Just to the south of the city centre and north of Central station is Australia's largest Chinatown , Capitol Square and the Haymarket.
The district is full of good value restaurants, cheaper hotels, Internet cafes, pubs, markets, and discount shopping.
If you are arriving in Sydney by long distance bus or train, this is the area where you will be dropped off, at Central station.
The City South district is to the south of City Centre, to the east of Darling Harbour and City West and also adjoins both City East and Eastern Suburbs toward its eastern boundaries. It has three main lineal axis, Pitt Street, George Street and Sussex Street.
Central and Town Hall stations are best. Walk north (towards the harbour/city) along George St from Central, or south (away from the harbour/city) along George St from Town Hall.
Turn onto Hay St for Chinatown.
By light rail
The Light Rail has stops at Haymarket and at Paddy's Markets stations. If you are coming from Pyrmont or the Casino its a good option. If you are coming from the City or Darling Harbour is probably just as quick to walk.
- Buses running from Railway Square north to the City all stop along George St. Get off near Hay St. The free city shuttle serves the area too.
- Some buses running south from the city up George St stop along George St adjacent to Haymarket. Not all George St buses take this route. Check the details on the stop and check with the driver. You will want to press the button to get off when you see World Square on the left. George St buses leave from Stand C at Circular Quay.
- From Darling Harbour Chinatown is on the southernmost edge. Walk past Tumbalong Park and the Entertainment center. About 20 minutes from Harbourside.
Some streets in the Haymarket area gets extremely congested on weekends and at peak hour. One wrong turn at these times can add 15 minutes to your journey. However, there is plenty of parking in and around the area. Parking in Darling Harbour or the Entertainment Centre carpark is also an option. Parking is around $25 a day in Market City. Look for $15 all day deals on weekends in some of the lots around the south of the area.
Walking is the best option in Haymarket, as most parts of it is inaccessible to public transport.
- Dixon St. Starts in front of the markets on Hay St and runs just over two blocks to Goulburn St in the north. Dixon St is a malled pedestrian area and closed to traffic. It is decorated in traditional Chinese style and is home to many shops and restaurants.
Stroll around the district exploring the colourful Chinese meets Australian culture.
- Paddy's Markets, (on Hay St just off George St), . W-Su 9AM-5PM. A famous, large market place in the Haymarket. Lots of clothing, sunglasses, souvenirs, and food. Probably not too many bargains to be had, however, don't be afraid to bargain the prices if you're purchasing in bulk--there can be good deals! Closest station is Central. Closest bus stop is corner of George and Hay. Light rail stop just outside the door. Parking in Market City. edit
- World Square, Corner of George St and Liverpool St, . A large shopping precinct on George St, with many specialty stores, including a Sony Store edit
- Capitol Square. If the Sony store looks a little out of your price range, there is a maze of small electronic stores around the distict. Many get most of their sales from web front ends or ebay, but it is a very competitive environment to buy electronics edit
Food and supplies
- Chinatown contains a modern shopping center, restaurants, boutique shops, and a cinema complex. The area is particularly famous for its Chinese stores, mainly in Dixon Street, selling imported clothing and homewares, Chinese herbs, and exotic foodstuffs such as pressed duck, Asian greens and dried mushrooms.
Avoid the convenience stores for food and supplies. Coles in World Square is a good place to shop for supplies.
This area has an incredible range of restaurants and is one of Sydney’s best dining precincts. There are over 60 restaurants and food court stalls around Chinatown and Haymarket, offering many Chinese regional specialities, plus Vietnamese, Thai, Korean, Japanese, Taiwanese and Malaysian cuisines. Many establishments serve the ever popular yum cha, irresistible sweet and savory snacks that are wheeled around on trolleys, generally between 10AM and 2PM. As a rule, avoid any restaurant in Chinatown with touts outside begging you to come in - the food is more often than not overpriced and not good. For a complete contrast, visit near by Liverpool Street, where there are some excellent Spanish restaurants.
- Gumshara, Eating World, Haymarket, tucked in the corner. Easily the best Ramen place in Sydney by a country mile. Probably more for the younger crowd as the soup is a thick, delicious gravy. Toppings wise the standard is a few pieces of very nice Char Sui. The mega bowl ($25) also features a stomach busting pork rib, braised egg, along with the char sui and a pork belly skewer - great hangover food after a night on the tiles in Kings Cross. $10-$15 per bowl.
- BBQ King, 18-20 Goulburn St, 9267 2586. Entrees $4.40-8.80, mains $8.80-26. Open 11.30AM-2AM. As the name suggests, you come here for barbecue, and a lot of people would agree that this place is king. It's old-school, with laminex tables and folding chairs. There may be a queue, but it won't last long, and the great duck is worth the wait. Try the spinach with garlic, too.
- Lam's Seafood Restaurant, 35-7 Goulburn St, Haymarket, 9281 2882. Entrees $4-23.80, mains $15 - market price seafood. Open noon-4AM. Quick lunch? Luxurious banquet? You can do both here. Popular with locals, visitors and anyone in-between, Lam's has an extensive menu and staff who know a thing or two about getting the most out of the kitchen.
- Marigold Citymark, Levels 4 & 5, 683-9 George St, Haymarket, 9281 3388. Dim sum $2.40-4.60, yum cha specials $5.70. This 800-seat yum cha palace serves lunchtime yum cha daily and has an extensive menu of other dishes. Join the hordes.
- Golden Century Seafood Restaurant, 393-99 Sussex St, Haymarket, 9212 3901. Open noon-4AM. With lots of fish tanks displaying your nervous-looking dinner, this place is a favorite late-night eating spot for many of Sydney's chefs and hotel workers. The flavors are exotic and engaging, the service fast and slick.
- Zilver (nee Silver Spring), Level 1, 477 Pitt St, Haymarket, 9211 2232. Entrees $5-15.80, mains $13.80-market price seafood. Open 10AM-3PM (yum cha), 5.30PM-11PM (a la carte). Something of a yum cha mothership on weekends, this place offers a mind-boggling array of dishes from the a la carte menu too. Get a group together and have a feast.
- Dragon Star Seafood Restaurant, Level 3, Market City, 9 Hay Street, 9211 8988. Dishes $11 - market price seafood. Open 10AM-5PM (yum cha) daily, 5.30PM-11PM Su-Th, until midnight F, Sa. This enormous place can seat about 800 people, and regularly gets filled to capacity for its yum cha sessions. Ask the waiter to recommend dishes and you'll be duly rewarded with succulent offerings. As you'd expect, shark fin is the specialty.
- Chinese Noodle Restaurant, Shop 7, Prince Centre, 8 Quay Street, 9281 9051. Dishes $6-8.80. At this intimate, busy eatery decorated with grapes and Persian rugs, the noodles are handmade in traditional northern Chinese style - and the crowds are glad of it.
- Emperor's Garden BBQ & Noodles , 213-5 Thomas St, 9281 9899. Dishes $3.50-9. This is a popular Chinese eatery specializing in meat and poultry dishes (marinated duck tongue $6) and has a great little window area where you can choose your takeaway goodies.
- Harbour Plaza Food Court, Corner of Dixon & Goulburn Sts, Haymarket. Dishes $5-8. Open 10AM-10PM. The pagoda-style Harbour Plaza has a wide range of cheap Asian meals available.
- Market City Shopping Centre, Level 3, 2-13 Quay St Sydney, 9212 1388. Dishes $3.50-10. This mammoth place has a fresh produce market on the first level, a factory outlet on the second level and more food from more places than you can imagine on the third level. You'll find Paddy's Markets and Kam Fook here too.
- Sussex Centre, 401 Sussex St Sydney. Dishes $5-7. Open 9AM-10PM. The food court here has a range of cheap, tasty dishes, making it a sensible choice for those who want to eat and run.
- Dixon House Food Court, Corner Little Hay & Dixon Sts, Haymarket. Dishes $5-8. This food court offers a selection of about 20 vendors, with low prices.
- 80 Proof/Cheers Bar, 561 George St, Sydney. Dishes $5-21.50. This is a bar and bistro open 24 hours, catering to sports fans with live games shown, and serving pub grub. The chicken schnitzels served are an ideal delicious good valued snack.
- Covent Garden Hotel. A local institution. Usually busy, a mix of the after work crowd, tourists, and people in town for a night out. Gets very busy before some shows at the Entertainment centre. Recently renovated in modern style, and struggling a little to recapture the former vibe.
The area around Central Station and Haymarket has many choices of backpacker accommodation, including Wake Up and two YHAs at Sydney Central and Railway Square.
- Eco Lodge - Sydney, Chalmers St, (5 min from Central Station). ([email protected]) Guest house for environmentally conscious, house has compost, worm farm and 9 chickens. Single Rooms from $40 per night.
- Nomads Sydney (Westend Backpackers), 412 Pitt Street, ☎ +61 2 9211 4588 (, [email protected]), . checkin: 2pm; checkout: 10am. Nearby to Haymarket, Chinatown and Central station. Beds in a shared dormitory room from $23 a night, doubles from $70. edit
- Maze Backpackers Hostel, 417 Pitt St, 1800 813 522 . Beds in a dormitory room from $21 per night, single room $45, double $60.
- Sydney Central on Wentworth, 75 Wentworth Ave, ☎ +61 2 9212 1005, . In a landmark heritage building. 24 hr reception, coin-operated laundry, guest kitchen, free guest internet kiosk, and subsidized payment for parking in the nearby Wilson Car Park in Goulburn Street. From $38. edit
- Sydney Central YHA 11 Rawson Place, ☎ +61 2 9281 9111 (fax +61 2 9281 9199, ([mailto:[email protected] [email protected]]) . (Across the road from Central railway station). Beds in a dorm room for non-members are $36 per night, private rooms for non-members are $120 with ensuite.
- Wake Up, 509 Pitt St (Opposite Central railway station), ☎ +61 2 9288 7888 ([email protected], fax: +61 2 9288 7889), . Side Bar is open from 4PM until late every night of the week. The onsite cafe serves budget conscious breakfasts, lunches and dinner. A/C rooms, internet cafe, 24 hr reception, security key card access, storage lockers in dorms, coin operated laundries and a guest kitchen. Watch for the free walking tours of the city and Bondi beach, as you get a free beer at the end of the walk. The rooms are very clean but the cheapest dorms have 12 beds, so if you have noisy roommates, this can be a problem. There is only one kitchen for seven floors, so consider making your meal outside of suppertime as it gets crowded. Dorms from $32 a night, private rooms from $98. edit
- University Stays, 8-10 Missenden Road, ([email protected]), . University Colleges offer comfortable bed and breakfast accommodation in beautiful surroundings at great value prices. Single, twin and double rooms are available during the student holidays from late November up to end of February and in June/July. Close to Newtown, Glebe, Haymarket and Chinatown. Single room (with share bathroom) from $66, doubles (with ensuite bathroom) from $95. Rate includes breakfast.. edit
- Mercure Sydney Hotel 818-820 George Street, +61 2 9217 6666 (Fax +61 2 9217 6888) . 4 star Sydney hotel with 517 rooms, adjacent to Central Station. Easy access to Darling Harbour, Sydney's shopping and retail center and major attractions. Between $149-$300 per night.
- Rydges Capitol Square Hotel Cnr George & Campbell Streets, 1300 857 922. . Incorporated within the Capitol Theatre complex. Near Darling Harbour, the Sydney Entertainment Centre, Central Station and Chinatown. Rooms from $78-$120.
- Leisure Inn Sydney Central 28-30 Regent Street, (Opposite Sydney's Central Train Station, ☎ 1800 060 954. . Leisure Inn Sydney Central is a modern, fully refurbished hotel featuring brand new guest rooms. A short walk to the city centre. Rooms from $95.
- Citigate Central Sydney, 169-179 Thomas Street, ☎ +61 2 9281 6888 ([email protected]), . A hotel close to Darling Harbour, Central Railway Station, Chinatown and Sydney's CBD. edit
The George St area between Town Hall and Central can be a little rough very late at night. It's always busy though, so the usual precautions should see you stay out of trouble. Try to avoid Belmore Park (on Eddy Avenue in front of Central Station) at night as it seems to attract a lot of drug addicts and homeless people.
Central Bus Station isn't the best introduction to Sydney at any time of day, and is unpleasant after dark. If you are arriving late, have plans for how you are getting away safely.
Cleveland Street, particularly around the intersections with Regent and Crown Streets, have well known problems regarding homeless drug addicts robbing people and stealing from cars stopped at traffic lights.
There are many Internet cafes around the area, of every kind you could imagine. Small shops have terminals, internet stores advertise high speed and gaming access. World Square has coin operated terminals, along with a couple of the other shopping centres. Around Central station there are several options (although not in the station itself).
In addition the public libraries in the area offer Internet access.
Expect to pay a couple of dollars to check email, or try to get around $6 for an hour of usage.
Wander westwards to Darling Harbour
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