Vancouver is a coastal seaport city in British Columbia located in the Western part of Canada, and your next travel destination! The city is consistently named as one of the most livable cities with a high quality of life in the world. I’ve had the privilege of visiting Vancouver twice and I want to share my experiences from both trips with all of you! I’ve written down everything you need to know from visa processing, accommodations, restaurants, and places to see, so read right on!
Things to Remember
Where to Stay in Vancouver
Since hotels in Vancouver are pretty pricey, I highly recommend booking and Airbnb for your stay. I’ve listed down a few boutique hotels and affordable BnB’s for your reference below! But if you wanna indulge yourself, I have a couple suggestions for that as well!
Budget Boutique Hotels and Airbnb’s
- <150 CAD/night: Vancouver West Cozy Retreat
- 50 CAD/night: Romantic Homestay
- 75 CAD/night: Vintage Guest Loft
- <175 CAD/night: The Main
- JW Marriott Parq Vancouver– this is where I stayed for a couple of days and I really have to say that is is by far or if not, the best hotel in the city. Aside from its prime location, they have all the facilities and young traveller like me who is looking for comfort and action at the same time in this place. Very clean rooms, amazing toiletries and shampoos, really really great food and even a jacuzzi on top overlooking Vancouver! Would come back in a heartbeat. (Price range: 600+ CAD/night)
- The Douglas – For those who crave a little bit of luxury, The Douglas is your go-to! The place is a Marriot boutique brand hotel located in Parq Vancouver with a casino bar. The rooms give you the homey feeling of a cabin while a separate entrance leads you to a Vegas-esque sanctuary: basically the best of both worlds! (Price range: 250+ CAD/night)
- Rosedale at Robson– Comfort in the heart of the entertainment district of downtown Vancouver. Sports-Lovers Getaway. Outstanding Location. Spacious Suites. Garden Terrace. Amenities: Free WiFi, Fitness Center, Indoor Pool, Kitchen in all rooms, Room Service (Price range: 200 CAD/night)
1038 Canada Pl, Vancouver, BC V6C 0B9, Canada
An airy, high end restaurant located in Fairmont Hotel with great Canadian cuisine experience and an exclusive Champagne Lounge & Cocktail Bar.
780 Richards St, Vancouver, BC V6B 3A4, Canada
A cafe with Mediterranean-inspired dishes and a diverse breakfast menu including the best Belgian waffles in town featuring unique toppings.
Mister Artisan Ice Cream
1141 Mainland Street, Vancouver
A hip parlour that serves ice cream made in the house with locally sourced ingredients.
1118 Mainland St, Vancouver, BC V6B 2T9, Canada
A stylish Japanese eatery with amazing sushi, sashimi and specializes on sustainably caught fish
1025 Mainland St Vancouver, BC (multiple locations)
A hip restaurant in Yaletown with amazing Mexican food and a full bar
357 Davie St, Vancouver, BC V6B 1R2, Canada
A casual fine dining restaurant that serves menu items made with local and fresh ingredients in a vibrant, contemporary setting.
Sample Vancouver Travel & Budget Guide
10:00AM-12:30NN Have brunch at Granville Island Market. While there, enjoy browsing through the various array of galleries, restaurants, and shops. You can even ask the Information Center if there are any ongoing shows like a theatrical performance or improv shows. This is the best first stop because it’s free to go to and the spending depends entirely on you.
BONUS: You can also check out the floating houses at the Sea Village. As the name suggests, the colorful houses are built on top of boats which you can rent for a few thousand dollars!
12:30NN-1:00PM Hop on The Vancouver Aquabus. It’s a great way to explore the sights Vancouver has to offer and it only costs 16 CAD when you book ahead. The Aquabus leaves every 5 minutes`
1:30PM-3:30PM If you’re an art enthusiast and down to splurge a little, you have to visit the Vancouver Art Gallery. It costs around 24 CAD for an admission but if you happen to catch a new exhibit or an Artist’s Talk, then it’ll be super worth it!
3:30PM-6:30PM Walk around the cobblestone streets of Gastown. Named after the Gassy Jack Deighton who built the first bar in Vancouver, it’s only appropriate to have a pint while you’re there. If you’re just there to sightsee, you can take photos by the iconic steam clock on the corner of Water and Cambie streets. It gives a rendition of the Westminster chimes every 15 minutes so make sure you hit record! A statue of Deighton is also a great photo-op by 1 Water Street
To cap off the day with a (very worthwhile) splurge, you should view the sunset at the Vancouver Lookout which offers a panoramic view of the city. $18.25 will take you up 168 meters on a glass elevator to the observation deck. Trust me, it’s super worth it!
BONUS: The largest Chinatown in Canada is just a short stroll away from Gastown. You can feast on a great selection of Asian food for dinner or head to the Dr Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden.
10:30AM-12:00NN Take a stroll around Vandusen Botanical Garden and explore the Elizabethan Hedge Maze. Hopefully, you’ll be visiting on a Wednesday when the 10AM schedule is available, but if not, they have one at 1:00PM from April 1 to October 31. Admission fees vary depending on the time of year you visit the gardens but it will range from $8-11.25
12:00NN-2:00PM Have lunch at Shaughnessy Restaurant located right in the botanical garden if you have a little extra money to splurge.
3:00PM-4:30PM Take photos around the beautiful Canada Place. This is virtually the busiest hub in Vancouver and is home to two convention centres. There are so many beautiful photos you can take around the area and an especially amazing one at The Drop.
6:00PM onwards If you’re visiting from May 10-October 14, your nights should be spent at the Richmond Night Market. It’s an annual event and usually has over 30,0000 visits every weekend.
If you can fit it into your schedule, you HAVE to visit Cultus Lake on the Fraser Valley region of British Columbia . It’s beautiful all year round but I highly recommend visiting during the summer when the ice melts. Read all about the other places you can visit in Canada on my next blog!
Book a Day trip to Capilano and Grouse in a day.
The simple Capilano Suspension Bridge hangs over the beautiful Capilano River in the district of North Vancouver. It’s part of a private facility so there is an admission fee but it’s only about $33 and it’s super worth it! A lot of tourists and locals alike espescially during the holidays when the bridge lights up across the rainforest as it is covered with thousands of glittering lights.
Grouse Mountain – from shopping, to Paragliding, to even breakfast with the bears, there is something for everyone here in Grouse. Locals even make it a point to also hike up this mountain and call it the “Grouse Grind”. I however prefer to go up the less tiring way, and that is with their Skyride ; a special viewing platform much like a cable car, with views of the mainland and coast mountains.
You can opt for just the former however why not take the chance to see more since well, you are already in Vancouver?For a tour of both destinations Book here.
Squamish/ Sea to Sky Gondola
Let the vastness of Howe Sound leave your breathless and afterwards cozy up with a warm cup of coffee and poutine here in Sea to Sky Gondola. With Hiking trails, a suspension bridge, shoppes and a view to remember, this place is a must-see.
How to get here from Downtown Vancouver?
The Squamish Connector (24 seats) offers roundtrip shuttle service from downtown Vancouver to the Sea to Sky Gondola with convenient pick up and drop off from three downtown locations. Enjoy 3 hours at the Sea to Sky Gondola, before returning to downtown Vancouver by 3:30pm.
Check out their website with the entrance fees here.
10:00AM- 1:30 PM-Go around the City and explore their amazing cuisine! My favorite spots to chill and just enjoy the surroundings are mostly located in beautiful Yaletown. Here, you can have lunch in either Minami, or Tacofino which are just near each other once you arrive in Yaletown.
In the afternoon since you might already be heading back the next day, it would be advised to stay in the city and just do some sightseeing. Some nice spots to check out around are:
1:30PM-3:00PM Next place you have to visit is Stanley Park which is a public park that borders downtown Vancouver. It has such a rich history so you definitely shouldn’t miss it. While you’re there, you definitely won’t miss the near-century-old Vancouver Seawall.
3:00PM onwards Since you’re in the area, you might as well visit Vancouver Aquarium (officially called Ocean Wise Conservation Association). It’s not just a major tourist attraction, the aquarium is a centre for marine research, conservation, and marine animal rehabilitation.
Food– For a budget traveller with an eye for discounts, your daily meals would probably cost around 12 CAD. However, I would suggest splurging a little more on food for your trip because of Vancouver’s amazing selection of restaurants. You should prepare at least 50 CAD per day for your meals alone. You’ll thank me later!
Transportation– Taking the Sky Train and riding the city bus are the best ways to go around the city for less than 15CAD/day.
Daily Accommodation – Budget travellers should prepare anywhere from 30 to 50 CAD for an Airbnb or 2-star hotel and if you’re going to stay outside of the city, most motels will offer rooms for two under 100 CAD. Mid-range and high-end accommodations are also available and can range from 150 to 250 CAD and 200-500 CAD, respectively.
Step-by-step Guide to Processing Your Canadian Visa
Of all the visas I’ve had to process, Canada is particularly easy, mostly because you can submit your application online. But for people in Manila or Cebu who want to do it all in person, I’ve taken the time to detail the process for you! Note that the visa application process can take up to a month, so be sure to plan at least two months ahead of your travelling date.
Through Paper Application
Manila: Canada Visa Application Centre, VFS Services Phils. Pvt. Inc., Mezzanine Floor Ecoplaza Bldg., Chino Roces Ave Ext., Makati City
Cebu: Canada Visa Application Centre, VFS Services Phils. Pvt. Inc., 9F Keppel Center Unit 905 Samar Loop cor Cardinal Rosales Ave, Cebu Business Park
1. Check your documents.
Print out all forms on white, bond-quality, non-glossy paper using a laser printer. The required documents for Philippine Passport Holders are listed below:
- Passport valid for at least 1 year; photocopy of scanned bio page
- Accomplished Form IMM527; fill up digitally
- Accomplished Form 5645; fill up digitally
- 2 passport size photos (35mm x 45mm); must be taken within the last 6 months
- Proof of income/financial stability. This includes a Bank Certificate/Statement over the last 4 months, Certificate of Employment, and Income Tax Returns (for employed or self-employed individuals); School Records (for students); and Business Permits (for business owners.
- Affidavit of Support; only necessary if someone else is paying for your trip
- Travel History. This includes your valid and expired visas and exit/entry stamps; put this all in one file.
- Purpose of Travel; this is your flight details, hotel reservations, and daily itinerary
2. Pay the Government of Canada fee and Biometrics fee.
3. Give your biometrics.
Whether you’re doing this online or in person, you’ll need to submit your biometrics especially if you’re travelling for the first time. The great thing is you only have to do this once every 10 years. To check if your biometrics are still valid, go here.
Submit your biometrics after you pay for and submit your application and biometric fees, and get a biometric instruction letter (BIL). The BIL will direct you to the nearest biometric collection service points. It’s best to submit your biometrics as soon as you receive the BIL.
4. Arrive 15 minutes early on your appointment date at the Visa Application Centre.
Bring your completed and printed application forms, supporting documents, Government of Canada fee payment receipt, original passport and two copies of the passport bio data page.
5. Pay the applicable Visa Application Centre service charges and obtain a receipt.
This receipt contains your unique tracking number which you will need to track the progress of your application online.
6. Wait it out.
Visa Processing times for persons applying from the Philippines usually takes around 13 days.
You may also be asked to:
- go to an interview with our officials in your country
- to send more information
- get a medical exam
- get a police certificate
- Create a GCKey account. This account will let you securely access the online services of the Government of Canada. Just go to this website, and click on the GCKey button at the the bottom of the screen.
- Sign up, accept the terms and conditions, and create an account. Fill up all the fields as accurately as you can and remember the details in case you need them throughout the process.
- Select APPLY TO COME TO CANADA on the Start your Application section.
- Select the Apply for Visitor Visa/Study or Work Permit. Answer the next questions regarding your trip honestly, and when you proceed you’ll find out if you’re eligible for a Visitor Visa to Canada.
Upload your documents. All you have to do is click Upload File and select the corresponding document. IF you can’t accomplish it all in one day, no rush! Just log out and log back in when you’re ready. You have 30 days to complete the process
- Pay for the Visa and Biometrics Fee online. You can pay using any of the major credit cards or a Canadian debit card through here.
- Submit your biometrics. Whether you’re doing this online or in person, you’ll need to submit your biometrics especially if you’re travelling for the first time. The great thing is you only have to do this once every 10 years. To check if your biometrics are still valid, go here. When you book an appointment online, you may be able to schedule your biometrics at the same time. If not, you’ll have to visit the Visa Application Centre (VAC) some other time to do so.
- Wait it out. Visa Processing times for persons applying from the Philippines usually takes around 13 days. First, your application will undergo a detailed review by an officer. Then, the officer will consider all the information and documentation you have provided, and will assess it and will decide if an interview is necessary. If so, you will be informed of the interview date, time and place.You may also be asked to:
I know I still put plenty of places in this list, and you might not be able to visit all of them on your first trip. But, look on the bright side: that just gives you another reason to go back and explore! Canada has so many more gems to offer and Vancouver is just the tip of the iceberg for your travel journey. Base your itinerary off of my and other travellers’ guides, and see what suits your pace (and your budget) the best! Travelling to a new country or city for the first time shouldn’t be a stressful and rushed experience. Even if you only visited one place off this list, it’ll be the experience of a lifetime. But I guess you’ll just have to see for yourself once you get there.
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