Make the most of the city when you book your stay in one of our hotel suites in Sydney. Find out where to eat, shop and relax while you are in Sydney.
While it's common knowledge that Australians speak English, Australia also has a unique colloquial language that can confuse visitors when they first hear it. From 'fair dinkum' to 'cobber', the colloquial language is common throughout the land. Don't worry, you'll pick it up soon enough!
There are three time zones in Australia - Eastern Standard Time (AEST) which operates in New South Wales, Australian Capital Territory, Victoria, Tasmania and Queensland; Central Standard Time (CYST) in South Australia and Northern Territory; and Western Standard Time (WAST) in Western Australia. CYST is one half hour behind AEST, while WAST is two hours behind AEST. Australian States except Northern Territory, Western Australia and Queensland have daylight saving during the summer months.
Travellers to Australia, except those with Australian or New Zealand passport, require a passport (with validity of at least 6 months) or similar certificate of identification. Visit the Department of Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) Website, URL: http://www.immi.gov.au, for information on tourist visas, working holidays, business visits, students, immigration, Electronic Travel Authority (ETAs), visas and other useful contacts.
Decimal currency is used in Australia with the Australian Dollar (AUD) as the basic unit (100 cents = $1). Notes come in $100, $50, $20, $10, and $5. Coins come in $2, $1, 50c, 20c 10c and 5c denominations. Credit and debit cards are convenient and relatively secure. The most commonly accepted credit cards are American Express, Bankcard, Carte Blanche, Diners Club, MasterCard, Visa and their affiliates. Use may be restricted in smaller towns and country areas and small retail shops. Australian currency is decimal with the dollar as the basic unit (100 cents equals one dollar).
You should cash travellers’ cheques at banks or larger hotels, as it may be difficult elsewhere. Some banks may charge a small fee for cashing travellers’ cheques. Banks will cash most travellers’ cheques in every currency.
Whether you're a label hunter or a bargain scout, you'll be spoilt for choice shopping in Sydney. There are boutiques by the world's greatest names in fashion, shopping precincts with objects of desire for those seeking the best, the contemporary or the exotic, complete with some of the world's most beautiful department stores and markets that are renowned for their diversity, bargains and sheer size. You will find our Sydney hotel suites and apartments ideally located to experience the best shopping opportunities in the city.
Shopping fantasies spread wings in the Pitt Street Mall – the pedestrian plaza between King and Market streets in central Sydney. Also well-known places to begin any shopping sprees are the Queen Victoria Building (housing many best of the chains – Esprit, Ralph Lauren, Country Road), Strand Arcade, Skygarden, Harbourside and Centrepoint.
Castlereagh Street, playing host to many of the world's most chic designer brands and department stores – with David Jones all located within a block of each other in the city centre, is the place to visit for upmarket extras (Hermes, Louis Vuitton).
Double Bay, reigning supreme for 'posh' designer labels and high fashion streetwear, is sandwiched between European-style pavement cafes and doubles up as the place where Sydney’s high society shops. For colonial antiques, browse for bargains in the antique markets of Woollahra and Surry Hills.
Oxford Street in Paddington, also known as Sydney's "Style Mile" is all about fashion, galleries and style with the best selection of ultra hip boutiques and homewares as well as top designers names like Collette Dinnigan, Morrissey, and Akira Isogawa. In Darlinghurst (the western end of Oxford Street), you’ll be swamped with the wide range of street fashion and music. For bohemian wear meets retro fashion, coupled with funky accessories, King Street features quirky one-offs like Leo Monk handbags, Octopus Design for gifts and homewares and Faster Pussycat for pop culture ephemera. The Rocks is full of shopping surprises too; high quality arts & crafts, opals, fashion wear, Aboriginal artwork, jewellers and specialty shops - with harbour views and historic atmosphere thrown in.
At Sydney, the saying “Shop till you drop” never sounded more appropriate!
Australia has a Goods and Services Tax (GST) at 10%. Prices in Australia are shown as inclusive of GST. International and domestic flights purchased overseas, by non-residents, are GST free, including continuous domestic legs of international journeys.
GST is also applicable for tourism services such as accommodation, day tours, guides, ground transport (including coach, rail and cruise), translators and meals.
The prices quoted for your Australian holiday by your travel agent will already include the Goods and Services Tax (GST), as this tax applies to pre-booked and pre-paid goods and services in Australia, including those purchased before arrival in Australia. The total amount is payable at the time of ticketing your holiday.
Throughout Australia, tipping used not to be customary but is becoming more widespread. In a restaurant, a tip of 10% is now normal although some restaurants have started adding a service charge to the bill. Porters and staff at larger hotels can be offered a gratuity for good service, but it is purely discretionary. Taxi drivers may not expect a tip unless helping with luggage, but it is common practice to round the fare up to the nearest dollar.
In general, banks open from 9.00 am to 4.00 pm Monday to Thursday and from 9.00am – 5.00pm on Friday. In some states, selected banking facilities are available on Saturday morning.
General office hours (including Post Offices) are from 9.00 am to 5.00 pm Monday to Friday.
Shops in Sydney normally open from 9.00am to 5.30pm during the week, with late night shopping on Thursday. Most shops operate from 9.00am to 4.00pm on Saturday and on Sunday, Darling Harbour shops are open from 10.00am to 6.00pm, with the majority of department stores in the city centre, opening from 10.00am to 4.00pm.
Australian cuisine, heavily influenced by its extraordinary ethnic mix, is rapidly becoming well-known overseas and, along with its wines, is picking up prized awards at major international competitions. Dining in Sydney reflects the Asian, Greek, Italian and Middle Eastern influences of recent immigrants, enlivened by the abundant supply of seafood and fresh vegetable, prepared with culinary creativity.
On the doorstep of our Sydney hotel apartments and throughout the city, you can find restaurants to suit all tastes and wallets - the inner-city suburb of Newtown has everything from cheap Vietnamese and Indonesian food through to African and French cuisine, while another inner-city suburb, Glebe, is famous for both sophisticated and down-to-earth eateries.
Some of Sydney's best restaurants are at Circular Quay, while a whole string of up-market restaurants dot the landscape in the historic Rocks area, the city centre and inner-city Kings Cross. A must-visit is the Doyles on the Beach, which is just a ferry ride away from the city at Watsons Bay. It is one of the best seafood eateries and has a fabulous seaside setting.
Recent developments include East Circular Quay, where up-market outdoor eateries line the boardwalk to the Opera House. Elsewhere, there's a harbour-side feel to the quality restaurants at Finger Wharf at Woolloomooloo, and at Cockle Bay and Darling Harbour, you can chose to dine indoors or al fresco, and enjoy the passing parade.
Sydney also boasts of a healthy cafe culture, due in part to its many ethnic influences. Quality cafes are everywhere, with some of the most atmospheric scattered around the suburb of Darlinghurst, a short walk from Kings Cross CityRail station.
A special bus, the Airport Express, runs regularly from the airport to various stops in the city, Kings Cross and Bondi. A taxi from the airport to Circular Quay will cost about US$15; to Central station it will be about US$10.
Ferries are the most sublime form of public transportation. Each trip is its own harbour cruise. There are regular services to over 37 wharves, including Manly, Parramatta, Balmain, Watsons Bay and Taronga Zoo. www.sydneyferries.nsw.gov.au
Buses are a great way to travel around Sydney. Extremely user-friendly, they go everywhere. For timetables and routes, call 131 500. www.sydneybuses.nsw.gov.au
The CityRail network is a convenient way to get around the Sydney Metropolitan area and is especially useful for travel to the outer Sydney suburban region. www.cityrail.info
Sydney's Metro Monorail is one of the few above-ground rail systems in the world. Ride it for the experience. The circular route winds its way through the CBD and around Darling Harbour. www.metromonorail.com.au
Light Rail is the environmentally friendly way to get around. From Sydney Central to Haymarket through Darling Harbour, Star City, Sydney Fish Markets, Glebe, Leichhardt and Lilyfield...just jump on board. www.metromonorail.com.au
The Telephone system in Australia is one of the world's most efficient and easiest to operate.
Australia has an extensive network of Public Phones throughout the country. They are easily recognised by the orange and blue Telstra emblem. The cost of local calls is 40 cents (AUD), with most payphones accepting coins and prepaid telephone cards. Long distance call charges vary and are dependent on the time of day and distance. Sundays are excellent for making both interstate and international calls due to all-day discount rates. The rates for Pre Paid Telephone Cards are sold in denominations of $2, $5, $10, $20 and $50 and can be purchased at most Newsagencies and Post Offices.
When contacting Australia from overseas, first dial the country code prefix (61) then the area code without the first zero. For instance, placing a call to Sydney would be a 2 instead of 02, followed by the required number.
Visitors can bring reasonable quantities of prescribed medications, although all should be clearly labelled and identifiable. For large quantities, do bring a doctor's certificate to produce to Customs if necessary. Chemists can fill most prescriptions but some may need to be re-issued by an Australian-registered doctor. In the event of illness, your hotel can call a doctor or refer you to one, or you can call your country's High Commission, Embassy or Consulate General for a list of doctors. U.S. and Canadian visitors are not covered by Australia's national health insurance scheme. It is recommended that you travel with adequate travel insurance.
Vaccinations are not required unless you have come from, or visited a yellow fever infected country or zone within six days before arrival. No other health certificate is required to enter Australia.
The electrical current in Australia is 220-240 volts, AC 50Hz. As the Australian three-pin power outlet might differ from that of other countries, an adaptor might be required. If your appliances are 110V, you may need a voltage converter. Universal outlets for 240V or 110V shavers are usually found in leading hotels.
The major public holidays in Australia includes:
Australia Day; Good Friday; Easter Saturday & Monday; Anzac Day; Queen’s Birthday*; Labour Day*; Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.
*Please note: Different Australian States may celebrate different public holidays such as Labour Day and the Queen's Birthday.