If you are arriving by air, you will be flying into Vancouver International Airport (YVR). Located just 25 minutes from downtown, YVR was named the Best Airport in North America in 2013 and ranks 8th worldwide, making it the only North American airport to be ranked in the top 10. The airport is a major hub for international travel, with good connections by a host of airlines to all major North American and international cities.
The Vancouver International Airport (YVR) is located approximately 15km (11 miles) or 20 minutes from the center of the city. The Millenium Line Skytrain, which terminates across the street from the symposium venue, takes 26 minutes to travel directly between the airport and downtown. Limousine services are also available at reasonable rates. Taxi fare from the airport to the city center is approximately $40CAD. All of these services accept major credit cards.
Porter service is available at the Vancouver International Airport. Rates and policies vary and should be confirmed with the supplier.
Regular banking hours in Canada are 8:30am to 4:30pm., Monday to Friday, with extended hours including weekends at some locations. Visitors who wish to cash cheques or require other banking services are advised to check times of operation with the institutions. Main branches of Canadian chartered banks, particularly in major centres, are equipped to exchange foreign currency as well. Several major European and foreign banks have offices in Vancouver, and will handle some foreign currencies directly.
Most banks have automatic teller machines, which can be accessed 24 hours a day, using bank or credit cards on major international banking networks such as Cirrus, Plus and Interac.
The monetary system in Canada is based on dollars and cents. Foreign currencies may be readily exchanged at banks, your hotel front desk or at currency exchange bureaus located throughout the city. Bank debit or credit cards are the most convenient means of getting cash at the many 24-hour automated banking machines (ATMs). As in the U.S. and Europe these machines accept cards with Plus, Interac and Cirrus symbols and are easily found in Vancouver. Many Canadian businesses will accept U.S. currency and traveler's cheques, as well as major credit cards (Visa, Master Card, and American Express). For current rate of exchange information, please visit: http://www.bank-banque-canada.ca
Overseas visitors require a valid passport and may require other documentation such as an entry visa (ask your travel agent). As per the new Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), U.S. citizens also require a valid passport in order to re-enter the United States. Naturalized U.S. citizens should also carry documents proving citizenship. For more information regarding the WHTI, please visit the following website: www.dhs.gov
FOOD & BEVERAGE
An extensive variety of cuisine is available representing the multicultural flavor of Vancouver. Fine dining, casual or family friendly restaurants are easily accessible throughout Greater Vancouver.
Alcoholic beverages in bottles are sold in special 'Liquor' stores. However, alcoholic beverages including beer and wine may be purchased in "Licensed Premises" establishments, such as restaurants, hotel lounges, pubs, and nightclubs. Minors are not admitted into bars. In B.C., minors are defined as anyone under 19 years of age.
The electrical current is the same in Canada as in the United States: 110 volts AC at 60 Hz. Adapters are required for appliances from other countries.
English and French are Canada's two official languages. English is the predominant language in Vancouver, however, you will find that many banks, hotels, airline offices, shops and key visitor attractions have multilingual staff who speak various Asian, European and other languages.
Visitors are not covered by Canadian health insurance plans. Check with your personal medical plan before leaving your home country to ensure you have adequate traveling insurance. Delegates are urged to take out insurance to cover loss incurred in the case of cancellation, medical expenses and damage to or loss of personal effects whenever traveling outside of their own country.
Smoking is not permitted by law in public buildings, on public transit, in shopping malls, and in most restaurants, pubs, nightclubs and casinos. Many restaurants and other establishments have designated smoking areas such as patios or outside heated seating areas. Please smoke in designated areas only.
SPECIAL NEEDS TRAVELERS
Vancouver enjoys a reputation as being one of the most accessible cities in the world among travelers with special needs. Whether using wheelchairs, white canes, seeing-eye dogs or hearing aids, Vancouver leads the way in making the area a more livable place for people with disabilities through its progressive transportation systems, innovative housing and recreational opportunities
There is a 5% Goods and Services Tax (GST) in effect in Canada. There is also a non-refundable Provincial Sales Tax (PST), currently at 7% in British Columbia. These taxes are not included in the advertised or displayed price, but are calculated at the till when your order is processed.
Vancouver now employs three separate area codes: 604, 778 and 236. Calls within the greater Vancouver area are local regardless whether they use a 604, 778 or 236 area code, however, you will need to dial all ten digits of the phone number in order to be connected (e.g. 604-555-1234). Cellular phones may be used in all areas of the Lower Mainland, but may not get reception inside certain buildings or elevators. Check with your cellular service provider to ensure your plan offers roaming/long distance service in Vancouver.
Vancouver is in the Pacific Time Zone (-0800 GMT) and will be observing Daylight Saving Time during at the time of the symposium.
The standard and customary gratuity in most restaurants is 15%.
Warmed by Pacific Ocean currents and protected by a range of mountains, Vancouver enjoys mild temperatures year-round. From low 20's Celsius (high 70's Fahrenheit) in summer to a mild 0º to 5ºC (mid 40's F) in winter, the climate is always hospitable. During the Symposium, you can expect an average temperature of 22ºC (71ºF). For current weather conditions visit the following website:www.weather.gc.ca.