My First Trip to Vancouver

Vancouver Stanley Park's Inukshuk.

I took my first trip to Vancouver in British Columbia! I went with some friends and we drove up from Seattle for a three-night-three-day stay, but I’m a terrible friend and I didn’t feel like hiking, so I broke off and did some things alone. I’ll go into detail for what I remember here and hopefully, you can use this as an itinerary if you need some ideas of things to do or places to go in Vancouver! And always, double check the information for holidays or in case it’s outdated.

Note: All prices shown here are in CAD! Oh, Canadia.

How I Met Your Mother reference. Canadian money is Monopoly money.

My Vancouver Itinerary

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 1

The first thing we did after arriving was to leave our stuff at the hotel. Right after, we walked over to the Richmond Night Market.

Richmond Night Market

Vancouver Richmond Night Market

Vancouver Richmond Night Market Korean Fried Chicken
Bomb Korean Fried Chicken. Get the yang-nyum.
Oh. My. God. This place is huge and it’s amazing. I’ve never been to a “real” one so it’s hard to compare (though I am in the planning stages of an Asia tour including Taipei), but there are so many food choices and lots and lots of games. I’m sorry that my words are just so childish and lame, but it’s just… it’s pretty great. There’s a lot of stuff you may or may not have tried before, like durian or those sweet Vietnamese drinks we had. We got our dinner here and it was fun trying a bunch of different foods.
Vancouver Richmond Night Market Oysters
Oysters.
In case you don’t know what a night market is, it’s basically a bunch of stalls, booths, games, and rides. They all pop up for the night and disappear by morning. Unfortunately, it’s not open all year round. (Actually, that’s probably a good thing since you wouldn’t want to be outside during a Canadian winter.) For 2017, they are open every weekend from May 12 – October 9. For additional information, click the link above or click here.

Hours

Days Hours
Friday 7:00 PM – 12:00 AM
Saturday 7:00 PM – 12:00 AM
Sunday 7:00 PM – 11:00 PM
Holidays 7:00 PM – 11:00 PM

Cost

Who Cost
Child (< 10 years) Free
General $3.75
Seniors (> 60 years) Free
Zoom Pass
(Up to 7 visits or 7 adults.
Skip the line.)
$25

The above table shows the cost of entry, but you will have to pay for whatever else you want inside the market. There are cute socks, yummeh foods, phone cases, games, and more. I bought some Totoro socks for myself, a pair of Charmanders for my sister, and a pair of Minions for a friend. Adorbs.

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River Rock Casino Resort

Not really my thing, but if you like gambling, this is real close to the night market. We saw it on the way back to the hotel and went in. After my friend finally lost his money (heh), we went back to the hotel to get some rest.

It seems you need two pieces of ID to get drinks and enter casinos in Vancouver; a credit card or student ID worked for our second pieces. The casino is open 24/7.

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Day 2

Aberdeen Centre

The Aberdeen Centre is a mall with a whole bunch of Asian stuff. They have plushies, clothes, restaurants, Daiso, beauty supplies, tea, and lots more. Check their events page for cool stuff like photography exhibitions and launch parties.

Hours

Days Hours
Holiday 11:00 AM – 7:00 PM
Sunday 11:00 AM – 7:00 PM
Monday 11:00 AM – 7:00 PM
Tuesday 11:00 AM – 7:00 PM
Wednesday 11:00 AM – 7:00 PM
Thursday 11:00 AM – 9:00 PM
Friday 11:00 AM – 9:00 PM
Saturday 11:00 AM – 9:00 PM

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I ate: Chef Hung

Vancouver Aberdeen Centre Chef Hung Taiwanese Beef Noodles
We started off our first real day in Vancouver with “breakfast” at Chef Hung, a Taiwanese beef noodle place. In addition to the noodle soups we each ordered to share, we also got a few “snack” items. Here’s the menu, in case you like looking at it ahead of time like I do.

Hours
Days Hours
Sunday 11:00 AM – 9:00 PM
Monday 11:00 AM – 9:00 PM
Tuesday 11:00 AM – 9:00 PM
Wednesday 11:00 AM – 9:00 PM
Thursday 11:00 AM – 9:00 PM
Friday 11:00 AM – 9:30 PM
Saturday 11:00 AM – 9:30 PM

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Waterfront

I talk a little more about the waterfront further down for Day 3, but I saw this flash mob on Day 2 so I wanted to put it here. I have absolutely no idea what it was for, but it was fun to watch. Sorry it’s so short! I didn’t use my Geco Cam the whole trip and I didn’t feel like actually recording. :/

See also: Geco Cam Review

TAIWANfest

Vancouver Taiwan Fest beer garden.
So this just happened to be there while we were in town and we didn’t know about it beforehand. If you can catch it, great; if not, whatever. There are booths and stalls along a bunch of different streets that you can check out and a fun little beer garden. Again, two pieces of ID.

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Sunset Beach

Sunset Beach
As usual, even better in person.
Before our last meal of the day, we stopped by Sunset Beach. You can get a great view of the bay and see the famous inukshuk, a symbol of friendship and welcoming (and the featured image at the top of this post). It’s bike, pedestrian, and dog friendly. I also saw a few volleyball courts and one of the art installations from Vancouver Biennale that are scattered around the city.

I ate: Minami

Vancouver Minami
Pressed aburi sushi.

We went over to Yaletown for a lovely dinner in a fancy place called Minami. We got a lot of food, so I won’t post all the pictures. Before I even talk about the food though, I want to mention the service: everyone was great. Our waiter was knowledgeable and helped us out a lot, and anyone who brought a plate let us know exactly what everything on our plate was: what type of meat, sauce, where the fish was from. Do I remember any of it? Nope. But it was cool.

So the food!

Their pressed aburi sushi is what they’re apparently known for. Unfortunately, I didn’t want any… I get sick of sushi easily and I needed to ready myself for Chef Shiro at Sushi Kashiba (Seattle) in a few days. Everyone seemed to really like it though. We also ordered some fresh oysters, beef carpaccio, king salmon, the pork trio, noodles, more fresh fish, sake, and Japanese whiskey. Costly, but #worth. Hey, it’s a vacation. Don’t exactly get this food often in the Midwest.

Hours

They’re open every day besides Christmas and New Years.

Lunch
11:30 AM – 3:00 PM
Bar Bites
3:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Dinner
Sunday 5:00 PM – 10:30 PM
Monday 5:00 PM – 10:30 PM
Tuesday 5:00 PM – 10:30 PM
Wednesday 5:00 PM – 10:30 PM
Thursday 5:00 PM – 10:30 PM
Friday 5:00 PM – 11:00 PM
Saturday 5:00 PM – 11:00 PM

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Day 3

Costco

Canadian Costco.
Canadian Costco has poutine! And chicken wangs!! But it’s missing the chicken bake. Also, the cheese curds were cold. Didn’t care much for their pizza either. But hey, it’s something!

It's something
Memes are life.

The line was long and the food court was packed, but it went quickly and we ate outside. Not sure if you need a Costco card just to get into the food court, but some of us had US ones that got us inside anyways.

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Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden

Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden in Vancouver
After “breakfast,” I split from the group and headed to the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Chinese Garden. I wasn’t sure what to expect (I didn’t even know what a “classical Chinese garden” was), so I was pleasantly surprised by how fascinating and calming it was.

There are a few classical Chinese gardens around the world now, but Vancouver’s was the first one outside of China. There’s a 45 minute tour that I really enjoyed, but if that doesn’t really sound like your thing, you’re free to break away from the tour or do whatever. There’s just so much detail and thought that went into the building and design of the garden, though, that you really should take the tour if you have the time. I think this is the garden I want if I ever have millions of dollars to casually drop on a garden. Luckily, we can look around for a lot less.

Cost

Who Cost
Adult $14
Students (Aged 6-17 or with a valid student ID) $10
Seniors $11
Family (Two adults and up to three children under the age of 17) $28

Hours

Days Hours Tour Times
June 15 – August 31 9:30 AM – 7:00 PM 10:00 AM
11:00 AM
12:00 PM
1:00 PM
2:00 PM
3:00 PM
4:00 PM
5:30 PM
September 1 – September 30 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM 10:30 AM
12:00 PM
1:30 PM
2:30 PM
3:30 PM
4:30 PM
October 1 – April 30
Closed Mondays from Nov. 1 – Apr. 30
10:00 AM – 4:30 PM 10:30 AM
12:00 PM
1:30 PM
3:00 PM
May 1 – June 14 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM 10:30 AM
12:00 PM
1:30 PM
2:30 PM
3:30 PM
4:30 PM

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I seriously cannot recommend the tour enough. Unless you’re an expert, the garden is just a really pretty garden without the expertise of your guide. Here are some notes I took so that I don’t forget some of the fun facts, but it’s definitely not everything so I highly recommend following your knowledgeable guide if you want to know more about the beyoootiful garden. The tour is included in the cost of your ticket, so you may as well take advantage of it.

  • They used the same techniques as craftsmen from the Ming Dynasty did to build the garden, so no electricity, no power tools, no nails, no screws. Lots of joints.
  • I forget the actual number, but it was a shit-ton. They brought a shit-ton of materials straight from China, so it’s super legit. They even brought craftsmen over to work with the local architects.
  • Penjing means scenery in a pot. Bonsai and penjing are a little different.
  • The hallways are zigzaggy. First “reason” is that ghosts can’t wait straight, and the second is that scholars believed that it was about the journey, not the destination. As you walk through, you won’t be able to see where you’re headed, but you’ll enjoy the scenery while you’re getting there.
  • The pond might seem a little murky, but it’s not actually dirty. The pond floor is made of clay to reflect the elements of the garden. You can still see the koi and the occasional turtle.
  • There are lots of animals. Cute tiny fishes, big fishes, turtles, and a giant bird even landed near us. Unfortunately, it flew off before I could take a pic. 🙁
  • From the start, it was designed to be a museum rather than an actual functioning scholar’s home, so it’s missing rooms and a kitchen. I kind of hope it’s missing an old-fashioned bathroom as well.
  • Next to the garden is the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Park, which is free to enter.

    View from the park. Vancouver.
    View of the garden from the park.

    To access the park, you exit the garden or swim across (not recommended). Great view of the garden from the park. Here are some differences between the two with facts that I stole straight from a sign in the park.

    Park Garden
    Chinese-style public park Classical Ming dynasty garden-home
    Designed and built by Local architects and workers using modern equipment Chinese artisans and craftsmen using ancient techniques
    Materials From North and South America From China (even the pebbles)
    Rocks Volcanic rocks from Mexico Fossil limestone rocks from Lake Tai in China
    When it rains… You get very wet! You enjoy tea under the covered walkways and pavilions

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Gastown

Vancouver Gastown Steam Clock
Gastown is Vancouver’s oldest neighborhood, so there’s lots to eat, drink, and buy. I was alone at this point and wasn’t hungry, so after checking out Gassy Jack’s statue and the Steam Clock, I walked past the waterfront towards Stanley Park. If you’re interested, check out what events are happening when you’re in the area. As of me writing this, there’s a donut eating competition, lip sync battle, cabaret, lots of live music, trivia nights, open-mic storytelling, the list goes on and on. And I’ve only looked at three days.

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Waterfront

Vancouver Olympic Cauldron
I was here the day before, but I really got to take my time and read whatever I wanted. >:) You can walk along the waterfront to get to Stanley Park from Gastown. Enjoy the ocean view, the Olympic Cauldron, and the living roof. It is a ~30 minute walk from the Vancouver Steam Clock to the park according to Google Maps, though, and longer if you like to stop, take photos, and take your time. If that doesn’t sound too fun, I’m sure you can use the public transportation system to get around. It really is a pretty view, though.

See also: Missing Solo Travel

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Stanley Park

Stanley Park in Vancouver

Vancouver Stanley Park totem poles.
Totem poles.
The park is a national history site of Canada that is only minutes away by foot from the city. It’s easy to forget the lights when you’re surrounded by the trees and water. There’s a lot to see here besides trees: totem poles, statues, a lighthouse, a garden, and great views. After wandering a bit, I met up with the rest of my group here.

Stanley Park Naruto
Why is he running like Naruto?
We used the bike share program, but I don’t recommend it for exploring just the park. There are only five stations and they’re all located near the lower edge of the park. That’s not a problem if you don’t mind paying a little extra, but the 30 minute limit is a pain in the ass if you’re as cheap as I am. You have to check into a station every half hour unless you want to incur a $5 fee. A little silly since you have access to Mobi (the bike share program) for 24 hours (depending on your pass). A bit of a pain to have to plan out little 15-minute trips and then head back to the nearest station.

I ate: Gain Wah

Vancouver Gain Wah
Garlic shrimp and cooked oysters.

We went to Chinatown for dinner because… well, it’s Chinatown. Yum.

“What should we eat?”
“I don’t know. What do you guys want?”

After this went on for what seemed like forever, we finally just got out of the car, picked a restaurant with decent reviews (I hate reviews sometimes), and went in. It definitely worked out. Wasn’t really a fan the Yanjing beer I’ve never heard of despite spending two months in China, but I’ve been assured by an old friend that it’s popular in Beijing and therefore, legit. Their food was filling and affordable, though, especially relative to what we’d been spending on food for the trip.

Vancouver Gain Wah Yanjing beer.
Yanjing beer. Not my thing, but we were curious.
Vancouver Gain Wah black bean oysters.
Cooked oysters with black beans. It might sound weird, but it’s bomb.
I didn’t take photos of everything, but I liked most of what we ordered. Some of the highlights were the cheap oysters with the black beans and the eggplant. Two thumbs up.

Hours

Days Hours
Sunday 10:00 AM – 11:00 PM
Monday Closed
Tuesday 10:00 AM – 11:00 PM
Wednesday 10:00 AM – 11:00 PM
Thursday 10:00 AM – 11:00 PM
Friday 10:00 AM – 11:00 PM
Saturday 10:00 AM – 11:00 PM

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Day 4

Granville Island

I left the group again to see Granville Island! There wasn’t much time to explore since we were heading back to where we started (Seattle and more importantly, Chef Shiro’s!), but I did get to see the public market and grab a bite to eat.

Hours

What Hours
Public Market 9:00 AM – 7:00 PM
Net Loft 10:00 AM – 7:00 PM
Farmer’s Market Every Thursday throughout the summer, 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM

I got some “straw candy” and “maple nuggets” that kind of tasted like sweet jerky. I put those in quotes because surprise, they’re made of salmon!

I ate: Tony’s Fish and Oyster Cafe

I knew I had to take advantage of West Coast seafood while I could, so I picked a random restaurant and found myself at Tony’s. They’ve got fish and chips, raw oysters, clams, mussels, scallops, there are… there are a lot of options.

It was also a lottt of food; I totally underestimated them. I really liked the breaded oysters I got, but wasn’t a fan of the halibut. That was my bad, though, because I ordered fish knowing that I don’t like non-fried fish and because I assumed it would be fried. Woops. I would still recommend them because it was edible even for me, the oysters were good, and the service was good for such a busy restaurant. Next time, I would definitely try their fish and chips instead.

Hours
Days Hours
Summer
Sunday 11:30 AM – 7:30 PM
Monday 11:30 AM – 8:30 PM
Tuesday 11:30 AM – 8:30 PM
Wednesday 11:30 AM – 8:30 PM
Thursday 11:30 AM – 8:30 PM
Friday 11:30 AM – 8:30 PM
Saturday 11:30 AM – 8:30 PM
Winter
Sunday 11:30 AM – 7:00 PM
Monday 11:30 AM – 8:00 PM
Tuesday 11:30 AM – 8:00 PM
Wednesday 11:30 AM – 8:00 PM
Thursday 11:30 AM – 8:00 PM
Friday 11:30 AM – 8:00 PM
Saturday 11:30 AM – 8:00 PM

If possible, use cash! They have a sign at the front notifying patrons about the credit card fees that small businesses have to deal with. Not everyone knows, but those pesky little fees are the reason why sometimes you’ll see that there’s a five or ten dollar minimum for credit card purchases. Help your small businesses! (That said, I use my card everywhere to keep track of my purchases. Didn’t even convert dollars in Canadia and just Venmoed people so…)

I knew that my friends were in Chinatown eating fried chicken, so I tried to make my way over. Unfortunately, I couldn’t figure out how to get off the island lol. I activated Verizon’s Travel Pass to use Google Maps and walked around to find the bus station, but it was across water. After walking back and forth for a while, I gave up and grabbed a taxi that was waiting around to whisk people like me away to freedom.

Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Park

Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Park
I was dropped off in Chinatown where my friends were eating at a Vietnamese-Cambodian place called Phnom Penh (yup, apparently their fried chicken’s pretty good). I had some time to kill, so I went over to the park I skipped over before.

As mentioned earlier, the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Park is right next to the actual garden. It’s free to the public and relaxing as well. Surprisingly, there was a lot more green here than there was in the garden, and I saw some ducks, more fish, and a turtle. There were rocks and benches that you could sit on as well.

Dr. Sun Yat Sen Park
View of the park from the garden.
Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Park
Ducks on the rock and people discussing religion in the distance.
After I took my time walking through, I made my way over to the restaurant. After getting a final cup of coffee in Vancouver, we made our way back to Seattle in time for dinner. And thus concludes my brief (heh) summary of my first trip to Vancouver.

Any recommendations for a future visit? Agree or disagree with anything I said? Let me know in the comments below!



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