ADD TO LISTVancouver, British Columbia Canada , has a population of .6 million (metropolitan population of 2 million). It is a natural harbour on the Straits of Georgia in the Pacific Ocean, which separates it from Vancouver Island . Founded in 1886 as a terminal of the Canadian Pacific Railway, it has a variety of industries (lumber, fishing, mining…) and offers many outdoor activities year around. With its world class skiing facilities (Whistler), it will be the host of the 2010 Winter Olympics.
Vancouver is wet and rainy, but is in a spectacular location. One of the few places where you can go to a beach and go skiing within a few hours of each other.
Questions answered about visiting Vancouver
Travel Tips from people who've been to Vancouver
The new Canada Line Skytrain is now running, so you can take that to get into downtown Vancouver from the airport in less than half an hour.
Vancouver, BC is one of the most beautiful cities in the world with an insane number of things to see, people to meet and experiences to have. I would encourage any and all travellers to hit me up with any questions they may have when visiting this gorgeous place as it is my home city!
Accessing/ Exchanging money: There are dozens of places this can be done all over downtown, the airport, banks, etc. Simply use the internet or a phone book to make this happen.
Activities: My biggest recommendation here will be to take a walk along the Sea Wall... it's stunning and you're able to capture a lot of scenery... that being said, to place all activities here would take me hours, perhaps days!
Sightseeing/ attractions: Just to highlight a few-- The planetarium's spectacular; Any number of beaches and my favorite's Spanish Banks; The Sea Wall; English Bay; Cypress Bowl; Grouse Mountain; Telus World of Science which is subsequently also the former home of EXPO '86; The Vancouver aquarium; HSBC celebration of lights... And the list could go on for hours.
Nightlife: The nightlife here is lots of fun with most clubs downtown staying open until 4am. Bear in mind that most clubs have a zero violence and obnoxious behavior tolerance policy as well as a dress code- So try to look your best :) My favorite club downtown Vancouver would likely be the Roxy... great for a good time and the dress code's a little bit relaxed.
Food & Resto's: Vancouver pride's itself on a world class variety of food. My top recommendations are: The Boathouse, Vij's, The Mongolian Grill, Tsunami Sushi... and oh man, sooo many more!
Health: All Canadians have medical health care provided to them as part of their citizenship... As a visitor, you'll be happy to hear that Canada has wonderful doctors and hospitals. There is generally a bit of a lengthy wait at a hospital if you need care, so I will recommend a clinic if it's possible for you. Always make sure you have medical insurance before you come to Canada from abroad!
Transportation: Vancouver, unlike most metropolises does not have a subway, instead we have a skytrain. This monorail train runs very frequently and encircles the majority of the city. For your other transportation needs, we have a decent Bus transit system (translink.bc.ca), as well as a Seabus and taxi's if need be. With the exception of the taxi, the rest are all connected and one can purchase a pass to use them all. If you're staying for a shorter period of time, please use the translink site quoted above to determine how much change you'll need to ride transit- oh, and make sure it's exact change! Vancouver is a health conscience, environmentally friendly city, so bicycle riding is encouraged, so feel free to buy, bring, or rent one of those!
Danger & Annoyances: No city is without these! Just like every other city in the world beware of pick pockets, and homeless people asking for donations (which isn't too bad, because they'll ask for the donation, you say no and they leave you alone). Also, keep away from East Hastings as it's home to the largest homeless/ drug addict population in Vancouver.
Gay/Lesbien Travellers: Vancouver's a very homosexually friendly city! For a pride filled time, head up to Davie and Denman streets downtown. Every August long weekend is also Pride Parade time which is complete with a Pride Dinner cruise around the Vancouver Harbour! The entire city gets involved with this wonderful event. I recommend my favorite book store in the city called Little Sisters which also has a plethora of information on events in the city aimed at our gay and lesbien population!
What to bring: Ahahah! Bring an Umbrella! Or don't and head down to the Umbrella shop on Granville Island and choose a fun and funky one! Vancouver is located in one of the rainiest parts of the world as BC is home to a natural rainforest! Also bring a small back pack or carry all that allows you to stroll the city hands free. Bring sunscreen, a map, a smile and a great attitude!
Hotels & accommodations: As for where you're gonna stay... if you can't couch surf like myself, might I suggest any number of super fun hostels around the city! If you're looking for something far more upscale and fancy, we have several hotels for you to choose from: The Hotel Vancouver, The Westin Bayshore or the Hyatt. For something somewhere in the middle, there are tons and tons of hotels to choose from... just use google!
Lastly, Interacting with locals: Just be nice, smile and try to speak English! So, if English is not your first language, bring a phrase book and try to muddle through it. Most of the time we think it's simply adorable when people at least try! Also don't be surprised if someone doesn't speak to you... sometimes, they don't speak English either or they're in a hurry to run off! But 99% of the time, people will stop and offer what help they can. Oh, also, if you need help in a hurry, feel free to just walk into a store and ask! They normally know the area and again, will do what they can.
Good luck and I hope to hear that you've visited my fair wonderful city that I hold so very very close to my heart :)
www.translink.bc.ca (bus information) http://vancouver.craigslist.com (free online classefieds: furniture, jobs, apartments, etc...) www.cfox.com (radio station- announces upcoming events online.) www.pollstar.com (city search: Vancouver for concert listings) There is a hostel on the corner of Homer and Pender downtown that only charges $10 per night for a dorm bed. Next door is Finches Tea and Coffee, which has the best baguettes you have ever tasted AND Fair Trade coffee. During the day the area is full of 9-5'ers but at night it is a bit dodgy. The majority of backpacker hostels congregate on Granville Street downtown (the clubbing area) and are about $25 per night. There is also one in Kitsilano but not exactly sure where. To get downtown from the Airport catch the public Airport Circle bus from outside arrivals which will take you to Airport Station Bay 2. There you transfer to the 98 B-Line Burrard Station bound. (Richmond is the opposite direction so you don't want take that one unless you are staying with friends in Richmond.)
Buses only take exact change. 1 Zone is $2.25 (Airport to Downtown is 2 Zones- I think $3.25, but if you are travelling after 6pm or it is a Saturday or Sunday than it is all 1 Zone.) If you are looking for work, a good place to start is Robson Street, downtown. All the shops are almost always hiring. Print a bunch of up to date resumes and hand them out at all the shops. Also try Pacific Centre Mall. (Enter via the Sears on Robson.) Granville Street, Commercial Drive, Denman Street, Park Royal Mall, Broadway, West 4th in Kitsilano, Lonsdale Avenue in North Van. (etc...) For office jobs, look in Newspapers and Online Classefieds. Favourite Restaurants: Rain City Grill, Denman Street: View of English Bay- very fancy- organic, locally produced gourmet food. Tanpopo, Denman Street: All you can eat Sushi. Lunch is $11, Dinner is $21, but they add fancier things to the menu like Salmon Tataki, and in between and afterwards they have happy hour specials. Havana, Commercial Drive: Cuban food, pitchers of Mojitos, amazing atmosphere. medium sort of price range. Rocky Mountain Flatbread Company, Cypress Street, Kitsilano: Best Pizza in Vancouver. Organic and Locally Sourced Produce- completely sustainable down to the recycled materials napkins and furniture. Anatole Souvlaki, Lonsdale Avenue: Amazing quality Greek food in a fantastic atmosphere. You get what you pay for though at about $17 dollars for the platter (chicken, tzatziki, salad, pita bread, rice, potatoes.) You can get lesser quality but perhaps bigger quantity if you try Stephos on Davie Street, also very popular for around $10. India Bistro, Davie Street: Excellent, cheap Indian food, and cool cocktails on offer. Raglans, Lonsdale Avenue: cheap bar snacks, but you can't beat the massive Monsoon Bowl cocktails. Vina Vietnamese, Marine Drive, Dunderave, W.Van: Excellent Vietnamese food in a classy atmosphere, but surprisingly cheap. For grocery shopping try Capers, a big Pro-Organic supermarket chain with locations on Robson Street downtown and in Kitsilano, etc... In winter you can go ice-skating up on Grouse Mountain- they freeze over the area that is a park in the summer. You can rent Ice Skates up there. For a good hike, you can actually hike up Grouse Mountain. It is famous in Vancouver and called the "Grouse Grind." There are hundreds of hiking opportunities on the North Shore. Capilano Suspension Bridge is pricey but the tourists seem to love it. The locals go to Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge instead because it is scarrier and it is free. The downtown waterfront area at night is a little dodgy, avoid wandering off the beaten path in Gastown especially. The East End of West Hastings Street is where all the heroin addicts and prostitutes hang out. In the Summer there is a waterslide in English Bay. Also in the last week of July and first week of August is the Festival of Light, the worlds largest international fireworks competition, and the whole of Vancouver heads to the waterfront, especially English Bay, to watch. (Usually Wednesday and Saturday nights.) It is a great thing for a traveller to see as it really unites the city. The biggest display of Vancouver culture by far, is the Canucks. Our Hockey team. You have to go to a game, but if like most Vancouverites it is above your budget, at least go to a bar to watch the games, or if you know someone, go to a party to watch it. And if you are lucky, keep checking www.ticketmaster.ca for when they "sell" free tickets to the practices. Even if you don't get one, head down to GM place that day anyways they usually hand them out at the door. If I think of anything else I will add it. Good luck!
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