Located on Canada's west coast, nestled between rugged Coast Mountain Range and the Pacific Ocean, Vancouver offers an exciting blend of cosmopolitan amenities, natural beauty and cultural attractions. As the largest city in the province of British Columbia, the Metro Vancouver region is home to more than two million people in 21 municipalities, making it the third largest metropolitan area in Canada.
Vancouver is consistently rated among the most beautiful cities in the world, and will host the 2010 Winter Olympics in February 2010. With a spectacular natural setting, bordered by mountains, ocean and Stanley Park 100 acres of majestic cedar, hemlock and fir trees Vancouver is clean, green, safe, and friendly. It also boasts one of the mildest climates in Canada. This is one of the only cities in the world where you can ski, golf and kayak all in the same day.
A food-lovers dream with more restaurants, a wider selection of ethnic cuisine, and better prices than any comparably sized city in the world, Vancouver also offers world class shopping, attractions, arts and entertainment.
History of Vancouver
The region has been inhabited for thousands of years by Aboriginal peoples, including the Bella Coola, Haida, Kwakiutl, Nootka, Salish and Tsimshian. The west coast was first explored by Europeans in the 1770s and 1780s. Captain George Vancouver, an English explorer, sailed into Burrard Inlet in 1792 while searching for the legendary Northwest Passage. Fur traders followed, and in 1858 prospectors came in search of gold on the tributaries of the Fraser River. Rapid settlement ensued and the City of Vancouver was incorporated in 1886.
All overseas visitors require a valid passport and may require other documentation such as an entry visa (ask your travel agent) to enter Canada.
United States citizens travelling by air between the United States, Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and the Caribbean are required to present a valid passport to enter or re-enter the United States. As early as 1 January 2008 and no later than 1 June 2009, everyone traveling between the United States and Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Bermuda by land or sea (including cruises and ferries) may be required to present a valid passport or other documents as determined from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Please visit www.dhs.gov for more information.
Vancouver By Air
Vancouver International Airport (YVR)
Each year over 80 carriers transport some 17 million passengers via Vancouver International Airport; there are direct flights to and from over 150 destinations worldwide. Because YVR offers the shortest flying times between much of North America and Asia, as well as being a gateway to Europe, Vancouver is a major hub for travel. Please visit www.yvr.com for more information.
Vancouver is served by the Vancouver International Airport, located approximately 15 km (11 miles) from the centre of the city. The airport is a major hub for international travel, with good connections to all major North American and international centers by a host of airlines. Taxi fare from Vancouver International Airport to the city center is approximately $25-30 CAD. Limousine and Airport shuttle bus services are also available at reasonable rates. All of these services accept major credit cards. Vancouver International Airport has consistently been rated one of North America’s top airports. The brand-new Canada Line train is now in operation and links the airport directly to the heart of downtown Vancouver. For more information on the Canada Line visit: http://www.yvr.ca/en/getting-to-from-yvr/public-transportation.aspx.
All costs in Canada are set in Canadian funds (CAD). Foreign currencies are readily exchanged at airports and banks. Bank debit or credit cards are the most convenient means of getting cash at the many 24-hour-access automated banking machines. As in the U.S. and Europe these machines accept cards with Plus, Interac and Cirrus symbols and are easily found in Vancouver. Most Canadian businesses accept U.S. currency and traveler-cheques, as well as major credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, American Express).
For up to date information go to The Universal Currency Converter at www.xe.com/ucc
Food & Beverage
An extensive variety of cuisine is available representing the multicultural flavor of Vancouver. Fine dining, casual or family friendly restaurants are easily accessible throughout Metro Vancouver.
Minors are not admitted into bars or lounges. In British Columbia, minors are defined as anyone under 19 years of age.
In Canada, tips and gratuities are not typically included in a bill. In general, a gratuity of 15% of the total amount before taxes is considered to be a suitable gratuity. This applies to waiters, waitresses and taxi drivers. At hotels and airports, doorman and porters are generally offered $2.00 CAD per item of luggage.
There is a 5% Goods and Services Tax (GST) in effect in Canada. There is also a non-refundable Provincial Sales Tax (PST), currently at 7% in British Columbia.
Visitors are not covered by Canadian health insurance plans. Check with your personal medical plan before leaving your home country to ensure you have adequate traveling insurance. Delegates are urged to take out insurance to cover loss incurred in the case of cancellation, medical expenses and damage to or loss of personal effects whenever traveling outside of their own country.
Dial 911 for emergency services (ambulance, police, fire & rescue).
Smoking is not permitted in any indoor public place within the city boundaries of Vancouver. Smoking is also prohibited within customer services areas of food and/or liquor establishments (indoor or open patios), and within 6 metres of any entryway, open windows or customer service area. A limited number of hotels may provide guestrooms that do permit smoking please confirm with your hotel directly.
English and French are Canada’s two official languages. English is the main language spoken in Vancouver. You will find that many banks, hotels, airline offices, shops, and key visitor attractions have multilingual staff speaking languages such as Cantonese, Mandarin, Punjabi, Spanish, French, Japanese and Vietnamese.
Special Needs Travelers
Vancouver enjoys a reputation as being one of the most accessible cities in the world among travelers with special needs. Whether using wheelchairs, white canes, assistance-dogs or hearing aids, Vancouver leads the way in making the area a more livable place for people with disabilities through its progressive transportation systems, innovative housing and recreational opportunities.
The electrical current is the same in Canada as in the United States: 110 volts AC at 60Hz. Adapters are required for appliances from other countries.
Warmed by Pacific Ocean currents and protected by a range of mountains, Vancouver enjoys mild temperatures year-round. From low 20s Celsius (high 70s Fahrenheit) in summer to a mild 0º to 5º Celsius (40s Fahrenheit in winter, the climate is always hospitable. Average daily temperatures in June are 21 Celsius (69 Fahrenheit). For current weather conditions check the following website: www.theweathernetwork.com/weather/cabc0308
Vancouver is in the Pacific Standard Time Zone (-0800 GMT). Daylight Savings Time is in effect from 2:00 a.m. on the first Sunday in April until 2:00 a.m. on the last Sunday in October.
Vancouver now employs two separate area codes: 604 and 778. Calls within the greater Vancouver area are local regardless whether they use a 604 or 778 area code, however, you will need to dial all ten digits of the phone number in order to be connected (e.g. 604-555-1234). Cellular phones may be used in all areas of the Lower Mainland, but may not get reception inside certain buildings or elevators. Check with your cellular service provider to ensure your plan offers roaming/long distance service in Vancouver.