Visit Value | Vancouver
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I went to Vancouver on a quick getaway with some friends back in May. I’ve been meaning to post something about this trip before this, but life has been busy. Vancouver is a city I’ve visited several times (I think I calculated this was my 6th trip there), so I wrote this Visit Value post.
When I went to San Francisco and Oslo I wrote a similar style posts for those cities. I originally called these types of posts Budget Breakdown, but from now on with I’m changing the name to Visit Value. I’m trying to focus on the positive value of things rather than on this idea of being restricted by a budget. Now, I currently don’t have unlimited funds (I like to think I’m on the way to being rich), so I keep track of my spending on a trip. It gives me (and you) a general idea of how much it’ll cost to visit some place (depending on what you do and can/want to spend). Anyway, I wanted to reframe how I perceive my travel spending. There’s more to my thinking on this subject, so maybe I’ll share that in another post. Plus, I won’t lie, I also like the alliteration of the title (I realize this won’t work for every place I visit, but it does for Vancouver).
Note: Prices in this post are in Canadian $ and are accurate as of May 2022 when I took this trip. You can visit xe.com to see prices in your local currency.
A friend of my parents let them know WestJet (at the time) had a sale on some of their flights, which is why I booked this trip. I got my round-trip flight for $111.56. This price also included a $10 fee to hold the flight for a few days before booking it. I did this to ensure the dates I picked would work for everyone. The flight included a personal and carryon bag. I opted not to pay for a seat since the flight was only 90 minutes one-way.
I also buy travel insurance for any trip I take that’s out Alberta. Since this was a quick trip, and within Canada, it only cost me $15 for the emergency medical insurance. My Alberta provincial health card would have covered some expenses, but for any emergency medical expenses (including ones related to Covid, if that had been an issue) I’d have coverage with insurance.
Roundtrip Flight: $115.56
Travel Insurance: $15.00
Total Pre-trip Cost: $126.56
Day 1 – May 11
The first “day” wasn’t a full day since we flew out in the evening after supper (meaning I didn’t have to pay for a meal at the airport). My mom drove my friend and I to the airport. We departed shortly after 8pm and got to Vancouver around 9:15pm local time. We were there visiting a friend, so she drove us to our hotel. Our hotel, the Coast Inn Tsawwassen, was very nice, and close to where my friend lives. The room was a junior suite with a living area with a couch and tv, a small kitchenette (microwave and fridge), bathroom (of course), and 2 queen beds.
My friend who I flew in with split the hotel with me. A few times, she got the bill for lunch or dinner for everyone. I took off what I would have paid for those meals from what she owed for the hotel. After everything for the 4 nights, I paid $538.93, which is averages about $134.73/day. If I had been there alone, the total cost would have been about $986. I paid for the hotel right away after checking in because I knew we’d have to leave for the airport really early on our last day.
4 Night Stay in 2 Queen Suite at Coast Inn Tsawwassen: $538.93
Day 1 Total: $538.83
Day 2 – May 12
Our first full day, we had the included continental breakfast at the hotel. It was quite good for a hotel breakfast. They had muffins, scones, yogurt, cereal, fruit (apples, and oranges), oatmeal, egg bites (there was a ham and cheese one and then a spinach and feta one). There was also Starbucks coffee (just brewed coffee, not lattes). The best part was that they had almond milk for the coffee and cereal/oatmeal. I’m lactose-intolerant, so sometimes with hotel breakfasts I can only have a muffin and an apple if I’m lucky, so having almond milk was really nice.
We hung out at the hotel for a bit (our local friend had to work that morning). After we went to Richmond. The restaurant we were going to go to for lunch was very busy. We had a book time for the Moon & Back Gallery at 2pm, and we wouldn’t have been able to make it in time if we stayed there. We headed over to the outlet mall by the airport to wander around for a bit. I saw they had a Japadog, which started out as a series of street food stands in Vancouver, and apparently has expanded to a fast food type restaurant. I wasn’t too hungry, but got the Okonomi Japadog for $7.97.
Next, we had lunch at the Flying Beaver Bar & Grill, which was where we first tried to go for lunch. My friend suggested it because it’s close to where the float planes land and take off. We got a table on the covered deck, and it was a fun experience. Watching float planes is not something I’d get to see in Alberta. I had a glass of wine and four different tacos (two fish, a chicken, and a pork belly). They were tacos and were therefore delicious.
After we went to Steveston Village, which is down at the harbour area of Richmond. It’s a cute area with different restaurants, cafes, and shops. Since it was during the week and about 5pm most of the shops were closed, plus it was raining, so we didn’t stay too long. If you’re visiting Vancouver area (especially if the weather is nice) it’s a cute area to check out.
Then we headed back to Tsawwassen and went down to the beach. It was way too cold for swimming, but we walked for a bit and I got to pick up some of my favourite free souvenirs: seashells. Around 8pm we grabbed some dinner at the Brown’s Social House, right next to the hotel. I got a burger and yam fries.
Okonomi hot dog from Japadog: $7.97
Moon & Back Gallery: $36.74
Tacos & Wine from The Flying Beaver Bar & Grill: $27.97
Burger & Yam Fries from Brown’s Social House: $23.85
Day 2 Total: $96.53
Day 3 – May 13
We woke up and headed out for breakfast at the Red Umbrella Café on Davies Street. My friend had heard good things about this lunch and breakfast cafe. Plus, it was not too far of a drive from the Aquarium (where we’d be heading after). I got a coffee, and the wild smoked salmon omelette with home-style potatoes. The meal was delicious. This was one meal my friend paid for (hence why there isn’t a price listed – but I added the cost to my portion of the hotel bill). This café is small and quite popular. We were there as soon as it opened, so we got seated right away. They don’t take reservations so if you come later you’ll likely have to wait for a table.
Next we went to the Vancouver Aquarium. We had prebought tickets, which was great because we got to skip the line and just go in. We were there on a Thursday and kind of forgot that it would be busy with school kids on field trips. On the other hand if we’d been there on the weekend it would be busy with lots of families with kids. It’s an aquarium, kids like them so it will probably be busy. The nice thing is the Vancouver Aquarium is quite big, and has both indoor and outdoor exhibits. I hadn’t been to the Vancouver Aquarium since about 2005, so it was fun to come back, check it out, and learn about the wildlife rehabilitation they do.
After the Aquarium we head to North Vancouver to the Black Bear Neighborhood Pub. I ordered an Amber Ale from Red Truck, a local brewery plus the fish & chips. I asked how big the portions were as there was a 1, 2, or 3 piece option. From what the server showed with her hands, I thought 2 pieces of fish would be good, but they were much bigger than expected. I also bought my friend’s meal (the local who drove us everywhere). She refused to let us chip in for gas or give her any money, so you got to sneakily buy lunch instead.
After, we went to Lynn Canyon Park, which is a gorgeous area in North Vancouver with different hiking trails, a suspension bridge, and waterfalls. It’s gorgeous. The Capilano Suspension Bridge is bigger and more well known, but it costs about $60 I think. I’m already afraid of heights and not a huge fan of suspension bridges, so I’d rather get scared shitless for free. I’d visited here back in 2019, but we did a different and longer hike this time. Lynn Canyon is really nice, and again is free (aside from parking costs, which another friend covered).
We then went to Lonsdale Quay Market, which is in North Vancouver. It’s not as big as the Granville Island Market; it’s also much quieter. The only downside was they were doing some renovations, so the restaurant area and the viewing platform on the upper level were closed. This wasn’t a big deal to me because I’d been to Lonsdale Quay before. I stopped at the Blue Teapot to buy some blackcurrant tea. I bought this tea on my last trip and it was great, so I wanted to get some more.
We drove back to the hotel, but stopped off at the outlet mall first so my friend could pick up a few things. We grabbed supper at the food court. My dinner was an ahi tuna poke bowl from Hula Poke. I bought some cashews from the drugstore to snack on the plane. I also got some chocolate bars because they were on sale and they were chocolate.
Vancouver Aquarium: $40.25
Fish & chips and amber ale from Red Truck Brewing (plus my friend’s meal): $60.23
100g bag of blackcurrant tea from Blue Teapot: $6.58
Ahi tuna poke bowl from Hula Poke: $14.70
Bags of cashews & 2 chocolate Bars from Shoppers Drug Mart: $6.58
Day 3 Total: $136.16
Day 4 – May 14
Our last full day and we made use of the free hotel breakfast. I also grabbed an extra wrapped breakfast cookie and brought it back to the room to have the next morning before our flight. Our big to do this day was a whale watching tour that departed from Crescent Beach, but first we went for lunch/brunch at the 5 Corners Café in White Rock. This was a cute retro style café/diner. I was really excited to see a full Irish breakfast on the menu (something you don’t easily find outside of Ireland). Sadly, they were all out of it so I got a corned beef sandwich and fries with a coffee to drink. It was a cute diner. If you go just know that it’s cash only.
Next we went on our whale watching tour, which lasted about five hours. This was the most expensive thing we did, but the boat was small. There was only 6 of us on the tour, plus the captain. Since I’m a silly girl from the prairies, I always do this thing with any type of ocean/harbour/bay excursion I go on where I’ll forget to put on sunscreen and then I burn (happened in San Francisco). Or I assume the weather will be nice and I don’t bring a warm enough sweater or coat. Luckily, they gave us a suit to wear to keep us warm and afloat if we’d fallen into the water. We were all walking the Michelin Man with the suits on, but hey, I wasn’t cold.
The boat had these seats you had to sit down on in a straddle position, which was a bit uncomfortable in the suits. A little more than halfway through the tour, we stopped off at Saturna Island to visit the Lighthouse Pub and have a bite to eat. I got a local beer and deep fried pickles. And we got to see some humpback whales, sea lions, bald eagles, and, of course, seagulls.
After the whale watching tour my friend drove us around Crescent Beach and White Rock and we looked at the houses and cool beachy vibe buildings. Then we went to a restaurant called Sammy J’s because my friend had a gift card she need to use up. I got a chicken burger that was great. My friend’s gift card covered part of the meal, and then my other friend bought the rest of the balance (so I took my meal off the hotel expenses). We made it back to the hotel and then packed for our departure the next day.
Coffee and corned beef sandwich & fries from Five Corners Café: $20.00
Whale Watching Tour: $215.45
Deep fried pickles and beer from Lighthouse Pub: $23.75
Day 4 Total: $259.20
Day 5 – May 15
Our flight left early at 8am, meaning we were up by about 430am to leave for the airport at 530am. There wasn’t anything I bought this day since I’d grabbed a breakfast cookie to have the day before. The hotel had some apples and coffee. I had a small cup of coffee before going to the airport.
We got to the airport just after 6am, and went straight to security (we’d both already checked in for the flight online, and weren’t checking any luggage). The security line probably took about 25 minutes to get through, and only got bigger behind us, so I’m glad we were there early. We got to the boarding gate and boarded our flight just before 8am. We gated-check our bags, meaning we had to wait a few minutes at the luggage carousel when we got to Edmonton. My friend’s dad picked us up from the airport and drove us both home. I was home before noon.
Overall, I spent $1157.38 during my trip to Vancouver (well a lot of it was other areas in the Lower Mainland too). Vancouver is one of the more expensive cities in Canada (particularly if you want to live there, housing costs are insane). Since I’d visited Vancouver several times before, there wasn’t anything I had to do, which so was it a pretty low stress trip for me. Some activities we did were pricey, but it had been years since I went to the Vancouver Aquarium or did a whale watching tour. And the Moon & Back Gallery was quite cool, so I didn’t mind those splurges.
Normally, if I was going on my own, I’d be booking a hostel, but with Covid and all that I just felt safer staying in a hotel and splitting the cost with my friend, rather than being stuck in a dorm room with 8 strangers. Maybe my hostel days are behind me, or at least the dorm days are. Maybe not. This was a nice trip to dip my toes back into a bit of travel. Vancouver is close enough to fly to for a quick 3-day trip, so I’ll try to visit again, maybe next spring or summer.
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Things To Know
While in Vancouver, we stayed at the Coast Tsawwassen Inn, which cost about $986 for an executive suite with 2 double beds. My friend booked this with a local friends and family rate (where you have to show local ID to get the rate), so regular room rate might be a bit more. This hotel is about a 45-minute drive from downtown Vancouver, but it was close to my friend, which was a big reason we stayed there. If you want to stay right in Vancouver, there are plenty of hotels that you can book here.
Have you been to Vancouver, BC? What would you do there?