Travel

How to Spend Three Days in Sydney With Only P5,000

Plan your trip around the city's culture and coffee shops.
IMAGE Chonx Tibajia/Unsplash
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Australia is known mainly for two things: kangaroos and koalas. And while even the locals will be the first to tell you that they don’t have a national dish (“barbies” don’t count?), it’s one destination that has a lot to offer. If you’re traveling to Sydney, in particular, here’s how to make the most of your budget while soaking up the best that local culture can offer: 

1| Walk, Walk, Walk  

Walking is one of travel’s greatest pleasures. There are gems you’ll find on foot that you might never come across while inside an Uber, which should only, by the way, be availed of when you are either too drunk to function, or it’s raining and you’re worried about getting sick.  

Don’t worry about getting lost. There will always be a way to get to where you are going, but if all else fails, pre-download an offline map of Sydney on Google Maps. Even without data, it will show you your location and destination. All you’ll need to do is pick a path and move your feet. When you’re walking, the city reveals itself as if it has read your intentions and decided to trust you with its secrets—the coolest bars included. The best part? It’s absolutely free. 

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Photo by Chonx Tibajia.

Spend: 0 AUD

Gain: More points on your Fitbit, plus a nice butt 

2| Get Lost in These Museums

Everyone’s the “museum type” with the right motivation. Generally, museums offer a glimpse of a country’s past and present. It’s a visual timeline of civilization and how society’s values have evolved. The Museum of Contemporary Art Australia is a huge art deco building by the water, with over 4,000 works by contemporary artists, from paintings to sculptures to multimedia installations, on display. So it offers a feast for the eyes indoors, and a laid-back outdoor “backyard” to hang out in afterward.  

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The National Museum of Australia, on the other hand, holds over 18 million objects of historical and scientific value. Just a few minutes walk from each other, you can visit one in the morning and the other in the afternoon, and have a nice lunch break at The Rocks Market in between. 

Photo by Chonx Tibajia.
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Spend: 0 AUD, entrance is free

Gain: Apart from knowledge? Highly Instagrammable photos, of course. 

3| Explore Crown Street 

Crown St. in Surry Hills, a hip, affluent district lined with cute terrace houses in Sydney, can be enjoyed on a budget. First of all, it’s 2.4 kilometers long, and every corner has something interesting to offer that an entire day is not enough to take everything in.  

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Browse for vinyl records at Title, a record store that sells vinyl records from the '70s to the present, covering a wide range of genres. The selection is curated, but the quality is high. If you’re looking for limited-edition colored vinyl, this is the place to look. Crown St. also has several small bookstores that carry interesting, hard-to-find reads (such as Dark Side of the Spoon, a cookbook of recipes named after and inspired by popular rock and metal songs). 

There are countless vintage clothing stores to peruse, selling items from affordable vintage accessories to pricey designer fashion. Last but not least, check out the Surry Hills Library, a Sydney landmark that has won several architectural awards. It has four floors (rejoice, bookworms) and is open seven days a week. 

Photo by Chonx Tibajia.
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Photo by Chonx Tibajia.

Spend: Book (20 AUD), Record on bargain (25 AUD)

Gain: Unique souvenirs or pasalubongs that are not fridge magnets 

4| Go Coffee Shop Hopping 

While you’re in Surry Hills, check out its selection of coffee shops that all also serve great food. If you’re up early, cap your morning run with a caffeine and carbs boost at the famous Bourke St. Bakery, which opens at 7 a.m. Luckily for me, my B&B was just two minutes away from the place. For brunch, check out Single O, Bangbang Café, Bills, or Four Ate Five. Or heck, why not all of them, budget-willing. Coffee shops in Sydney close at 3 p.m., so make sure to make space for what comes next, which is, of course, alcohol.  

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Photo by Chonx Tibajia.

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Spend: Around 20 AUD for a meal

Gain: An education in coffee culture from your new barista friend or just a caffeine boost for night activities 

5| Head to Newtown for Drinks 

Newtown is Sydney’s hipster capital, and it is a den for bars, pubs, and other watering holes of various persuasions. It’s one of those bohemian streets that is alive day and night, and offers a wide range of flavors and spirits. The best part is, locals drink here too, so if you want to get immersed in true Sydney nightlife, this is the place to start.

My unexpected favorite is Mary’s, a bar that also grills some of Sydney’s best burgers. Its grunge interiors will give you a refreshing break from the coffee shop aesthetic. Other favorites that are budget-friendly include craft ale bar Young Henrys, Holey Moley, Courthouse Hotel, and queer-friendly Sly Fox

Photo by Chonx Tibajia.
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Photo by Chonx Tibajia.

Spend: About 30 AUD for a burger, fries, and a cocktail

Gain: Street cred for hanging out at a local favorite 

6| Chase the Sunset at Sydney Opera House

It’s not just for Sydney first-timers! The Sydney Opera House is often viewed from a distance because admittedly, it makes for nice photos, but up-close, it’s really something else. Try to get there by 4:30 p.m. (on foot, of course), grab a drink at Opera Bar, and chill out until the sun sets.  

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Some facts to think about while sipping on your cocktail: Sydney Opera House took 14 years, 10,000 workers, and $102 million to build, and was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list in 2007. Let that sink in before dismissing it as touristy. 

Photo by Unsplash.

Spend: 10 AUD 

Gain: A wild orange sunset viewed from one of Sydney’s most iconic landmarks.

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