Budget to Sydney and Melbourne
Singapore to Sydney: S$314.68 (Scoot) 2am flight, 11.40am reach Sydney
Sydney to Melbourne: S$87.57 (Jetstar) 9.25am flight, 11am reach Melbourne
Melbourne to Singapore: 216.50AUD approx S$253.50 (Jetstar) 11am flight, 4.50pm reach Singapore
Total Air Ticket Per Pax: $655.75
This was our first trip to Australia and we were glad that it was such a good deal because of the various promotions Scoot and Jetstar had! The timings of the flights were also good. Also, the exchange rate dropped to an all time low in August 2013. The currency exchange rate that we had was S$1.17 to AUD1.
Before flying to Australia
1) Apply Visa
There are various ways to apply for it online but we’ve sourced out the cheapest from JA Travel. It costs $10 per visa and the procedure was pretty fast. We applied for it on Thursday and got the visa by Monday.
2) Travel Insurance
Our travel insurance from Aviva was S$35.38/pax
3) Check out Australia deals online
We booked one of our day tours from an Australia online deal site. More details later.
4) Airport Transfer
Book airport transfer from Sydney Airport to hotel + Hotel to Airport. There might be online promotions on Airport Connect, which is AUD26/pax. More details later.
5) Book Car
If you intend to self-drive, book your car online. Then again, you can also book it at one of the kiosks at the airport. Remember to bring your driver license! Yandao & I forgot our drivers’ licenses and they do not accept photocopies. We had to cancel our booking.
Sydney Itinerary Day 1: Free Walking Tour
Upon reaching Sydney airport, you can purchase an Optus SIM card at the Optus kiosk for AUD20. You can use this SIM card for 10 days. There’ll be a snake long queue so if you are not in a hurry to purchase this, you can always purchase it in the city where Optus can be easily found. They also sell AUD2 SIM card at 1-day usage in convenience stores. TIP: Remember to bring your passport out if you are purchasing it in the city as this is required for registration. The $2 includes unlimited national voice calls to Australian mobiles and fixed lines, and 13/1800 numbers*, Unlimited standard national SMS/MMS to Australian mobiles*, and Unlimited mobile Internet browsing on your mobile handset within Australia. So Instagrammers and Facebookers, this SIM card will be your gateway to the social media and upload as many pictures of your travel as you wish!
Go to the Meeting Point and wait for someone to bring you to another part of the airport to take the hotel transfer. There’s no fixed timing so you must call 02 95577615 to inform someone to come pick you up. Or you can go to the Concierge booth beside the Meeting Point and inform someone.
The airport transfer took us directly to our hotel, Springfield Lodge at Kings Cross. We paid AUD89/night. Hotel is decent, location is excellent as it is less than 5 minutes walk from Kings Cross Station. Also, if you are into clubbing, Kings Cross is the place. Checking in was no hassle and it was quick. There is a tourist information booth nearby, so you can always check your route or plan your journey with the person at the booth.
Since we were in Sydney for only 4 days, we didn’t get MyMulti Pass. We bought train tickets from the stations itself. For buses, we either paid cash or purchase bus tickets from convenience stores. It is safer to purchase tickets from convenience stores because some buses do not accept cash. Each bus ticket is about AUD2.20 if you travel within the city itself. Thank technology for Google Maps! We planned our routes with google map which indicated which bus to take from point to point.
It was about lunch time after we checked in. Because it was winter, we craved for something hot really badly and we settled for Ippudo Sydney (Shop 5021, Level 5, Westfield Shopping Centre/188 Pitt St Sydney 2000, Australia; +61 2 8078 7020) at Westfield. Take Eastern Suburbs and Illawarra Line from Kings Cross and stop at Town Hall. Westfield is within walking distance from Town Hall station.
Momofuku chef David Chang calls Ippudo’s tonkotsu broth best in Sydney [source]. We had Shiromaru Tamago (AUD17), Tonkatsu broth with thin noodles, pork loin with flavoured egg, and Bakuretsu Tofu (AUD10, pictured above), which is spicy tofu and minced pork with a small portion of noddles in sizzling hot stone pot. Food was good. I thought it was better than Ippudo Singapore. Good thing about dining in Australia is that you pay the price as it is stated on the menu since tax has been included. Our meal was AUD27.
On this level, there are other food stalls. We had cheese bratwurst from one of the stalls as well. Yumz.
Join the Free Sydney Walking Tour which starts at 2.30pm and ends at 5.30pm . Meet at anchor/construction work beside Sydney Town Hall. The anchor is to the left when facing the front of the Town Hall. Look for someone in a bright green T-shirt and they will bring you to Sydney Opera House, The Harbour Bridge, The Rock’s District, Cadman’s Cottage, Hyde Park Barracks, The ‘Rum’ Hospital, St Mary’s Cathedral, The Tank Stream, Fort Denison, Pitt St Shopping Mall, Martin Place, Sydney Tower, Hyde Park, Circular Quay, Town Hall (not in order). I didn’t join the tour because when you travel with a group of girls, you have to buffer lotsa time for washing up, putting cream, make up etc. However, I’ve seen many good feedback on tripadvisor, so if you have some time, do join the walking tour!
After the tour, you can take a walk around Town Hall where you can shop at Westfield and Queen Victoria Building. Note that there is a bright green bus, with the number 555, that runs between Circular Quay and Central Station every 10 minutes on weekdays: 9.30am to 3.30pm, with a late finish of 9pm on Thursday evenings. Weekends: 9.30am to 6.00pm.
For dinner, we went to Jamie’s Italian Sydney (107 Pitt St, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia; +61 2 8240 9000). They didn’t accept our reservations over the phone since they were fully booked so we went down to try our luck. Waited for almost 1 hour and we got a table. Winter is such a hassle, you gotta remove so many things – coat, gloves, scarves and what not, before you settle down on the seat. Our table was small, we didn’t have space to hang our coats and shopping bags.
The warm bread served to us was awesome. We particularly love the bread sticks. Very nice! We had Prawn Linguine (AUD16, above) – juicy pan-fried garlicky Spencer Gulf prawns served with tomatoes, chilli, rocket and fennal, and Our Famous Polenta Chips (AUD8.50, below) – crispy fried with rosemary & parmesan.
We thought the Prawn Linguine was very Chinese and too al-dente but after a few bites, it was good. Polenta Chips were crispy, yet fluffy on the inside. The rosemary and parmesan added much flavor to the chips.
After dinner, we walked to Martin Place station and took a train back to Kings Cross.
Photos and Words by Chiobu