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Canada Travel Tips

4.0 stars

Insider advice for your Canada vacation


kayo48
wheelchair accessible hotels
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
I am a travel agent requiring a wheelchair accessible hotel for my client in Puerto Plata..
possibly the Riu Mambo.. has anyone any personal experience about this resort?

Many thanks for your help.

Karen


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Canadian
Places not to miss in Canada, national wide travel tips 5 stars
Canada is a huge country and if you traverse it, you will have seen a large chunk of the world. I have traversed it, multiple times and, as I have recommended what to skip elsewhere, now I can recommend where to visit.

From east to west, here are the travel spots that can each be described as 'must see'.

Labrador
Prince Edward Island
Cape Breton, Nova Scotia
Bay of Fundy and Five Islands Provincial Park, Nova Scotia
Quebec City, Quebec
Les Iles de le Madeleine, Quebec (aka The Magdalen Islands)
Montreal, Quebec
National Parliament in Ottawa, Ontario
Niagara Falls, Ontario
Toronto Islands in Toronto, Ontario
Toronto, Ontario
Pancake Bay on Lake Superior and Lake Superior in general
Drumheller, Alberta and the nearby hoodoos and badlands
Banff National Park, Alberta or Jasper National Park, Alberta
The Okanagan lakes in the interior of British Columbia
Vancouver, British Columbia
Whistler, British Columbia
Tofino, Vancouver Island, British Columbia
The West Coast Trail, Vancouver Island, British Columbia
The Queen Charlotte Islands, British Columbia
The Alaska Highway, Alberta, British Columbia, and the Yukon

I have been to each of these places and have thus far reviewed many of them. They are definitely worth a visit. For more information about each destination and travel tips, use this site. Should you not find a review, post a question and bring it to my attention and I will be happy to provide my specific review of the area, where I have not already done so.


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Canadian
Places to skip when you visit Canada, travel tips 2 stars
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
I've met a lot of people that have backpacked across Canada and there are a lot of enjoyable places to visit in this country. But assuming that time is limited when one is traveling across Canada, there are certainly a lot of places that a traveler to my country should skip. This is not only my opinion, but the opinion of many backpackers and travelers that I have met.

The main section of Canada that one should not spend much time in is the prairie region, west of Lake Superior and east of the Rocky Mountains. There you will find boring cities like Edmonton, Calgary, Saskatoon, Regina, and Winnipeg. There are barely any tourist attractions in this part of Canada that are genuinely interesting, except for the badlands of Drumheller, Alberta, which I will review elsewhere.

Of those five cities, Saskatoon and Regina are easily ignoreable without ever wondering what you have missed. They have small populations and they feel like tumbleweed-blowin' ghost towns when you are in them, with downtown 'skylines' that barely impress.

Winnipeg has a bit of an arts district downtown and they have a nice area called 'The Forks' but really it is pretty basic. Marketed as a 'must see,' the forks is really nothing special and, if your time is limited, you will be better off in the Rocky Mountains, Vancouver Island, or Cape Breton, where there genuinely are things that one could describe as 'must see.'

Calgary is a corporate city with a little over 1 million people, but it does not stick out in any way in general. I lived there for a year myself and the city only has two redeeming features. First, they are an NHL hockey city and that brings the area to life now and then. Second, they host the annual Calgary Stampede during the Canadian summer months, a spectacle that includes world class rodeo competitions, fair grounds, and cowboy culture. The ten days in July when the Stampede takes place is the only time frame when the city is worth visiting.

Worth mentioning though, is that Calgary did host the Olympics in 1988 and if you are interested in seeing the remnants then they are still viewable.

Edmonton is largely skippable too. The city's main tourist attraction is West Edmonton Mall and that might be worth a visit for a couple days, but it is nothing great. The city's main draw after that is a couple weeks in August where the city hosts a street performer festival called 'The Fringe.' I have been to it myself countless times and it can be a lot of fun with live theater and free street entertainment. Not only that, but backpackers I have met have said that they enjoyed Edmonton's Fringe Festival, which is on Whyte Avenue.

Otherwise, for urban life you will be better off spending your limited time in the superior cities of Vancouver, Toronto, or Montreal where nightlife options and urban landmarks genuinely are ample. Edmonton, Calgary, and Winnipeg should only be visited by the individual who has ample time to visit Canada or who needs a rest-stop on a trek across the trans-Canada highway.


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Canadian
A General Hostelling Tip for Canada and the USA 4 stars
In every part of Canada and the USA you will find hostels.

In those hostels you will find a mix of two types of hostellers: (1) backpackers and budget travellers; and, especially in the USA, (2) locals who regard the hostel as affordable housing.

The latter can be anything from local transients who beg for spare change to citizens who are relocating for a job and just need the hostel for a week or so. They can only affored the cheapest dorms, so you are wise to get the upgraded dorms.
Budget travellers are usually young people, students mainly, that can't afford to see the world if they pay $100 per night for a hotel room.

Whether a hosteller is a local transient, a local poor person, or a budget traveller, you need to protect your possessions against possible theft. Using a locker is the most basic thing you can do but there are a couple other pointers.

If you have money, have a good job, or come from a family that is middle classed or better, do not let anyone in the hostel know you are economically solid. You could attract people that will try to con you out of money.

One time when I was at the Toronto HI-hostel, I got a new job in town and was really happy. I mentioned it to a couple guys that I had gotten to know a bit and all of a sudden they were thinking that beer was on me when we went out - and they were serious.

Another time, at the HI-hostel in Tofino, I was buying something from the front desk agent. When I received my change ($15) and turned around, I noticed that a guy who was in my dorm, that I had barely talked to, was fixated on the money I was putting back in my wallet. A short time later he asked me if I could lend him $5.

The instances are really rare and I have never been robbed while staying in a hostel (others have) but when you are hostelling through Canada and the USA keep in mind that there are a lot of people around you that might be desperate. If some of them learn that you have money they will try to latch on to you, borrow money from you, or rob you.

Regardless of your material or economic circumstances you are best to represent yourself as a starving traveler who is barely getting by. That way you become less of a target.


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Canadian
Road Trip Tip for Canada, The Road Less Traveled 5 stars
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Myself I am always looking to get to those places that other people don't normally get to, in fact I pride myself on that as a traveler. Everyone in Canada, who takes an extended road trip, will travel across the country on the number one highway, the Trans-Canada.

However for the adventurous type that want to see things that not all Canadians will see, you might want to take the James Bay Road or, in French, route de la baie james.

James Bay is the little part of salt water that jets inland out of the Hudson's Bay. To find this highway, which is single lane in both directions, you would go to the town of Matagami, Quebec, which can be reached by taking highway 117 north out of Montreal and turning off of it to go through Sennetarre and north from there. That part of the tip alone, Montreal to Matagami, is about 800 kms.

Heading north from Matagami you will find the James Bay Road and that will take you another 600 kms to the town of Radisson and then head west to the town of Chisasibi, about 100 kms. From Chisasibi you can continue on the same road past the town for a little while and you will come to a dead end against the shores of James Bay. At this point you will actually be in Nunavut!

Keep in mind that most people you meet will be French speaking.

The highways in that part of Canada should only be used in the summer and you should have a full tank when you leave Matagami because the gas stations are few and expensive. Filling a jerry can and keeping it in your trunk would be a good idea to save a few dollars.


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Canadian
Canadian wide tip about Greyhound Bus 2 stars
For those of you who do not hitchhike, Greyhound Bus lines (www.greyhound.ca) remains the least expensive form of travel in Canada. It does not go to all locations in Canada however, as Greyhound does not serve the far east of Canada.

There are numerous ways to get substantial discounts on Greyhound bus travel but they usually require planning ahead.

First, if you are a backpacker and you have a Hostelling International membership then that card will get you a discount of at least 10% on most schedules.

However, the biggest discounts with Greyhound are if you purchase your tickets well in advance. Purchasing one week in advance will get you about 30% off while purchasing two weeks in advance can get you about 45% off. The problem with those tickets is that they are not always refundable.

For example, if you wanted to go from Edmonton to Whitehorse, you could buy a normal ticket last minute and get their standard base fair which is $212, which is mostly refundable if you cancel (like 85% refundable). Buy one week in advance and you only pay $141 but the fare is non-refundable. But two weeks in advance and you pay only $120, again non-refundable.

Clearly knowing where you will be going and planning ahead can save a lot of money with Greyhound traveling but you have to be set on your plans.


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Nina514
Costco Canada 4 stars
Costco is a mega huge chain store (in the form of warehouses) spread out throughout Canada (and in some other countries; and especially in the USA). Most of the products offered at Costco are sold in big size and/or amount; although they seem to be cheaper in that way, do pay extra attention, if you know prices of items fairly well on the market, you will realize that prices in Costco are not that cheap. From dairy, fresh fruits, vegetables, books, accessories, household equipments, groceries, to flowers and medicines are available at Costco.

A customer is required to be a member of Costco to be able to shop there; what I like most about shopping at Costco is when it comes to trying products, daily you will find employees of Costco would offer you free samples to try; freeloader all the way ;) The best bargain you can ever get shopping at Costco is for Oberto beef jerky; they sell the cheapest from all other stores. The downside of shopping at Costco for me is that they don’t provide you with plastic bags so it’s often hard to carry all the stuffs you purchased from the car to the apartment!


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Nina514
Dollarama - 1 dollar store throughout Canada 5 stars
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
Dollarama is a franchise store offering 1 dollar items all over Canada; although some people could mistake it with Dollar Store, a similar chain store also offering 1 dollar items, one should really notice the difference between the two stores; Dollarama is authentic with its green D signature. Most of the things sold at Dollarama are imported from China and not all the items are in so-so quality, some of them are pretty good actually, remembering most of them are sold for 1 dollar each. I believe you are required to pay cash only at Dollarama and plus, there is no return policy for the items you purchased.

From toys, education-related, to household necessities are available at Dollarama. My favorite time going to any Dollarama outlets is when there’s a specific holidays coming such as Canada’s Day, Valentine’s day, Halloween, etc; the store will be flooded with souvenirs related to the holidays and they are just colorful and cute and certainly the store offers many varieties of items.

(In Montreal, you can find Dollarama inside Les Galeries du Parc, Place Montreal Trust-Centre Eaton, Alexis Nihon, and spread out not just in downtown area.)


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Nina514
Timbits Tim Hortons, Another Canadian Pride 5 stars
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Although we do have Starbucks here in Canada as well, many of Canadians obviously prefer Tim Hortons; similar to Starbucks or even Dunkin Donuts, you can get coffee, soda, donuts, sandwich and/or soup at Tim Hortons. I have been to too many Tim Hortons outlets spread out in Ontario and here in Quebec; my favorite to order is the Timbits (teeny tiny donut drops) box of 20 or 40 and the iced coffee! Usually when we are travelling between cities (or provinces) in great distances, we would make a stop at Tim Hortons. Their coffee is better than Starbucks I have to say (not because I’m in Canada! The Starbucks in Jakarta, Indonesia, do make great coffee unlike the ones in Canada) and those Timbits are not just cute but also taste quite nice especially the dark ones (chocolate flavor) which are my favorite. If you are in Canada, do give Tim Hortons a try; they are almost everywhere even in a secluded gas stop out of nowhere!

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Nina514
Maple Taffy - Winter Tradition in Canada 5 stars
In a couple of days winter will officially be here, in Canada. At this time of the year, here in Montreal, we have a very fun festive of Montreal Highlights Festival and one thing that you definitely will find are vendors selling Maple Taffee(tire d'érable); it is been said that maple taffee is part of a traditional culture for the Quebecois, however, you can find them elsewhere in Canada. Maple taffee is made of sugary and sweet maple liquid spread on icy and cold snow (clean snow of course) and then rolled by using an ice cream stick after leaving it on the snow for a minute or two to harden. Not only children who usually would crowd the vendors, adults seem to also really liking maple taffee when it is the season. Although it is affordable to get a stick of maple taffee, sometimes there is a slight of me that would say it is a bit too expensive to spend CAD 2 per taffee, but then again, if you don’t want to make it yourself at home, you can only get them when there is a festival in winter so in a way or two it is worth it as well.

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WorldTourist
Shopping in Vancouver 4 stars
There is plenty of really good shoping in Vancouver. In fact, it is probably one of the best reasons to come here. If you want to hit the main shopping area, you would be best visint between 1st and 5th and some parts in the lower part of 8th street. Here they have some big shopping areas like one of Canada's largest retail store Hudson's Bay. (They seem to have everything there.)

If you are looking for more trendy shopping and coffee type atmospheres, then go to the Kensington Village. This is a great place to find all sorts of little gifts and gadgets. It is also a great place to go at night to get drinks.


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cosmoclaudio
Kamloops Heritage Railway 5 stars
Before going to Kamloops, I had checked some comments about the city. some of the comments talked about this Railway, which is actually a train which re-enacts the first armed robbery to a train in Canada. We just watched the train from the outside because we did not really want to pay to see the re- enactment. Anyway we saw some people coming out with a huge smile talking about what they had see, and everyone seemed really happy.
So as far as I concern, the re-enactment was really good.
Anyway, f you have the money, I guess this is a great option.


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cosmoclaudio
Two River Junction 5 stars
At night my girlfriend wanted to go party, since we had met so many people from different countries, we had no idea where to go, so one of the guys we met said he had heard of place called Two River Junction. The place was very nice, sort of country style. The host was also dressed in a period costume, so it really created a very interesting atmosphere. We sat all together and after few minutes the show started, live singers and an occasional joke made the whole evening a success.

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cosmoclaudio
Kamloops 5 stars
Kamloops is a very small city, it reminded me of Niagara on the Falls, everything seems to be clean and in order and the atmosphere is really nice, I loved it.
To go for a walk turns into sightseeing, just by looking at the great architecture there is in the city, The Town Hall is one of my favorite buildings.
I fully recommend you to go, and take an evening just to walk around and enjoy a beer.


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cosmoclaudio
Jasper Pizza Place 5 stars
As we had been walking for a while, we started getting really hungry, and as we were so hungry we had to find something, not so expensive enough to satisfy our stomachs.
We asked some people where was a good place to have a not so expensive, nice, lunch and they told us the Pizza Place was a great option... and indeed it was.
They have so many toppings to choose from, some of them are a bit odd, but thats what makes the restaurant so special


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cosmoclaudio
Jasper 5 stars
Jasper is another National Park very near Banff, but this one has a lot more water.
Jasper is also probably more wild, and by that I mean that there are less things to do apart from sightseeing. I really loved this place, there are some really awesome lakes that no one should miss. Jasper is also very famous for its Sasquatchs sightings. or in American: Big foot sightings.
I loved it and I fully recommend you take your time to really admire the view.


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WorldTourist
Driving in Canada 4 stars
The speed limits on the Canadian Highways are usually quite low. However, trucks seem to go really fast, at least 20 kilometers above the speed limit. My last Canadian adventure was a trip from the Niagara Falls driving back to Michigan. I am usually the one to follow the speed limits, so I drove even a couple kilometers under the speed limit. However, I seemed to be definitely the slowest driver on the road. Everyone was passing by me so quickly, especially the trucks. This scared my German girlfriend, who was annoyed that trucks were allowed to pass you so quickly.

We learned quickly that it is better to just go fast like the other Canadian drivers than to be law abiding citizens and stay with the speed limit.

One thing also to remember is that Canada is really large. Gas stations are not always readily available, even in the large city of Toronto. Last time I was there I was running very low on gas. I wasn’t sure how much longer my car would make it. However, I kept trying to ask all the locals were the nearest gas station was, but they didn’t have a clue. When I finally made it in, my car was starting to shake and give out. Thankfully everything was ok.

Another incident was trying to find a gas station on the highway. I get nervous when the gas is getting low and I didn’t see a gas station for many miles/kilometers. Basically, you should remember to keep you gas tank full because in some spots the gas stations are so spread out that you might not be able to make it on a low tank.


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WorldTourist
Canda Tax, get it back 4 stars
The last time I was in Canada I found about this tax rule when I was reading some brochures in a tourist shop. Basically, if you save all of your receipts from your purchases in Canada, then you are entitled to the Canadian tax of your purchases back. It is some special agreement that Canada has.

Basically what we did from this point on our trip was save all of the receipts that we received. However, we were unable to receive any money back for purchases that were under $25. Don’t worry about saving the little receipts; they won’t do you too much good. Just save the receipts from you hotel, restaurants and shopping if you buy a lot at one time. One thing we did was instead of buying lots of small purchases, to rather buy all our things at one store so that the amount on the receipt was larger and so we knew that we would probably be able to get the tax money back for it.

When leaving Canada, whether it be by bus, car, or plane, make sure to stop by the duty free shop. Here they will count the taxes on your receipts and quickly give you the money back. You also have the option to just use the money and get a coupon to buy things in the duty free shop. If you don’t go to the duty free shop, you can also mail in your receipts, but from my personal experience, that will take a long time to get the money back.


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Nina514
Canadians LOVE Hockey 5 stars
Most of Canadians (including me and my husband) love hockey big time and the Canadian hockey teams are pretty good. The first time I ever went to see big team such as Ottawa Senators live, not via the television, was a couple of years back. It was hockey season and my husband came home from work giving me a big surprise of two tickets to see Ottawa Senators at the Corel Center Stadium (now it has been changed to Scotiabank Place). The stadium was really full and I don’t think I saw any empty seats whatsoever.

There is a certain feeling when you watch the hockey teams playing live, as if they were right in front of your eyes, compare to watching them via televisions. The people surroundings you with so much excitement and hope sort of giving you a chill to see their spirits, wishing, cheering, and praying that their beloved teams would come out as a winner, and they would also come out of the stadium after the game happy, smiling, relieved and satisfied. Unfortunately, I came home with sad feeling and disappointment as Ottawa Senators was lost to Carolina Hurricane, a hockey team from the US.

When it’s hockey season in Canada, restaurants, bars, pubs, and streets would be full with supporters and their attributes. Of course, watching at home with the right companion would be better than going to pubs or bars and watch while you have a drink or two, as you can be more relax, but there is a different ambiance and feeling when you are together with people you know and/or people you don’t know sit at the bar, watch and drink and shout with eyes glued to the television screen ;-)

Hockey is in the heart and the blood of the Canadians. When you have the time, catch a glimpse of the hockey spirit of Canadians when the hockey season is here. So much fun, fun, fun!


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