CANADA is a natural wonder with stunning landscapes, vibrant cities, laid-back people & fantastic food & drink
Capital city: Ottawa
International airports: Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver +
Language: English and French (Quebec)
Time zones: PST (GMT-8), MST (GMT-7), CST (GMT-6), EST (GMT-5) and NST (GMT-4.5)
Emergency services: Dial 911
Currency: Canadian Dollar/CAD/$
passport & visa
A valid passport is required for entry to Canada. A visa is not required for tourism visits of less than 90 days
1 USD: 1.30 CAD
1 GBP: 1.70 CAD
1 EUR: 1.50 CAD
ATMs are readily available in Canada, even in smaller towns. ATMs usually offer the best exchange rate when compared to commercial exchange bureaus and hotels, however your bank may add a surcharge for every withdrawal you make. Banks in Canada are typically open from 8:30am to 5:30pm and closed on statutory holidays.
Major credit cards - Visa, Mastercard and American Express are widely accepted throughout the country. Prior to departure check with your credit or debit card provider regarding foreign exchange transaction fees associated with using your cards in Canada.
Every province has its own combination of GST (government sales tax), PST (provincial sales tax) or HST (harmonised sales tax) that will be added to most purchases in Canada. At present the total rates are:
British Columbia: 12%
New Brunswick: 15%
Newfoundland & Labrador: 15%
Northwest Territories: 5%
Nova Scotia: 5%
Prince Edward Island: 15%
Summer: daytime average 28ºC/82ºF, overnight average 16ºC/60ºF
Winter: daytime average -10ºC/14ºF, overnight average -20ºC/-4ºF
Canada's high season is during summer from June to September when the country see 16 hours of daylight per day and temperatures consistently reach the mid 20's/70's, often 30's/80's.
Canada experiences all four seasons to their fullest. Spring usually arrives in April, the fall colours hit in October and November, and winter peaks from December to March. It is during this time that ski resorts fill and the Northern Lights are at their brightest.
what to pack
- Important documents: passport, drivers license, travel insurance details, emergency contacts, credit cards and local currency (CAD)
- Summer: light loose tops, shorts, skirts and dresses with sneakers, sandals and layers for the evening
- Winter: long pants and tops, wool socks, knitwear and thermals with winter/snow boots and parka coat
- City: comfortable light tops, shorts, long pants, sweaters and cardigans
- Evening: skirts, dresses, shirts, long pants, sandals and shoes
- Practical: activewear, day pack, reusable water bottle, comfortable walking shoes, swimwear, raincoat and umbrella
- Toiletries & medicines: sunscreen, after-sun, insect repellant, aspirin and band-aids
- Electronics: travel adapters and chargers
- For fun: books, magazines, deck of cards, games
The voltage in Canada is 110 Volts. Wall outlets take plugs with two flat prongs (same as U.S.)
- There are no compulsory inoculations for entry to Canada.
- Pack prescription medications in their original containers with pharmacy labels in your carry-on luggage. Also bring along copies of your prescriptions in case you lose your medications or run out.
- Tap water is generally safe to drink in Canada.
- Prepare for activities by wearing the right clothes and packing protective items, such as water, bug spray, sunscreen, and a basic first aid kit.
- Very cold temperatures can be dangerous. Dress in layers and cover heads, hands, and feet properly if you are visiting a cold location.
- Stay alert to changing weather conditions, ask locals, and adjust your plans if conditions become unsafe
- Swim only in designated swimming areas. Obey lifeguards and warning flags on beaches.
- Most animals avoid people, but they may attack if they feel threatened, are protecting their young or territory, or if they are injured or ill. Do not touch or feed animals you do not know.
- Smoking is banned in all pubs and restaurants in Canada.
- Canada has a relatively low crime rate but petty crime is always a risk. Travellers should stay alert for pickpockets and purse-snatchers, particularly around tourist sites, ATMs, in restaurants and on public transit.
- Never leave luggage or valuables unattended in your rental car and always ensure the car is locked when parked.
- Leave cash and credit cards when not needed in the hotel safe and only carry limited cash with you when you venture out for the day.
- Driving in Canada is on the right side of the road with the steering wheel on the left.
- Most cars in Canada are automatic transmission with one gear stick on the right taking you from park to drive and reverse with two foot pedals. The right is gas/acceleration the left is the brake.
- Passing/over-taking is on the left side.
- The speed limit in Canada is posted in km/h. The standard speed limit in towns and cities is 50-60 km/h, and is 80-100km/h on highways.
- Seat belts are compulsory when driving and as a passenger in Canada.
- Stop signs are used to control the flow of traffic. You must come to a complete stop at stop signs. Some stops are two-way, others are all-way. At all-way stops, each driver will pull into the intersection in the order that they reached the sign.
- In most cases it is acceptable to turn right on a red light at traffic lights. There will be a no-right-turn sign if it is prohibited at a light.
food & drink
Canada is not known for its gourmet food, but it is home to some fun and different eats that include Quebec's poutine: peppery meat-based gravy and squeaky curds served on top of fries, Quebec's tourtiere: pie crust filed with ground pork, beef or veal and sprinkled with herbs and spices, peameal bacon: lean pork loin that is brined and rolled in cornmeal, butter tarts: butter, sugar and egg mix served in tart crust, nanaimo bars: tri-layered dessert bar made of crumb mixture, vanilla-flavoured butter icing, and melted chocolate, and of course maple syrup: sweetened maple tree sap that turned into Canada's famous syrup.
The craft beer scene in Canada has been rapidly growing for years, a few noteworthy breweries are Amsterdam, Cameron's and Central City Brewing.
Tipping is expected in hotels, bars and restaurants in Canada. On occasion 15 - 20% will automatically be added to your bill. If not, a similar amount will be expected by your server.
Shops are typically open Monday through Sunday from 9am to 5pm. Most malls open around 10am and close around 9pm. Restaurants serve breakfast, brunch or lunch from 10am to 3pm and dinner from 7pm to 11pm. Most museums open at 10am, close at 5pm. Pubs, bars and clubs generally close around 11/11:30pm unless they have a late license.