Vancouver – A Guide
While we began with a focus on Toronto, us Aliens are spread far and wide across Canada and beyond. Graham from the Forums sent in this short guide to firstname.lastname@example.org and we hope to get more City Guides from across the country, so get in touch.
Vancouver, British Columbia
Stuff in Vancouver:
The Lookout at Harbour Centre – Great views of the city and the North Shore mountains from here on a clear day.
Granville Island – They make nice beer here. Oh, and there are markets. But mostly I like it ‘cos of the beer. By ferry is the a fun way to get there: False Creek Ferries & Aquabus run a number of different routes.
Capilano Suspension Bridge – 30 dollars, bit pricey but it’s a nice spot up in the mountains.
Grouse Mountain – 38 dollars to get up to the top by cable car. Or you can hike up and down for free.
Lynn Valley Park – Great little park in North Vancouver, right on the edge of the city.
Stanley Park – Great views from the Seawall Walk. About a 10/15 min stroll from the downtown core, or if you’re feeling lazy get the no. 19 bus.
Beaches – There are some great beaches within a 30 minute bus ride of downtown, such as Jericho Beach and the infamous Wreak Beach at UBC. English Bay is beautiful, and only a 10 minute walk from downtown.
Pacific Centre – Downtown shopping complex. Just off Robson Street, which is the main shopping street.
Further Afield – Whistler resort, Vancouver Island, Seattle, and the Sunshine Coast are all within 4 to 6 hours from Van by bus or ferry. Rocky Mountains are about a 12 hour bus ride.
Downtown core - Compact enough to explore on foot. Robson St and Granville St are the main shopping areas. Granville St gets very busy on Friday and Saturday night as most of the bars/clubs are concentrated along there, most of them play Top40/pop music (The Granville strip is the Vancouver equivalent of Temple Bar)
West End – The area between downtown and Stanley Park. Mostly residential, with lots of coffee shops & restaurants. Very multicultural, lots of wealthy professional types, and the “Davie Village” area is home to Vans gay community (which is why all the bus stops and garbage bins are painted pink).
Yaletown – Down by False Creek, to the east of Granville St Bridge. Recently re-developed area, where yuppies with irritatingly small dogs live in huge glass towers. Nice place for an afternoon stroll.
Gastown – Lots of old buildings, picturesque, and a little bit of a tourist trap. Home to the famous Vancouver Steam Clock.
Chinatown – Does exactly what it says on the tin. Good for a stroll and a visit to the traditional Chinese gardens.
Downtown Eastside (DTES) - An infamously deprived part of the city, centered around the Main St. & E. Hastings intersection.
Vancouver has a reputation as being a “no fun city”. Drinking laws here are a lot stricter than at home, which means that there are surprisingly few bars/clubs for a city of its size. There are some great little drinking spots, you just need to know where to look.
The Black Frog – Small, unpretentious bar in Gastown that plays great music. Good place to start the night, or for cheap Guinness (5 bucks) on a Sunday.
The Cambie – Attached to a hostel, so attracts the backpacker & student crowds.
The Bourbon – Bar & club in Gastown. Usually bands playing at the weekend.
Lotus/Honey – Near Chinatown, one of our frequent haunts on a Saturday. 3 different rooms playing different music, always busy.
5 things worth knowing:
1) Van is insanely multicultural, with a huge immigrant population and an unreal selection of different cuisines.
2) Starbucks are f*cking everywhere.
3) Smoking weed in public is, generally speaking, tolerated by the cops, but it helps to be discreet. And there is even a cafe (The New Amsterdam Cafe) where you can go for coffee and a bit of a smoke.
4) All prices in shops are before tax.
5) Don’t forget to tip! 15-20% is the average