The World in a City
Majestic mountains, sparkling ocean, rainforests and beautiful foliage make Vancouver one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Catering to any interest throughout the year, visitors to Vancouver can enjoy world class shopping, gourmet meals, outstanding live entertainment, sporting events, theatre, outdoor adventure and spectacular sights and attractions. Vancouver is located in British Columbia, Canada’s Western-most province, and is set between the Pacific Ocean in the West and the magnificent Rocky Mountains in the East.
The population of Metro Vancouver is just over two million, of which 43% have a first language other than English. The diverse population of downtown Vancouver reflects over 200 different ethnic groups. Multiculturalism is threaded throughout the region in the restaurants, festivals and these unique neighbourhoods that make up the Metro Vancouver area. Vancouver is a highly accessible destination.
Vancouver citizens live and work in the downtown core, so no matter what the time of day, the city is alive with people, energy, and excitement. The distance from one end of the downtown core to the other end is only 1.5 kilometres (1 mile); less than half an hour anywhere by foot! Vancouverites’ love of nature is easily indulged with the wide array of activities and world-class attractions. Plan to arrive early and stay late to take advantage of the pre and post Congress tours.
Vancouver is in the Pacific Time Zone. Daylight savings time is in effect from the second Sunday in March until the first Sunday in November. You can see Vancouver’s time in relation to most cities on the globe by visiting www.TimeAndDate.com.
The voltage in Vancouver and the rest of Canada is 110V. You will need a plug converter if you are coming from a country with anything other than 2 pin sockets. Be aware that if you do not have dual voltage equipment it may not work, or may work well under its usual performance. (For example: mobile/cell phone chargers).
Canada has two official languages – English and French. English is the predominant language in British Columbia. Vancouver is a cosmopolitan mix of many multicultural groups and is considered multilingual on an unofficial level. Many banks, hotels, airline offices, service institutions, shops and key tourist destinations have multi-lingual staff.
After English and Chinese, the most common mother tongue languages spoken are Punjabi, German, Italian, French, Tagalog (Filipino) and Spanish.
Currency and Foreign Exchange
The Canadian Dollar (CAD) is the official currency in Canada. It is roughly equivalent to the US dollar in value. All major credit cards are accepted in most hotels, shops and restaurants.
A lot of tourist-friendly businesses choose to accept American currency as a courtesy to American tourists, but US dollars are legally a foreign currency in Canada, not a secondary currency. What this means is that businesses that choose to accept US dollars choose their own exchange rate, and they will only give back change in Canadian dollars, as it’s what they’re legally able to do. Infrastructure in Canada – vending machines, laundry machines, pay phones, public transit ticket machines, parking meters – basically anything where you insert coins or bills, will only accept Canadian dollars or coins.
Canadian one dollar coin (“loonie”) ($) = 100 cents
Canadian two dollar coin (“toonie”) ($) = 200 cents
Notes are in denominations of $100, $50, $20, $10, $5
Coins are in denominations of $2, $1, $0.50, $0.25, $0.10, $0.05
Traveller’s cheques in Canadian dollars are the safest and most convenient way to carry money. They are widely accepted and can be cashed at banks or foreign exchange brokers. Identification may be required when cashing traveler’s cheques.
For currency conversions, please visit the Bank of Canada’s website for up-to-date rates.
Most major credit cards are accepted, but visitors are always advised to check with the vendor before a purchase is made. Cash machines with 24 hour access are available in many convenient locations throughout Greater Vancouver.
Regular banking hours in Canada are 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday to Friday, with extended hours including weekends at some locations. Visitors who wish to cash cheques or require other banking services are advised to check times of operation with the institutions. Main branches of Canadian chartered banks, particularly in major centres, are equipped to exchange foreign currency as well. Several major European and foreign banks have offices in Vancouver, and will handle some foreign currencies directly.
Most banks have automatic teller machines, which can be accessed 24 hours a day, using bank or credit cards on major international banking networks such as Cirrus, Plus and Interac.
Some properties and resort hotels include tips or gratuities to simplify bookkeeping. This will usually include gratuities for housekeeping, bell service and food service. If meals are included in the price, customary gratuity will be calculated at 15 per cent. Visitors should be advised that the standard tip in most restaurants is 15 to 18 per cent.
Most goods and services including hotel rooms in British Columbia are subject to a 7% Provincial Sales Tax (PST) and a 5% Goods and Services Tax (GST) with the exception of liquor (10%).
In Vancouver and most major cities in BC, there is an additional 2% hotel room tax on top of the 7% PST and 5% GST. Some hotels also collect a Destination Marketing Fee (DMF) of 1.5% for the purposes of destination marketing and promotion. Total taxes and DMF for Vancouver hotel rooms are 15.74% of the room rate.
Go to http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/nwsrm/fctshts/2013/m03/fs130327b-eng.html orwww.vandha.ca for more information.
For more information on Vancouver, visit the Tourism Vancouver website at www.tourismvancouver.com.