Thinking of travelling to Australia and getting data connectivity? Here are some things to note:
Australia is very well connected in the cities. Typically 3G speeds are great. One of the better data plans to get is Optus’ 2 AUD per day prepaid card. I own an iPhone 5 and they already have nano SIM card options. I purchased one for 15 AUD to last me for 6 days, having unlimited data, local voice and local SMS.
Now for the down side — Optus doesn’t allow you to create Personal Hotspots using iPhone 5. Once you plug the newly purchased SIM card, Personal Hotspots disappear from the Settings menu. Optus only allow post-paid to have this option. If you cannot create Personal Hotspots you basically can’t use your iPhone as a data modem with your newly purchased SIM card. You might have better luck with Vodafone although I highly recommend you to enquire the mobile data plan provider.
If you’re thinking of relying on free WiFi connectivity you will be disappointed. Free Wi-Fi is a rarity and so far the 2 Starbucks I passed by, one at Elizabeth Street and another around Pitts Street, doesn’t offer WiFi. Free WiFi doesn’t seem to be available in the airport too. The hotel that I stay in, Metro Hotel Sydney Central offers WiFi at 5 AUD per hour or 15 AUD per day.
I highly recommend you to get mobile data plans if you are traveling without a guide or alone like in my case.
Sydney is easy to navigate in the The Rocks and the City Centre with helpful signs all around. It’s easy to get lost while walking through the Royal Botanical Gardens though. You can rely on the kindness of others to help you. Most Australians are friendly and wouldn’t mind directing the tourist to their destinations. If you’re just going to be there for a day, just remember the full address of your hotel, including the area where it is located, you can generally be safe without a data plan.