Information About Vancouver
Vancouver is a coastal city located in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, Canada.

Population and Language

The largest metropolitan area in Western Canada, Vancouver ranks third largest in the country and the city proper ranks eighth. According to the 2006 census Vancouver had a population of just over 578,000 and its census metropolitan area exceeded 2.1 million people. Although Canada is officially bilingual (French and English), the operating language in British Columbia is English.

Climate 

Vancouver's climate is temperate by Canadian standards and is usually classified as Oceanic and Marine West Coast. The summer months are typically dry, often resulting in moderate drought conditions, usually in July and August. In contrast, the rest of the year is rainy especially between October and March.

The average high temperatures in July are 21.7 C (71 F) while the low is 13.2 C (58 F). The average precipitation for the month of July is 39.6 mm or 1.56 inches.

Local Time

Vancouver operates on Pacific Standard Time which is the same time zone as the west coast of the USA.

Passport and Visa

Visitors must hold a passport that is valid for at least one day past the intended departure date from Canada. Visas are generally not required by nationals with few exceptions. This website may be helpful to gain specific information for your country of origin: 
http://www.vancouverprofile.com/aboutvancouver/content.php/id/2223 

Safety

Vancouver is generally considered a safe city although property crime as is the cash in all large cities should be guarded against. Be aware of your surroundings, do not carry large amounts of cash and make use of your hotels safes and lock boxes for valuables.

Transportation

Transportation in Vancouver has many of the features of modern cities worldwide and some interesting differences. Unlike many large metropolises Vancouver has no freeways into or through the downtown area.

Bus service operates throughout most the region under a private subsidiary known as Coast Mountain Bus Company Service in West Vancouver and Lion’s Bay is contracted through West Vancouver Blue Bus. All buses are wheelchair accessible and a large number carry bike racks, able to carry one or two wheelchairs and bicycles respectively.

The SkyTrain is an Advanced Rapid Metro system operating fully automated trains on three lines. Built for the Expo 86 World's Fair, it has since become the world's longest automated light rapid transit system utilizing the world's longest transit-only bridge, the SkyBridge. The Expo and Millennium Lines link downtown to the suburbs of Burnaby, New Westminster, and Surrey.

A third rapid transit line connecting downtown Vancouver to central Richmond, and the Vancouver International Airport known as the Canada Line, started operation on August 17, 2009

The SeaBus is a passenger-only ferry connecting downtown Vancouver and the City of North Vancouver across Burrard Inlet. There are two ferries in the fleet, which is owned and operated by the Coast Mountain Bus Company. Construction has started on a third vessel that will be in service in late 2009.

Vancouver is served by Vancouver International Airport (YVR), located on Sea Island in the City of Richmond, immediately south of Vancouver. YVR is the second busiest airport in Canada and one of the busiest international airports on the west coast of North America.

Currency

The Canadian dollar, denoted by CAD or C$, is the official currency of Canada. One hundred cents add up to one Canadian dollar. Exchange rates will vary and the following website can be used to receive up to the day exchange rates for all major international currencies. 

http://www.x-rates.com/ 

Electricity

Like the USA, residential Canada uses 110 volt electrical systems at 60 hertz. You will need a voltage transformer/ converter for your electrical appliances if they operate on a different voltage. There are different types of converters for different types of appliances. Small electronics, razors and non-heating appliances can operate with a 50-watt converter. Heating appliances such as hair dryers, irons, coffee makers and other high-power electrical appliances need a 1600-watt converter. You can also purchase combination converters for both types. Mains wall sockets and plugs for 110 volts are two parallel flat blades. If those sockets are different from the ones used in your country then you will need a socket converter.Canada's electrical supply and electrical outlets (sockets, wall plugs) are the same as those of the United States.

Postal Services

If you wish to receive post while in Canada, have it sent to a city's main post office marked with your name, c/o General Delivery. The post office will hold it for two weeks, before returning to sender, and you will need ID to collect.

Basic postal services are available at retail outlets. Look for them at the back of drug (chemists) and convenience stores. The fewer full service postal offices are in main urban centers.

Smoking

In British Columbia, smoking is banned on all public transport, in public buildings, including restaurants and bars, and workplaces.

Store/Banking hours

Banking hours are usually:
10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday to Thursday
10:00 a.m. to 5:00 or 6:00 p.m., Friday.
Many banks are also open 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon, Saturday

Post offices are usually open from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday to Friday.
Core opening hours for shops are 9:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday to Friday. Extended hours vary and can include late nights and weekend hours.

Tax

There are two types of taxes in Vancouver: HST and PST. HST (Harmonized Sales Tax): 12% HST is charged on all goods and services and PST (Provincial Sales Tax): 10% PST is charged on liquor purchases.

Telephone

Dialing into Canada:
1 + area code + local number
Area code for B.C. (except Vancouver): 250
Area code for Vancouver and the Sunshine Coast: 604
Dialing out of Canada:
011 + country code + area code + local number
Emergencies: dial 911 (police, ambulance, fire), free call
Information: dial 411 (for telephone numbers), free call
Toll free: numbers begin with 1-800, or 1-888

Pre-paid plastic calling cards are available from convenience stores

Tipping

In Canada it is customary to tip for services such as restaurants, bars and pubs, taxis and hairdressers. Usually 15%, although the amount can range from 10% to 20% at the discretion of the person paying the bill. Always check whether a service charge was included in a restaurant bill, especially if paying by credit card, as this is the tip.