We were fortunate to have friends in Vancouver who acted us our hosts and guide to Vancouver. Thanks to them, we were not only able to see the main tourist attractions like the Capilano Suspension bridge, Dr Sun Yat Sen garden in Chinatown, Gastown, Granville Island and Stanley park but lesser known sights like Burnaby mountain, Coal harbour and Deep cove. Visiting Vancouver, we felt as if we have visited not just a country but a composite of many including Japan, Korea, China and Europe.
Capilano Suspension Bridge
This award winning attraction, also the oldest attraction makes for a fun family outing. It has something for everyone. The star attraction of course is the 137m long bridge and the treetop walk that gave visitors a birdseye view of the fir canopy. The park has informative signs on its flora and fauna. It was a fun and educative experience for us.
Dr Sun Yat Sen Garden
Dr Sun Yat Sen garden is a faithful recreation of the Chinese traditional garden according to style of the Ming dynasty. It is run by a non-profit organisation whose aim is to foster better understanding of the Chinese traditions and culture. We decided to pop in for a quick look around after a scrumptious breakfast at an authentic Hong Kong teahouse in Chinatown. We limited our visit to the outer garden which is free of charge. Our visit left us curious as to the name of the garden, this mystery was solved when we walked towards the bright red arch that marked the beginning of Chinatown along Carrall street. Here we stopped to admire the mural and the narrowest building in Chinatown and found ourselves in Shanghai and Canton alley, the original site of Chinatown where the history of the Chinese migrants to Vancouver were illustrated. This was where we also learnt that Dr Sun Yat Sen has visited Vancouver three times to raise funds to support his cause.
Burnaby mountain park
Located in Burnaby, it offers superb views of downtown Vancouver and the Burrand inlet. Locals flock here during the fireworks festival for its spectacular views at night. The park has a beautiful rose garden and a sculpture entitled "The playground of the Gods" which was installed in 2005 to celebrate its anniversary of Burnaby's sister city relationship with Kushiro, Japan. We felt a sense of deja vu as we had visited Kushiro in that year.
This little idyllic gem offers a glimpse of the life of early pioneers. Its heritage has been well preserved. Its ideal location, i.e., close proximity to the sea and mountain also proved popular among the locals and outdoor sports enthusiasts. For the less adventurous, a stroll along the cove and Deep Cover downtown makes for a relaxing afternoon.
Money saving tips
The Smartvisit card is a useful card to have if you intend to take in the many tourist attractions in Vancouver and Victoria. This card includes free entry to 50 attractions, a free day tour to Whistler, a half day orca-sighting tour and a harbour cruise in the Burrand inlet. Once activated, this card is valid for 2 days, 3 days or 5 days consecutively so timing is important. We purchased the 3 day pass for CAD$152 (inclusive of tax) and found it a good deal.
If you are moving around by public transport, purchase the Fare Savers booklet available at newsstands. The booklet comes with 10 coupons which you can use on transit buses, seabuses and skytrain. The booklet is sold according to zones. Most attractions are located in downtown which is zone 1. A booklet of 10 for zone 1 costs CAD$19, this is a saving of CAD$6 (fare for zone 1 is CAD$2.50 and is valid for 90 minutes).