The currency used in Canada is the Canadian dollar. There are no dollar bills, the lowest note is five dollars, so dollars and two dollars come in coin form.
The three main languages spoken in Vancouver are English, French and Chinese.
Vancouver has what is known as an oceanic climate and it usually sees warm, dry summers and cool, wet winters. July and August are usually the hottest months, boasting average temperatures of 17.5ºC. During winter it doesn’t get as cold in Vancouver as it does in many other Canadian cities. January tends to be the coldest month when temperatures hover around 2.5ºC but can drop below zero. Winter is Vancouver’s wettest season with November, December and January all generally seeing in excess of 200mm of rainfall.
Vancouver operates on Pacific Standard Time which is eight hours behind Greenwich Mean Time. Daylight Savings Time applies between April and October.
Shops in Vancouver generally open between 10.00am and 6.00pm from Monday to Saturday but many are now open on Sundays too. Banks are open from 10.00am until 5.00pm from Monday to Thursday and from 10.00am until 6.00pm on Fridays. Many of the bigger banks are also open until lunch-time on Saturday.
The electrical current used in Vancouver is 110 Volts AC/60 Hz, while sockets take 2-pin plugs (flat) or 3-pin plugs (2 flat & 1 round).
Visa requirements for visitors to Canada have become stricter in recent years. All people entering the country must have proof of citizenship. For most European residents and citizens of certain other countries, you do not need a visa but you must have a passport. Entry visas are required, however, for citizens of more than 130 countries so it is worth checking this out with the Canadian consulate in your home country. They will be able to tell you if you need a visa and, if you do, how to go about applying for it.
The main tourist office is the Tourism Vancouver Visitor Centre which you’ll find on the Plaza Level at 200 Burrard Street in Downtown Vancouver.
For the best exchange rate, it’s usually best to change your money into Canadian currency at a bank. Travellers’ cheques are also widely accepted. ATM cards which are part of the Cirrus or Plus network can be used in machines displaying the relevant signs. All the major credit cards including Visa, MasterCard and American Express are widely accepted and can also be used to withdraw cash from ATMs.
To call Vancouver from abroad you first dial 00, followed by 1, the local area code and the local number. The main area code in Vancouver is 604. If you want to call abroad from Vancouver you need to dial 001, followed by the international calling code for your particular country and then the local number.
Vancouver’s main post office is the Canada Post Vancouver Main Post Office, located at 349 West Georgia Street in Downtown Vancouver.
The amount depends on the quality of the service but the usual tip is an average of fifteen percent and a minimum of ten. This also applies to hairdressers and taxi drivers. Porters, bellhops and similar staff at hotels, airports and railway stations are usually paid one dollar per item of luggage carried.
It is worth noting what the public holidays are before you travel to a country as the majority of businesses, banks and shops usually shut for the day. In Canada they take place on January 1st, Good Friday, Monday on or before May 24th, July 1st, September 3rd, October 8th, November 11th and December 25th. It is a good idea to check the particular region too as certain towns and areas also shut down during special events.