If you are a Singaporean and are traveling to Sydney for the first time, you should take some time to read these shopping tips that are not found elsewhere on the net. These seven tips are written by a fellow Singaporean who has shopping genes and bargain hunting in his blood!
These 7 shopping and eating tips will guide you to buy stuff that you can’t usually get in Singapore and the ‘must-buy’ cheap things in Australia and great shopping places only known to the residents.
1. Bargains at Local Supermarkets – Coles and Woolworths
Do not give these popular supermarkets a miss if you are in Sydney or any other Australian cities. There are gems and bargains in there that you won’t find them back in Singapore. Besides, these Supermarkets often have ongoing promotions like a Lindt chocolate bar (assorted flavours) only sells at AUD$1.80 per piece. For the same item, you would have to fork out S$5 per piece in Singapore.
Here are some goodies you should load up at these supermarkets when you are in Sydney:
1. Tim Tam Chocolate biscuits
2. Imported extra virgin olive oil from Spain (these imported stuff are much cheaper than in Singapore)
3. Local farmed walnuts, pistachios and other healthy nuts
4. Bottled Himalayan sea salt
5. Canned sardines imported from Spain (I can’t seem to find them in Singapore’s heartland supermarkets)
2. Pharmacies and Cosmetic Discount Stores
Along the streets in Sydney or even in shopping malls, you can easily spot a pharmacy cum cosmetics discount store (similar to Watson’s or Guardian in Singapore). Do visit them. One particular retail store to look out for is Priceline (www.priceline.com.au). They carry extremely wide range of inexpensive and branded vitamins including Blackmores. The famous Blackmores brand is originated from Australia and the vitamins are definitely cheaper in Sydney compared with Singapore.
In fact, there are many ‘made in Australia’ branded vitamins, health food and supplements like fish oil, vitamin C pills, glucosamine tablets, women’s general health supplements, men’s health supplements and body building protein powers, etc. You name it they have it. Couldn’t resist the cheap prices, I loaded up a few bottles of fish oil pills (1000 capsules) that cost merely AUD10 per bottle. Since the bottle indicated the product is made in Australia, I can be rest assured the quality should be good.
Just when I thought I’ve gotten a great deal, I later found out the best bargains are actually at Chemist Warehouse (www.chemistwarehouse.com.au), located in Sydney suburbs. Get a local friend to bring you there if you’re unfamiliar with the metro system in Sydney. Chemist Warehouse offers similar products like Priceline – but at even cheaper rates! The best deals at Chemist Warehouse are the perfumes. I bought a bottle of genuine Gucci – Guilty (50ml eau de toilette) for just AUD45. It costs around US$70 online or at the airport.
3. Birkenhead Point Outlet Centre
I never knew Sydney can be such a shopping paradise as I always thought of Sydney being a staid and boring city for business folks. Well, I changed my mind after the trip.
If you were thinking that Sydney is boring, You would have to go to the Birkenhead Point Outlet Centre (www.birkenheadpoint.com.au) to appreciate the shopping culture is alive in Sydney. Birkenhead Point is a huge mall filled with outlets selling unbelievable discounted goods and off-season products. The mall housed many familiar brands there such as Laura Ashley, Spotlight, The North Face, Nike, Forever New, Ralph Lauren, Oakley, Merrell, Calvin Klein, Nine West, etc.
If you are looking for quality bed linen, Sheridan luxury bed linen outlet store is there – good quality bed linen and towels going at 80% off. You would probably have to pay 3-4 times higher price for a similar set at Robinson’s in Singapore. You can really shop to your heart’s content as the sales are genuinely sales with many stores lashing prices up to 80%.
When you are tired and hungry, there’s nice cafés at the basement to fill your stomach. A cup of cappuccino costs AUD3 here. It will set you back like S$5 in Singapore.
Australia is a wine producing country. Naturally, wine in Sydney or any parts of Australia is definitely cheaper than in Singapore. Even if you are not a wine drinker, buying wine in Australia is a must. Many wine/liquor stores sprang up on the streets or in the malls. One that caught my eye is Liquorland (www.liquorland.com.au) as their signage is in bright and cheery shades of red and yellow.
Liquorland is actually a chain store and you will find many of them in Sydney. They sell a lot of wines and some small selection of whisky. They often hold promotions like buy two bottles of liquor at AUD18, usual price would have been AUD20 for two. So you save another AUD$2 when you buy two bottles.
Since the wine is really cheap there, my advice is to buy and drink it when you are there. If you like the taste, you then load them back to Singapore (of course I am aware of the duty free quota I need to observe). I bought two bottles of Nottage Hill Pinot Noir (2013) for just AUD16 – unbelievable!
5. Sydney Fish Market
Many would have read about the Sydney Fish Market (www.sydneyfishmarket.com.au) from the Lonely Planet or other tourist guide books. It’s the world’s second largest fish market after Tokyo’s Tsukiji Fish Market. Indeed, this is a must-go place for fresh seafood lovers. There are quite a number of open-concept stores there selling live and cooked seafood.
The wide variety of seafood include mussels, oysters, prawns, slabs of freshly sliced tuna meat, crabs, lobsters, etc. A dozen of freshly-shucked oysters (each of them is twice the size of your thumb) costs only AUD15. Imagine how much it would have costed in Singapore?
You can also order cooked cold prawns (boiled in seawater when they are on ship to lock in the freshness) to eat on the spot. It costs AUD24 a kilogram and they taste really succulent and sweet. But the real steal is the lobster! If you have a few friends traveling together, order the lobster to share. It would probably set you back by AUD250 (a 3kg lobster) but it will cost a whopping S$600-$800 in Singapore.
6. JB Hi-Fi Stores
The ubiquitous black/yellow signage of JB Hi-Fi electronics store (http://www.jbhifi.com.au/) can be found in almost any decently-sized shopping malls in Sydney. It’s like our Challenger in Singapore. Personally, I prefer JB Hi-Fi than Harvey Norman stores in Sydney as I find the prices at JB Hi-Fi more attractive.
I always thought Singapore is a shopping haven for electronics or IT appliances. But Sydney has some good bargains too. I saw a Fuji-Xerox monochrome laser printer going for AUD39 in JB Hi-Fi store. The cheapest I’ve come across in Singapore for the same model is S$69 during PC shows/expos. Some items are cheaper in JB Hi-Fi stores than back home in Singapore while others maybe on par or more expensive. The trick to get a good deal is to do your research first before visiting Sydney.
7. Anaconda Store
If you are a camping or adventure enthusiast, you would simply love this place – Anaconda (www.anaconda.com.au). It is supposedly Australia’s largest store for getting camping, adventure and sports equipment.
A local friend brought me to one of its branches in the suburbs and I was bowled over with the sheer amount of equipment on sale. It’s even better than our very own Army Market at Beach Road! You can find all sorts of multi-purpose knife, tools, climbing accessories such as headlamps, carabiners, hiking foot wear, backpacks, hunting gear, fishing rods and accessories, etc. I “lost” myself in this store for close to an hour.
Additional Tip: Getting Local SIM Card
If you are planning to get a local SIM card with data plan so you can check emails, update Facebook or Instagram on the move, check out Amaysim – www.amaysim.com.au
The prepaid SIM card is sold at convenience store for AUD2. Remember to inform the cashier what phone you are using to get the right SIM card. As I was using Samsung Note 2 (which uses micro-SIM), the cashier gave me a dual-punch SIM card package that can support both normal SIM card and micro-SIM card.
The prepaid SIM card does not come with any credits or airtime. You need to purchase credits separately for top-up at convenience stores. You can purchase in step-up amount of AUD10. When the credit runs low, you will receive a notification SMS. So it’s really convenient and helps to save some money then to purchase a prepaid SIM package upfront which you may not be able to fully utilized the bundled airtime/credits at the end of your trip.