A Few Things You Should Know
Georgia Straight: The Straight (http://www.straight.com) is a free newspaper which lists hundreds of bars, restaurants, nightclubs, live music and sports all over the city. Jazz Festivals, Bard on the Beach, if you can’t find it listed, it ain’t happening.
ID: Remember to carry ID with you when you go out. If you’re stopped you are expected to have photo ID, and most places ID you if you look less than 40. Legally foreign drivers licenses are not valid ID but should work, although it’s best to carry your passport.
Money: Money here is a subtle mix of the US and the UK. The Canadian Dollar is similar to the US dollar exchange wise. The smaller coins (1, 5, 10, 25 cent) are like the US and look identical; however, unlike the US, Canada has one dollar and two dollar coins which are known as loonies and toonies.
Debit/credit cards: Your US check card (aka Interac ATM card) may or may not work at certain stores depending if it supports your network. Most bars and an increasing number of restaurants won’t even take Canadian debit cards anymore. Visa and Mastercard are taken almost everywhere, American Express is a crapshoot, and no one here knows what the hell Discover is.
Tax: Canadians love tax, they LOVE it. It’s not a lot, but they take it frequently. The main thing to remember is Sales Tax (GST + PST) is applied to everything and is not included in the price you see. So if the price on the sticker says $50 then expect to pay $56.
Tipping: When at a restaurant it is customary to tip. The usual amount is 10-20% . 15% is kinda the baseline and if the service is excellent bump it to 20% and if bad unless it’s been particularly dire you would be expected to tip 10%. Same goes for pubs, nightclubs and taxis. It is also customary to tip the hotel staff but that really depends on how much your room costs and how much of a slob you were.
Telephones: If you are out of country check how badly your provider is going to screw you before entering Canada to decide if it’s worth leaving your phone on for the trip. Make sure you check your data rate as well to make sure it won’t end up being more than your flight.
Free WIFI: You can often find free WIFI in Vancouver. Chains that are everywhere and have open free wifi ‘with purchase’ include Starbucks, Tim Hortons, Blenz Coffee, Waves Coffee and MacDonald’s.
Drinking In Public: Basically…don’t! Even brown bagging an open alcoholic container in public will get you “nicked”. The cops are really hot on this.