Coming to Vancouver? Here's a heads up!

July 28, 2022
high-angle photography of city photo

So you’ve decided you’re coming to Vancouver! You’ve already made the right decision in life. Vancouver is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. But, listen up, ultimately nowhere is perfect and this little post shows a few of the imperfections that might help you to be aware of.

Immigration are in no hurry

You might be excited to arrive into Vancouver and start exploring the city straight away, but immigration do not share your enthusiasm. If you’re coming in with the IEC visa and expecting to be out in half an hour, think again. Join the electronic passport control, then be funnelled into the line to be checked over by a human…that’s it right? Nup! Next you follow the green signs to another line where you sit and wait an eternity while your baggage takes a 10km trip around the carousel. Just don’t make any immediate plans.

Building wall with neon sign "Time is precious"

Getting away from the airport is easy

Once out of the airport, getting to Downtown is easy. Grab a Compass Card from the machine and hop on the next train to Waterfront. The trip takes less than 30 minutes. From there it’s a 4-minute walk to The Cambie Downtown, and 5 minutes to The Cambie Gastown. The first train leaves at 5:07am and the last one at 12:56am.

Vancouver Sky Train

Beat jet lag with caffeine on the cheap

If you’ve flown in from a far flung destination, chances are you’ll be struggling to stay awake for a day or two. For the cheapest caffeine fix in town, bring any cup into 7-eleven and fill it to the brim with your coffee of choice for only 55 cents. It might not be the most delicious, but it works. If you’re up for treating yourself for surviving the flight, Revolver at 325 Cambie Street always hits the spot.

Cup of coffee on glass table

Tax is never included

Think you know how much something is going to cost you? Think again. 10% tax is added to everything at the till. It can be annoying if you’re not accustomed to it, but you’ll get used to not knowing how much anything is, and fumbling for more change every time you make a purchase.


Groceries have never been more confusing

So you’re picking up the essentials for a day of sightseeing. You’ll notice that loose fruit and veggies are priced in $/lb. Take them to the till and we’re suddenly in kilograms – WHY?! While on the subject, you might want to start limiting your milk consumption a few weeks before arrival so you’re not emptying your trip fund onto your cereal. Milk in the UK is approximately 0.83CAD per liter, in Australia you’re looking at $1. Here in Canada you’re talking $1.90 – WOW!

Breakfast cereal in milk

It rains a lot

At the least, pack an umbrella. As Canada’s 3 rd most rainy city with approximately 161 days of rain per year (that’s 44%) a rain coat and waterproof boots are packing essentials unless you like getting soggy.

Red corner building in Vancouver

Get up with the sun if you want a SIN

The IEC visa allows you to work, so you’re going to need a Social Insurance Number (SIN). These offices get busy and queues head out the door, so get there early to avoid disappointment. The Service Canada office hands out these babies, and there’s one in the Sinclair Centre on 757 West Hastings Street – within a 5-minute walk from both The Cambie locations. Take along your passport and work permit.

Canada flag

The Cambie is super convenient for everything

Both Cambie locations are very convenient for everything you could need during your first few days in Vancouver, and the reception staff are here to help you out if you’re feeling a little lost. They can give you all these tips and more. So please talk to us, we are there to help you 24/7.

Vancouver skyline photo of high-rise buildings

This post was written by Cambie Downtown Guest Charl.

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