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Vancouver, BC, Canada

Vancouver is the largest metropolitan area 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.


With the exception of Victoria, Vancouver has the mildest climate of any major city in Canada; even palm trees can (and do) grow here. It rains a lot in Vancouver, especially during the winters, but during the summer months, Vancouver gets less rain than most other Canadian cities. During the winter months, it can go weeks without seeing the sun or a dry day, but the temperature rarely goes below freezing. Heavy snowfalls are common in the nearby mountains, but unusual in the city itself and... Read more

Vancouver, BC, Canada

Vancouver is the largest metropolitan area 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.


With the exception of Victoria, Vancouver has the mildest climate of any major city in Canada; even palm trees can (and do) grow here. It rains a lot in Vancouver, especially during the winters, but during the summer months, Vancouver gets less rain than most other Canadian cities. During the winter months, it can go weeks without seeing the sun or a dry day, but the temperature rarely goes below freezing. Heavy snowfalls are common in the nearby mountains, but unusual in the city itself and lead to major traffic congestion when snow accumulates. The weather in Vancouver is similar to the southern UK, and while weather is similar to Seattle's, Vancouver frequently enjoys somewhat better weather overall. 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 24-25°C (75-77°F) away from the immediate seaside cooling effect.

There is one word to describe Vancouver's weather: unpredictable. The weather can be completely different depending on what part of the region 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 most 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, seemingly continuously, 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.

Visitor Information

  • Tourism Vancouver Visitor Centre, 200 Burrard St (Across from Vancouver Convention Centre at the foot of Burrard St. and Canada Pl.), ☎ +1 604-683-2000 (fax: +1 604-682-6839). 9 AM-5 PM. Offers maps, brochures and other information for visitors.

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Vancouver, BC, Canada: Port Information

Port Metro Vancouver/Canada Place Terminal is the homeport for the popular Vancouver-Alaska cruises, which generally run between May-Sept.
  • Canada Place Cruise Ship Terminal is located on the waterfront in downtown Vancouver, adjacent to the convention centers and across the street from Tourism Vancouver. Canada Place was built originally for Expo86 and is recognized by its dramatic rooftop that looks like five white sails. A full range of ground transportation, excellent hotels, shopping, dining, entertainment, and attractions are available nearby.
US passport holders may be able to participate in "Onboard Check-in” and “US Direct" to streamline processing at the cruise ship and the airport. US Direct allows passengers arriving at Vancouver Airport (YVR) to transfer directly to a same-day-departing cruise ship by participating in expedited immigration and customs clearance process. Onboard Check-in allows passengers arriving on a cruise ship and flying out of YVR on the same day to transfer directly to YVR by participating in an expedited immigration and customs clearance process.

These programs do not apply to passengers who are planning a pre- or post-cruise stay in Vancouver. Not all cruise lines participate, so check with your cruise line to see if you can take advantage of the Onboard Check-in/US Direct program.

Get around Vancouver, BC, Canada

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

By public transit

Vancouver's public transit is run by the regional transportation authority, TransLink as an integrated system of buses, rapid transit (SkyTrain) and passenger ferry (SeaBus). The transit system connects Vancouver with its neighboring municipalities, stretching as far north as Lions Bay, south to the U.S. border and east to Langley and Maple Ridge.

TransLink's website and customer information line (+1 604-953-3333) both offer complete trip planning.


The bus service covers the widest area and travels along most major streets in the city. Passengers must either buy a ticket (see fares above) or present their ticket/pass on the reader immediately upon entering a TransLink bus. In addition, several bus rapid transit lines named B-Lines crisscross the city. The B-Line routes and a select number of other bus routes make up a Frequent Transit Network which offers 15-minute or better service throughout the majority of the day, every day.

While at any bus stop in Metro Vancouver you can text (SMS) the 5-digit bus stop number (the yellow number at the top of every bus stop sign) to 33333 and you'll get a text (it usually only takes a couple of seconds) that tells you when the next 6 scheduled buses will arrive. Standard text messaging rates apply. Alternatively, if you have internet access, you can also check live departures using the Next Bus website. 

SkyTrain is the mostly elevated rapid transit system that connects Vancouver's downtown with some of its southern and eastern suburbs. The Expo line runs out through Burnaby and New Westminster and then branches in two directions: one to King George station in Surrey, and the other north to connect to the Millennium Line at Lougheed and Production Way Stations. The Millennium line connects to the Expo Line at Commercial-Broadway Station, and services north Burnaby Port Moody to Coquitlam. The Canada Line connects downtown with Richmond and Vancouver Airport.

Notable SkyTrain stations in Vancouver include:
  • Broadway/Commercial Drive - Exchange point between the Expo and Millennium Lines. Accesses the restaurants of Commercial Dr in East Vancouver
  • Burrard and Granville - Most convenient for accessing the shopping areas in the central business district
  • Waterfront - Meeting point of the SkyTrain, SeaBus, numerous commuter, and rapid bus routes and the commuter rail West Coast Express. This is the exchange point between Expo and Canada Lines. It is also at the entrance to Gastown and is right next to the Canada Place Convention Centre/Cruise Ship Terminal facilities.
  • Metrotown - Although actually in neighboring Burnaby, this station is next to the region's largest shopping mall.

The SeaBus is a passenger ferry that connects Waterfront Station in downtown Vancouver to Lonsdale Quay in North Vancouver. It generally runs every 15 min except in the evening and on Sundays. The exact schedule is available on TransLink's website. From a tourist's perspective, a ride on the SeaBus is worth it as it allows an excellent view of the Vancouver skyline and close-up views of the huge ocean-going tankers that are often parked in Burrard Inlet. It also offers a great view of the Canada Place facility which is the city's cruise ship port of call. Lonsdale Quay is a boutique shopping center featuring an international-themed food court, making it a worthwhile destination before starting the round trip (see North Vancouver's article for other activities in the vicinity).

SkyTrain and SeaBus service ends before the last call at night clubs and bars, so if you'll be partying downtown, be sure you figure out a ride home. A handful of bus routes operate late at night as Night Bus routes and cover most of the SkyTrain and SeaBus routes. Although these Night Bus routes cover most of the city of Vancouver sufficiently well, if traveling back to the suburbs you may need to find a way to get from where the Night Bus runs to your final destination.

By ferry across False Creek

A quick trip across on a cute little-boat-that-could ferry can be the most fun, traffic-free, and convenient way to get between various points on False Creek:
  • Maritime Museum in Vanier Park on the south shore,
  • Aquatic Centre at Sunset Beach on the north shore,
  • Hornby St on the north shore,
  • Granville Island and its famous Public Market on the south shore,
  • Yaletown/Davie St. on the north shore,
  • Stamp's Landing/Monk's and Spyglass Place on the south shore,
  • Plaza of Nations and Edgewater Casino on the north shore, and
  • Science World, the geodesic dome at the east end of False Creek.
Service is offered by False Creek Ferries with little blue boats and by Aquabus with little rainbow boats. The two ferries run slightly different routes, and their docks on Granville Island are on either side of the Public Market. 

By car

Vancouver's road network is generally a grid system with a "Street" running north-south and an "Avenue" running east-west. Arterial roads follow the grid fairly well (although not perfectly), but side streets frequently disappear for blocks at a time and then reappear. Most of the "Avenues" are numbered and they always use East or West to designate whether it is on the East side or the West side of Ontario Street. Some of the major avenues use names rather than numbers (Broadway would be 9th Ave, King Edward Ave would be 25th Ave).

Downtown Vancouver has its own grid system and doesn't follow the street/avenue format of the rest of the city. It is also surrounded by water on three sides, so most of the ways in and out require you to cross a bridge. This can cause traffic congestion, particularly at peak times (morning and evening commutes, sunny weekend afternoons, major sporting events), so factor that into any driving plans, or avoid if possible.

One of the best ways to avoid traffic congestion is to listen to traffic reports on AM730. This station reports only about traffic and can be quick to report any accidents and congestion, as well as B.C. ferry reports, bridge and tunnel updates, border wait times, and other information pertaining to getting around the city and its many suburbs. It also posts frequent weather updates and local news.

A unique feature of Vancouver and the rest of British Columbia is intersections with flashing green traffic signals. These do not indicate an advance left turn as it would in many other parts of North America. Instead, a flashing green light indicates a traffic signal that can be activated only 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.


Commercial areas will typically have meter parking on the street, with meters accepting Canadian and American change only (American coins accepted at par value). Residential streets may allow free parking, but some will require a permit.
Easy Park lots (look for an orange circle with a big "P") rank as the most affordable of the parkades, but generally the cost of parking will not vary greatly among parkades within a certain area. Most will accept payment by credit card, as well as coins. 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. Also be careful parking overnight, as vehicle break-ins are not uncommon.

City meters and parking regulations are enforced regularly. Meter-related offenses will result in fines. Violations in private lots are generally unenforceable but may result in your car being towed. If your vehicle is towed on a city street, you can recover it at the city impound lot at 425 Industrial Ave.

Free Parking

Many areas of the city have unlimited, free street parking where no permits are needed. However, if parking in front of a residence or commercial building, keep in mind there is technically a 3-hour limit. Thus, if parking longer, it's generally better to park in unsigned areas outside schools and parks, where no one will complain.

One of the closest free, safe areas to park is on East Pender Street between Victoria and Salsbury (1800 block of East Pender Street). You will have the easiest time finding a spot if you come between 9 am and 4 pm. Once you've parked, walk one block up to Hastings Street at Victoria, cross the street, and take either bus (14 UBC or 16 Arbutus) back downtown. This bus stop is on the north-west corner, in front of the Chinese restaurant. The bus ride will only take 10-15 minutes. Alternatively, walk to Commercial and Hastings (two blocks) and take the 20 Victoria down Commercial Drive to Commercial Station or the 95 Burrard Station B-Line, an express bus going downtown.

By taxi

  • Yellow Cab (604) 681-1111
  • Richmond Cab (604) 272-1111
  • Coquitlam Taxi (Airport & City) 604-524-1111
  • Tikki Tikki pedicabs also operate in the downtown Vancouver area and the pedicabs/rickshaws or bike taxis can be booked for tours and sightseeing (604) 652-2053

By bicycle

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 is 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. For those who are less mobile, Vancouver also has pedicabs which offer tours of Stanley Park. Also, all buses have bicycle racks on the front to help riders get to less accessible parts. North American visitors will find that drivers in Vancouver are well accustomed to sharing the road with cyclists.

Bicycles are available to rent by the hour, day or week. Many places also rent tandem bikes. Some bicycle rental locations:
  • Bazooka Bikes, 1531 Robson St
  • ezeeRIDERS, 1823 Robson St
  • Stanley Park Cycle, 768 Denman St
  • Bayshore Bike Rentals, 745 Denman St
  • Spokes Bicycle Rentals, 1789 W Georgia St
  • Reckless Bike Stores, 1810 Fir Street at 2nd Ave & 110 Davie St at Pacific
  • JV Bike, 955 Expo Boulevard, also rents electric assist bicycles to make the hills a little easier
  • Tikki Tikki Pedicabs, Downtown Vancouver
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.
  • Our Community Bikes, 3283 Main St. +1 604-879-2453
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

By Scooter

Renting a scooter is a good compromise between a bike and a car. Scooters are not allowed on the famous bike path, but it is possible to travel in the inner roads, park and walk at all the attractions.
  • "Cycle BC", Location 1: (next to harbor air terminal) Location2: 73 East 6th Ave Vancouver, BC V5Y 1A4, Canada (604) 709-5663
  • "Vancouver Scooter Rental" 501-2050 Scotia street Vancouver V5T 4T1 tel: 1-604-787-9177

What to see in Vancouver, BC, Canada

While Vancouver is still a young city, it has a variety of attractions and points of interest for the visitor. Many of the city's landmarks and historical buildings can be found downtown. Canada Place, with its distinctive sails, the Vancouver Convention Centre located just beside it, the intricate Art Deco styling of the Marine Building and the old luxury railway hotel of the Hotel Vancouver are in the central business district. Stanley Park (the city's most popular attraction), along with its neighboring Coal Harbour walkway and the Vancouver Aquarium are in the West End and Gastown, the original town site of Vancouver, has a number of restored buildings and its steam clock is a popular spot to visit. Modern architecture worth visiting also includes Shangri-La, currently the tallest building in the city, and the Sheraton Wall Centre. Another popular city landmark, the bustling markets, and shops of Granville Island, is just to the south of downtown in South Granville.

If you're looking to learn a little about the people of the Northwest Coast and some of its history, one good spot is the impressive Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia, which houses several thousand objects from BC's First Nations. The museum is also home to significant collections of archeological objects and ethnographic materials from other parts of the world. The Vancouver Art Gallery, located downtown combines local with international through a variety of exhibitions and a permanent collection that focuses on renowned British Columbia artist, Emily Carr. The Vancouver Public Library, located downtown at Homer and Robson Sts, is modeled after the Roman Colosseum and houses the city's largest library. Another downtown sight is the small Contemporary Art Gallery on Nelson Street, which features modern art. Also located nearby, on the east side of False Creek is the shiny geodesic dome of the Telus World of Science (commonly known as Science World), which has a number of exhibits, shows, and galleries aimed at making science fun for kids. Another great spot to check out is the BC Sports Hall of Fame and Museum located at Gate A of BC Place Stadium. The BC Sports Hall of Fame and Museum preserves and honors BC's Sport heritage by recognizing extraordinary achievement in sport through using their collection and stories to inspire all people to pursue their dreams. There are also some smaller sights in Kitsilano, including the Vancouver Maritime Museum, Museum of Vancouver, and H.R. Macmillan Space Centre.

The city has a wealth of parks and gardens scattered throughout. The most famous is Stanley Park at the tip of the downtown peninsula. Its miles of trails for walking and cycling, beaches, magnificent views and the attractions (including totem poles) within the park gives it something for everyone. The most popular trail is the Seawall, a paved trail that runs around the perimeter of Stanley Park and now joins with the seawalls in Coal Harbour and Kitsilano, totaling 22 km in length. The Vancouver Aquarium is located within Stanley Park. Other notable parks and gardens include VanDusen Botanical Garden in South Vancouver and Queen Elizabeth Park near South Main, the Nitobe Memorial Garden (commonly known as the Nitobe Japanese Garden) and UBC Botanical Garden at the University of British Columbia and the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden in Chinatown downtown.

There are a variety of attractions passes available that help visitors save on retail admissions such as the Vancouver Five in One Card.

Finally, a trip to Vancouver wouldn't be complete without a glimpse of the skyline and the Coastal mountains rising above the city (clouds permitting, of course!). Popular spots to view it include Stanley Park and the Harbour Centre downtown, Spanish Banks and Jericho Beaches in Point Grey and Lonsdale Quay in North Vancouver. Other interesting views can be seen from City Hall at 12th and Cambie, the Vancouver LookOut Tower, Queen Elizabeth Park, and East Van's CRAB Park.

What to do in Vancouver, BC, Canada

  • Family Days out in Vancouver. lists lots of fun attractions and ideas for fun days out for families with kids in Vancouver. 
  • Laugh. Vancouver is also home to an enormous stand-up comedy scene. With 3 dedicated clubs, and more than two dozen venues hosting regular events, the Lower Mainland plays host to nearly 10,000 improvs, stand-up, and open mic shows a year. Catch touring comics, well-seasoned locals, or up and coming newbies at shows from theaters to pizza joints and experience some of the local underground culture.
If you want to orient yourself in the city, there are a variety of tours -- bus, walking, hop-on, hop-off -- based out of the City Centre that will regale you with Vancouver lore while taking you to many of the main attractions.
For those of you looking for tours involving nightlife (Vancouver's bars/pubs, and nightclubs), Vancity Nite Tours offers pub crawls in various areas of Downtown Vancouver.

Outdoor Activities
Vancouverites love the outdoors and one of the most popular things to do is to walk, jog, bike or rollerblade the Seawall. It starts at Canada Place downtown, wraps around Stanley Park and follows the shoreline of False Creek through Yaletown, Science World, and Granville Island to Kits Beach in Kitsilano. The most popular sections are around Stanley Park and along the north shore of False Creek. Bike and rollerblade rentals are available from a few shops near the corner of Denman & West Georgia if you prefer wheeled transportation over walking. If the weather's nice, go out to Granville Island, rent a speedboat and take a boat ride on the waters around Stanley Park and Coal Harbour. Golf courses also are abundant in the city, along with more cost-conscious pitch-and-putt courses.
If you'd rather lie in the sun than play in the sun, Vancouver has a number of beaches. While certainly not glamorous and lacking waves, there's sand, water and lots of people on sunny summer days. The neighborhoods of Kitsilano and West Point Grey have a string of beaches, the most well known being Kitsilano Beach, Jericho, and Spanish Banks. Kits Beach is the most popular and has beach volleyball, Spanish Banks is a bit quieter and popular with skimboarders. There are a few beaches on the south and west sides of downtown, with English Bay Beach (near Denman & Beach) being the largest and most popular. Finally, no discussion of Vancouver beaches would be complete without mention of Wreck Beach at the tip of Point Grey in UBC. As much rock as it is sand, it holds a place in the Vancouver identity and is the only city beach where you can bare it all.
The Capilano Suspension Bridge is a popular tourist spot located in North Vancouver. The bridge itself is impressive, and for many, it is worth the price of admission (which is considerable). It is accessible by free shuttle from the city center. For a similar (but free) experience, head to Lynn Canyon (also in North Vancouver). To get there from Vancouver city center, walk to Waterfront station, take the seabus across to Lonsdale Quay. Makes sure to stop at the Lonsdale Quay market (itself a tourist destination) to pick up some locally brewed beer and some items for a picnic. Here you can ask the shop people to give you directions to the best secret swimming spots in Lynn Canyon. Then take the #228 or #229 from the Lonsdale Quay bus loop. The bus driver or other passengers can tell you where to get off. The suspension bridge at Lynn Canyon is easily found from the cafe and visitor's center. Also make sure you explore the trails, where in the summer you'll see local youth jumping from bridges and rocks into the swimming holes. There are several good spots to go swimming in Lynn Canyon, but the water is cold, so go on a warm day.
For many, Vancouver is synonymous with skiing and snowboarding. While there are no ski hills within the city itself, there are three "local" hills (Cypress, Grouse Mountain, and Seymour) across the harbor on the North Shore. And of course, Vancouver is the gateway to Whistler, the biggest and one of the highest rated snow destinations in North America.

Culture and festivals
Vancouver isn't all about the outdoors as it offers a variety of theatre, concerts and other cultural events. There are symphony and opera venues downtown and much of the city's live theatre can be found in South Granville, particularly on Granville Island with its thriving arts scene.

The city's Chinese heritage comes alive during Chinese New Year. Chinatown, in the east side of downtown, is awash in color and has many festivities, including a parade. June sees the annual Dragon Boat Festival on False Creek.

There is no shortage of festivals around the city, with many local ones particular to a neighborhood. The festival that draws the largest crowds is the Honda Celebration of Light, a four-night extravaganza of fireworks over English Bay in late July and early August. Countries compete with 20-30 min displays choreographed to music. The fireworks start at 10 PM and are best viewed from Sunset Beach in the West End or Kits Beach/Vanier Park in Kitsilano. It is strongly recommended to take public transit and to get there a few hours early as the crowds are huge. Roads in the vicinity of English Bay are typically closed from 6 PM onwards.

EAT! Vancouver - The Everything Food + Cooking Festival takes place every May. In 2010, the festival takes place May 28-30, at the new Vancouver Convention Centre - West. Celebrity chefs, popular local restaurants, wineries, food & beverage manufacturers, cookbook authors, retailers, artisans, & many others from the culinary world will come together for a 3-day public extravaganza at the Vancouver Convention Centre. EAT Vancouver encompasses unique food experiences, opportunities to learn behind-the-scenes culinary magic from professional chefs, dynamic entertainment through celebrity chef cooking demonstrations & intense culinary competitions, diverse food, beverage & cooking related exhibits; & of course fantastic shopping opportunities.

Dine Out Vancouver is an annual festival in January taking place over the course of a few weeks, where hundreds of restaurants around Metro Vancouver offer special set menus encouraging locals and visitors to experience the diverse culinary tastes the city offers.

Other notable festivals include the Vancouver International Film Festival that runs in Sept-Oct;

Theatre Under The Stars runs annually through July and August at Stanley Park’s picturesque Malkin Bowl. Theatre Under The Stars(TUTS) has been Vancouver's most cherished summer musical theatre tradition since 1940.

The Fringe Festival that presents live theatre in a variety of styles and venues;

Khatsalano Music and Arts Festival is held every summer in Kitsilano. This FUN festival is 10 blocks long, with 50 bands equals one gigantic street party! The festival includes local artists, great discounts from local shop owners, massage on the street, local shop services ranging from spa, coffee, clothing, sunglasses, wakeboarding equipment, skateboard shops merchandise, restaurant patio street parties, and of course beach accessories and beach fun celebrating the best beach neighborhood in Vancouver!

Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival that runs May - September at Vanier Park in Kitsilano; and the three days Folk Fest on the beach in Kitsilano that features a large selection of current and upcoming folk, roots, and world music acts.

Another notable event is Vancouver's annual Vancouver Pride Parade, for 2011 held on 31 July, which attracts over 500,000 spectators.

Roberts Creek Arts Festival Held over the Victoria Day long weekend from 15th - 17th May 2013. Consists of live music, arts, and food from local and International talent in a variety of rainforest settings

What to eat and drink in Vancouver, BC, Canada


Where to begin? There is something for everyone in this cosmopolitan city, and the variety of cuisines and price points have been described as a foodie's delight. In particular, you will find many different kinds of Asian food available. If you fancy sushi, many places offer "all you can eat" lunches, which offers food of wildly varying quality. In general, the city is up there with some of the best cities in North America when it comes to food.
The highest density of restaurants is in Kitsilano or the West End. The central business area 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.
In recent years Vancouver has been recognized for its successful street food program, with dozens of new food carts and food trucks appearing throughout the downtown area. According to the City of Vancouver, there are 103 licensed food carts, although usually there are between 30 and 50 open on any one day (and around half that number in the winter).
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 consistently highly-ranked dim sum restaurants by local magazines is Sun Sui Wah, at 3888 Main St. Also, check out Floata in Chinatown on Keefer St, or the Kirin at Cambie and 12th; reservations recommended. There are many restaurants on Victoria around 41st Ave (or Kingsway and Knight) which offer cheap dim sum, albeit 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 Rd, Westminster Hwy, Alexandra Rd, and on the many side streets just east of Richmond Centre.
For budget travelers, pick up a Georgia Straight (a free local paper available all over the place), and clip two for one coupons from the food section.
Be advised that although the vast majority of stores around Vancouver accept credit cards, small family-owned Chinese businesses, and restaurants, more often than not, accept only cash.
Bubble tea (or boba tea) is also a popular drink among the Vancouver youth. There are countless tea houses throughout Vancouver, the most notable being Dragon Ball Tea House on West King Edward Ave and Oak St.

The coffee scene in Vancouver is amazing. Vancouver has an incredible selection of funky, trendy, and hip cafes. Gastown, Yale town, and Denman street have great cafes downtown. Check out Main Street, Mount Pleasant, Kitsilano, and Commercial drive for awesome cafe culture outside of downtown.
Prominent independent or local roasters and coffee shops include Rocanini, Revolver, East Van Roasters, Matchstick, Timbertrain, Trees, and Granville Island (among others). Consult company websites for locations and hours.

Coffee Chains
For your typical, large coffee places, there are perhaps more Starbucks per capita in Vancouver than anywhere else outside of Seattle, although one of the famous pair on the corner of Robson and Thurlow has now closed. Starbucks is the most dominant of the three coffee shop chains found in Vancouver. The others, Caffe Artigiano, and Blenz, are found throughout downtown. JJ Bean is favored among the locals and it's a great place to spend a few minutes to a few hours nursing a coffee and one of their ginormous muffins; there are ten locations scattered throughout the city. Bean Around the World is a popular coffee house chain with ten locations. Waves Coffee and Tim Horton's are popular with students for its 24-hour operations, and free Wi-Fi internet. For independent chains try Mario's on Dunsmuir and Howe; they have a unique feel and a slower pace than other coffee shops. Make sure not to miss Trees' cheesecakes and its roasted on-site organic coffees.

Vegetarian Food
Vegetarians will find it easy to find food at virtually any restaurant, but there are some all-veg restaurants that are particularly worth checking out.


Vancouver adopts a somewhat sedate and refined air when it comes to its watering holes. While visitors can certainly find trendy bars and flashy nightclubs, they are more likely to encounter upscale bars and comfortable yet chic coffee houses.
If you're looking to sample a famous regional drink, you should order icewine. Icewine is a dessert wine, made from grapes that have frozen on the vine. Because only the water grapes freeze, icewine makers are able to extract highly concentrated juice that is extremely sweet. While icewine is not made in Vancouver per se, it has helped put British Columbia on the winemaking map. Five Sails and Blue Water Café are two Vancouver-based restaurants whose award-winning wine lists include icewine.

Over the past decade or so, Vancouver’s bartenders have dusted off century-old mixology books, experimented with new recipes, attended each other’s seminars and lectures and begun creating award-winning concoctions.
The majority of Vancouver’s best-rated cocktail bars are housed in City Centre and Gastown. L’Abattoir and The Diamond are two bars that are consistently written up, even by other bartenders.
‘’’L’Abattoir’’’ means slaughterhouse. The name pays homage to the fact that the building used to about the city’s meatpacking district and does not reflect either its decor or offerings. It is known for its French-influenced food and mix of classic and innovative cocktails.
Zagat reviewers state that The Diamond, with its décor of exposed brick and simple wood tables, is one of the most beautiful places in Vancouver. Cocktail lovers can choose from an array of drinks that vary from “Delicate” to “Notorious.”

Beer and Brewpubs
Vancouver’s cold, clear streams have beckoned to brewers for decades. Starting in the 1880s, a slew of craft brewers opened their doors. Over time, these small brewing companies either closed up shop or merged multiple times with other brewers to form large conglomerates. While Canadians enjoyed these offerings, by the 1980s, locals were ready for the return of craft beers.
Canada’s first microbrewery, Granville Island Brewing, opened its doors in 1984 and kicked off a new trend. Today, Vancouver has 50 plus brewers crafting over 200 different varieties of beer. Unlike the bars, however, Vancouver’s brewpubs (places that brew their own beer onsite and are licensed to sell it direct to the public) and breweries are scattered throughout the city.
If you want to visit the one that started it all, you can check out Granville Island Brewing. The brewery offers daily tours and tastings.
Yaletown Brewing Company in Yaletown is another historical spot. It’s the city’s oldest brewpub and an ideal spot for those who want to eat traditional beer food (think pizza and meaty sandwiches), play a game of pool while watching the game on tv and drink some local offerings. Steamworks in Gastown is also consistently written up. It’s a good place to sample seasonal offerings.

Shopping in Vancouver, BC, Canada

Souvenir seekers in Vancouver will find plenty of opportunities for opening their wallet. Those who need something quick can find stores offering just about anything maple (maple mustard anyone?) or stamped with the Canucks’ (Vancouver’s hockey team) logo. The Vancouver shopping scene, however, is much richer and more varied than maple syrup and hockey pucks.

Handmade and Artisan Goods
  • Coastal Peoples Fine Art Gallery in Gastown is consistently written up as one of the best places to find handcrafted works of art. The gallery offers bits of everything (think books, jewelry boxes, sculptures, and totem poles), all designed to reflect the history and culture of First Nations, one of the first tribes to inhabit Vancouver.
  • Granville Island Public Market on Granville Island is a good place for those looking for a greater variety of handmade goods (jewelry, accessories, soaps, lotions and more). The vendors at Public Market change weekly, so travelers never know when they'll stumble on just the right souvenir.
  • Fashion lovers can easily spend an entire day exploring Robson Street in the City Centre. Stores here range from unique clothing boutiques to high-end, brand name stores. Alberni Street, one block north of Robson Street, is Vancouver’s version of Rodeo Drive. It's filled with luxury clothing and jewelry stores like Tiffany and Brooks Brothers.
  • Those who prefer multiple shops in a single, climate-controlled setting can choose from over 100 shops at Pacific Centre.
  • Mid-Main, the section of Main Street located near the Mt Pleasant district is the place for people looking to scope out the local design scene. Most of the stores here carry clothing and accessories designed by Vancouverites that are frequently manufactured in the city too.
Punjabi Market – A Category In Its Own Right
Punjabi Market is for those looking for anything in the above categories but with an Indo-Canadian flair. Vancouver’s “Little India” in Vancouver South stretches along Main Street, from 48th to 51st Avenue. Shoppers can find costume jewelry stores mixed in amongst ones offering high-end jewelry. There are also reasonably priced fashion stores that specialize in fabric, saris and other Indian clothing styles and an Indian grocery with plenty of Indian food staples and spices.
  • Tip - Two local taxes are charged on the vast majority of goods: 7% PST (Provincial Sales Tax) and 5% GST (Goods and Services Tax). Eating out at a restaurant will only have the 5% GST added to the bill, but most consumer items will have both taxes added.
  • Robson Street in the City Centre is home to many touristy shops. Although not technically part of the street, the neighboring Alberni intersection is home to a variety of high-end shops such as Louis Vuitton and Hermès.
  • Pacific Centre has more than 150 shops, restaurants, and services if you want to walk in an underground shopping center. The shopping center begins on the south end at Robson Street with the Nordstrom department store 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, Massimo Dutti, GAP, H&M, and an Apple Store; the mall is connected to the Bay (at Georgia and Granville streets), and Vancouver Centre (a small mall mainly consisting of a lotto center, London Drugs, and a food court underneath Scotiabank).
  • Gastown is the oldest neighborhood 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.
  • Yaletown is also popular for its non-mainstream fashion boutiques and high-end salons. A few Popular Yaletown Shopping Streets are Mainland St., Hamilton St., and Pacific Blvd.
  • Granville Island is an interesting place to go if you fancy the arts. The area boasts a Public Market, The Granville Island brewery, an art school (Emily Carr University of Art + Design), shops, a world music instrument store, restaurants, theatres, galleries, a hotel, boat docks and more.
  • Kerrisdale is the area centered around 41st, between Maple St and Blenheim St, consisting of roughly a hundred or so boutique-like shops, restaurants, and stores (chain or otherwise) in an affluent neighborhood.
  • Commercial Drive, especially the stretch between 3rd Avenue and Venables St. in East Van, is great for people-watching, produce (Santa Barbara Market), cheese (La Grotta del Formaggio), sausage (JN&Z Deli), etc.
  • Main Street, south of Broadway stretching to around 30th Avenue, has a vibrant and expanding collection of independent restaurants, cafés, high-end niche clothing stores, and small boutiques.
  • 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).
  • Chinatown around Main and Pender, and westwards down Pender from Main, is an old historic landmark with grocery and herbal medicine markets that mimic the ethnic flavors, sights, and sounds of Eastern Asia. Other modern Chinatowns have sprung up around 41st Ave. and Victoria Drive, also in Richmond and Surrey.
  • Punjabi Market around Main, between 41st and 49th Ave. Good, cheap Punjabi food along with some Punjabi fashion; street signs are correspondingly in Punjabi.
There are some unique shopping areas in Kitsilano and East Van. In Kits you can visit the first store of Vancouver-born and based athletic retailer, Lululemon Athletica, sporting popular yoga-inspired apparel. Gore-tex jackets are ubiquitous in Vancouver and the best place to buy them is at Mountain Equipment Co-op, 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.

Safety in Vancouver, BC, Canada

Vancouver is a great place to visit if you use common sense like keeping an eye on your possessions, knowing where you are going and avoiding alleys and unfamiliar areas at night should keep you out of trouble. Unless involved in illegal activities (such as the drug trade), it is highly unlikely you will fall victim to any sort of violent crime. If you need emergency help, dial 911.

Like any major metropolitan city, Vancouver has areas that should be traveled with caution. The most notable is the Downtown Eastside (specifically Hastings Street between Abbott and Gore). This neighborhood is infamous for homelessness, drug use, and prostitution. This area is not often dangerous to visitors, but certainly may be unsettling. If you do accidentally stroll into the Downtown Eastside it is not difficult to find your way out, but if you get lost or feel uncomfortable the best thing to do is approach a police officer. Tourists exploring Gastown and Chinatown can easily wander into the Downtown Eastside unwittingly. Avoid looking like a tourist and you'll be fine. This area is also very narrow - walk south more than 2 blocks off of Hastings and you will be out of this area.

It's also wise to exercise caution in the Granville Mall area downtown on Friday and Saturday nights. As Vancouver’s bar and nightclub district, the sheer volume of people combined with alcohol consumption make disorderly conduct and rowdy behavior fairly common. But this shouldn't act as a deterrent - if you're not looking for trouble, you probably won't find it, and there is a strong police presence. The streets at night in the Granville Mall area are usually (and quite literally) clogged with people at night time. Such an enormous mix of people and alcohol can be a dangerous mix if you are not cautious.

Some parts of the city have high rates of property crime. Theft from vehicles is especially problematic and parked cars with foreign or out-of-province plates are frequently targeted. The best thing is to not leave any money and valuables in plain view. Many of the locals use steering wheel locks to prevent vehicle theft.

Panhandling is common in some parts of downtown but is unlikely to pose a problem. Don't be rude, as there may be negative consequences.

Scams DO happen in Vancouver, notably near the Waterfront area. There may be a stranger who claims to have his/her vehicle towed, and will ask to borrow money to try to get home. They will also claim to be a rich executive who says he/she will pay you back. Or another would be that they are trying to catch a bus to get back home into the Interior of BC. Don't entertain these people. Better to keep on walking!

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 without a government-issued medical exemption (the legality of possession is, however, currently under dispute by the Supreme Court). However, if you are caught with a small amount of cannabis (7 grams or less) in Vancouver it is extremely unlikely that you will be charged, in the vast majority of cases the police will arrest and search you; seize the marijuana, and then allow you to proceed. If you have a rental car, please note there are serious penalties for driving under the influence of marijuana which include significant fines and vehicle seizure. Only approved medicinal users are allowed to use the many cannabis dispensaries located in Vancouver and environs. Note also that while it is currently legal to buy and use pot recreationally in the state of Washington (including, therefore, the border communities of Blaine, Sumas, and Point Roberts) it is illegal to bring said material over the border in either direction. Do not buy pot in Vancouver and attempt to take it into Washington, or vice versa. Not even at out of the way crossings like Point Roberts.

Language spoken in Vancouver, BC, Canada

Although Canada is officially a bilingual French/English country, you would be hard pressed to find many French-speaking people in BC. Services from the federal government are officially available in both English and French. Provincial and municipal governments operate in English only. So some people speak French and a lot of people speak English in British Columbia. Some businesses, especially in Vancouver and Victoria offer services in a number of languages (primarily Asian ones). Banks sometimes indicated by a sign in the window which languages are offered.

At one time Chinook Jargon, a bridge language for trading between English, French and First Nations peoples in the late 1800's and early 1900's, was common and almost became the official language of BC. Now there are very few speakers of the language, but many terms from the language are common slang terms in parts of BC.
  • Cheechaku - Newcomer (more common in Northern BC and the Yukon).
  • Saltchuck - The ocean.
  • High Muckamuck - The chief, or boss.
  • Kultus - Bad or worthless.
  • Skookum - Strong, powerful, or impressive.


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