what to do in vancouver?
September 19, 2006 7:36 AM   Subscribe

Vancouver-filter: My young friend (23!) is going to be in Vancouver from Oct. 11 - 18. She is on a very low-budget. Recommendations for cheap places to stay, fun things to do, nice coffee places with good people and any other advice for a young woman off to see the world!
posted by typewriter to Travel & Transportation around Vancouver, BC (22 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: More from me. Sorry, I did search and there were some good posts, but I decided to post again because I wanted to mention the type of person my young friend is....but I forgot. She's eco-minded, politically astute, humanitarian (on her way to be tsunami volunteer in Thailand.) Looking for things to do in this vein....Thanks!
posted by typewriter at 7:46 AM on September 19, 2006

I'm detecting a little anxiety on someone's part. Nothing specific to Vancouver, but 23 isn't so young to be traveling, and Vancouver's not a scary place, so as long as she keeps aware of what's going on around her, she should be absolutely fine.

As for cheap, I usually self-cater breakfast and lunch and sometimes dinner when I'm on a very low-budget. It shouldn't cost too much to eat if she gets something like a loaf of french bread and some peanut butter or cheese/meat, and some fruit, and eats that for breakfast and lunch. I'm sure there are hostels in Vancouver that are nice - there should be some that are safe and clean.
posted by n'muakolo at 7:47 AM on September 19, 2006

The collection of Pacific Northwest native art at the UBC Museum of Anthropology is one of the continent's great landmarks. "Pay as you can" on Tuesdays.
posted by escabeche at 8:16 AM on September 19, 2006 [1 favorite]

You could probably spend an entire day in Stanley Park.
posted by matty at 8:18 AM on September 19, 2006

Vancouver is famous for cheap food. Your friend won't have any trouble. 99c pizza abounds, but there are many slightly more refined places to eat. During the week, even a "nice" place like Joe Fortes has a $10 lunch special, and lots of other eat-in restaurants have $6 or $7 specials -- if she wants a treat.

Otherwise, she wll have no trouble finding cheap pizza, sushi and noodles.

If she's really new to travelling, I recommend any of the Hostelling International venues, which are all in decent locations. The one at Jericho is by the beach.

Venues: Stanley Park, Museum of Anthropology, our many beaches (there's rain now), UBC Endowment Lands, etc.
posted by acoutu at 8:40 AM on September 19, 2006

I'd second the Jericho location for hostels - it's a little out of the way, though, so you need to catch a bus downtown. There are actually some hostels in pretty crummy parts of Vancouver, so I'd be a little careful about which ones she stays at.

Then it's all the usual stuff: Granville Island, Stanley Park, Aquarium, Science World, Robson/Denman/Davie streets are great for people watching. Commercial is a cool little street/neighbourhood with tasty coffee. She might also really like the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen gardens - one of my favourite places to go.

Food is cheap. We used to make it a goal to find the cheapest edible breakfasts we could find. $2.99 is pretty normal at little diners.
posted by fcain at 9:01 AM on September 19, 2006 [1 favorite]

But she should avoid the hostel on Main Street - Not HI, I think it's just called the Backpacker's hostel - unless she really wants to see the flipside of life in 'Lotusland'. At night, that area is no fun at all.
posted by Flashman at 9:02 AM on September 19, 2006

She might want to rethink Thailand, based on the rumoured coup this morning.

As for nice, cheap places to stay - the hostel down at Jericho beach was nice, but it's been an awfully long time since I was down there.

She would probably enjoy Commercial Drive's coffee shop and culture as well.
posted by Kickstart70 at 9:43 AM on September 19, 2006

Check out the previous Vancouver threads on AskMe.
I'm sure I mentioned the notice boards in the UBC Music building, (not the Chan Centre) which has free, and almost free concerts in their auditorium. She'll also see lots of people her age who could provide info about Vancouver on a budget.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 9:44 AM on September 19, 2006

I can second the HI recommendation. My girlfriend and I stayed at HI Vancouver Downtown earlier this year and it was par for the course as far as North American HI hostels: cheap, clean, amenities aren't great but the resources are geared for a young, single on-the-budget traveller, so that more than makes up for it. If she plays her cards right, she should have no trouble finding friends to explore the city with, although my partner and I are pretty introverted so we didn't have much luck. It's also in a really busy nightlife part of the city. There are dozens of people on every block in that neighborhood until the am hours, so it feels really safe to me. The YWCA is a few blocks from there and I understand that they have cheap and comfortable lodging, too, but for the real experience, methinks you want the hostel.

Vancouver has loads and loads of international neighborhoods. Chinatown, Punjabi Market, Little Italy (Now "Commercial Drive," more than Little Italy, but you can still find some of the old guard .) and many more. Granville Island is as touristy as touristy gets, but the Farmer's Market is actually pretty good and our trip out there is where I discovered the Trans Canada Trail. Awesome. Next time I'm bringing my bike.

The Lonely Planet guide to Vancouver saved our bacon on at least one occassion when we got lost in Stanley Park. Lots of good advice to be had there. The extra bonus is that if you're fumbling around with it or fumbling with a map, Vancouverites come up and help you out.

I would take special note to not look like a tourist on the monorail and in the monorail stations, though. That was the only time that I felt that I needed to be extra alert. There was one time when my partner was fumbling for her ticket in her purse and a fellow was making a beeline for us until I faced him. The panhandlers aren't any more aggressive than any other large city, some of them are even very charming, like the man who picks up litter and has a donation jar, but like any city just keep your wits and you'll be fine.
posted by Skwirl at 10:06 AM on September 19, 2006

Vancouver Theatre Guide

[shameless plug]I'm in a play at Theatre at UBC opening on the 17th which should be awesome. :P
posted by stray at 10:27 AM on September 19, 2006

Why not drop a line to lunalaguna? I believe she was hostelling on her recent Vancouver trip.
posted by timeistight at 10:40 AM on September 19, 2006

If she's a film buff, she may be able to catch something worthwhile at the tail end of the vancouver international film festival.
posted by juv3nal at 10:50 AM on September 19, 2006

Check out the sushi king house. It's "the king" for a reason: giant sushi, pretty good quality and cheap.

For a quintessential Vancouver experience, find a headshop along Granville (downtown) and have a toke with a bunch of strangers.
posted by aeighty at 11:04 AM on September 19, 2006

Response by poster: The answers so far are great. She is of course slightly concerned about Thailand and their military coup. However, Vancouver is still part of her itinerary. She says, "Thanks for the great suggestions, especially the Museum."

BTW - I know she is not so young. :) I am just patronizing her because she is an intern in our office and we like to tease her. And how much better then to tease her online.
posted by typewriter at 1:00 PM on September 19, 2006

It's not cheap, per se, but if she likes coffee she should certainly go to Artigiano for a beverage that will blow her mind.
posted by bink at 2:18 PM on September 19, 2006

If she needs free internet access (and doesn't mind waiting a little bit in line) she can get that at the Vancouver Public Library's Central Branch (as well as a few of the neighbourhood branches as well)
posted by Razzle Bathbone at 2:51 PM on September 19, 2006

Second the cafe artigiano. A grande mocha will set her back $4 but completely make her day.

Granville Island's a nice place to get a decent meal and enjoy the view of the water. An aquabus ride is a nice way to experience Vancouver's harbour area and will only set you back 5 bucks or so for about a 20-30 minute roundtrip

There's also a FREE SHUTTLE that runs through Stanley Park (I only found out when my friends came to visit from Toronto). I believe you can catch it just within the outskirts of the park and it goes all the way around giving you a nice 30 min ride and stopping at all the scenic locations. It comes by about every 15 minutes and is a nice excursion.
posted by PWA_BadBoy at 4:50 PM on September 19, 2006

My sweetie and I just spent a couple of days in Vancouver (August 11th-18th, oddly enough). We are poor students and stayed at the Pender Lodge, just East of Chinatown. It was very friendly, moderately clean, very safe-feeling (even though the area can get a tiny bit weird at night), and incredibly cheap ($35/night Canadian for a double room). It's a bit of a hike to get to anything but Chinatown (which is cool), but the busses can get you downtown pretty quickly.

Also, check out all the other Vancouver threads on AskMe - I read them many times over, and they definitely helped us make the most out of our trip.
posted by rossination at 5:42 PM on September 19, 2006

I don't all that much to add. I stayed at the HI Central hostel. It was clean and convenient enough, but I found it, like most North American HI hostels, to be a bit boring. I think I would've had more fun (and a cheaper stay) at SameSun Backpacker hostel across the street.

Also, it's super cheap to take the bus across to North Van and hike up Grouse Mountain.

I just really liked walking around the neighborhoods. It's very neighborhood-y; it reminded me of Chicago. Commercial Drive and South Main were nice to walk down, lots of coffee houses and fun shops.

Totally unrelated, but why are there so many pet supply stores in Vancouver. Am I just imagining that?
posted by lunalaguna at 8:20 PM on September 19, 2006

3rd vote for Artigiano, the best coffee I have ever had in any city.

Calhoun's on Broadway is also a cool place to go for coffee and they have a great selection of food as well.
posted by Cosine at 9:34 PM on September 19, 2006

I would recommend as well that she goes to Lynn Canyon Park - a huge chunk of rainforest and in the middle a deep rocky gorge, across on the North Shore but a fun and easy trip from downtown. You take the Seabus across the harbour, get a transfer and take a city bus (there's a map that'll tell you which one) that goes up through some classic 1950's suburbia, and at the very top you hop out and step into the quiet, tranquil forest. It's a beautiful spot that I always try to visit when I'm in Vancouver - a great way to spend an afternoon.
posted by Flashman at 5:13 AM on September 20, 2006

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