Friday, 14 August 2015

Which Tour Package to choose in Sydney? Part 1 - Blue Mountains Day Tour

It was my first time to Sydney, and second one to Melbourne. Before this we usually go on holidays without any tour, relying mainly on public transports and occasionally, taxi. However, since this trip we were going to bring my dad along, we thought it would be more comfortable for him to go on a tour. Sounds simple right? Just get a tour and get the flight tickets + hotel and we are set! Oh boy, that is definitely not the case. After scouting around the local tour agencies, in this case I meant the ones in Miri and I even contacted some in KL but they usually use the same contact in the country where you want to go to anyway. A few problems cropped up.

1) They do NOT offer any packages during the period we chose. We wanted to go before CNY and spend our CNY there but the first available ones are during the second day of CNY. Understandably most Chinese would prefer to go travelling after the first day to sort out their prayers (if any) and visit their elderly relatives plus reunion dinner in their hometown.

2) The more flexible agencies offer us ground packages but we have to take their choices of hotels. After some researching, some of these hotels they offer are not as nice as some for the same price or cheaper ones. (@.@"")

3) The ground tour packages they offered are not what we want to have

Sounds familiar? We just wanted to have a comfortable hotel and visit places we are interested in. Apparently with tours, you gotta go to places they planned and most of them are not where we would like to spend hours in.

Another round with Mr Google and we realised there are plenty of tour packages online. In fact, they are about the same prices like those offered by travel agencies in Malaysia and somewhat cheaper at times. You can even customised your own so why not? Well, another thing we were a little wary on are the trustworthiness of these random tour sites. They are not exactly well known and who knows if they are fake sites? Imagine turning up at your holiday destination but with no tour guides showing up after you paid for everything? Thankfully, in Australia apparently all these sites are legit...*big relieved sigh* After a lot of discussion, we decided to try several different companies (We were careful not to put all our eggs in the same basket :D)

So anyway, here I am deciding to share it all. My comments and suggestions for choosing the tour packages.
My advice would be to go for the boutique tour. The small group would be more personal, and requests can be met easily. You don't have to wait for the whole 30pax people from the bus to come back as there are only going to be 10-12 of you max. Sometimes lesser. On the other hand, boutique tours can be somewhat specific and have lesser choices compared to the bigger tour groups which offer better savings and lots of different tours to various places.

I will start with Sydney.

Blue Diamond Tours - Blue Mountains Day Tour AUD185/adult (

 If I could give them ten stars, I would. This is the best of all the tours I took in Sydney. Believe me, I do NOT exaggerate. 

"My family and I went on the tour to blue mountains yesterday and our experience was amazing! The commentary on the city sights as we went around picking up the rest of the group was really interesting and our guide Rob is punctual (we covered everything on their list and more in record time, lol). I would definitely recommend anyone who wanted to go to Blue Mountains to seriously consider taking their package.
Visited February 2015"

I gave them a good review on TripAdvisor and for proof, please go through all the reviews and you can probably see how the good reviews are all consistent. Haha. Please note the purple italic are taken from the DiamondTour website.

1) Before we head West, we will show you parts of the Sydney CBD district. Instead of taking you straight up the highway we visit the area of Canada Bay showing you where local Sydney people live. Just 1½ hrs away we arrive in the heart of the Blue Mountains District, take in the scenery while indulging in life’s simple pleasures at Wentworth Falls. Enjoy freshly baked Scones with Jam & Cream with Homemade Dessert & Tea, Coffee or Hot Chocolate. 
The scones are excellent (you also get a real tiny custard tart) and the views from this stop (Morgan's Hand Crafted Coffee) are amazing. If you finish your food fast you get to take some pictures around it. Remember to go for toilet breaks if necessary.

Please ignore our size difference ><
2) Visit Scenic World and start your adventure on Scenic Skyway. Experience the thrill of walking on air with a see through glass floor showing views of the valley 200m below. Dare yourself to ride the steepest railway in the world, with an incline of 52 degrees the Mountain Devil is suitable for people of all ages. After enjoying a stroll through the ancient rainforest, ride the Scenic Cableway which is Australia’s steepest cable car. See spectacular views of the Three Sisters and vast expanse of the Jamison valley. Scenic World is an experience to remember with our guides providing an intimate touch into an unspoiled valley of natural wildlife and the glorious magnitude of the rainforest. (Rides at own expense)
I do not get why the rides are not included because they are something you should really go on at least once. However, there are some in our group who decided to take a walk up instead etc. But boy, I think they were really missing out a lot. The rides were amazing and we loved it! There are three rides in total.

Check out the pics below:
First ride: Cableway
I freaked out a little on Railway cos it's a pretty steep ride down the hill :S
Second ride: Skyway

 Third ride: Skyway (Best bottom glass ride)

We also went on the pathway and caught sight of some really elusive animals and birds. Hmm...I forgot the name of the bird and all but according to the guide, we were really lucky cos not everyone managed to see it.

3) Echo Point, the closest and best view of the Three Sisters. You will be able to witness the blue haze and the vast expanse of the Jamison Valley. Feel the spiritual presence of the Three Sisters, hear the Dream Time Stories and experience for yourself the raw magic the Blue Mountains creates.

Here you get to take tons of gorgeous photos of the natural rock formation, the eucalyptus forest tinged in blue and the guide was really attentive and help everyone in our group to take their photos.

4) Visit a secret location that provides fantastic views of the Jamison Valley away from the crowds.
This one is also true and quite nice because no need to be squeezed by every one else as there are practically nobody in this area they stopped.

5) Enjoy a hot filling lunch with many different options to choose from including vegetarian with a glass of Australian Beer, Wine, Soft Drink, Tea or Coffee.

 We had the Fish & Chips, Steak Sandwich, and the Chicken Cutlet or something. I preferred the Steak Sandwich. :)
Fish and chips

Steak Sandwich
6) On our way back to Sydney we will venture to the suburb of Doonside to visit Featherdale Wildlife Park which is Sydney’s ultimate wildlife experience. The multi award-winning Park has the world’s largest collection of Australian native animals. Cuddle up to a Koala or feed the baby Wallabies. There are also Emu’s, Wombats, Tasmanian Devils, Crocodile & countless number of bird species. Featherdale Wildlife Park has gone out of their way to make their park unique, as it is so interactive. A perfect way to end a magnificent day interacting with Australia’s native animals.

As you can see, the animals are all very very adorable. We had fun and since we made good time from Blue Mountains, when we reached the Featherdale Wildlife Park, most of the bigger tour buses had not reached yet. SO we mostly had the park to ourselves. As we were leaving we saw some of the buses starting to arrive so YAYYYY!!!

We especially like that they have an open pen where all the kangaroos and wallabies running..or rather hopping free! :D 
7) Your trip to Sydney is not complete without a cruise on Parramatta River to Sydney Harbour Circular Quay. Enjoy a relaxing yet uplifting cruise as you view the Opera House and Harbour Bridge before disembarking at Circular Quay. Your tour will then conclude for the day at approximately 5:00pm giving you enough time to freshen up and enjoy the rest of evening in Sydney.

This part is also very enjoyable. We were driven to a quite secluded jetty and boarded the ferry to town. You can see all the locals taking the ferry towards the CBD too. be continued in Part 2
Review on Sydney Aquarium HERE

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