Souvenirs / Shopping, Sydney
Watch out with souvenir shops. Some shops charge 3 times as much as other for exactly the same item. Usually the shops in the main streets and fancy shopping malls are expensive, but you really need to be careful. If you find a shop that is cheap for one item, it may well be expensive for another.
Unique Suggestions: Best is to keep a list with prices and after a good lookaround go to the cheapest places for each item. I managed to save about $40 in gifts by shopping around.
Fun Alternatives: I found a large shop in Pitt Street next to the awful Maze Backpackers Hostel (includes cockroaches in the room) which has all kinds of souvenirs for a cheap price. Also in Chinatown in the shopping mall underground you can do some bargains.
Most souvenir shops as well as the large and small stores will be over priced. They're meant for the unwary tourist. If you can, stay away from these. Browse by all means but try and restrain yourself from buying anything apart from some postcards maybe.
Instead go to the places where the locals actually go. We do go outside the country once in a while and therefore bring with us souvenirs from this country.
Unique Suggestions: If you really have no choice and have to get your things from the nearby souvenir shop, then only get what you need. Most likely you will still come across another shop like this. Or even better, keep an eye out for those $2 dollar reject/ el cheapo shops. Most of the time they also sell some souvenir items as well. They're the shops that sometimes have a guy screaming their specials through a microphone in front of the store.
Fun Alternatives: Around Sydney the ideal place to gorge yourself on souvenirs is the open stalls markets. This is where sellers bring their wares in one large open building. They have their setup on rows upon rows of stalls. Little overhead/operational expenses and casual sellers = cheap buys.
If you're in the city and you can get down to Chinatown, the closest open market is Paddy's Market. It is under Market City in Chinatown, right next to The Entertainment Centre (light rail as well as monorail stops here). Ask any locals for direction and we'd be very happy to guide you.
At Paddy's you can have a nice chinese meal and yumcha upstairs and a good bargain buying downstairs.
There are other open markets around Sydney like Flemington Markets at Flemington (accessible by train) and Parklea Markets.
Oh and if you're buying bulk, don't be shy to haggle.
I LOVED the souvenirs in Sydney!! I thought they were absolutely great and i bought a lot of things, ranging from stuffed teddy kangeroo bears to Australia jewellery.
The souvenirs are so great that shop keepers can risk charging whatever price they want, as most people won't shop around. I saw the same souvenir in all the shops I went in and the price range for it was unbelievable!! This is particularly true of boomerangs!
Unique Suggestions: The best way to avoid this is to price compare as soon as you land!! I landed thinking I only wanted a keyring, but seeing all the great stuff they had to offer, I knew I had to economise, so I compared prices, and I'm happy I did!
Fun Alternatives: If you do pay too much, move on!! Its ok to make mistakes...just pretend your good is of better quality!
All the shops in these two downtown shopping centres caters to the international tourist crowd. A great selection of shops and worth visiting, but if you are interesting in buying anticipate high prices.
Fun Alternatives: Should you need to shop downtown, Pitt Street Mall is for the locals. For a greater variety of shops, try one of the Westfield Shopping Centres outside the city centre. Bondi Junction, Chatswood, and Hornsby are all great shopping centres a short trip from the CBD by train.
At Sydney Airport, because as most International airports are, its ridiculously over-priced. The food there is also pretty ordinary. Rather save your $$$ for the culinary delights all over Sydney!
Unique Suggestions: If you don't have choice but to spend some hours at the airport, then probably best to head to any of the huge windows over-looking the runways. Its always fun plane & people watching from here!
.. after all!
We went to one of the Dutyfree shops, to buy a laptop backpack. The assistance claimed that the shop gave the best bargain in town. The tag price was AUD$120, good quality. We didnt buy immediately, told him that we just wanted to go for more shopping, and in mind, we would return to get the bag!
Guess what! Next door selling bag/luggages as well, having an Easter sale, selling the same bag for AUD$90.... so, now we know!
Before returning to the hotel, there was a fifth stop. We visited Van Brugge House, which sells Australian opals (no doubt some collusion went on between this store and the tour company). I sure enough couldn't buy anything in there even if I wanted to- which I didn't. They showed us a film of how they extract the opals from the Earth in an effort to justify their exhorbitant prices. Grandma bought some opal ear rings. That was a good thing because since they are so expensive, she couldn't go shopping for the rest of the trip.
Unique Suggestions: Feign interest in the opal mining process and make a mental note that it's not worth all the trouble to buy one.
Fun Alternatives: Ring the tour company on getting home and let them know you're hip to their collusion. It may not help you if you get roped in, but it might show these tour companies we were born in the dark but it wasn't last night.
For my trip I was using disposable cameras, I bought one from a Circular Quay shop, which was amost $10 over-priced (I was in a hurry, so I payed the ridiculous price), and later found out that it was very close to its expiry date.
Fun Alternatives: Go to one of the shopping centres on Pitt St, and buy your camera from somewhere like Priceline, they are very reliable and cheap.
Souvenir shops! Most souvenir shops have advertising declaring they are the cheapest in Sydney. Don't get trapped in that. Just look around before you buy something. Some things are cheaper in another store then the one you're in. But in general, the cheapest I found was on George Street, only can't I remember the name. Never take a taxi at peak hours; they try to escape the traffic jam by using small streets instead of the main streets. Ok, you will be faster on your destiny but you pay too much for the same drive when you go after peak hours. Better save that money to have a drink till the big traffic is gone ;-)
At tourist attractions like The Blue Mountains and Centerpoint Tower you'll find the prices more expensive. Just be aware of this, and if you're on a budget consider taking your lunch with you.
The same goes with souvenirs. If you want to buy a post card or some fangle dangle key ring with a kangaroo on it, think about where you are buying it and if it will be sond somewhere else at a cheeper price.
You have to shop at least AUD 300 in the same store, before you can make any claims.
You are required to take some of the stuff with you as hand carry into the plane to show proof of export.
The GST refund booth in Sydney is immediately after they scan your bags on the left side. You need to be more than 1/2 hour before your flight departure to process it - others wise they will turn you down. they pay cash for under AUD200 claims, and if more they will credit your credit card account - or if you are travelling with company, you can split it into two passport. it is worth making the GST claim - it took me only less than 10 minutes...and they were extremely friendly and helpful.
1. Wonderland: I wonder if I actually seen the whole place in 5 mins?
2. Opal factory showrooms: Like #1 not worth your time and money.