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Travel tips - Sydney on a budget

Travelling in Sydney can be expensive, here are some tips that have really helped keep the cost of my trip low.


Sydney Harbour YHA - The Rocks is one of the best hostels I've ever stayed at, especially in terms of it's location in a prime neighborhood and the views that are on offer from it's deck.

Cost: Approx $40 - 50 AUD per night
Distance from public transportation: Approximately 10 minutes walk to Wynard station
Wi-Fi: Free in common area

Tip: You can reduce your per night cost to as little as $23 AUD per night by buying in bulk (via the YHA ePack). It is worth noting that you can stay a maximum of 3 nights at each hostel. I personally liked the hostel so much that I was willing to pay the normal price so that i can stay there for the whole week.


It is recommended that you buy an Opal Card because:
  • There is a daily cap on the maximum you will be charged (as of today this is set to $15 per day maximum between Monday to Saturday, $2 per day on Sunday)
  • There is a weekly cap on the maximum you will be charged (as of today this is set to $60 per week, which means once your spending reaches $60, then your public transportation is free for the rest of the week)
  • You can use this card for buses, trains and ferries
  • Aside from the CBD, you can also use this card in the Blue Mountains
  • With the OPAL card, because I had reached the weekly travel cap, I was able to travel for free for the last few days of my stay in Sydney.  
  • The caps mentioned above, unfortunately does not include the train ride between CBD and the airport


Food can be an expensive expenditure, especially if you always eat out. I found that keeping things in balance between cooking your own meal in the hostel, eating at cheaper restaurants/cafes and going through the occasional splurge kept my stomach relatively happy.

Cooking your own meal

  • There are supermarkets spread throughout the CBD where you can buy groceries to bring back to the hostel for cooking.
  • I personally find it easier to cook my own meal during dinner time and breakfast, whilst eating out during lunch time
  • Sometimes hostels will have a pantry where previous guests leave their unused ingredients for others to consume e.g. cooking oil, sauces

Cheap eats

  • Gamshara (Highly Recommended) - Is a Japanese ramen stall at Eating World Food Court in the china town precinct of Sydney. The ramens are known for their thick and creamy soup which is simply delicious. Both the tonkatsu ramen ($10.5 AUD) and the pork spare rib ramen ($15.5 AUD) were very tasty. 
  • Tiger Cave (Not Bad) - This stall at Eating World Food Court seems to be a stall that seems to mix of Thai, Chinese, Malaysian and Western cuisine. I ate here a few times and their food is decent and with many dishes under $13 AUD it offers good value for money but certainly not exceptional. 
  • Mr Crackles (Highly Recommended) - This small eatery in Darlinghurst, are known for their crispy pork roll belly. I tried the Crackles Classic Roll pictured above and at $13.5 AUD it is something that is worth getting a taste. It is worth noting that there is not much room within the eatery for people who wish to eat in, so it may be easier to take away.
  • Don Don (Good Value) - This is small to medium sized Japanese restaurant in Darlinghurst.  At $10 AUD their udons are good value and taste pretty good. 
  • Zhou Mum Cafe (Good Value) - The chinese stall at Dixon House Food Court provides super good value whilst tasting reasonably good. Whilst the other places I've mentioned are cooked to order, this stall also provides a selection of pre-cooked dishes and for under $10 AUD you can choose three dishes to go with your rice and soup. Unfortunately this food court is rather small and during peak times it can be rather difficult to find a table to sit down and eat your meal.
  • It is also worth checking out some articles online on the best cheap eats in Sydney. e.g. 25 Ultimate Cheap Eats in Sydney

Splurging on a nice meal

  • I didn't have much of a luck here, I decided to "splurge" out on a $40 AUD seafood meal and try out some cooked seafood from Fish Market Cafe in the Sydney Fish Market, unfortunately I can't recommend this stall as the food did not taste very fresh. No fear, there are quite a few other stores in the Sydney Fish Market that offers cooked seafood.


Best value activities

Overrated activities

Here are some of the activities that I've visited and would probably not recommend as a must do when in Sydney
  • Visiting Darling Harbour during the day - Unless you are into shopping and acquariums, there doesn't seem to be much to do here during the day
  • Bondi Beach - Whilst this is one of the most famous beaches in Australia, I personally feel that Manly Beach is on par if not better than Bondi.

Want more tips for your visit?

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