My first impression of Australia — Sydney in particular — was that it was inexplicably expensive. I was planning a weeklong trip for a family of 5 and it didn’t take long for the travel budget to reach six figures (in Philippine pesos). Sydney, for some reason I couldn’t fathom, seemed more expensive than Paris or London. However, when I finished all the planning and budgeting, I computed for the average cost per person and it was, after all, fairly reasonable.
Sharing with you here my travel budget for a one-week trip to Sydney, Australia for PHP 50,000 — all in — including airfare, visa, accommodations, meals, train/bus fares, entry fees to attractions where necessary, international travel tax, and even a miscellaneous fund.
Note: If you’re not too arte, you can actually cut these costs even further but, what can I say, I’m #KuripotWithStandards. 😀
– Breakdown –
Airfare – PHP 9,891 round-trip
We got our Cebu Pacific tickets to and from Sydney during a sale — no sense paying full fare if you can get it on promo. Don’t worry, though, you won’t have to wait for those once-in-a-blue-moon piso sales to avail of this kind of fare. Here’s the fare breakdown of our ticket:
As you can see, the base fare is PHP 4,000 — not piso, so there’s a good chance you can get a fare like this during Cebu Pac’s regular sales — and the terminal fee is already included.
Note: This PHP 9,890.52 fare is for Manila-Sydney-Manila. If you’re departing from Cebu or elsewhere in the Philippines, you’ll have to add an extra leg to your flight. Our Cebu-Manila-Sydney-Manila-Cebu tickets worked out to PHP 10,921.93 each.
Accommodations – PHP 9,535
This is one aspect of the budget that I found particularly challenging for several reasons. One, I don’t want to stay in a dump so I look for hotels or hostels that are well-reviewed. Two, I wanted to stay in a central place that had attractions within walking distance. Three, after searching Booking.com and Airbnb, I didn’t find that many affordable family rooms (or single rooms, for that matter) in Sydney, so choices were limited. Four, Sydney did have several good hostels but many of them did not accept kids under 12 or adults over 60, which meant they had to be ruled out as we were traveling with a preschooler and two senior citizens.
Luckily, I found The Pod Sydney. It’s a hostel but it’s a good hostel — beds have drapes for privacy, there’s a kitchen if you want to prepare your own meals, and it’s well-reviewed in both Booking.com and TripAdvisor. A dorm bed costs PHP 1,399 a night. More importantly, if you’re traveling with family or friends, they accept guests of all ages and they have a Quadruple Room that costs roughly PHP 5,500 per night. Your group of 4 gets all the benefits of a well-equipped, centrally located hostel but you won’t have to share a room with strangers.
If you go up to the Blue Mountains and spend a night there, a dorm bed at the Blue Mountains YHA will only cost PHP 1,141 a night. Spending six nights at The Pod Sydney and one night at Blue Mountains YHA will cost you a total of PHP 9,535.
Transportation – PHP 3,497
The pros and cons for the various ways to get from the Sydney airport to the city can take up a whole other article but it boils down to this:
- If you’re traveling alone and your hotel is just a very short walk from a train station or bus stop — remember you’ll be walking with luggage — take the train or bus, respectively.
- If you’re traveling alone and your hotel is not a short walk from a train station or bus stop, you can book a shuttle, which will take you all the way to your door.
- It’s worth noting, however, that quite a lot of people have had bad experiences with shuttles operating out of Sydney airport — long wait, unhelpful driver, etc. — so try to look for a shuttle operator that has good reviews.
- If you’re a group of 3-4 persons, take a taxi. It will be more comfortable and might actually work out cheaper.
- If there are more than 4 of you, you won’t fit in a single taxi, so do the math and figure out which will work best for you in terms of comfort and cost.
Another thing to consider, in terms of trying to decide which transport option to take, would be if everyone in your group would be comfortable with the walking component. For example, 350 m will probably be no big deal to someone in his/her 20’s but may be a bit of a struggle for, say, seniors with bad knees or parents who have to deal with kids and bags.
The shuttle from the airport to the hotel (and vice versa) costs AUD 16 (PHP 592) per way, so that’s PHP 1,184 back and forth.
As for getting around Sydney using public transportation, get an Opal card. The nice thing about Opal fares is that they have a “cap” — once you’ve spent a certain amount, you won’t be charged for additional rides. On Sunday, there’s a cap of AUD 2.50 (PHP 92.50) and from Monday to Sunday, there’s a weekly cap of AUD 60 (PHP 2,220). For a one-week Sunday-to-Sunday holiday in Sydney, therefore, you’ll be spending a maximum of AUD 62.50 (PHP 2,312.50) on your Opal Card.
Another nice thing about the Opal card: it covers the trains and buses to and around the Blue Mountains, as well as the ferry to Manly and Taronga Zoo, so if you’re going to those places, you won’t have to budget an additional amount for transpo. (This is a big deal, considering that group tours to the Blue Mountains usually cost over PHP 4,000 per person, whereas you could easily take the train to Katoomba and back, and use the public buses to get around, all covered by your budget for the Opal weekly cap.)
If you’re interested in going on a hop-on hop-off bus tour, such as this one, try to see if you can get a discount (usually 10%) by booking online.
Meals – PHP 12,210
It’s a pet peeve of mine: perusing travel budgets and realizing they don’t include meals. I know that people have different tastes when it comes to food but I think it should still be included — even if you have to use estimates — because people want to know how much they’ll be shelling out for the entire trip. And food does represent a significant chunk of the budget — as you see here, it actually costs more than the airfare.
To estimate the food budget for this trip, I used Numbeo, a crowd-sourced depository of information on cost of living around the world. For Sydney, here’s what they have:
- Cost of a typical meal at McDonald’s or other fast food chains – AUD 10
- Cost of a typical meal at an inexpensive restaurant – AUD 15.75
Based on these numbers, I figured AUD 15 (PHP 555) should be a reasonable budget per meal per person — or AUD 45 (PHP 1,665) per day. Usually, breakfast will tend to be cheaper than lunch or dinner, and if you want, you can buy food from a supermarket the day before and prepare breakfast yourself at the hostel. This is one of the nice things about staying in a hostel: you can cook in the communal kitchen, and if you’re on a very tight budget, you can actually prepare all your meals yourself, using ingredients bought from a supermarket, and you can easily get by with half the food budget here. Also: look out for Chinese takeaways that sell their food at a huge discount in the afternoons.
For 22 meals, at AUD 15 per meal, you can budget PHP 12,210.
Sightseeing – PHP 2,975
What to see and where to go will depend on your interests, of course, but if you’re on a tight budget — and even when you’re not! — it’s always worth it to go to Google and type “free or cheap things to do in….”
In Sydney, there are a lot of things you can do that won’t cost much, if at all. Those include:
- Crossing the Sydney Harbour Bridge (you don’t have to spring for a bridge climb unless it’s a particular dream of yours)
- The Royal Botanic Garden (go up to Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair for great views of the harbour — and the perfect selfie backdrop)
- Free walking tours such as this one (most people give thank-you tips to the guides at the end)
- Coastal walks such as the famous Bondi to Coogee route
- And beach bumming, of course!
Since you already have an Opal Card and you’ve budgeted for the weekly cap, why not go up to the Blue Mountains? Better yet, spend a night there — that way, you won’t have to rush from sight to sight and you can take your time taking in an environment (and climate) that’s a lot different from Sydney’s. The train from Sydney to the main Blue Mountains town of Katoomba is covered by the Opal Card, as are the public buses that go around Katoomba and stop by famous sights such as the Echo Point lookout for viewing the Three Sisters. Entry to Scenic World isn’t free but you can enjoy pretty much the same views by bushwalking — look up the Prince Henry Cliff Walk. If shopping is more your thing, take a bus (or walk) to the charming village of Leura.
There are some attractions in Sydney that are worth budgeting for, however, especially if you’re traveling with kids and kids-at-heart. For this budget, I included:
- Taronga Zoo – AUD 41.40 (PHP 1,532) for an adult ticket bought online
- Whale Watching – AUD 39 (PHP 1,443) if bought during Captain Cook’s pre-season sale (which is why it pays to plan ahead — #TravelSmart)
Other Expenses – PHP 10,272
An Australian visa obtained online will cost around PHP 4,995.
The international travel tax (PHP 1,620) is not yet included in the airfare. You can pay this online but there will be a small surcharge, so if you’re planning to arrive early at the airport anyway, you can just pay for it there.
And, yes, this budget even includes a miscellaneous fund of PHP 5,277. You can use this to pay for entry to other attractions, add baggage allowance if you’re not traveling light, buy pasalubong, etc.
Sydney Travel Budget: Summary
Here’s a quick recap of our budget for a one-week holiday in Sydney:
- Airfare – PHP 9,891
- International travel tax – PHP 1,620
- Accommodations – PHP 9,535
- Transportation – PHP 3,497
- Meals – PHP 12,210
- Sightseeing – PHP 2,975
- Visa – PHP 4,995
- Miscellaneous – PHP 5,277
- TOTAL – PHP 50,000
#ResponsibleTravel #SmartTravel #KuripotWithStandards #TihikWithStandards 😀
Huge thanks to Bambi, Chai, and Omar for their valuable tips on transpo, tours, and food.