Melbourne and Sydney in a week? This is the breakdown and review of the trip I took with my dad back in 2015. Dad travels a lot but he’s never ever been to this continent and neither have I. He let me do all the planning which is fine by me cause I loveeeeeeeeeee planning trips.
We chose to check out the south-east part of Australia:
Map for reference (credits to Google Maps) – Australia is huge. I think we’ll definitely return one day.
Malaysia to Australia
We flew via MAS (Malaysia Airlines) for 7 hours and 40 minutes. We chose to go in October (which is Australia’s spring time). I think we got lucky with the flight as MAS (Malaysia Airlines) was having a promotion that time. For ~8 hours flight, RM1.5K sounds good to me.
The price below (RM3.3k) is what Google suggested as of 2017Dec06.
Melbourne and Sydney in a week (7D6N) Itinerary
Here is the itinerary – we decided to go for a week and cover both Melbourne and Sydney. The only thing I regret about it is that we didn’t get to go on the Puffing Billy train ride in the beautiful Dandenong Ranges.
Cost Breakdown (7D6N – Kuala Lumpur to Melbourne & Sydney)
Here’s the cost breakdown – all prices are per person, in RM (Malaysian Ringgit). I’ll take the opportunity here to put out a disclaimer that this was not a backpacker budget sort of trip. Would place it in the mid-range of prices because there are three-star hotels and guided tours in our trip. If you want to cut further on the cost, stay at hostels (or couch-surf) and possibly rent a car.
We splurged on a helicopter flight too somewhere in there and that certainly added a dent in our budget but I think we could have saved a lot more (maybe even 50%) where accommodation was concerned.
In addition, we took this trip back in 2015 so the prices might be a little different.
Budgeting for food and other things
I did not include food as this is subjective to how much you eat and if there’s going to be alcohol. I find budgetyourtrip to be a very good site for planning local costs though. Simply key in the city that you’re going to and they will tell you what the average costs are. Here is a sample picture, just to show you.
I will probably write a post on how to use the site in case anyone wants to know. It is pretty straightforward though.
What to see in Melbourne
Sydney is great but Melbourne really captured my interest:
It has a great mix of urban and outdoor places to see. This is why we chose to spend the majority of the week here rather than Sydney.
Melbourne city center or CBD (Central business district) – there are city tours available but we prefer to explore on our own. St Patrick’s Cathedral, Federation Square, Flinders Street Station and Hosier lane (famous graffiti street) are all pretty close to each other.
Penguins in the wild- need I say more?? They have a wildlife park on the island too so you can actually spend a day here. Great for the kids! Respect the rules that no photography of the penguin is allowed here.
And this is a reference photo of the fairy penguins you will see at Philip Island (this photo was taken in Featherdale wildlife park though).
Queen Victoria Market
Great for souvenir shopping – we especially like the handmade soaps. The market is closed on Mondays and the night market is only open on Wednesday from 5-10pm. For the full schedule, check it out on their official website, under Visitor Information.
Great Ocean Road
Allow and entire day (or two) for this. Do not miss this if you are coming to Melbourne, the views are fantastic!
Other things to do in Melbourne
- Puffing Billy – old steam train ride (fare can range from $33 to $75 for adults, return – that’s ~RM 100-220) that passes through and overlooks beautiful fern valleys (Dandenong Ranges, east of Melbourne) and ends up at a small lakeside town (Emerald Lake) before returning back to the originating station. That depends on the route you choose too. Either way, allow a day for this as the old train station (Belgrave) is about an hour’s journey from the city via public transport.
- Yarra Valley vineyards – there are tours for wine-tasting, hot-air balloons and even paragliding. Or you can opt for a combination package for Puffing Billy and Yarra Valley for around RM500+.
- Beaches for surfing – there are quite a few along the Great Ocean Road – Lorne and Torquay.
- Melbourne Botanical Gardens – Big, beautiful garden with free entrance! It has a 4.5 rating on Trip Advisor.
- Eureka Skydeck88 – I personally think observation towers are overrated. Only interesting for the first 10 minutes. Costs $20 for adults too.
- Shrine of Remembrance – Better to see Melbourne from above from this iconic war memorial. This place is right next to Melbourne Royal Botanic Gardens too.
- Melbourne Aquarium – it’s about 10 mins drive from Royal Botanic Gardens and about 20 mins if you take public transport. For the ticket prices, refer to their official website. There is a 20% discount if you book early.
A free app for visiting Australia, CamperMate – here’s a guide on how to make the most of it
What to see in Sydney
Couldn’t skip this famous city out since it was only two hours flight away from Melbourne.
Sydney Harbour bridge & Opera House in Circular Quay
The Sydney Harbour bridge is here along with the Sydney Opera House.
Whale watching at Circular Quay
Boat departs from Circular Quay. The tours are only available from May to November as this is when the whales are heading back to their home to Antarctica.
The Royal Botanic Gardens of Sydney
Walking distance from the harbor so you might as well check it out if you are at the opera house already. Once in the gardens, walk all the way (another 20 minutes) to the east of the gardens. There is an outlook here with a great view of the city, Mrs Macquarie’s Chair.
Blue Mountains National Park
It’s almost a 2.5 hour drive from Sydney to this national park. Depending on the weather, this park is great for the views and a hike. You can also go mountain biking, camping or mountain climbing.
Featherdale Wildlife Park
This wildlife park is en route to the Blue Mountains National Park so it’s worth coming here to get up close with native Australian wildlife.
Bondi & Bronte beaches
Highly recommend doing this 1 hour+ coastal walk. The scenery was spectacular. Do allow more than just an hour to really soak it in. There are cafes along the way if you need a quick pick up. Another 30 minutes walk will take you to Coogee beach which we didn’t manage to squeeze into our Itinerary.
Other attractions in Sydney
- Taronga Zoo Sydney – Trip Advisor recommends a 3 hour duration for this zoo. Tickets are pricey at $46 (~RM180) for adults ($41 if booked online). More prices listed on the official website. The zoo is a ~15 minute ferry ride from the city. Reviews on Trip Advisor mostly have great things to say about the zoo and how they look after their 4000 or so animals. Something to note is the parking fee (at ~$18) if you do drive here and also, the zoo is quite hilly. Apparently, the view of Sydney Harbour from the zoo is really good too.
- Sydney harbour bridge climb – they have a lot of different guided climb options from halfway climb, to full climb, to climbing at night, dusk or dawn, etc. They even offer one in Mandarin. Prices range from $183-383 (~RM732 – 1,532) for adults.
- Sydney Tower Eye – 360° views of the gorgeous Sydney city. This observation deck is open all year round. Needless to say sunset is always the busiest or crowded time of the day. Do come as early as 1hr before the sunset.
- Hyde Park Barracks Museum
- St Mary’s Cathedral
- Government House Sydney
- State Theatre Sydney
- Art Gallery of New South Wales
- Sea Life Sydney Aquarium
Melbourne to Sydney (and vice versa)
There are four options to get from Sydney to Melbourne and vice versa,
- You can rent a car or caravan and do a road trip (min: 9hours). I don’t have personal experience with this but these look like reliable companies.
- You can take the train – XPT Regional Trains (but why would you? It’s almost an 11 hour journey at a price range of $65 – $190.
- Economy: $65 – $85
- First: $90 – $120
- Sleeper: $160 – $190
- You can take a bus – fireflyexpress (journey is one hour more than train – 12 hours and it has 10 stops). The price ranges from $45 – $60.
- You can take a flight (we took JetStar) for ~1.5hours at ~RM700 per person at economy class.
The tour company we chose
This is not a sponsored post. We had a good experience with our tour packages from Viator and would recommend them. Viator offer many other tour packages on their site. We took packages from Viator for both Melbourne and Sydney, booking and paying for them online.
Flight Cost Comparisons
Here are some flight comparison costs (updated graphs are from Skyscanner as of 10 December, 2017). Again, this isn’t sponsored. I just like to use Skyscanner to create price alerts before I book a flight.
So if we look at the graphs below, the prices between Melbourne and Sydney for 2018 are fairly comparable. AirAsia being the cheapest airlines you can go with. The lowest prices (~RM830) occur during the winter season (June to August) which is awesome if you intend to do some skiing there. The temperatures in spring (September – November) and fall (March – May) are comfortably cooler at around 10-20C as compared to summer (December – February) which can get up to 14-27C.
Accommodation ( with AirBnB recommendations)
Our accommodations for our trip were Ibis Styles Victoria Hotel and Causeway Inn on the Mall for Melbourne and Sydney Metro on Pitt (for Sydney, obviously) – no complaints on any of them except maybe the size of the rooms? Pretty small (we took the twin bed options in all of them) but they come with all the amenities you could want and the locations are really close to the city center. I think only the Sydney Metro on Pitt had included breakfast though.
I found some pretty cozy stays while browsing AirBnB and thought they were worth mentioning – especially if you’re travelling with family or a group of friends.
Melbourne AirBnB stays
Option 1 (couple) at $55/night (~RM220) – CBD. New. Stylish. Modern. Cosy. , hosted by Debbie
Option 2 (family/group) at $45/night (~RM180) – New modern self contain entire unit, hosted by Saiphin
Option 3 (private room and bathroom, double bed) at $39/night (RM156) – Melbourne CBD Apartment, hosted by Wenyu
Sydney AirBnB stays
Option 1 (couple) at $62/night (RM248) – Self contained studio close to Sydney harbour, hosted by John
Option 2 (couple) at $48/night (RM192) – Charming Potts Point Studio, hosted by Hannah
Option 3 (family/group) at $42/night (RM168) – Cosy 2bed apartment 15min walk from Harbour Bridge, hosted by Gonzo
Option 4 (private room and bathroom, double bed) at $37/night (RM148) – Large room with easy access to City & Airport, hosted by Denise & Ivan
Other things to do before your trip to Melbourne and Sydney
Visa application – I applied for my visa from here (Yes, fellow Malaysians – you need a visa to visit Australia). It was easy to fill and cost me RM50 and I received the visa in less than 2 weeks in my inbox. Application was easy but that doesn’t mean you can leave these things to the last minute. 😉 Note- the price is now RM60.
Plugs – Australia uses a 3 pin plug that has a round base. Make sure you bring a suitable adapter.
Local transport – it’s fairly easy to navigate around both Sydney and Melbourne city centers. The tram service is also reliable and highly convenient in Melbourne. If you want to get a mykiExplorer card, it costs around $15 (RM60).
Hopefully, that was a decent guide to start you off on your trip.
Australia can be an expensive place for Malaysians to visit (the exchange rate typically hovers around 1 Australian dollar to 3 ringgit). My dad likes to say if you’re gonna go that far, spend some money. Don’t stinge if you really want to bungee jump or take that helicopter ride. Save where you can to prioritize on what you really want to experience.
Sydney and Melbourne are both fascinating places to visit. This guide will hopefully assist you in choosing an airline right down to accommodation and the best places to go if you’re considering visiting both in one shot. If you can’t choose between them, my personal favorite is Melbourne for the way it balances nature with city life.
Will you visit both? Or just choose one. Leave a comment below.
Or maybe you should choose New Zealand instead:
1 month itinerary for a New Zealand across both North and South island
The wild side of New Zealand – explore Fiordland while on a budget
A must do hike in New Zealand – Tongario Alpine Crossing