[Travel Advice] Vancouver

Random Observation/Comment #425: From my travel experience, I’ve found that all major cities have the same key components. There are pockets of cultural groups, old towns, ghettos, rich areas, financial districts, tall buildings, sprinkling of parks, and hipster scenes. These seem to just naturally form and if you really want to experience the culture, you’ll need to dig much deeper.

see lemons inpawsibly fun

Things Vancouver does well:

  • Chinese people. Holy cow, there are a lot of us here. I’m putting this as a pro because authentic Chinese food is so good even though Chinese people are really racist to each other most of the time.
  • Chinese food. With the people, come the chefs and awesome food. Richmond was my favorite for the few dim sum and dinner places that rivaled that of Hong Kong and Flushing in NY.
  • Friendly people. (Usually not Chinese because we’re all cynical) I think this is just Canadians in general. Everyone is just so nice and likes to help wherever they can.
  • Dating Spots. This is also true of NYC if you know where to look, but from my few days in Vancouver, I found tons of dating things to do. There are beautiful walks and lots of activities.

Things Vancouver could do better:

  • Outrageous taxes. It’s around 13% and different items get different taxes. I guess universal health care has to come from somewhere.
  • Traffic. We did not go during rush hour, but I get the feeling it gets really congested when taking Route 99 in the morning. The Lions Gate bridge has 3 lanes and the middle lane reverses directions every 20 minutes to account for traffic. That’s just crazy.
  • Rain. My parents and I got really lucky to only see rain 1/7 days, but from reading blogs and suggestions, an umbrella is pretty much a normal item to have on you 4 days a week. It’s not that I don’t like rain – it’s just something to be aware of for all you travelers. Imagine reading something about London without hearing about it’s crappy weather.

Our Itinerary (continuing from Whistler entry):

  • Day 4 –
    • 9am left Whistler and drove route 99 back down
    • 11th arrived at Richmond for dim sum at Dragon View Chinese Cuisine – best place to eat dim sum ever. Come here directly from the airport if you have a car rental.
    • 2pm return rental car – car not really needed for downtown Vancouver
    • 3pm walk around Gastown – Gastown is like downtown soho
    • 6pm dinner at Bao Bei Chinese brasserie – don’t come here with Chinese people. Way too hipster and french portions are frowned upon by Chinese people in general.
    • 8pm walking around (but be street smart when it gets dark)
  • Day 5 – (bought a full-day transit pass for $9.75)
    • 8am 019 bus to Stanley park – super easy bus route up West Pender St
    • 9am Beaver Lake in Stanley Park – this park is huge and could take all day to walk
    • 10am Vancouver aquarium ($25/person) – pretty nice place to spend 2-3 hours
    • 1pm ate at la taqueria ($9.50/4 tacos) – amazing tacos and a Yelp must-try
    • 2pm ate at tuc craft kitchen for tempura bacon soft boiled eggs ($3/egg and $5/latte) – amazing bacon tempura soft boiled eggs
    • 3pm 022 bus to Vanier Park – ask the bus driver where to get off!
    • 5pm planetarium Life 4d show ($15/person) – surprisingly good show about the story of life and some constellations
    • 7pm Granville market walking around – expensive seafood, but great little walk
    • 9pm dinner at Floata Restaurant – expensive seafood, but go if you speak Cantonese
  • Day 6 –
    • 8am dim sum at Floata restaurant ($40 for breakfast. I’d rather take the hike to Richmond.)
    • 10am free shuttle up to Grouse mountain ($50/person ultimate package)
    • 12pm lumberjack show (awesome free show at the top of grouse mountain)
    • 1pm chairlift up and elevator to Eye of the Wind (included price in Ultimate Package. Don’t go if you’re afraid of heights)
    • 3pm walk around Cleveland Dam – beautiful park and perfect for dog walking
    • 5pm sushi dinner at Shi zen ya – organic sushi. Just eat the sashimi.
    • 6pm watched a movie – wanted to see Godzilla, but it was all sold out early.
  • Day 7 –
    • 9am taxi ($30) to Vancouver airport

Lessons Learned:

  • Grouse mountain grind hike. This is a 4000+ step one-way hike up to grouse mountain instead of taking the sky train. It takes around 1.5 hours to complete and I think it’s a great exercise feat, but also much more cost friendly. Once at the top, you can do some more hiking and make a whole work-out day out of it.
  • Skytrain/Bus/Seabus tickets are timed. The one-time tickets purchased have unlimited transfers and are timed and do not hold money. This is just good to know. I think the daily pass is worth it here because the buses can take you everywhere
  • Eat more Chinese food in Richmond. I wasn’t too impressed by the Chinatown in Vancouver downtown. It was dirty and had lots of homeless people wandering the streets. The food was also not as impressive as I thought it would be. I think it’s like comparing NYC Chinatown with Flushing, NY.
  • Spend more time at Stanley Park. Stanley Park cannot be seen in 1 morning. I think we really needed to spend a full day hiking around the area to really embrace the beauty. I’m a huge fan and I think I’d rather explore these trails than those at Central Park.
  • Eat more spotted prawns and seafood in general. These prawns are huge and amazingly fresh for $17/pound. I think that’s an amazing deal and something I wouldn’t be able to eat on the East Coast this fresh.

Vancouver is one of those towns that I think I’d love with good weather. If the rumors are true about the rainy season, then I don’t know if I would be able to stand getting trapped indoors when there are so many places to walk and see.

~See Lemons Love Vancouver