Tips, Tricks, and Best Kept Secrets. We’ve assembled here a short list of things you might need to know if you’re traveling to Canada for the first time. If you want to know more, Tourism Vancouver is a great source of information about getting to the city and what to do once you’re there.
GETTING THERE AND BACK AGAIN
Vancouver International Airport (YVR) is the city’s air hub. The Canada Line links the airport with downtown, and drops riders just a five minute walk from the Hyatt Regency for $9 CAD. Reloadable Compass cards can be purchased from any Skytrain Station and work for travel across the entire Translink system (skytrain, bus, seabus). In addition to the regular fare, there’s an extra $5 airport transportation tax applied to transit fares departing from YVR.
Google Maps is reliable for mapping transit trips.
Taxi rides are a flat rate – $31 CAD from the airport to the downtown core. A taxi stand is located on the second level of the airport.
For other transportation options to the hotel and within the city, see our Getting Around Vancouver page.
There is daily passenger service on Amtrak between Vancouver and Seattle, Portland, and points south. There’s really no more pleasant way to get in and out of Vancouver from the Pacific Northwest than this.
BORDER ENTRY REQUIREMENTS FOR CANADA
Even if you’re coming from the US, you’ll need to show a passport to get in and out of Canada. Depending on which country you’re coming from, you might also need a visa and / or an ETA (Electronic Travel Authorization). You can find out which countries’ citizens need ETAs on this page on the Government of Canada’s website. Processing times for ETAs can be anywhere from 2-4 weeks, so plan accordingly.
- US citizens can apply for a passport online. Allow 4-6 weeks for processing.
- Parents traveling with minor children should check out this page on the Government of Canada website to ensure a smooth border crossing.
- Note that people with multiple DUI offenses may be denied entry to Canada.
- As of December 2016, visitors from Mexico no longer need a visa to visit Canada.
For more about what to expect at the border, check this Tourism Vancouver page.
Check with your current health insurance provider to ensure that you’ll be covered in Canada. You can also purchase “Visitor to Canada Insurance”.
If you’re driving your own car in Canada, check with your insurance provider about a Canadian Non-Resident Interprovince Motor Vehicle Liability Insurance Card.
CASH OR CHARGE
Credit Cards and Contactless Payments
Credit cards are accepted nearly everywhere in the country. To avoid fraud alerts on your card, it’s a good idea to call your bank before you leave home and let them know that charges in Vancouver will be legit.
Contactless payment cards are commonly accepted in Canada. Apple Pay works at many contactless terminals, but Android Pay does not.
The currency of Canada is the Canadian Dollar. Commonly used Canadian currency comes in denominations of $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 and are printed on plastic. Canadian coins are struck in denominations of 5¢, 10¢, 25¢, $1 (known as a loonie), and $2 (known as a toonie). Although Canadian pennies are still legal tender, they are no longer minted and cash transactions are rounded to the nearest nickel. (See more on Wikipedia)
While some merchants may accept US dollars as a courtesy, it’s better to get some Canadian money before you leave home or at the Vancouver airport. The best rates for currency exchange in town (better than the airport) can be found at the Vancouver Bullion.
ATMs are plentiful (there’s one in the lobby of the Hyatt Regency Vancouver) and are connected to all the major interbank networks.
Tipping is customary in Canada, and tipping practices are similar to those in the US. For more about tipping in Canada (and a bonus section on etiquette), see this page on Trip Advisor or this page on About.com.
Even more about Canadian money
Hungry for more information about banks and money in Canada? Of course you are. Trip Advisor has got you covered.
WiFi is available all over Vancouver. Of course there will be WiFi at the Hyatt Regency in the conference rooms and guest rooms. Just across from the lobby of the Hyatt is a Tim Horton’s with 24-hour coffee, food, and free WiFi. There’s WiFi at the airport and at the library, and the city of Vancouver offers 34 public WiFi hotspots. Need more? Here are the top 10 places to get free WiFi in Vancouver.
Get a mobile roaming plan
WiFi not enough for you? Gotta have data on the go? This is an excellent page on prepaid and roaming mobile phone options in Canada, including where to buy prepaid cards.
Of course, you may get a better deal by choosing a roaming plan from your current provider. Make sure to turn off roaming on your phone when you arrive in Canada if you don’t want to pay exorbitant charges for data access.
Canada uses the same electrical voltage and outlets as the US. If you need a converter or transformer, REI has a handy guide to choosing travel power adapters.
WEATHER AND WHAT TO PACK
While Vancouver enjoys milder temperatures than the rest of Canada, it is famous for being a very rainy city. Average temperatures in Vancouver in March range from highs of 50ºF (10ºC) to lows of 37ºF (3ºC). The average precipitation is 4.3”. Snow is possible, but unlikely in the city.
While it’ll be comfy and cozy inside the hotel, if you venture outside you’re going to want to have these in your suitcase:
- Raincoat and/or umbrella
- Warm, waterproof clothing; sweaters, hoodies, light jackets. Fleece is a good fabric for layering.
- Closed-toe shoes; rain boots
- Snow gear, if you’re heading up to the mountains
Generally speaking, Vancouverites dress nicely but casually. Only the fanciest restaurants require formal clothing. Don’t wear sweat pants and flip-flops, but also don’t feel you need to wear a jacket and tie or a cocktail dress.
DO CANADA LIKE A BOSS
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