Tips and Tricks for First-Time Vancouver Visitors : A Comprehensive Guide (2023)
Welcome to Vancouver, one of Canada’s most beautiful cities and even in the world indeed. This bustling metropolitan boasts stunning natural scenery and vibrant culture and is home to friendly locals. Whether you are a Canadian, North American, or someone from another part of the world, Vancouver is a must-visit destination at least once in your life. This amazing city caters equally to all, from a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveler, and always has plenty of things to do and see.
However, learning about the ‘Best Places to Visit’ isn’t enough to make a trip to Vancouver memorable. A traveler should always be familiar with the basics of any city to make navigation and communication easier. Half of your struggle is resolved when you are familiar with the best hotels and restaurants. But there’s more than that while planning a trip to Vancouver.
Join us in this article and allow us to help you with the best tips and tricks for your Vancouver vacation. We hope that our practice recommendations will help in making your trip more enjoyable and meaningful.
Tips and Tricks for First-Time Vancouver Visitors : A Comprehensive Guide
Before you land at Vancouver International Airport, here are a few things you should be familiar with:
- One of the major factors that visitors often overlook about Vancouver is its weather. Vancouver is known for its moderate oceanic climate, but it is important to know that the weather here can be extremely unpredictable. Though every season here has its own climatic charm due to its coastal inclination, Vancouver can have a rainy day almost any time of the year. Visitors should pack their raincoats and umbrellas regardless of the season they are visiting this Canadian city. And if you are visiting it any time except the summer season, make sure you pack warm cloth as well since rain can make the climate cold.
- The rainy season in Vancouver begins in October and lasts till March, with November and December being the wettest months. If you are planning your holiday during these months, make sure you check the weather forecast/ prediction beforehand.
- If you are an international tourist in Vancouver, exchange your currency at Canadian chartered banks, foreign exchange brokers’ offices, or at the Airport.
- The entire Vancouver city is equipped with hundreds of WiFi connections that provide good internet support. These connections are absolutely free for all; thus, avoid spending on your internet recharge.
- It may surprise many, but Vancouver is a tiny city, and there are a lot of walkable routes. Make sure you pack a pair of comfortable shoes to enjoy the walking and hiking experience of the city.
- Vancouver, though is a safe city, but it is important to look out for your belonging in public. Also, it is a good idea to avoid walking alone at night, especially in isolated areas.
- The Downtown Eastside area in Vancouver has been grappling with a drug problem for quite a lot of years. This section of the city has a large number of homeless people and drug addicts. For visitors, it is important to avoid areas with drugs and especially people who seem suspicious.
- Do not spend on a bottle of water, and bring along a reusable one since Vancouver has some of the best tap water in the world. By doing so, you can save money and reduce plastic waste at the same time.
- Vancouver is a multicultural city and has a diverse population. All thanks to that, there’s always so much to learn, explore, and experience in the city.
- Tipping is a common practice in Vancouver, and it is customary to leave a gratuity for most services. However, tipping isn’t mandatory but only an appreciable gesture.
- If you are planning to visit attractions like Stanley Park or Capilano Suspension Bridge, make sure you avoid the rush hours. Since these attractions are extremely popular, you may end up with a crowded disappointment. Especially avoid Seawalls during peak hours.
- Vancouver has a lot of free places to visit; thus, never miss the opportunity. Check out places like Stanley Park, Lonsdale Quay, Lynn Canyon, Granville Island, Grouse Grind, and more.
- Most of the tourist attractions and activities in Vancouver are in and around its downtown region, and thus it is better to start here.
- Take advantage of the beautiful scenery and get outside since there are plenty of outdoor activities to do in Vancouver.
- While Vancouver has plenty to offer beyond city limits, places like Whistler and the Gulf Islands are worth a visit.
- People in Vancouver speak English and French; however, English is the one spoken most commonly. But don’t get surprised if you hear people speaking Mandarin, Cantonese, Punjabi, Tagalog, Hindi, and more such languages due to cultural diversity.
- Vancouver has a major Asian influence, and if you are from one of the Asian countries, you are going to feel at home here.
- Granville Island Public Market is a cool place to spend some time, and thus never miss the opportunity.
- Vancouver looks beautiful from the water, and thus, do take a ferry ride for sightseeing.
Where To Stay When In Vancouver?
Though the entire Vancouver has some good hotel options, the best decision for any tourist is to stay between Denman and Burrard. These neighborhoods have some excellent options for budget travelers and tourists who are seeking luxury hotels.
Downtown Vancouver is a central location and, thus, another great place to look out for a hotel. In addition, Yaletown boasts a range of boutique hotels and apartment rentals. The multicultural neighborhood of West End too boasts many hotels and vacation rentals, and it is close to Stanley Park and English Bay Beach. Asian visitors can check out Richmond, a suburb of Vancouver in the southern part of the city. The high concentration of Asian restaurants, along with several hotels and accommodations, makes it a nice place to stay.
However, there are certain places you should avoid staying at in Vancouver as a tourist. East Hastings/ Downtown Eastside of Vancouver has a high concentration of homelessness and drug addiction. Though the area is usually busy and seems sane, it has some safety concerns during the night. Similarly, Whalley in Surrey (a suburb of Vancouver) has a higher crime rate, and tourists should be cautious here. Lastly, Strathcona, again on the east of Downtown Vancouver, has a higher crime rate, and tourists must keep a distance. This section of the city also has several social housing projects, which can make staying here less appealing.
How To Get Around In Vancouver?
Vancouver has solid public transportation, and it is absolutely easy and convenient. The public transportation system here includes buses, trains, ferries, SkyTrain, Seabus, commuter train service, specialized transit service, Car share services, and bike rentals. Whether you are a local, from the country, or an international visitor, it is always smarter to stick with the public transport options. Doing so will save you on time and parking hassle for the most part of the day. And since public transport takes you to almost all the nooks and corners of the city, there are no better options to choose from. Tourists and other visitors can consider purchasing a Compass Card for access to different modes of public transport.
When riding city buses, make sure you carry coins since bus drivers don’t carry or give change.
Another very common way to navigate around Vancouver is through rented bikes and cycles. This bike-friendly city has many dedicated bike lanes and paths to take advantage of.
What To Pack For A Trip To Vancouver?
Here are some year-round packing tips for your trip to Vancouver:
- Vancouver has a mild climate and moderate temperature, and it remains nearly similar throughout the year. For summer, it is a good idea to pack shorts, t-shirts, and sandals. Whereas for winters, it is essential to pack a sweater or fleece, hat, gloves, and other warm essentials.
- On a summer trip to Vancouver, pack your swimsuit, sunglasses, and plenty of sunscreen.
- When planning to explore the Vancouver outdoors, make sure you pack a bug repellent along.
- Vancouver is popular for its rains and unpredictable rain timings. It is always a smart decision to pack an umbrella or rain jacket to stay dry. Also, carry a bag protector for your backpack to stay safe in the case.
- Visitors who are in Vancouver from anywhere outside North America should pack electrical adapters to charge their electronic devices.
- It’s a good idea to grab a trail map or guidebook to help navigate the trails.
- Pack walking/ hiking shoes with good traction.
Best Season/ Time to Visit Vancouver
Summer from June through August. It is the most popular time to visit Vancouver, thanks to the no-rain sunny weather. It is when visitors can make the most out of outdoor recreation, including hiking, biking, and beach-going. It is also the time for the Vancouver International Jazz Festival, the Celebration of Light fireworks competition, and the Vancouver Folk Music Festival.
Fall from September through November. It is when leaves change colors, the air crisp and cool, and Vancouver transforms into its most beautiful version. Falls in Vancouver are less crowded than at other times of the year.
Winter from December through February. Winter in Vancouver is mild and rainy, and visitors can enjoy the best of it from December through February. It is the ultimate Christmas season with a boast of festivity and celebration. The markets, lights displays, and the Santa Claus Parade are treats to enjoy. It is also an ideal time to enjoy Skiing and snowboarding.
Spring from March through May. It is when cherry blossoms are in bloom and the weather becomes pretty enjoyable. It is an ideal time to enjoy the outdoors before it starts getting crowded for summer. Spring in Vancouver also hosts public events like the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival and the Vancouver International Wine Festival.
Things You Should Never Do In Vancouver As A Tourist
- Never indulge in smoking or vaping in any fully or substantially enclosed public place or workplace in Vancouver. Be sure to check for signage before lighting up.
- Never underestimate Vancouver’s weather since it is the most unpredictable thing in the city.
- Never litter on the streets or throw your belonging irresponsibly.
- Do not jaywalk; use crosswalks and obey traffic signals. In Vancouver, is it illegal to cross the street outside of a designated crosswalk?
- Vancouver has its share of petty crime; thus, never leave your belonging unattended.
- Never drive under the influence, or you may result in fines, jail time, and even deportation.
- Never disrespect First Nations people, their culture, and tradition. Remember, Vancouver is nestled on the unceded territories of the Coast Salish peoples, and the city has high values and respect for First Nations.
- When using public transport, do not skip the line.
- Do not try to cover it all in a short trip. Vancouver is tiny; however, it is a lot of things to do and see. If you are here for a weekend, a day trip, or a short trip, plan it accordingly, and do not try exploring them all.