And no, It’s not New York (sorry Jay Z and Alicia Keys, no concrete jungles here).
Sydney is one of the most iconic cities on earth, famous for it’s incredibly versatile landscape, from the Opera House to Bondi Beach, there’s something about sun, sea and sand in a city that has millions of us hooked.
For many, a holiday to Australia is a once in a lifetime opportunity, with the average holiday costing over $3000 per person, it’s understandable to want to get proof that you saw all the major sights. After living in Sydney’s suburbia for eight months myself, the urge to visit the harbour bridge faded after the first few times it crossed my path and found that the best places to spend the day weren’t packed on the busiest beach, but the ones where there were miles between one person and another (I’ve written about this here). Likewise, the most fulfilling days in the CBD queuing for two hours for a ferry across the harbour to shopping for souvenirs but hiding out in beautful, but well-hidden areas.
The Chinese Garden of Friendship has to be, hands-down, the best of the lot.
Located in the heart of Darling Quarter, home to the Business District and Chinatown, this little place of tranquility feels like its miles away from the hustle and bustle of Australia’s most populated city. If it were any other street, it’d probably take you five minutes to walk across the bridges and explore each passage, but with so many pieces of traditional Chinese symbolism that it is possible to spend hours hiding from reality here.
The garden is popular with locals and tourists alike, as a person who fits into neither category, I found it essential to my stay in Sydney, whether its a long-day at work or you just need some space, the calm nature of bonsai trees and beautiful waterfalls makes the gardens the real-life equivalent of a mindfulness app.
The garden was built to signify friendship between China and Australia, with many symbolisms of this present, in this modern society, it definitely isn’t the only meaning nowadays. Life can get so hectic that this quiet haven is exactly what Sydney needs, what every city needs. A place to be at one and surrounded by nature- it may sound cliche, but its true. As a tourist, its easy to get wrapped up in ticking off the to-do list but a holiday is to relax so spending some time just relaxing here is perfect for taking an hour out.
It’s not just those dealing with everyday life that the garden caters for, children are left mesmerised by the selection of birds and reptiles surrounding the area. An insight from Busy Cit Kids can vouch for the excitement of a koi fish pond and craft activities in her post here.
Making it a day-trip ($50 budget)
10:30 Walk down to Haymarket, through Paddy’s Markets (here you’ll find cheap souvenirs and some lovely original clothing)
11:30 Head to the Chinese Garden of Friendship for a beautiful, calm start for your morning $8.00
13:00 Grab a hearty lunch at Pumphouse (I’d recommend a classic burger and chips and lots of BBQ sauce) or take the cheaper option of Chinatown eateries $23.00 / $8.00
14:00 Walk off lunch and Stroll over to Darling Harbour (take the left side to Pymont Bay for insta-worthy shots of the iconic harbour)
14:30 Follow the bay round to reach Circular Quay (a surreal experience, seeing the postcard picture of the harbour bridge and opera house in one go)
15:00 Take a glimpse at some eye-opening work in the Museum of Contemporary Art (head to the cafe for a coffee with a view) $0.00
17:00 Kick-back with a drink at Taylor’s Rooftop bar (watch the sunset with happy hour cocktails and a stunning view across the CBD) $5.00
18:30: Grab a mexican to-go at Guzman & Gomez before heading back to Central Station $7.50
19:00 Back to the hotel (but no need to stop here, go for a few drinks locally if you want to continue your evening)
Total Spend: $20.10 or $43.50 depending on your meal budget
Have you visited the Chinese Garden of Friendship before? I’d love to hear about hoe you spent your day in Sydney, tweet or comment below.