TBJ Travels Melbourne 1: Exploring Melbourne On A Budget + Melbourne Transportation tips + Itinerary


Last May and June, I embarked on the longest international vacation I've ever taken because 1. It was the husband and I's honeymoon. 2. It was my big 3-0. 3. I've been planning on taking a long vacation for quite some time now. I'm so happy everything went according to plan!

We first wanted to go to Japan, but Australia's calling so we both decided to go to the latter; Australia is one of my favorite countries to visit and I can go back again and again and again! This time, we visited Melbourne and Brisbane. This is going to be a comprehensive travel list so read on if you're planning to visit Melbourne and Brisbane!


First things first. You must secure an Australian Visa. Here's a guide on how to apply for an Australian tourist visa. Make sure this is accomplished before everything!

The first time I went to Australia was in 2013 when I was invited to participate in a Bloggers event by Olay. When the event was finally through, most Bloggers went to Melbourne while I stayed in Sydney. A lot said (even travel bloggers) love the hip, artistic vibe of Melbourne and also, the food, thus Melbourne has always been on my must- visit list.


Touchdown, Melbourne! The hotel we stayed in is Ibis at Little Bourke; Ibis Hotels is a budget hotel chain and I loved the location of our hotel in Melbourne because it is in the city center and close to everything. A lot would go for Air BNB when traveling because yes, Air BNB is probably one of the cheapest ways to go for lodging, but in Melbourne, I noticed that most Air BNBs are expensive at around P4k-7k a night if it's in the city center, around the same price of a budget hotel already. Ibis at Little Bourke is at P3,500.00+/night so we went for it instead of an Air BNB. 

We got a standard room and though small, it is very clean, safe, and the staff are the nicest; there's even a Filipina staff in the hotel's restaurant and she's so sweet!

Before we explore the city, here are some cool facts about Melbourne:

Winter time in Melbourne!

1. Melbourne is one of the most walkable cities.
2. As of 2013, 38% of the city's population were born outside Melbourne.
3. Melbourne has the highest number of cafes per number of people compared to any other city in the world.
4. Melbourne is ranked as one of the most livable cities in the world.

Melbourne also has a tramway system that is considered the fourth largest in the world. There's a tram that runs around the city and outside the city. This is an important read since transportation will play a huge role in your journey so read on:

This is a tram. This one runs within the city center and outside the city center. If you're traveling within the city, your fare is FREE. If you're going outside Melbourne city center to places like St. Kilda or Southbank, then you'd have to pay the corresponding fare.

TIP: You have to tap on and tap off your tram card on the card reader every time you ride the tram, whether it's a free ride or not. Most tourists (including I) forget to tap off before exiting the tram and I was told that if you don't tap off, you will be charged of a default 2- hour fare so ALWAYS. TAP. OFF.

For the trams and buses, you need a Myki card, a centralized fare card. You can buy a Myki card in 7-11 stores around the city; you can also top up (re-load) your Myki Card in 7-11 and also, in these reloading machines in selected tram stops.

TIP: Top up (reload) as you go. Don't top up a huge amount right away because unlike the Suica Card of Japan, Myki card money is not as good as money, meaning you can't use it to purchase necessities.
There's free tram ride for everyone before 7 am!

I find that Myki's system is a bit complex and hard to understand; they have other benefits and fare packages for locals and tourists, but you don't have to take them all in; you just have to know the basics of it, which I have pretty much written in here already.

Now that you know how the tram and Myki card works, here's how to get to your destination using the tram:

I've got two words for you: GOOGLE MAPS. You won't get lost if you have this one! This is why I highly advise that you purchase a pocket wifi before the trip; locally, I always go for My Pal Roam.

TIP: There's free WIFI in the city center so take advantage before riding the tram because connection can be erratic.

For example, if your destination is South Cross station to Shrine of Remembrance, the trams won't show that in the station maps or on the electric signages in the trains; instead, they'll show the end to end destination of the tram. 

According to Google Maps, to get to Shrine of Remembrance from South Cross Station, you have to begin by riding 96 ST. KILDA BEACH TO EAST BRUNSWICK; 96 is the number of the tram you will ride, St. Kilda to East Brunswick is the itinerary of the tram. (I won't discuss the next train stop; I just want you to know how to understand tram signs)

However, a tram doesn't only travel one way; it travels back and forth its travel itinerary, like the first time we tried it, we ended up riding 6 Moreland that's going away from our destination, Melbourne Royal Botanic Gardens, not going to it; so it pays to ask, ask, ask before riding the tram.

Now that you have finally understood how the tram works, it's time to explore Melbourne...on a budget!

1. WALK, WALK, WALK

- Melbourne is a beautiful city and at the same time, an expensive city. It is one of the most expensive cities in Australia. One great and free way to get from point a to b is by walking; this is why I would advise you to stay in the city center so you won't have to pay a lot for transportation and incur money loss in case you get lost.

Since I mentioned above that tram rides within the city are free, plan your trip within Melbourne City Center to save some dough; there are plenty of things to do at the city center so don't worry about running out of options!

2. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF PUBLIC AMENITIES

- There are a lot of public benches to hang out in in Melbourne so sit all day in one of the public benches and buy affordable coffee, read a book, go people watching, daydream, watch street performers perform, take photos, or admire wildlife.

3. BRING A WATER BOTTLE AND REFILL IN THE PUBLIC FOUNTAINS

- Did you know that tap water is potable and bottled water is very expensive at 3-4 AUD a pop in Melbourne? So bring your own water bottle and look for these public fountains to refill for free; they're around the city!

 4. VISIT FREE PLACES

- Most of Melbourne's landmark places are free for everyone to enjoy-this means no entrance fee. One of them is Shrine of Remembrance, a memorial ground honoring the fallen heroes of World War I.

Some other free places that are worth visiting: 

ROYAL BOTANIC GARDENS MELBOURNE

- Visiting a city garden is always a great thing to do. Just a 3 to 5- minute walk from Shrine of Remembrance is RBG Melbourne, a well- manicured garden that also serves as a preservation and research center; you will find here various plant species from across the world such as Africa, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand, Malaysia, and of course, Australia.

HOSIER LANE

- Melbourne is known for its thriving art scene and the laneways are home to some of the best graffiti artworks of Melbourne. Hosier Lane is one of the most famous art laneways; spend an hour or two exploring the laneways, take lots of smashing photos, and appreciate the talent of some of the best graffiti artists of Australia!

STATE LIBRARY OF VICTORIA

- One of the best state libraries I have seen! Spend a couple of hours reading books along with the students of University of Melbourne and get cultured by experiencing the free art exhibits at the top floor of the state library.

ST. PATRICK'S CATHEDRAL

Visit Melbourne's largest Catholic structure and marvel at its neo-gothic style structure, hear mass, or spend an hour in pure solace and reflection.


5. EAT CHEAP STARTING AT 9PM

- It is no secret that Melbourne is one of the best destination for foodies, but food can come at a hefty premium in this city. To save money on dinner, eat a little snack as pre-dinner and go all out at mall food courts starting at 9PM; most mall food court stalls do half price off for food starting at 8:30 PM or 9PM. This is not applicable to all food courts in Melbourne though as there are only a handful malls that close at 9PM; standard closing time for lifestyle establishments in Australia is 5PM.

I'll let you in on affordable food finds in a separate post.

6. SNATCH THOSE DISCOUNT STUBS!

- I found a stand at the lobby of our hotel that had these tiny cards hanging on it; I realized, these are discount stubs! Dozens and dozens of discount stubs for amusement parks, attractions, restaurants, cafes, museums, and more! What a cool way to help people save, Melbourne!

If you find these in your hotel lobby or anywhere, go ahead and take some. It's free!

Lost? Confused? Look for Melbourne Visitor Centre and let a specialist sort out your itinerary for you!

Some more tips:

1. Always wear your seat belt in buses, taxis, trains, and private coaches. Fines are VERY EXPENSIVE in the state of Victoria. 
2. They said that Melbourne has four seasons in the day, meaning it can be cold in the morning, scorching hot in the afternoon, rainy in the evening, and there can be a cold snap (sudden drop in temperature during winter) late at night so always bring a jacket, hat, and umbrella.

That's all for today! Tomorrow, let's visit Yarra Valley, Melbourne's famous wine region!

Check out my itinerary:

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Beauty. Fitness. Fashion. Food. Travel. Unicorns. World Peace. Digify Corporation.

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