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Factor in constant growth every year since (many in the double digits), and Greater Vancouver today is Canada's largest metropolitan area west of [[Toronto]] with more than 2,000,000 residents, roughly half of British Columbia's population as a whole. It is also the fastest growing part of Canada. Greater Vancouver is one of the most ethnically diverse metropolitan areas in the world and is home to the second largest Chinatown in Noth America after [[San Francisco]].  
 
Factor in constant growth every year since (many in the double digits), and Greater Vancouver today is Canada's largest metropolitan area west of [[Toronto]] with more than 2,000,000 residents, roughly half of British Columbia's population as a whole. It is also the fastest growing part of Canada. Greater Vancouver is one of the most ethnically diverse metropolitan areas in the world and is home to the second largest Chinatown in Noth America after [[San Francisco]].  
  
The city truly arrived in 1986 when Vancouver "hosted the world" with the Expo 86 World Fair. Media attention from around the world was consistently positive, and many considered it the most successful World's Fair since Montreal's. Vancouver has been awarded the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, and this event will no doubt cast Vancouver into the world spotlight once again. It will be the largest city ever to host the winter games, and interestingly, the only city at sea level to host them. The only worry being that Febuary is the rainiest month of the year in Vancouver.
+
The city truly arrived in 1986 when Vancouver "hosted the world" with the Expo 86 World Fair. Media attention from around the world was consistently positive, and many considered it the most successful World's Fair since Montreal's. Vancouver has been awarded the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, and this event will no doubt cast Vancouver into the world spotlight once again. It will be the largest city ever to host the winter games, and interestingly, the only city at sea level to host them. The only worry being that February is the rainiest month of the year in Vancouver.
  
 
Vancouver is perhaps best known for its scenic beauty, and the opportunities afforded by its natural environment. Vancouver is one of those rare places where you could theoretically ski in the mountains, windsurf in the ocean, and play a round of golf all in the same day. Surrounded by water on three sides, and crowned by the North Shore mountains, Vancouver is a great destination in itself, as well a a great starting point for discovering the area's many outdoor activities.  
 
Vancouver is perhaps best known for its scenic beauty, and the opportunities afforded by its natural environment. Vancouver is one of those rare places where you could theoretically ski in the mountains, windsurf in the ocean, and play a round of golf all in the same day. Surrounded by water on three sides, and crowned by the North Shore mountains, Vancouver is a great destination in itself, as well a a great starting point for discovering the area's many outdoor activities.  

Revision as of 15:19, 23 December 2007

For other places with the same name, see Vancouver (disambiguation).

Vancouver [1][2] is the largest city in Western Canada, and third largest in Canada. Located at the southwestern corner of the coastal province of British Columbia, it is well known for its majestic natural beauty, as it is nestled between the Coast Mountains and the Pacific Ocean. It is frequently ranked as one of the "best cities to live in" and is certainly a beautiful destination to visit.

The Lions Gate bridge connecting with downtown Vancouver.

Contents

Districts

For simplicity the Vancouver area is separated into a number of districts. Most of the attractions associated with Vancouver are in these districts.

These do not correspond to the legal divisions of the city, but are instead a convenient way of sub-dividing Vancouver for travellers.

  • City Center - the Downtown peninsula, includes the West End, Yaletown, Gastown, Chinatown and Stanley Park.
  • Coal Harbour - the new premium high rise neighbourhood on the Vancouver waterfront.
  • Kitsilano - the "young urban professional" neighbourhood (the area outlined on the map also includes the Point Grey neighborhood).
  • Point Grey- bordered by 'Kits' to the east, UBC to the west and the neighbourhood of Dunbar to the south. This area (like much of the west side of Vancouver) is home to nice views, mostly residential lots, a well established commercial area on West 10th and some of the cities most beloved beaches (Jericho, Spanish Banks, Locarno)
  • Vancouver South - a mostly residential area, includes the Kerrisdale, Dunbar, Oakridge and Marpole neighbourhoods.
  • UBC - University of British Columbia and the surrounding area.
  • East Van - a working class area; Commercial Drive is the bohemian part of town, Main Street is an up and coming artsy part of the city.

Areas of Greater Vancouver which are primarily suburbs of Vancouver include:

  • North Shore - the area north of the Burrard Inlet, including District of West Vancouver, City of North Vancouver and District of North Vancouver.
  • Burnaby - A separate, suburban city with a number of parks, including three of the larger GVRD Parks (Central, Burnaby Lake, and Deer Lake). Also contains Metrotown, the largest shopping mall in British Columbia.
  • New Westminster - a separate municipality (previously the province's capital). Has a park, shopping mall (Royal City Mall) and a number of Victorian-style houses in the older parts of town.
  • Richmond - a separate municipality with many restaurants and shopping opportunities, and home to Vancouver International Airport, comprising the larger Lulu Island and Sea Island.
  • Surrey - Vancouver's largest suburb, easily reached on Translink by taking the Skytrain.
  • Coquitlam - an emergent suburb Northeast of Burnaby, becoming largely populated by new Vancouverites and mid-class immigrant residents. Naturally set with local trails, parks, hills, coquitlam is the emerald spot of greater Vancouver.

Understand

Vancouver sea and sky-scrapers
While Vancouver is a comparatively young city, at just over 100 years, its history begins long before. The indigenous peoples (First Nations) have lived in the area for thousands of years, and Vancouver's namesake Captain George Vancouver sailed through the First Narrows in 1792. The first settlement on the downtown peninsula was Granville, located on the spot of today's Gastown. In the year of Canada's confederation a saloon was built on this site and gave birth to a small shantytown of bars and stores adjacent to the original mill on the south shore of what is now the city's harbour. A seemingly endless supply of high quality lumber was logged and sold through the ports of Gastown and Moodyville, across the inlet. Some of the trees were gigantic beams which were shipped to China to construct Beijing's Imperial Palace, and one account maintains that the world's windjammer fleets could not have been built without the trees of Burrard Inlet.

Vancouver proper was signed into existence in 1886. The first City Hall was little more than a hand painted sign nailed to a wooden tent post. The arrival of the transcontinental railway a few years later spurred growth even more and by 1892 the area had over 20,000 residents; eighteen years later this figure was over 100,000.

Factor in constant growth every year since (many in the double digits), and Greater Vancouver today is Canada's largest metropolitan area west of Toronto with more than 2,000,000 residents, roughly half of British Columbia's population as a whole. It is also the fastest growing part of Canada. Greater Vancouver is one of the most ethnically diverse metropolitan areas in the world and is home to the second largest Chinatown in Noth America after San Francisco.

The city truly arrived in 1986 when Vancouver "hosted the world" with the Expo 86 World Fair. Media attention from around the world was consistently positive, and many considered it the most successful World's Fair since Montreal's. Vancouver has been awarded the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, and this event will no doubt cast Vancouver into the world spotlight once again. It will be the largest city ever to host the winter games, and interestingly, the only city at sea level to host them. The only worry being that February is the rainiest month of the year in Vancouver.

Vancouver is perhaps best known for its scenic beauty, and the opportunities afforded by its natural environment. Vancouver is one of those rare places where you could theoretically ski in the mountains, windsurf in the ocean, and play a round of golf all in the same day. Surrounded by water on three sides, and crowned by the North Shore mountains, Vancouver is a great destination in itself, as well a a great starting point for discovering the area's many outdoor activities.

Vancouver is a major sea port on the Pacific Ocean, and a base for many Alaska Cruise Ships in the summer. It has the same name as another major city in the region, Vancouver, Washington (USA).

Climate

With the exception of Victoria, Vancouver has the mildest climate of any major city in Canada; even palm trees can grow here. It rains a lot in Vancouver, especially during the winters, but the temperature rarely goes below freezing. Snowfalls are an unusual sight and often lead to major traffic congestion. During the winter months it can go weeks without seeing the sun or a dry day, while hovering a few degrees above freezing. The weather in Vancouver is similar to the southern UK, and almost identical to Seattle's. In the early summer the days often start out cloudy, due to marine air, but becomes clear by noon. Contrary to Vancouver's wet reputation, during the summer it is actually the second driest major Canadian city (after Victoria). Summer temperatures are not extreme, the typical day time high between June and August is around 25°C (77°F).

There is one word to describe Vancouver's weather: unpredictable. The weather can be completely different depending on what part of the city you are in. It can be pouring rain on the North Shore and sunny in White Rock.

If you are visiting the city between July and October you will likely have excellent weather. The rainy season often starts in the middle of October. Without warning, one day it will be nice and sunny and the next the rain will begin and continue until early March. If you are coming to the city for a ski holiday the best time to visit is February; the region has a great record for excellent ski conditions during this month, once you get to altitudes above the constant rain.

The Meteorological Service of Canada (MSC) provides weather forecasts [3].

Get in

By plane

YVR, Vancouver International Airport

Vancouver International Airport [4] (YVR) is located just South of the city. There are frequent flights between here and many major cities in Canada and the USA. There are also frequent direct flights to many cities in Asia and some cities in Europe. It is one of the world's largest airports with terminals designed to accommodate the new Airbus A380, which had a test landing at YVR on Wed. Nov 29, 2006.

Before 2005, a $15 Airport Improvement Fee was levied as a departure tax against all travellers using the Vancouver International Airport. The aim of the fee was to offset the costs of building the airport. Just recently, collection of the Airport Improvement Fee at check-in was discontinued which resulted in shorter lines through customs and security. However, the fee is still collected, but hidden in the tax section of an airline ticket.

The airport has a policy of “street pricing”, obliging retailers and restaurants to sell at the same prices in the airport as in the city to avoid customer gouging. Typical fast-food restaurants are located before the security check-ins in the departure areas. For a nice meal, a Milestone's restaurant is located in the domestic terminal just outside the security check-in. In the international terminal, the upscale Fairmont Hotel has a nice view and some reasonably priced choices on their menu.

One little quirk about travel out of Canada into the USA is that you will clear customs before you board the plane, so give yourself some extra time to check-in when you leave Vancouver for U.S. destinations. Note that this also means that duty-free purchases are only available in one shop between the check-in counter and US Customs; and are not available at U.S. bound gate lounges or on the plane since technically you are already in the U.S. This also means that there are direct flights from Vancouver into cities that do not have customs clearance facilities (for example Kona in Hawaii).

The cheapest way from the airport to downtown is public bus. Take bus number 424 to Airport Station and change to the "98 B-Line" bus. The total trip to Burrard Station downtown takes about 40 minutes. The bus into downtown can be crowded, but it does run frequently (about every 8 minutes during peak hours). The fare to downtown is $3.25 from start of service to 6:30PM weekdays, or $2.25 after 6:30PM and on weekends - keep hold of your transfer ticket, as it is good for 90 minutes of travel on any public transit from time of purchase, and your only proof of payment. Drivers take exact Canadian coin fare only; bills are NOT accepted. And there is nowhere to get change once you have left the arrivals terminal, so get change first! Translink, the Greater Vancouver Transit Authority, serves all areas of Greater Vancouver, with bus and community shuttle services, an overhead light rail transit system (SkyTrain), a ferry to the North Shore from Downtown (SeaBus) [5] and the West Coast Express Commuter Train [6]. They have a trip planning service to get you from point A to B at a minimal cost. [7] or +1 604-953-3333.

If you don't mind spending the extra money, more convenient is the "YVR Airporter" [8] (1-800-668-3141) which costs $13 one way or $20 return, and drops off at major hotels downtown. Unfortunately the airporter service runs only 8:00AM-10:00PM. The public transit option describe above runs later than the airporter. A taxi ride downtown will cost about $25. All taxis that serve the airport are required to accept credit cards. The taxi ride is under half an hour.

Vancouver has scheduled non-stop, year-round air service to Hong Kong, Taipei, Seoul, Tokyo, Manila, Singapore, Shanghai, Beijing, Honolulu, Maui, Auckland, Sydney (non-stop in December 2007) Anchorage, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Sacramento, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Palm Springs, San Diego, Salt Lake City, Phoenix, Denver, Dallas, Houston, Chicago, New York, Mexico City, London, Glasgow, Amsterdam, and Frankfurt. Dozens of other cities are served by charter flights on a seasonal basis - Europe in the summer, and Mexico and the Caribbean in the winter.

Air Canada and WestJet have the majority of domestic flights into YVR, but seasonal charter airlines Skyservice and Sunwing also fly to Toronto. Air North also competes with Air Canada with a direct flight to Whitehorse, in the Yukon Territory. A variety of smaller regional airlines including but not limited to Pacific Coastal, Central Mountain Air, Hawkair, Helijet, Craig Air, and Orca Airways, fly out of YVR's South Terminal facility. There is also a floatplane dock near the South Terminal and several small airlines have scheduled flights to destinations on Vancouver Island and up the Sunshine Coast.

Floatplane and heliport There are floatplane facilities located both in the Coal Harbour area of downtown Vancouver (CXH) and at Vancouver International South Terminal (YVR). Floatplanes operated by Harbour Air, Baxter Aviation, Salt Spring Air and West Coast Air fly frequently from downtown Vancouver and/or YVR to Victoria's Inner Harbour and other destinations including the scenic Gulf Islands. Some of these float plane operators will also do tours of the city and nearby attractions starting at about $80-100 per person... a great way to see the city. A quick search of Google will bring up websites for most of these float plane operators.

Finally, Helijet operates helicopter service from the downtown heliport, providing quick and convenient connections to Victoria and Whistler.

Abbotsford International Airport [9] (YXX), Vancouver's alternative airport which is located in the Eastern Lower Mainland about an hour out of the city. Most flights that come into this airport are domestic. The best way to reach Vancouver is by car, take the Trans-Canada Highway west. If you plan on using public transit it is recommended that you fly into YVR (Vancouver International Airport), the only way to reach downtown Vancouver on Translink is by taking the West Coast Express commuter train from Mission Station. (Which only runs during morning and evening rush-hour)

This airport is very handy if you are trying to access the Lower Mainland, and do not need to enter the city of Vancouver itself. With an arranged ride, you can be in and out of this airport in under 10 minutes (with no checked in baggage).

Flying in and out of Seattle and then using the bus for travel to and from Vancouver is often less expensive than buying a direct flight. For budget travellers, consider checking flights to and from Seattle. The bus ride takes about 5 hours one way and driving time is approximately 2.5 to 3 hours.

By car

Driving in Vancouver can be confusing since no freeways run into downtown Vancouver, and signage is often confusing and\or wrong. Two main highways run through Greater Vancouver. Highway #1 is the Trans Canada highway which enters the city from the east. Highway 99 runs from the USA/Canada border to Whistler, it is the Canadian extension of the USA's Interstate 5 which starts in San Diego. Highway 99 does not run as a freeway through the city of Vancouver, after the Oak Street bridge HWY99 runs North on Oak street then runs West on Park Drive and finally continues North on Granville street into downtown Vancouver.

Visitors travelling to Vancouver by car across the U.S. border should be aware that there are often lengthy lineups at the border, in either direction. During summer, waits at the border can exceed three hours during peak times. It can be helpful to view webcams of the border lineups; northbound on I-5 [10] and southbound on Highway 99 [11]. Also, the "News 1130" (1130 on the AM dial) radio station broadcasts information about border lineups every 10 minutes beginning at one minute past the hour.

If you are driving into Vancouver for the first time it is recommended that you consult a map. Also, Vancouver itself consists of some 23 municipalities, the vast majority which number the streets, so there are multiples of many streets, and many streets change names. For Example Hastings, becomes the Barnet highway, which becomes St John's Street, which turns back into the Barnet highway before turning into the Lougheed highway.

By bus

Vancouver is well served by bus service. There are a number of different bus lines providing service to various cities near and far. Here are a couple of examples:

  • Greyhound [12] connects Vancouver with many cities, including Seattle, Calgary and Nanaimo on Vancouver Island.
  • Quick Coach [13] connects Vancouver with SeaTac (Seattle-Tacoma Airport in Washington).
  • Pacific Coach Lines[14] Connects Vancouver with Victoria. Scheduled service follows the BC Ferry service from Tswwassen to Victoria (Swartz Bay). This is hourly in the summer months, and every two hours in the off-season.

By train

Unlikely to be the cheapest option, but travelling from Edmonton or Jasper by rail makes for a good way to see the Canadian Rockies. VIA Rail [15] has the Canadian which runs from Toronto to Vancouver with 3 weekly departures. Rocky Mountaineer Vacations also operates trains to Whistler, Banff, and Jasper from April to October.

Amtrak [16] runs a service between Seattle and Vancouver. There are trains daily, leaving Seattle at 7:45AM arrives into Vancouver at 11:40AM. The return trip leaves Vancouver at 6PM.

By boat

Greater Vancouver has two major ferry terminals, the largest is the Tsawwassen terminal which connects Vancouver with both Nanaimo and Victoria on Vancouver Island. Horseshoe bay a slightly smaller terminal services Nanaimo, Bowen Island and the Sunshine Coast. Both terminals are far enough from the city core that you will need to travel by car or bus to get to them. In terms of bus transportation, the various coach services are recommended over public transit. Public buses to and from the ferry terminals are time-consuming and frustrating.

BC Ferries [17] is the main service provider that connects the Vancouver area with Nanaimo and Victoria on Vancouver Island, with the Southern Gulf Islands and with the Sunshine Coast.

Get around

Public transit

Skytrain system map
Skytrain

By North American standards, Vancouver has quite a decent public transit system. It is run by a regional transportation authority called TransLink [tel: +1 604-953-3333] [18] and connects the various municipalities in the greater Vancouver area. While most of the major cities of the "lower mainland" area are connected by TransLink, including North Vancouver, Surrey, Langley, Burnaby, and Coquitlam, it should be noted that there is no TransLink service to cities beyond Langley, such as Abbotsford or Chilliwack, so commuting to Vancouver to and from these locations will be far more difficult. A skytrain line connecting Vancouver with YVR airport is planned for 2010.

Transportation is provided by buses, a passenger ferry service called SeaBus and a rapid transit system called SkyTrain, because it is mostly elevated. In addition, three bus rapid transit lines named "B Lines" crisscross the city.

Adult fares cost between $2.25 and $4.50. Fares depend on the time of day and number of transit zones you cross. The ticket is valid for 1.5 hours from the time of purchase and can be used to transfer to any bus, Skytrain or the Seabus during that time. A concession fare is available for Vancouver grade-school students and BC seniors and cost between $1.50 and $3.00. If you're a student or a senior you must be carrying a TransLink GoCard or BC Gold CareCard to receive the reduced concession fare.

Buses accept coins only and will not give change, but at SkyTrain stations tickets are sold at vending machines that give change and also accept debit and credit cards. Books of 10 prepaid tickets (FareSaver tickets) are available at a discount from many convenience stores. A daypass, offering unlimited travel for a single day, costs $8.00 and is available from fare machines at SkyTrain stations. TransLink's website and customer information line both offer complete trip planning. A regional system map is widely available at convenience stores, as are monthly passes which can cost 60-80 dollars, depending on how many zones they cover.

Passengers must present tickets immediately upon entering a TransLink bus. Purchasing tickets for the Skytrain operates on the honor system, with ticket checks occuring at random, often rare times. It is not difficult to ride the Skytrain without paying, especially during rush hour, but those who do so ride at their own risk. If caught, the passenger has to pay a fine of $173. There are currently plans to install fare gates to prevent free rides in time for the Olympics.

Transit service ends before last call at night clubs and bars, so if you'll be partying, be sure you figure out a ride home.

Driving

There are two major freeways in Greater Vancouver (#1 and #99), neither of these lead directly into central Vancouver. Highway 99 starts at USA/Canada border and ends when the freeway turns into Oak Street, if you're heading into downtown Vancouver or to Whistler follow the street signs that say HWY99. The Trans-Canada highway also known as highway 1 enters Greater Vancouver from the East and ends at the Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal, the highway continues on Vancouver Island.

Vancouver is one of the few major cities in North America without a freeway leading directly into the downtown core (freeway proposals in the 1960's and 1970's were defeated by community opposition). As a result, development has taken a different course than in most other major North American cities resulting in a relatively high use of transit and cycling, a dense, walkable core and a development model that is studied and emulated elsewhere.

One of the best ways to avoid traffic congestion is to listen to traffic reports on the radio; "AM730" (730 on the AM dial) radio station is nothing but traffic reports and can be quick to report all accidents as well as congestion, BC ferry reports, Langley ferry linups, border wait times, and other information pertaining to getting around the city and its many suburbs.

Visitors should be advised that currently there is considerable construction in parts of Vancouver affecting traffic. In particular, Cambie Street from False Creek to the Fraser River is being torn up to construct a rapid transit line, and traffic along much of Cambie Street has been reduced to a single lane in each direction. Major east-west cross-streets are also affected where they cross Cambie Street. Construction on Cambie will continue through 2008 at least.

A unique feature of Vancouver is intersections with flashing green traffic signals. These do not indicate an advance left turn (as is the case in Ontario). A flashing green light indicates a traffic signal that can only be activated by a pedestrian or a cyclist on the side street, but not by a motor vehicle. When the signal turns red, traffic stops as at any traffic signal. Any side street traffic must obey the stop sign on the side street, and must yield to any pedestrians crossing the side street, even if traffic is stopped on the main street.

Vancouver has a noted car theft problem; as a port city, it is possible that your car can be in a shipping container bound overseas before you even notice it missing. Also be very careful not to leave valuables inside the car. Vancouver is on the whole a very safe city, but common sense should still be exercised.

The Vancouver area has a number of municipalities or neighborhoods that use "West" as part of their names. The following is a summary:

  • The "West Side" of Vancouver is the area of Vancouver west of Ontario Street. (The west side includes Kitsilano and Vancouver South, but excludes the downtown pennisula.),
  • the West End, the western portion of the downtown peninsula,
  • West Vancouver, a municipality on the North Shore of Burrard Inlet west of the Lion's Gate Bridge.

North Vancouver is not part of Vancouver city. North Vancouver is located to the north of Burrard Inlet and includes the City of North Vancouver and the District of North Vancouver.

Many of these areas use the same numbered streets/avenues:

  • In the City of Vancouver the East-West streets are numbered Avenues. They always use East or West to designate whether it is on the East side or the West side (with Ontario Street as the dividing line). Some of the major streets use names rather than numbers (Broadway would be 9th Avenue, King Edward Avenue would be 25th Avenue).
  • In West Vancouver some of the North-South streets are numbered streets. Streets running East-West are alphabetical, starting at the water, and procede as you move towards the mountains.
  • In North Vancouver some of the East-West streets are numbered streets.

Parking

Parking in the city of Vancouver is best avoided by using public transit. Downtown Vancouver has the densest population in all of North America with the exception of Manhattan. As such, you may expect that although parking may not be impossible in the downtown core, it will not come cheap either. If you really must park in the downtown core, your best option is to find a parkade. To discourage on-street parking, city parking meter rates are intentionally set at a higher cost than rates in parking lots. "Easy Park" [19] lots (look for an orange circle with a big "P") rank as the most affordable, but generally the cost of parking will not vary greatly among parkades within a certain area. You can pay for parking in parkades with coins or credit cards. Beware of scammers hanging around in some parkades, trying to sell parking tickets for less than their face value — typically, they have purchased the tickets with stolen credit cards.

Downtown is very accessible by foot & trolley buses run continually (every few minutes) on Granville St. As such, if you take Skytrain to Granville St. station, practically anything downtown will be at farthest a 20 minute walk. Considering the traffic congestion, biking or walking will likely get you to your destination faster than would driving & parking your car.

Be careful parking overnight, as vehicle break-ins are not uncommon.

Parking meters are in effect 7 days a week from 9AM-8PM, but since many streets become no stopping zones between 3PM-6PM, be sure to read all signs and instructions on meters. The morning rush hour stopping restrictions may also apply on certain streets between 7AM-9:30AM.

Since you should expect city meter rates to be more expensive than lots, the following rate menu may provide as useful. Most meters are restricted to a 2 hour maximum stay. Meters accept Canadian & American change only, in the $0.10, $0.25, $1 and $2 coinage. American coins are accepted at par value. Since these are the maximum amounts you should expect to pay, you may find cheaper parking on side streets and lots.

  • Robson Street & Periphery, Yaletown $1.00 for 20 minutes or 1 hour for $3.00
  • Lower Robson Steet, Denman, Davie $1.00 for 40 minutes or 1 hour for $1.50
  • Hornby, Howe (around Provincial Courts), Canada Place, Georgia Street, West Hastings $1.00 for 15 minutes or 1 hour for $4.00
  • Gastown & Periphery, N Cambie, W Pender, Homer, VCC, Queen E $1.00 for 30 minutes or 1 hour for $2.00
  • East Hastings & Periphery, Chinatown, N Main Street $1.00 for 60 minutes
  • Lower Granville, W Broadway around Granville St, Fir, Hemlock up to Oak $1.00 for 30 minutes or 1 hour for $2.00
  • W Broadway around Cambie, Heather, VGH $1.00 for 24 minutes or 1 hour for $2.50
  • W Broaday around Macdonald, Stephens $1.00 for 60 minutes
  • E Broadway, lower Main, Ontario, Yukon, Quebec Sts. $1.00 for 60 minutes
  • 4th Avenue, W Broadway around Trutch to MacDonald $1.00 for 60 minutes

Overall, most uptown meters are around $1/hr and can go up to $2.50/hr around 500-800 blocks of W. Broadway around VGH. The downtown meters are the most expensive along Hornby and Howe Streets from Georgia north to the water, mid-upper range around Robson and adjacent streets like Alberni, mid-lower range in the Westend and the least expensive on the Downtown east side.

City meters and parking regulations are enforced regularly and violations are considered municipal offenses prosecuted in the provincial courts under the Offense Act. Meter-related fines are $30 when payed within 34 days, $60 at summons. Violations in private lots are generally unenforceable, but you should be careful since you may get your car towed if you fail to make payment.

If your vehicle is towed on a city street, you can recover it at the city impound lot at 1410 Granville Street (under the Granville St. bridge).

Bicycling

The city of Vancouver is a very bicycle-friendly city. In addition to the extremely popular seawall bicycle routes along Stanley Park, False Creek and Kitsilano, there are a whole network of bicycle routes that connect the whole city. The City of Vancouver provides a map of the bicycle routes that is available at most bike shops or online [20]. Also, some buses have bicycle racks on the front to help riders get to less accessible parts.

Bicycles are available to rent by the hour, day or week. Many places also rent tandem bikes. Some bicycle rental locations:

  • Stanley Park Cycle, 768 Denman Street, [21]
  • Bayshore Bike Rentals, 745 Denman St, [22].
  • Spokes Bicycle Rentals, 1789 West Georgia St, [23].
  • Reckless Bike Stores, 1810 Fir Street @ 2nd Avenue & 110 Davie Street @ Pacific, [24].
  • JV Bike, 1387 Richards St, [25] also rents electric assist bicycles to make the hills a little easier.

Alternatively, buy a used bicycle and either sell it on or donate it to someone in more need of it at the end of your stay. There are a number of 2nd owner bicycle stores on Dunbar and the surrounding area, including the famous Cheapskates. Bicycles can be bought for as little as CDN$30 and at very worst should last a week or two of constant use:

  • Cheapskates, 3228 Dunbar St, +1 604-734-1191.
  • Our Community Bikes, 3283 Main St. +1 604-879-2453 (email:info@pedalpower.org), [26].

Hosted Bicycle Tours are available from a number of suppliers. These tours are educational and cover many of the interesting areas and attractions of Vancouver.

  • City by Cycle, 101-2539 Laurel St, +1-888-599-6800, [27].

Water Taxi

A quick trip across on a water taxi can be a fun and convenient way to get between various points on False Creek, including Granville Island, Science World, the Maritime Museum, downtown, and others. Service is offered by Granville Island Ferries [28] and Aquabus [29]. Current prices start at around $2.50 per journey - Sept 2006.

See

Most Vancouver attractions are listed in separate sections of this site since they are geographically located in City Center or the North Shore regions. Make sure you read those District Articles for more information. Some of the highlights include:

Parks

The totem poles of Stanley Park
  • Stanley Park, [30] in City Center is one of the big draws in Vancouver, and is in fact an extension of the downtown peninsula
  • Van Dusen Botanical Gardens, 5251 Oak St., +1-604-878-9274, [31]. Open 10AM to around sunset. Van Dusen, in the south of the city, has a very large collection of plants in the outdoor gardens. More details in Vancouver/South#See.
  • Queen Elizabeth Park, [32] includes the highest point in the City of Vancouver with a view of the entire city. There are a number of gardens within the park as well as the domed Bloedel Floral Observatory with tropical plants and birds.
  • Pacific Spirit Park, [33] is a relatively undeveloped and heavily forested park with many kilometres of trails and beaches (including Wreck Beach [34], the renowned nude or "clothing optional" beach). It's the closest thing to wilderness in the city, and only a 25-minute bus ride from downtown near UBC.

Must See Attractions

Watch out for the Splash Zone at the Vancouver Aquarium
  • Vancouver Aquarium, [35]. The world class Vancouver aquarium is famous for its marine life research and rehabilitation.
  • Vancouver Lookout! Harbour Centre Tower, [36]. has a fantastic 360-degree view of cosmopolitan and Greater Vancouver, the majestic North Shore Mountains.
  • The Capilano Suspension Bridge, [37]. The 136 metres long bridge crosses the Capilano river 70 metres above the river. In addition to the bridge there is also a large park, rainforest ecotours, North America's largest private collection of First Nations story poles and the Treetops Adventure which is a series of bridges that link between trees as high as 30 metres above the forest floor.
  • The Lynn Valley Suspension Bridge, [38]. Also on the The North Shore, the Lynn Valley Bridge is similar to the Capilano Bridge, only free of charge, with fewer people and with several lovely trails.
  • Grouse Mountain, [39]. Take the skyride to Grouse Mountain or hike up for free, to enjoy breathtaking views of the city from the North Shore. This is truly the peak of Vancouver.

The Capilano and Lynn Valley Suspension Bridges and Grouse Mountain are on the The North Shore.

Museums

  • The Museum of Anthropology, located at the University of British Columbia [40]. One of Vancouver's most impressive museums houses the world's largest collection of West Coast Native artifacts. Tuesday evenings are entry by donation. The 44 bus will get you there from downtown.
  • Vancouver Art Gallery, in the City Center,[41]. The gallery is pay by donation on Tuesday evenings 5PM - 9PM. The recommended donation is $5, but the amount that people actually donate varies widely.
  • Telus Science World, [42]. Located in the landmark geodesic dome building at the end of False Creek.
  • H.R. MacMillan Space Centre, [43]. Features includes exhibits dealing with space artifacts, the feeling of being in space, astronomy, space explorations, and a space-flight simulator.
  • The Vancouver Museum, [44]. This museum focuses on Vancouver's history. It is located in the same building as the Space Centre.
  • Vancouver Maritime Museum, [45]. One of the major maritime museums on the West Coast of North America.

Landmarks/Points of Interest

  • Canada Place, [46]. Venture over to the cruise boats ready to depart and you can converse with the lucky passengers about to embark on 'inside passage' tours through Alaska. CP has an IMAX theatre as well. CP is located adjacent to the Pan Pacific Hotel.
  • The Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, [47]. The first full-sized classical Chinese garden outside China. It is located in China town on the edge of downtown Vancouver.
  • International Buddhist Temple, [48]. The most authentic example of traditional palatial Chinese architecture in North America. It is an edifice straight out of the Chinese past, as it resembles any authentic temple that can be found along the banks of the Yangtze River, where one of the world’s oldest civilizations originated. Come explore traditional Chinese art, culture, and the Buddhist philosophy inside this magnificent place. Free admission.
  • University of British Columbia This Campus has streets lined with trees and stretching over an area encompassing a small city, the UBC campus offers much to see and much to do. You can attend free lectures, relax at clothes-optional Wreck Beach [49], or see a show at the Chan Centre for Performing Arts [50]. The UBC Libraries form the second largest library collection in all of Canada (second only to University of Toronto). A must for cash-strapped visitors: UBC often hosts free events, such as seminars, theatrical performances or student concerts.
  • Granville Island, [51]. Vancouver's famous public market. Along with the large market there are also numerous local art galleries, restaurants and even a brewery.
  • Gastown, [52]. Vancouver's historic district, there are many tourist shops, restaurants and pubs in this area. City Center
  • Floating Homes in the Harbour, [53].

Do

The Grouse Mountain Gondola
  • The Grouse Grind [54] Hike 2.9km to the peak of Vancouver on this famous trail. If you're not up for the hike you can also catch the Skyride tram to the top. Once you're at the top there is lots to see and do. Year round you can enjoy panoramic views of Greater Vancouver, dine at the Peak Chalet and see Grizzly Bears and other wildlife at the Refuge for Endangered Wildlife. In the winter the mountain is open for skiing and snowboarding, snowshoeing and ice skating on a frozen pond. During the summer the mountain has many hiking trails, paragliding, mountain biking, lumberjack demonstrations and bird shows. Admission is free if you do decide to hike up, but be advised it is a very difficult hike with nearly a kilometre of elevation gain. Stick to the trail as it is dangerous to stray off it. A tram ride back down is only five dollars if you want to save your knees.
  • Seawall. Whether you like to ride a bicycle, rollerblade or just walk there are miles and miles of seawall. Starting with Canada Place downtown, to Stanley Park, around Stanley Park, along False Creek, to Science World, then to Granville Island, Vanier Park and Kits Beach in Kitsilano.
  • Beaches. Much of the coastline here is rocky; the beaches do not rank amongst the most spectacular in the world. However because the waters in the Vancouver area are sheltered by Vancouver Island the water temperatures are relatively warm, in fact the water here is slightly warmer than it is in Los Angeles. The downside to being a sheltered coastline is that the waves are smaller, so traditional surfing is not possible here. The most famous beach is the clothing optional Wreck Beach in the UBC Area, it is possibly the most famous nude beach in North America. Kits Beach in Kitsilano and Sun Set Beach in downtown are very popular, these are also the best places to watch the annual Fire Works Competion in July. White Rock Beach is the largest destination beach in Greater Vancouver, it is a large sandy beach with many trendy restaurants over looking it. There are also beaches on the North Shore.
  • Skiing and Snowboarding the Vancouver area is world-famous for its ski hills, and Whistler Mountain is ranked amongst best ski resorts in the world. There are also three local ski hills; Cypress Mountain , Grouse Mountain, and Mount Seymour on the North Shore.
  • Vancouver Trolley Company is a nice way to explore Vancouver. As any Vancouverite will tell you, parking in Vancouver can be a nightmare, so exploring the city on a narrated tour bus ride is a worthy alternative. This is a "hop-on, hop-off" type of tour with stops in numerous places around town and the drivers narrate the history and peculiarities of the city along the way. You are limited to one time around the loop. The City attraction tour is $30 for adults, $15 for children.
  • Vancouver Talks Audio Tour [55] is a neat way to hear about the city while seeing it. The audio tour covers four downtown neighbourhoods and incorporates documentary interviews and historical quotations. It can be rented from Tourism Vancouver [56] (200 Burrard) or bought (CD/map format) from most local book retailers. It costs about $15 to rent or buy the product and can keep you busy for a few hours or a few days depending on how much of the city you want to cover.
  • Geogad Mobile Tours: [57] Geogad has two free MP3 walking tour of Vancouver that can be downloaded directly from the Geogad website. The tour can be uploaded to any MP3 device and works best on MP3 players that can display the tour photos and maps. One tour covers the downtown Vancouver and Gastown while the second focuses on Chinatown, Yaletown and Granville Island. Either tour is a great way to relax and explore Vancouver’s history at your own pace.
  • Classical Music Concerts are happening year round in Vancouver, with regular chamber, orchestral, choral, and vocal performances. Check the Vancouver Recital Society for upcoming events.

2010 Winter Olympics

Vancouver will be the host of the 2010 Winter Olympics. The events will be held in various locations throughout the region and in Whistler.

Festivals

  • HSBC Celebration of Light [58] The largest fireworks competition in the world. Four nights of fireworks in late July, early August. Over one million people attend this event every year. The show starts at 10PM sharp. Accompanying music is played over local radio stations so that you can hear the choreographed music while watching the show. Last year's crowd during the first night's performance was estimated at 400,000 people so be prepared for huge crowds: Warning: Expect delays when transiting to and from the show. It is recommended that you take public transportation for this event. (Traffic jams of up to 3 hours are common afterwards and even the waits for public transit can be lengthy. Either way, don't expect to get out of downtown quickly after the show.) The show can be viewed from either banks of English Bay: Downtown West End or the Kits Beach area in Kitsilano.
  • The Illuminares Festival . [59] This is an alternative festival of light involving hundreds of hand-made paper lanterns made by the local people of Vancouver. They are paraded through Trout Lake Park after sunset to the sounds of drums, gamelan and flutes played by local musicians. It is a real grassroots part of the Commercial Drive culture in East Van. The same theatre group puts on The Festival of Lost Souls for Halloween.
  • Fringe Festival [60] - Every year, close to 100 theatre groups and performers from across Canada and around the the world perform for 11 days in diverse venues, from theatres to garages to a moving Aquabus.
  • The Pacific National Exhibition Western Canada's largest fair and exhibition takes place at the end of each summer on the fair grounds next to Play Land.
  • Lantern Festival. In July at Trout Lake Park - bring your homemade lantern.
  • Chinese New Year. Because there is such a strong Chinese population in the city, the Lunar New Year period is often one of the most exciting and colourful in the city. There is usually a parade in Chinatown and many of the public schools usually have a day off on Chinese New Year. You can also catch celebrations at Tinseltown mall (1 minute from Stadium Skytrain station), and in Richmond at the International Buddhist Temple. There, visitors can experience Chinese New Year festivities with traditional snacks and foods, auspicious flower arrangements, Chinese calligraphy, exciting raffles, and much, much more.
  • Jazz Festival. This usually occurs at the end of June and is growing in both size and reputation.
  • Dragon Boat Festival. This usually occurs in the month of June on False Creek.
  • Vancouver Film Festival happens every year in late September and early October. Good selection of films, but often hard to get tickets.
  • Parade of Lost Souls takes place around Halloween in the Commercial Drive area. It is free to go, and features live music, fire dancers, lots of costumed revellers. Underadvertised, but one of the biggest yearly festivals in Vancouver.
  • Gay Pride Parade and Festival happens on the Sunday before the first Monday in August. The parade happens on Denman Street, turning onto Beach Avenue with the festival happening at Sunset Beach. This is the largest celebration of its kind in Western Canada, in 2007 attracting over 380,000 festival-goers from all over North America. Parties, arts and cultural events lead up to this colorful parade and beach side festival.
  • 4:20. On April 20th People congregate at the Vancouver Art Gallery to smoke marijuana and celebrate this unofficial holiday.
  • Richmond Night market. Held in a Richmond parking lot (across from Ikea), this festival runs Friday and Saturday evenings during the summer. A multicultural Asian market event, it contains rows of open stalls with various ethnic foods made to order. There is also stage entertainment of rather dubious quality and a plethora of items for sale from clothing, books, electronics and Asian DVDs. This is a thriving and vibrant event that is quite popular.
  • Vancouver Folk Festival A truly amazing folk festival featuring spectacular views of the harbour and mountains. The Vancouver Folk Festival typically features multiple stages, and a wonderous mix of traditional and contemporary artists. The 2006 folk festival featured Feist, Jane Siberry, Beats without Borders, Vishwa Mohan Bhatt & Salil Bhatt, Dyad and a myriad of other wonderful performers. The current location is Jericho Beach. [61]
  • Vancouver Zombie Walk. Usually either in the summer or near Halloween, anyone can choose to dress up and act as the living dead during this parade through Downtown. Although this has only been in Vancouver for about 2 years, thousands of people have already participated, and at least 500 people each year join in on this zombie walk. It is free, and mostly for plain fun, and is also an unofficial event. Each year, there is a set meeting spot. Everyone then walks throughout Downtown and up streets and parks all in one large group. Information on this event is usually found with a quick search on google.

Learn

There are two large publicly funded universities in Vancouver's metropolitan area: The University of British Columbia [62] and Simon Fraser University [63] (in Burnaby). UBC is ranked among of the the world's 50 best universities and is the largest university in western Canada. More than 50 000 full time and part time students in numerous disciplines are enrolled at the Point Grey Campus. UBC also has a downtown campus in Vancouver, located at Robson Square. The downtown location is geared more towards adult learning, business people and foreign students. As of 2005, UBC opened their Okanagan campus, in the interior city of Kelowna. The Kelowna campus currently enrolls 7500 students in various disciplines. SFU's main campus is located in north Burnaby (adjacent to Vancouver). The Burnaby campus is on Burnaby Mountain, and offers a beautiful vista of Vancouver. SFU was constructed in the 1960s, and while some have compared it to a "concrete jungle," most of the campus buildings were designed by renowned British Columbian architect Arthur Erickson, who also designed the Museum of Anthropology and the Walter Koerner Library at UBC. SFU opened their Surrey campus in 2002 in response to a surge of college-aged students from the Fraser Valley.

There are also a number of colleges and university colleges in Vancouver or within reasonable commuting distance. There is a private, Christian university in the district of Langley, called Trinity Western University[64]. Also in the Fraser Valley is the University College of the Fraser Valley (UCFV)[65]. UCFV maintains several satellite campuses, including Abbotsford, Chilliwack, and Hope. As well, Kwantlen University College offers certificates and degrees in Langley and Surrey.

Many young visitors come to Vancouver to improve their English. The Vancouver Public Library maintains a list of ESL schools [66] in Vancouver.

Buy

This is only a sample of things you can look for in Vancouver. Visit the separate district pages for other info.

Tip There are two local taxes that are charged on the vast majority of goods, the PST (provincial sales tax) and the GST (goods and services tax).

  • Pacific Centre has more than 150 shops, restaurants and services if you want to walk in an underground shopping center. The shopping center begins at Sears on the north end at Robson Street, and stretches all the way to Pender Street. There are many floors in the mall depending on where you are, and notable merchants include Holt Renfrew, Harry Rosen, Sport Chek, Gap, and is connected to the Bay (at Georgia and Granville streets), and Vancouver Centre (a small mall mainly consisting of a lotto centre, London Drugs, and a food court underneath Scotiabank).
  • Gastown is the oldest neighbourhood in Vancouver but is being reborn as a fashion and modern urban design district. Historic buildings house hip restaurants, galleries, and interior design and high-fashion shops. A great resource can be found at Gastown.org
  • Commercial Drive Shopping is an adventure on Commercial Drive, especially the stretch between 3rd Avenue and Venables St. in East Van. It's great for people-watching, produce (Santa Barbara Market), magazines (Magpie, http://www.thedrive.net/magpie/), cheese (La Grotta del Formaggio), sausage (JN&Z Deli), etc.
  • East Hastings between Renfrew and Clark offers some of the best hidden delights in the city. There are many eclectic produce stores (Donald's Market). Sausage and salami producers here are some of the best in the city (Moccia's Italian Market, http://www.moccia.ca/).
  • Main Street, south of Broadway stretching to around 30th Avenue, has a vibrant collection of independent restaurants, cafés, boutiques and small stores.
  • Chinatown around Main and Pender, and westwards down Pender from Main, has some very, very neat stores to check out.

There are some unique shopping areas in Kitsilano and East Van. Gore-tex© jackets are ubiquitous in Vancouver and the best place to buy them is at Mountain Equipment Co-op [67], Taiga Works or one of the other outdoorsy stores clustered together on the east-west main drag called Broadway (equivalent to 9th Avenue, running between 8th and 10th) between Cambie St. and Main St., just east of the Kitsilano area.

Eat

Vancouver is a huge city, so all individual listings should be moved to the appropriate district articles, and this section should contain a brief overview. Please help to move listings if you are familiar with this city.


Where to begin? There is something for everyone in this cosmopolitan city. In particular, you will find many different kinds of Asian food available. If you fancy Sushi (or have not tried it yet) many places offer "all you can eat" lunches for $9.99 (the quality may not be the best though). In general, you are likely to dine better and for cheaper than most other places in North America. If you can do without alcohol, you can usually have a pretty reasonable meal for under $10.00, and at one of the more expensive restaurants in the city, $70.00 will get you a 4 course feast with exquisite service.

The highest density of restaurants is in Kitsilano or the West End. The City Center has many of the high end restaurants either along Robson Street or associated with the many hotels in the downtown area. East Van tends to have many authentic ethnic restaurants.

Vancouver is also famous for its dim sum restaurants. Because of the big Chinese population, the price and quality of dim sum here is among the best in the world. One of the best quality dim sum restaurants is Sun Sui Wah, at 3888 Main Street. Also, check out Floata in Chinatown on Keefer Street, Top Cantonese Cuisine in East Vancouver on Kingsway and Earles. There are many restaurants on Victoria around 41st avenue which offer cheap dim sum ($2/plate), albiet with less class and more oil. In Burnaby, try Fortune House in Metropolis Shopping Complex. The city of Richmond, with a majority of its inhabitants being of Chinese descent, will have a plethora to choose from. Restaurants are all over the place on No. 3 Road, Westminster Highway, Alexandra Road, and on the many side streets just east of Richmond Centre.

For budget travellers, pick up a Georgia Straight (a free local paper available all over the place), and clip two for one coupons from the food section.

Some favourites of the locals are described below:

  • Samurai Sushi House (5888 Cambie at 43rd Ave in Vancouver South) is well known for having huge portions for small prices. Another location is Samurai Japanese Restaurant, 1108 Davie at Thurlow St in the City Center.
  • Toshi Sushi is a small sushi restaurant, mostly family-run. Located off of Main street, it serves relatively cheap, good sushi and as a result it is usually packed by 6PM. Avoid the garlic beef, but one must try the tempura. Get there at around 5PM.
  • Ba Le, a vietnamese sandwich shop located at Kingsway and Fraser is rather out of the way for most tourists but it regularly wins local awards for sandwiches and boasts delicious vietnamese subs (including a vegetarian one) for less than $3. In fact, in this area you'll find lots of small Chinese/Vietnamese restaurants where a good lunch will cost you less than $6 in the area (Kingsway between Fraser Street & Knight Street).
  • Fritz Frie House, a french frie shop on Davie near Granville in downtown, boasts what is arguably the best poutine in town. The curds are imported from Quebec. The garlic lover's mayo is fantastic too. Cleverly located next to the local Fitness World. $5 for a medium. Open until the wee hours in the morning, frequented by night clubbers. Regularly wins local awards for fries.
  • Kam's Singaporean Cuisine on Davie Street just west of Burrard. This is a favourite and often there is a line-up. If you go, try to say hi to the manager - he's quite a character. Cut out a 2 for 1 coupon in every weekly edition of the West Ender or the Georgia Straight.
  • Jang Mo Jib is located on 1719 Robson Street. It serves home style Korean food and is frequented by the local Korean students. The restaurant almost looks run-down, but it serves excellent food. Try the short ribs.
  • Zakkushi is a small Japanese restaurant that specializes in Japanese skewered meats. The restaurant is located 823 Denman St. It would be a good idea to make a reservation at 604-685-1136.
  • Hon's on Robson is a favourite for quick, cheap, Chinese eats. There tends to be long line ups, and the food is a little on the greasy side, but you definitely get your money's worth. Also located in Chinatown (near Keefer and Main), and Richmond.
  • Sun Sui Wah Seafood Restaurant is an excellent Chinese restaurant, the chefs are excellent cooks. Located both in Richmond on no. 3 road, and Main and 23rd. (Beware there are long lineups and reservations are a must.)
  • Moxies Bar and Grill gives great tasting food from a variety of cuisines with a focus on grilled food such as steak. Great tasting food for a good price when compared to other restaurants in Vancouver. Located on Robson's street and is opposite the Earls restaurant.
  • Shabusen Yakinuki House is a Japanese and Korean BBQ House specializing in a large all-you-can-eat menu. Fun part of eating here is that you can order raw meat and cook it yourself on the provided grill installed in the table. The 2 locations are on Burrard and one of South Granville.
  • Tojo's, one of the most innovative and delicious Japanese restaurants on the continent. In Kitsilano on Broadway.
  • For coffee, there are probably more Starbucks per capita in Vancouver than anywhere else. On Robson and Thurlow, you will be able to find two Starbucks kitty-corner to one another. Starbucks is the most dominant of the three coffee shop chains found in Vancouver. The others, Caffe Artigiano and Blenz, are found throughout downtown. For independent chains try Mario's on Dunsmuir and Howe they have a unique feel and a slower pace than other coffee shops.
  • Cheesecake, etc. is Vancouver's first late-night dessert cafe. Opened in 1979, it is an authentic Vancouver cultural experience. Featuring the original "Vancouver-style", it is a light cheesecake with various toppings added. [68] 2141 Granville St. in South Granville open every night from 7 pm to 1 am.
  • You should certainly try the cheesecake at the Trees Organic Café on Granville. It's also advertised as the best cheesecake in town and it certainly holds its promises. So don't hesitate and drop in for a good cup of coffee and "Vancouver style" New York Cheese Cake!
  • And for the best ever ice-cream experience, visit La Casa Gelato, 1033 Venables, [69]. It's a little off the beaten path, but the over 200 flavours will reward you! Follow the Viaduct east out of downtown, and keep going straight. You will pass some old style homes on your left, and a park on your right. The place is located near the train tracks. Plenty of street parking, but take care where you park at night.

Drink

Most of the night clubs are located in the City Center, especially along Granville Street, south of Robson, downtown.

The Pacific Pub, located on the SE corner of Main and Georgia, serves pints of beer for $2 flat. It's a two-minute walk north from the Main St. Skytrain station. Be advised that it's not a great place to walk at night, as that section is not far removed from the worst areas of the Eastside.

Local Info The best rundown on local info is available through the freely available widely distributed weekly, the Georgia Straight. The Vancouver Courier, Westender, Terminal City and Xtra West (gay and lesbian bi-weekly newspaper) are other free weeklies.

Sleep

In general, accommodations in Vancouver are on the expensive side. This is true even for the locals, many of whom spend an important portion of their income on rent. Vancouver has the most expensive real estate in Canada. Most hotel rooms begin at $200-250/night, and most motel rooms cost somewhere between $90-150/night. If you are lucky to find hostel accommodation, the cheapest of these will cost around $20/night, more reasonably between $35-50. Most of the high end hotels and backpackers hostels are in the City Center. There are a number of budget hotels/motels along Kingsway in the East Van, and Burnaby. Richmond has a number of 'airport' hotels. If you really want to stay at a camp ground there are RV parks on the North Shore and in Coquitlam. The closest Provincial Parks with campgrounds are near Chilliwack and Squamish.

Vancouver is a huge city, so all individual listings should be moved to the appropriate district articles, and this section should contain a brief overview. Please help to move listings if you are familiar with this city.


Budget

The cheapest accommodation is in the Chinatown and east side of downtown Vancouver where prices for a single bed in a dorm range from CDN$15 to CDN$20 per night, double rooms with bed, fridge, TV and free internet for about CDN$30-CDN$35 per night. There are many options to choose from, try:

  • Grand Trunk, 55 Powell St., +1 604-681-8968, [70].
  • Pender Lodge, 431 East Pender St., +1 604-681-8968, [71]. Run by the people who own Grand Trunk
  • American Backpackers Hostel, 347 West Pender St., +1-604-688-0112, [72]. The rooms are average but the dorms are to be considered by only the poorest of travelers. There are benefits like free beer on summer Saturdays (really). Book on their website and get a $5 discount on the first night. Minimum age 17, maximum age 35. Dorm bed $10, Single $20, Double $30/night..
  • London Guard Motor Inn, On Kingsway between Victoria St. and Naniamo St.

Alternatively, further up the budget range, there are 'hostelling international' youth hostels for those more interested in nightlife in three different locations in Vancouver:

  • HI-Vancouver Central, 1025 Granville St., +1 604-685-5335, [73]. Hostel.
  • HI-Vancouver Downtown, 1114 Burnaby St., +1 604-684-4565, [74]. Hostel.
  • HI-Vancouver Jericho Beach, 1515 Discovery St., +1 604-224-3208, [75]. Open May 1st to September 30th. Hostel. Jericho Beach is in Vancouver/Kitsilano and is the location of the view photographed above.

There is the Same Sun youth hostel in the same price range as the HI hostels (unlike HI they allow extended stays with weekly discounted rates for int'l travelers), and handily located just across the road from the Granville St. HI (note, this area is very noisy at the weekends):

  • SameSun Vancouver, 1018 Granville St., +1 604-682-8226, [76]. The Largest hostel in downtown Vancouver fully equipted with a good vibe and the "Beaver Bar". Not ashamed of the more lively atmosphere that can sometimes lean on the noisy side, this hostel is a common choice for first time travelers seeking a social atmosphere.

And also:

  • Columbia Hotel, 303 Columbia St., +1 604-683-3757, [77].
  • Cambie Hostel - Gastown 300 Cambie Street (at Cordova Street), +1 604 684-6466, toll free +1 877 395-5335, [78].
  • Cambie Hostel - Seymour, 515 Seymour Street (between West Pender and Dunsmuir), +1 604-684-7757, toll free +1 866-623-8496, [79].
  • C&N Backpackers Hostel, 927 Main Street, +1 604-682-2441, toll free +1 888-434-6060, [80].
  • C&N Central Station Hostel, 1038 Main Street, +1 604-681-9118 [81].

Moderate

  • Coast Plaza Hotel & Suites, 1763 Comox Street, +1-800-663-1144, [82]. Just footsteps away from beautiful Stanley Park & English Bay.
  • Burrard Inn Vancouver downtown hotel, 1100 Burrard Street, +1 604-681-2331, [83]. Burrard Inn Vancouver downtown hotel is your best choice for accommodation in Vancouver downtown with newly renovated, affordable rooms and downtown location.
  • Braemar Manor Bed & Breakfast, 699 East Braemar, +1 604-980-4354, [84]. North Shore Bed and Breakfast 2 Queens and 1 Suite
  • Buchan Hotel Haro Street (45 CAD off season) [85]
  • Kingston Hotel, 757 Richards Street [86]
  • The Listel Hotel, 1300 Robson Street, +1-800-663-5491, [87]. Great downtown location!
  • The Sylvia Hotel, English Bay Beach (West End close to Stanley Park) [88]
  • YWCA Hotel, 733 Beatty Street, +1-800-663-1424 [89]. Excellent rates and excellent location in the heart of downtown Vancouver's shopping, sports and entertainment district. Definitely worth checking into for all travellers!

Luxury

  • Pan Pacific Vancouver Hotel, 300-999 Canada Place, +1 604-662-8111, [90]. Harbor front location, great service and friendly Canadian hospitality. AAA/CAA Five Diamond Hotel with 504 luxury rooms.
  • Four Seasons Hotel 4-star, pool, gym, restaurant and bar.
  • The Westin Bayshore Resort & Marina Vancouver, 1601 Bayshore Drive, +1 604-682 3377, [91]. Luxury downtown resort next to the Stanley Park with 510 rooms and stunning views of Coal Harbour and mountains.
  • LuxuryYaletown, 1067 Marinaside Crescent, +1-801-953-5483, [92]. Extremely luxuriously outfitted, 3 bedroom 3 bathroom 2 story luxury waterfront townhouse for vacation rental. In the heart of trendy Yaletown, directly on the marina. Website has lots of photos and details, but no mention of price. If you have to ask, you can't afford it?
  • EMR Vacation Rentals, 1387 Richards Street, +1 604 628-6099, Toll Free 866-800-8880 [93]. EMR is a leading provider of furnished short term accommodations in Vancouver. Visit the web site to view rates and to discuss your needs with an area specialist.

Stay safe

Vancouver is a very safe city and consistently ranks in the top three of the worlds most livable cities. Like any major metropolitan area travel within certain parts of the city at night should be conducted with caution, in particular the infamous Downtown Eastside (specifically East Hastings St. between Abbott and Gore) and the Whalley area of Surrey. Parked cars with foreign or out of province licence plates are especially likely to be targeted for theft in these parts of town. Also around East Pender st at Carrall there is the Return It depot, and there is usualy a very large population of homeless people and some real weirdos hanging around that area, and it can be very scary for someone not used to being in this particular area, so it is adviseable to steer clear of this area (although this cross street is not particularily pleasent to look at or be near, so it should not be very high up on your list of places to visit)

Visitors to Vancouver should be aware that the some parts of the city have high rates of property crime. Theft from vehicles is especially problematic; drug addicts have been known to break in to cars to steal coins from the ashtray, and valuables in plain view will prove to be too great a temptation. Robberies and muggings are extremely rare, but belongings can possibly be stolen if you leave them in your car overnight.

Panhandling is common in some parts of downtown. For the most part they will just ask for change and leave you alone. Don't be rude, as there may be negative consequences. Should a panhandler follow you and become aggressive, dial 911 for police assistance. Don't worry too much; the chance of something happening to you is very low unless you go looking for trouble, and the police presence is strong.

The Granville Mall area is Vancouver’s bar and nightclub district and is an extremely popular place. The sheer volume of people on weekends combined with alcohol consumption make Friday & Saturday nights on this strip potentially volatile. Disorderly conduct is frequent and rowdy behavior like shouting, public urination in the alleyways or on the street corner and disobeying traffic lights are all common. Tourists interested in experiencing Vancouver's nightlife along Granville Street should understand that there is always a strong police presence and in general it is a very safe place even at night.

Vancouver is overall ranked 18th safest city in the whole world. As such, visitors should not feel limited in any way to explore the city; you should however, exercise caution in the above-mentioned areas and keep an eye on your possessions.

Cannabis

A common belief is that marijuana is legal in British Columbia. That is a myth. Although Vancouver's police and the justice system tend to turn a blind eye to marijuana use, tourists should be advised that possessing any amount of marijuana is illegal in all of Canada. However if you are caught with a small amount of cannabis in Vancouver it is extremely unlikely that you will be charged, in the vast majority of cases the police will simply ask you to move somewhere out of sight to finish up, or ignore the fact altogether.

"Vansterdam" is an area in the 300 block of West Hastings that includes various coffee shops where marijuana is openly smoked. The shops however are "Bring your own bud". The British Columbia Marijuana Party's headquarters and bookstore is in this area, as well as many seed shops and head shops.

  • BCMP Bookstore (BCMP), 307 West Hastings St. V6B 1H6, 604-682-1172 (), [94]. usually open to 9:00 pm. The BCMP "Bookstore" is arguably the center of the marijuana sub-culture of Vancouver. It is the party headquarters for the provincial marijuana party as well as a store and lounge. Proceeds from the BCMP go towards the party and the legal battle against the extradition of the party leader who faces life in prison in the USA. The front half of the store is taken up by display shelves of bongs, pipes, rolling papers and pretty much anything you could imagine. $5 per hour (lounge only).

Contact

If you need information on planning your visit, contact Tourism Vancouver [95]. In case of an Emergency, dial 9-1-1 from any public phone for free.

A good travel tip to remember: Dialing 1-1-2 from a cell phone automatically connects you to the nearest cellular network and calls the emergency number, regardless of it's combination (ex. 9-1-1, 1-1-2 etc.) Please note that 1-1-2 will ONLY work on GSM cellphones in Vancouver. While GSM cellphones are very common worldwide PCS/CDMA cellular phones through Telus Mobility are more common in Vancouver and Telus doesn't support 1-1-2 on their cellular network. To be safe, dial 9-1-1 for emergencies if you are anywhere in North America.

The area codes for phone calls in Vancouver and the surrounding area (known locally as the Lower Mainland) are 604 and 778 these area codes overlap. Vancouver has ten digit calling, when making a local call you must include the area code. Calls outside the greater Vancouver region (i.e. east of Langley or north of Squamish, including to Whistler) are toll calls from Vancouver. To call these numbers you need to add a "1" before the area code, i.e. "1-604" or "1-778".

Local calls at pay phones costs 35 cents per call. They are not metered, so you can talk as long as you want. Note that downtown payphones are often broken. Working payphones are almost always available at all of the downtown SkyTrain stations.

Internet cafes are widely available and generally quite reasonably priced ($2-3/hour).

For those who have brought a laptop, free wireless points are abundant in the downtown area, and reasonable paid service is also available in a pinch.

Get out

A good spot to move on to from Vancouver is British Columbia's capital Victoria, on Vancouver Island. Vancouver is also quite close to Seattle and a bit further off are the excellent destinations of Jasper and Banff in the famed Jasper National Park and Banff National Park on the BC-Alberta border.

For those who enjoy outdoor activities, a trek up the Sea to Sky corridor is essential. Squamish has branded itself the "Outdoor Recreation Capital of Canada" and with an incredible amount of quality rock climbing, mountain biking, white water rafting, hiking, kayaking, horseback riding, fishing, golf, walking trails and more, it certainly deserves the title. Squamish is about half way between Vancouver and Whistler. Whistler (2 hours drive from Vancouver) is mandatory. In the winter, enjoy some of the best Skiing in North America, and in the summer try some authentic mountain biking.

You can also discover Western Canada by using different bus networks that run out of Vancouver.

The Moose Travel Network runs various adventure tourism tours covering Western Canada, including Vancouver Island, Whistler, the Rocky Mountains and more. They are a hop-on hop-off service that allows you to tailor your trip to your schedule, with discounts on hostels and adventure activities (such as whitewater rafting, skydiving, horseback riding, bungee and more). This is a nice alternative to taking express busses as you get to stop along the way at many off-the-beaten-track locations and learn about the geography, history and wildlife from an experienced and Canadian guide. You also tour with other independant travelers which in turn makes a Moose Travel Network tour a great way to meet others visiting Canada. In the Winter this company also offers Ski Tours that run throughout the Rockies. There is also a Moose Travel Network circuit that runs on the East Coast of Canada.

West Trek Offer guided tours, however with litle flexibility. West Trek offer budget and deluxe tours to 5 destinations : The Rocky Moutains, Whistler, Victoria, Tofino and Seattle.






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