TripAdvisor, the largest travel site in the world, boasts more than 435 million reviews and opinions, with close to 300 new contributions posted every minute. TripAdvisor forums see an average of nearly 2,600 new topics posted daily. The scale is staggering.
What do potential travellers to BC want to know? We looked at TripAdvisor’s BC Travel Forum, and chose five burning questions to address. Our answers are below.
What documentation do I require to enter Canada? Do I need a passport?
Documents required to enter Canada are dependent upon your country of origin. Visitors from the US are strongly encouraged to have a valid passport, as this universally accepted travel document simplifies your entry into Canada, and back into the US. Check with Canada Border Services Agency and the Department of Homeland Security for more information.
Visitors from other countries require a valid passport, as well as either a Visa or an Electronic Travel Authorization. Check with Citizenship and Immigration Canada to determine which document you need.
2. Parks Canada
Do I need to pay an entry fee to visit the Canadian Rocky Mountain national parks?
National parks and national historic sites operated by Parks Canada charge an entry fee, with additional fees for camping and various special programs. BC is home to seven national parks and six federally run historic sites. Parks Canada also operates Radium Hot Springs, located in Kootenay National Park.
To mark Canada’s 150th birthday, entry fees will be waived for 2017 (additional fees still apply). Order your Discovery Pass now to take advantage.
3. BC Ferries
Do I need to make a reservation on the ferry?
BC Ferries operates 34 vessels on two dozen routes around the province. The most trafficked routes are between Vancouver Island and Metro Vancouver. In the summer, and around the holidays, these routes and others can get extremely busy. Reservations are highly recommended (note: you must still be at the terminal between 30 and 60 minutes ahead of sailing time). Without a reservation, you may have to spend time in standby, waiting for the next available space.
Inland water crossings in BC are operated by the provincial government. There is no fee, and they run on a first-come, first-served basis.
4. Winter Driving
What do I need to keep in mind about driving in winter?
Winter driving in BC can be unpredictable; snow and ice are commonplace beyond the southwest corner of the province. Most areas outside of Metro Vancouver, the Sunshine Coast, and coastal areas of Vancouver Island require winter tires between October 1st and March 31st.
If you are visiting BC and renting a car, it’s a good idea to request a vehicle with winter tires (Vancouver and Victoria boast milder temperatures, and are exceptions). Current road conditions are available at Drive BC.
5. Road Trips
I am driving to Banff/Calgary/the Rockies. Which way should I go?
What is the best way to go from Seattle to Victoria to Vancouver?
Two of the most popular driving routes in BC are between Vancouver and the Rocky Mountains, and between Vancouver and Victoria. And with both routes, there are options.
Vancouver to the Canadian Rockies
The two primary routes between Vancouver and Calgary are along Highway 1, the Trans-Canada Highway, and along Highway 3, the Crowsnest Highway. Both have their selling features. Highway 1 takes you through four national parks, including Yoho National Park, with its rugged peaks and powerful waterfalls, and Alberta’s renowned Banff National Park. Highway 3 snakes along the BC/US border. Highlights along this route include Manning Provincial Park, an all-season destination for adventurers.
Seattle to Victoria to Vancouver
Three ferry companies operate between Washington State and the Victoria area. The most direct of these is the Victoria Clipper, a high-speed, passenger-only ferry that docks right in Victoria’s Inner Harbour. Another option is to arrive by air. Take a floatplane directly into the Inner Harbour, or jet into the Victoria International Airport, 30 minutes from downtown.
If you’d rather visit Vancouver and then Victoria, the drive from Seattle is about three hours. There are also buses that make the trip, including Quick Shuttle and BoltBus. Or opt for a leisurely rail journey with Amtrak.
Travel between Victoria and Vancouver requires some hard choices, too. Drive or take a bus onto a BC Ferries vessel for a scenic, 95-minute sail across the Strait of Georgia. Alternatively, make a day of it aboard a whale-watching boat that has the inside scoop on where to find Orcas, humpbacks, and other marine life en route to downtown Victoria.
However you make the trip, the journey is a big part of the experience.
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