazy price for hotels. Thank heavens for Airbnb!

We looked for a place good for four people. But since we were a bit late in searching for a place to say, almost all the apartments and houses near the conference area were reserved and full.

We found an apartment in Alexandria. The place is so clean. It was a bit small but very decent. I don’t really mind having a small space as long as I can sleep comfortably (with heater, of course because winter has come) and as long as there is a private and clean bathroom.

We booked the entire place via Airbnb. Most hosts in Airbnb offer discounts when you stay for more than a week. We got a discount and ended up paying 10,376.00 PHP per person. Not bad for eleven nights, right?


💡 Handy tips

  • Consider visiting the Opera House during weekdays. Weekday = lesser people!
  • Grab some fish and chips at the Clarke Quay station and eat like an Aussie by the harbour. Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, oi oi oi!
  • Beware of seagulls! They get naughty and steal your food.
  • The Royal Botanical Garden is just a few meters away from the Opera House. Enjoy a nice picnic with your friends or family.
  • QVB and Pitt’s Street Mall is connected! Don’t go around the block only to find yourself back where you started walking.
  • Most restaurants need a reservation. Be sure to check first.
  • Plan your day ahead. Stores and establishments in Australia close really early! Don’t waste your time trying to figure out where to go.
  • Bus and train schedules vary every day, check the Opal App or Google Map to stay updated.
  • Every Sunday, all public transport services offer a flat rate of 2.50 AUD. Plan your Sundays wisely!
  • CLAYGO! Nobody will clean after you.
  • People in Australia are straightforward. Be kind, be polite and pay attention! You’ll lose nothing with a simple greeting.

💰 Expenses

 

Pre-trip Expenses:

Return Ticket                       11, 327.73


Accommodation                  10, 376.00


Travel Tax                               1,620.00


TOTAL                                   23,323.73

 

Daily Spending: July 1- July 12

 

Transportation                     4, 500.00 (Estimate for 11.5 days)


Food                                      20, 000.00 (Estimate for 11.5 days)


Attractions                            608.00 (Discounted Rate – Taronga Zoo)


TOTAL                                   25,108.00 PHP

 

If you like this article and want to see and know more about my trips and tips, follow me on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

PHOTO GALLERY

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