Travelling to New York for the first time can quite be overwhelming, here’s my top 10 travel tips for the Big Apple!
1) Don’t fall for scams
Like any major city around the world, NYC has certain tourist scams that you should avoid. The most common one is taking photos with the costumed characters (Elmo, Mario, Spiderman etc) and then being accosted to pay a tip. Another common one is the CD scam, whereby a pushy individual will hand you a CD and then very aggressively harass you to buy it. On my last trip to New York, I experienced the broken glasses scam – a rather obese man “bumped” into me and claimed I “broke” his glasses and wanted me to pay him back. The hilarious part was him panting and trying to keep up with me as I power walked back to my hotel.
2) Eat at Michelin restaurants on the cheap
New York has some of the most famous and expensive restaurants in the world, some meals costing upwards of $400 per person. However, many Michelin restaurants (including Eleven Madison Park and Le Bernardin) have a less formal lounge/bar menu that allows savvy diners to experience fine cuisine for a lot less money! Unfortunately, you cannot book the bar or lounge so get in early to secure a spot.
3) Prepare for lines at most attractions
New York City is the most visited city in the US and unsurprisingly most tourist attractions have lengthy lines. If you prefer not to wait there are a number of options to fast track your admission including purchasing tourist passes, booking tickets online and visiting at off peak hours. Some attractions actually offer free or discounted admission during off peak hours e.g. the 9/11 Memorial Museum has Free Admission Tuesdays after 5 p.m.
4) Check your bill/receipt for tips
Make sure you check the bill at restaurants and cafes to see if tips have already been included in the total price. Sometimes the tip included in the bill can be very high and unsuspecting tourists end up paying without even realizing!
5) Do get cheap Broadway tickets from TKTS
Experiencing a musical on Broadway is a must for your first time in New York but tickets can often be $100+ for decent seats. However, if you visit the TKTS booth you can snap up discounted tickets (up to 50% off) for same day musicals and plays. There’s 4 TKTS booths in New York but make sure you get in early cause tickets get sold quickly, for opening hours and location details head here.
6) Take the free Staten Island Ferry to see the Statue of Liberty
Although a cruise around the New York harbor may seem like a picturesque way to sight see, I would recommend saving the money and hopping on the free Staten Island Ferry. The 25 minute ferry ride offers stunning views of the Statue of Liberty, lower Manhattan and Governors Island. Once you’ve reached Staten Island you can explore the local attractions or wait for the next ferry back to New York.
7) Use Uber or Lyft instead of taxis
Unless you have money to burn, I would recommend using Uber or Lyft over taking an iconic yellow taxi as the fares are usually cheaper but beware of surge pricing. If you have never used Uber before, click on my code UBERCHRISCHOW for a discount!
8) Do ride the subway but download the map first
The subway is often faster than taking an Uber/Lyft/taxi because of NYC’s traffic and road design. Download the New York Subway MTA map to help you navigate the confusing stations and tunnels.
9) Shop at discount department stores for luxury bargains
New York City is the home to the most famous luxury brand around the world. Check out discount department stores including Century 21 and Nordstrom Rack to find heavily discounted clothing from the likes of Hugo Boss, Diane von Furstenberg and Marc Jacobs.
10) Get a prepaid USA SIM before you go
While it is possible to buy a SIM card from a mobile provider (T-Mobile, AT&T) when you land in the US, in my opinion it’s much easier and more economical to purchase one in Australia before you leave. I’ve personally used SIM Corner for both the US and Europe, check out their great range of SIM cards here, make sure you use my coupon code AXDo7R2bCMUcLWRa2ilPLw at checkout for 5% off your order!