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Surrounded by snow-capped mountains and the Pacific Ocean, Vancouver is often known as one of the most expensive destinations in Canada. However, with a little know-how as provided in this guide, you can save money on accommodation and still be in the heart of the city.
From budget hostels like the Urban Hideaway Guesthouse or beautiful private bedrooms by Airbnb, all the way up to pure luxury hotels like the Fairmont Pacific Rim, you'll find plenty of great deals. They will allow you to save your money for Vancouver's world-class food scene, craft beer breweries, lively nightlife, and a plethora of outdoor activities like hiking and whale-watching.
Though Vancouver attracts tourists throughout the year, July and August are the most popular months, and thus, the most expensive. June will see a rise in prices as well. Avoid the crowds and surge in prices by visiting in March, April, and May, as well as September and October. The winter months are also great for Vancouver hotel deals, but are quite rainy, which could dampen some of the fun.
Vancouver's international airport, situated approximately nine miles from the city center, has many options for getting into the core. Due to the distance, there are no free hotel shuttles to the downtown core but there is one to the Airport Inn and Coast Vancouver Airport Hotel if you're not looking to go far. There are also several free hotel shuttles to nearby Richmond.
The cheapest option to reach the city center is to take the Canada Line of the LRT, which brings you to downtown Vancouver in just 28 minutes for a cost of approximately $9. For a pricier but more convenient option, opt for a taxi, which will cost approximately $30. Airport-approved taxis can be found on level 2 of both the international and domestic terminals.
Last, you could rent a car through Alamo, Avis, Budget, Thrifty, Dollar, Hertz, and National, which are all available at the airport. Though Vancouver doesn't get heavy snowfall in the winter like the rest of Canada, you may still want to be cautious if renting during winter months. Also, if you're not planning on moving around much, public transportation will be much cheaper and less stressful.
If you're looking to skip downtown Vancouver and head to the mountain town of Whistler or enchanting Vancouver Island, public transportation can take you there as well. For Whistler, simply buy tickets for the Whistler/SkyLynx bus, located in the International terminal, arrivals level 2. For Vancouver Island, buy bus tickets from the same location, which will then take you to the ferry terminal where you can purchase tickets to cross over the water.
Vancouver has an efficient public transit system consisting of the SkyTrain, SeaBus, and public buses. Almost anywhere you'd want to go is accessible by public transportation. If you're staying downtown, the SkyTrain will be within walking distance from most hotels and accommodation, and will then take you to many of Vancouver's top sights and attractions.
If you're planning on traveling around the city a lot, consider buying a FareSaver. It is a booklet of ten tickets that can be used for the bus, SkyTrain, and SeaBus and will save you money compared to buying ten individual tickets. Another option for saving money on transportation is to buy a DayPass, which will save you money on multiple trips.
Last, though certainly not the cheapest option is to rent or buy a bicycle. Vancouver is a bicycle-friendly city and the scenic surroundings, plentiful parks, and pleasant weather may just entice you to peddle your way throughout the city's many sights. You can rent bikes from companies such as Bazooka Bikes and Stanley Park Cycle, or you can buy a second-hand bike from Our Community Bikes or City by Cycle.
Vancouver can be a tough place to choose a hotel, not because of a lack of options but because there are so many beautiful hotels to choose. While choosing the location of a hotel will likely come down to where your meetings will be, staying anywhere downtown will put you close to all the attractions, restaurants, and nightlife you could want.
If you're looking for cheap hotels in downtown Vancouver, but with business class and amenities, you'll want to take a look at Carmana Plaza, which is more like an apartment as it comes with a full kitchen and living room. Having a kitchen allows you to save money on breakfast and the location can't be beat as it's situated near the waterfront and Skytrain. Other great budget options are the Sunset Inn and Suites and Landis Hotel and Suites, which are both close to Sunset Beach Park and Granville Island.
For midrange options, check out Coast Coal Harbour Hotel, located right next to the scenic waterfront and just steps from the convention center. The Renaissance Vancouver Harbourside is another popular choice that is close to everything. Both of these hotels feel luxurious without breaking the bank.
If you're after pure luxury without a budget, Loden Hotel is an award-winning contemporary boutique hotel with floor-to-ceiling windows for breathtaking views. Another award-winning choice is the famous Fairmont Pacific Rim, a 5-star hotel with stunning views of sea and mountains. Both hotels are close to the waterfront, Canada Place, and the Vancouver Convention Center. Other great options include the Shangri-La Hotel and the boutique Opus Hotel.
Vancouver is a great city to make use of Airbnbs. With private bedrooms in the downtown area starting at $45, it's the cheapest accommodation you will find. You can rent an entire apartment and still be close to the downtown core for as little as $85. With as many as 75 reviews on some of the listed properties, you'll be able to scout out the quality and comfort you desire. If you're hip to staying on a couch or in a shared room, prices drop to as low as $11.
Often named one of the most livable cities, Vancouver will likely spellbind you with its sheer natural beauty. When you manage to peel yourself away from the scenic surroundings, there are also many things to do. For a look into the history of the Northwest Coast First Nations, stop by the impressive Museum of Anthropology located at the University of British Columbia. If art is your forte, check out the Vancouver Art Gallery, which combines local and international art, as well as a focus on renowned British Columbian artist, Emily Carr. You can easily reach both of these activities by Skytrain.
One of the most famous activities in Vancouver is going for a walk, jog, or bike ride within Stanley Park, which includes the Seawall, a popular trail that snakes itself around the park next to the sea. Following this path will take you by many jaw-dropping views, beaches, and totem poles and is a great activity for people-watching as well. While you're there, visit the Vancouver Aquarium for an up close and personal look at beluga whales, penguins, and pacific white-sided dolphins, to name a few inhabitants.
For a little history into the beginnings of Vancouver, head to Gastown, an area famous for its old brick buildings, street-level patios, clock tower, and tourist shops. While you're there, continue to neighboring Chinatown, which is Canada's largest, and a great place for witnessing some of the city's history as well.
On the other side of Vancouver, pay a visit to Granville Island, which is home to a local popular brewery and many restaurants and artisanal boutique shops. Neighboring Kitsilano is also one of the most popular neighborhoods in Vancouver and home to a beautiful beach.
For travelers visiting the city alone, a hostel is a great way to save much money. If you're comfortable staying in a dorm-style room, you can expect to pay $30 or less and still be in a desirable location. If you want a private room or are traveling with someone, the price jumps to $70 or so. Some hostels such as Urban Hideaway Guesthouse are incredibly popular and right in the center of downtown. Another popular option is SameSun Backpacker Lodge, located in the entertainment district. Other great hostels include Hi-Vancouver Downtown, Hi-Vancouver Central and the YWCA Hotel.
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© 2015 Hipmunk, Inc. Hipmunk is a trademark of Hipmunk, Inc.