Helpful hints for getting around Vancouver by our local resident Michelle Seidel.
Vancouver is the western most part of Canada in the Province of British Columbia, located on the Pacific Ocean. The strong British influence can still be seen today. The city is surrounded by water on three sides and nestled against the Coast Mountain Range. It has 100 miles of waterfront causeways and endless breathtaking vistas.
Vancouver is consistently voted as one of the 10 best cities in the world to live in and you only have to visit it once to see why.
Transit is quite good in the city. We have an extensive bus system and fixed rail known as SkyTrain from downtown to the suburbs, as well as the segment called “Canada Line” that runs from downtown to the airport.
One small piece of advice to save money on the Canada Line from Vancouver Airport (YVR) to downtown, if you plan to visit Vancouver a few more times: a book of 10 prepaid “Faresaver” tickets makes the trip from the airport cheaper than what is charged at the airport ticket kiosks, as there is a $5 airport zone surcharge (called the “AddFare”) on top of the regular adult $3.75 fare unless you have the “Faresaver” pre-paid ticket. A book of 10 prepaid “Faresavers” for 2 zones (needed for airport to downtown) is $31.50 plus taxes and do get used to 12% HST or sales tax being added to nearly everything you purchase in British Columbia! There is a 7-Eleven convenience store located in the lower level of the domestic terminal that sells these tickets. Translink also has a variety of day passes for sale as well.
As TransLink says, the $5 Canada Line YVR AddFare is applicable to travel departing from any of the stations on Sea Island (YVR-Airport, Sea Island Centre and Templeton) destined for Bridgeport Station or points beyond. The Ticket Vending Machines (TVMs) at the three Sea Island Stations are programmed to charge the additional YVR AddFare automatically on applicable transactions.
Canada Line customers who buy their fare zone ticket from a TVM using cash, debit or credit card must pay the $5 YVR AddFare. This includes Concession (seniors and student) fares. Children under the age of five can ride transit for free and are not subject to the YVR AddFare.
Translink is very helpful with bus and SkyTrain connections and have web-based trip planning advice to tailor which buses and trains to use for wherever you need to go. They are always helpful by phone at (604) 953-3333.
Also, during ski season you can take Transit up to Grouse Mountain and rent ski equipment for a day’s skiing with spectacular views of the city. And of course Whistler is only about an hour and a half away by car, if you want some truly great skiing!
For shopping, head to Robson Street or the always fun stretch of West 4th Avenue from Burrard to Yew. Pacific Centre Mall is located in the underground downtown with all the usual name brands.
Fantastic restaurants are located all over the city with great food available at all price levels. In good weather, look for “Go Fish” located near the fishing boat piers at Granville Island. It is an outdoor fish and chip stand where they prepare some of the fresh fish brought in by the fishing boats.
Stanley Park is the largest park in Canada and one of the most beautiful parks in the world, as well as being one of Vancouver's main tourist attractions. It is a 1,000-acre green oasis, home wildlife, majestic hemlock, cedars and fir trees. Its features include The Lagoon, Totem Poles, the Hanging Gardens, public swimming pools, trails for walking, cycling or rollerblading along the Seawall.
Capilano Suspension Bridge
The Capilano Suspension Bridge is an old and popular attraction in British Columbia. Don’t go on it if you are scared of heights as it soars 230 feet high in the air and is 450 feet long. Trust me it seriously sways too! But if you can manage it really does offer spectacular views of the rich green coastal forest.
If you do make it to the other side you’ll enjoy the Treetops Adventure, comprising of seven elevated suspension bridges through the Douglas firs. Some as high as 100 feet.
Canada Place is one of the most distinguishing landmarks on the Vancouver waterfront easily identified by its huge five sails. It is home to the Vancouver Convention and Exhibition Centre, the Pacific Pan Hotel, Vancouver's World Trade Centre, the world's first permanent IMAX 3D theatre, and one of the two Alaska cruise ship terminals in the city.
Tipping in Canada
The tipping culture here is about the same as in the US. I remember when it was in the 10% range for restaurants, but now somehow it has crept up to 15-20%. Some people take the pre-tax total and divide it by 7 and then increase or lower the amount based on their experience.
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