Vancouver, praised for its stunning scenery and snow covered mountains is full of tourist touts. In the winter, one can enjoy skiing in the local mountains just 30 mins drive from downtown, or head to the world class resort of Whistler. In the summer, one can enjoy the mild summers, long days and clear skies. But summers are the days that bring in hoard of tourists hitting the regular tourist spots: Capilano Suspension Bridge, Grouse Mountain, Totem Poles…etc
But there are better! cheaper! alternatives and here is an insiders guide to it all:
Tourist trap No.1
Capilano Suspension Bridge
So the drop is pretty far, but so is the drop in weight of your wallet! Last time I checked, admission to walking across the bridge was $20!!! PER ADULT
Is it even that great? You get yelled at by a speakerphone if you attempt to run across the bridge, there are 40 other people trying to cross this narrow pathway, there are workers dressed in funny 1800’s costumes, there are hoards and hoards of tourists, the tourists are scared of crossing and end up blocking your weight because they are all obese, and the view isn’t all that great.
A better alternative is the Lynn Canyon Park. It boasts its own nice suspension bridge, is actually big enough to explore, a 10 min drive from the Capilano suspension bridge, is much quieter, and IT IS FREE.
This Park also links up to the Capilano Dam, and Salmon Hatchery which makes for a interesting walk. On really nice days, you may even spot a few people hanggliding and basejumping. Don’t swim where the signs tell you not to swim though, people DIE in the strong undercurrents.
Tourist Trap No.2
The cost of riding up a Gondola up to see the view of Vancouver $40!!! WHAT A RIPOFF, considering a all day skiing/snowboarding pass costs 60$. For the 40 dollars, you get a view, hiking, a theater show, a ‘lumberjack show.
Now, most visitors to Vancouver rent a car so for a Free Spectacular View everyone should just drive to Cypress Mountain (20 mins away)
There is good city view on the other side.
Benefits of Cypress: Its free! Lots of beautiful hiking trails that leads to lakes in the summer, snowshoe trials in the winter with SPECTACULAR west coast mountain view. ( you will need to rent snowshoes and hike up)
You should never pay to hike (except for campground fees)
3) Gastown Steamclock
It is hilarious looking at all the tourist staring and taking pictures at a clock that blows out steam every hour.
It does nothing, and it can’t ever be compared to those clocks in Austria where little figurines come out and dance. So in my opinion, SKIP IT!
(not to mention the obscene amount of homeless people wandering around)
Actually , all the tourist stores in Gastown is a waste of money although so of the abroginal art ones look pretty fancy and interesting but undoubtedly overpriced. If you do go to Gastown, do try out the numerous bars in the neighborhood (Chill Winston, Six Acres, Salt Tasting room, Black Frog, etc, etc), Do try the small restaurants (Guu, Meat & Bread, Brioche, etc, etc). But do skip
4) The Old Spaghetti Factory
Unless you like overcooked soggy overly-saucey diner style Pasta.
Want good food? visit http://www.urbanspoon.com/c/14/Vancouver-restaurants.html for good selections.
I am Chinese, I never go here. Nor do most Chinese, unless you count the less well-off/ older generation immigrants. This is Hong Kong in the 70s.
Go to Richmond instead… now that is what present day China looks like. Lots of excellent Chinese food in Richmond too (and Dim Sum), unlike Chinatown. I have never had such horrible Dim Sum as I did in Chinatown.
What is NOT a tourist trap in Vancouver and surroundings:
– Granville Island- it’s pretty, and you can take cute boats to downtown for cheap. Just don’t buy anything there.
– Whistler- it’s not a world famous resort for nothing! Spectacular views, amazing hiking nearby. Hike up Garibaldi if you have time.
– Stanley Park- all the locals love it, just not the totem poles. Do rent a bike (walk along Denmen st and there will be a lot of other rental options other than Spokes), do take a walk around the park. It’s really not that long of a walk.
– Queen Elizabeth Park
– Saltspring Island
– Everywhere else when it is sunny.