To make your visit as easy and fun as possible, here are some practical information and tips for visitors to Vancouver:
WEATHER & WHAT TO WEAR
Warmed by Pacific Ocean currents and protected by a range of mountains, Vancouver enjoys mild temperatures year-round. Vancouver enjoys warm, comfortable summers that are rarely scorching. June to August daytime temperatures linger just above 20º Celsius (70º Fahrenheit). Evenings, especially in the surrounding mountains, can be cool, so it's best to pack a light jacket and sweater.
Average Daily High Temperatures:
The monetary system in Canada is based on dollars and cents. Foreign currencies may be readily exchanged at banks, your hotel front desk or at currency exchange bureaus located throughout the city. Bank debit or credit cards are the most convenient means of getting cash at the many 24-hour automated banking machines (ATMs). As in the U.S. and Europe these machines accept cards with Plus, Interac and Cirrus symbols and are easily found in Vancouver. Many Canadian businesses will accept U.S. currency and traveler's cheques, as well as major credit cards (Visa, Master Card, and American Express). For current rate of exchange information, please visit: http://www.bank-banque-canada.ca.
Regular banking hours in Canada are 8:30am to 4:30pm., 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.
The electrical current is the same in Canada as in the United States: 110 volts AC at 60 Hz. Adapters are required for appliances from other countries.
English and French are Canada's two official languages. English is the predominant language in Vancouver, however you will find that many banks, hotels, airline offices, shops and key visitor attractions in each city have multilingual staff.
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.
Smoking is not permitted by law in public buildings, on public transit, in shopping malls, and in most restaurants, pubs, nightclubs and casinos. Many restaurants and other establishments have designated smoking areas such as patios or outside heated seating areas. Please smoke in designated areas only.
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, seeing-eye 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
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.
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 for more information.
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.
Vancouver is in the Pacific standard Time Zone (-0800 GMT).
The standard and customary gratuity in most restaurants is 15%.
For more information on Vancouver, visit the Tourism Vancouver website at www.tourismvancouver.com.