Vancouver is the perfect blend of urban metropolis and natural beauty. There are so many things to do in Vancouver, it is no wonder Vancouver is one of the most expensive places in the world to live. From downtown Vancouver, you will see beautiful oceanside beaches, lush rainforest and huge glacier mountains.

Vancouver BC is one of the greenest cities in the world. Vancouver city planners have set a huge priority of keeping this bustling city in touch with nature and you will find many forests right in the middle of town. This Pacific Northwest City receives a ton of rain, on average 192 days of rainfall a year. Luckily, there are tons of things to do in Vancouver even when it rains.

Vancouver is the perfect city for outdoorsy people who love living life. This list of the best things to do in Vancouver includes both downtown city-life hotspots and adventurous heart-pumping activities. Grab a cold beer and read about all the fun things to do in Vancouver for your next trip.

1. Do a Vancouver city tour

Downtown Vancouver has so many epic sites all within a relatively small distance. The city is flat enough to be walkable but is fairly spread out. It is full of bike lanes and is a great area to bike around. There is also a good amount of public transportation with the Skytrain, buses, and aqua buses making it so getting around is quite easy. One of the best things to do in Vancouver, whether you’re visiting for the first time or coming in from the suburbs, is to act like a tourist and sightsee this beautiful city.

 Just some of the top sights in downtown Vancouver include: Stanley Park, Olympic Village (Vancouver hosted the 2010 Olympics), Granville Island, Robson Street, Gastown, Chinatown, and English Bay… to name a few!

This Vancouver grand tour bike tour is one of the best ways to see the city. You will pass by all the major sites including Olympic Village, Gastown, Chinatown, Stanley Park, and more. The 5 hour tour costs $116.55 CAD ($87.10 USD) per person and includes your tour guide and all biking gear. If the tour sounds good but you’d be more comfortable on an e-bike, you can upgrade for $35 CAD ($25 USD) extra. You will stop at Granville Island for lunch at your own expense.

If you’d rather drive than walk, this Vancouver sightseeing tour is about 3.5 hours and will take you past all the major city sites. Costing $72.45 CAD ($54.14 USD) per person, this tour includes hotel or port pick up. You will get a drive-by view of many of the top sights in Vancouver and then have the opportunity to get out and take photos at both Granville Island and Stanley Park.

2. Bike the seawall at Stanley Park

Stanley Park is one of the most famous areas in Vancouver. The perfect balance of nature mixed into the urban setting, Stanley park is an impressive 1000 acre urban forest almost completely surrounded by the ocean. Taking in the city views while submerged in the Stanley Park forest is one of the best things to do in Vancouver.

Stanley Park in downtown Vancouver, Canada is one of the best things to do in Vancouver. You can bike the seawall, visit the totem poles, take in the city views and so much more at Stanley Park.

The park is full of many intricate forest trails. Some lead to lakes, beaches, and even the Lost Lagoon. If you’d prefer to stay along the ocean you can enjoy the paved 10km Stanley Park Seawall. Walk, rollerblade or bike the seawall and bring your camera as you are sure to see some great sights.

One of the best ways to see Stanley Park is by bike. There are so many trails it can be hard to see in one day. If you didn’t bring your bike this Stanley Park Bike Tour comes with a bike to use.

Downtown Vancouver waterfront
View of Vancouver BC from the Stanly Park Seawall

Some of the top things to do in Stanley Park include:

  • Stanley Park Seawall
  • Prospect Point
  • Stanley Park totem poles
  • Stanley Park waterparks, playgrounds and railway

Stanley Park is also home to the Vancouver Aquarium. We do not support animals being held in captivity and we recommend this is avoided. Read more about heartbreaking things you should avoid when travelling.

3. Enjoy a shopping day at Granville Island Public Market

Located across the inlet from downtown Vancouver you will find the iconic Granville Island. Surprisingly this is not an island but rather a peninsula stretching into False Creek. Famous for the Granville Island public market, this is a great place to buy some fresh seafood and locally made arts and crafts.

Families will love the Granville Island Kids Market where you will find a child’s paradise. Inside you will find many different toy stores. Older kids will love the Granville Island arcade and the bumper cars. Younger kids will want to spend their whole day at the massive multi level Granville Island playground.

While the kids play you can enjoy the Beanstalk Bistro and grab a bubble tea or some chicken strips to keep the family happy. If you visit in the summer months, there is also the Granville Island Waterpark located not too far from the Kids Market.

Granville Island is extremely walkable so consider parking near Granville Island and taking the charming and dog-friendly Aquabus. This water bus departs from many different ports throughout the inlet. Taking the Aquabus through the inlet to Granville Island is easily one of the top things to do in Vancouver.

Vancouver BC downtown core is stunning. BC place and many other iconic Vancouver sights can be seen from Vancouvers waterfront.

You will be happy you didn’t bring your car once you visit the Granville Island Brewing Company and taste some local craft beer. If you do decide to drive, note that all parking in the area is paid. You can easily spend the day here with many Granville Island restaurants to choose from as well as some cafes and fast food options. 

This VIP Granville Island Market tour is a great way to learn about the area’s history while trying all the delicious food it is so known for. You will taste about 20 different foods while you walk through the area, costing $129.29 CAD ($96.62 USD) per person.

Some of the top things to do in Granville Island include:

  • Taste the fresh produce from Granville Island Market
  • Visit Granville Island Brewery
  • Take in a show at the Granville Island Theatre
  • Take the family to enjoy the Granville Island Kids Market

Heading for a roadtrip to Kelowna? Check out our favourite Kelowna breweries!

4. Walk one of the most famous Vancouver Neighbourhoods: GasTown

GasTown is a cute Vancouver neighbourhood that features old Victorian architecture and eclectic artsy vibes. Located a short walk east of Canada Place, you will know you are in the right area as the pavement is traded for quaint cobblestone streets. 

Gastown BC is located just off the water making this picturesque Vancouver city that much more appealing. One of the best ways to start off a trip to this neighbourhood is to stop at one of the cute Gastown coffee shops.

Both Milano Espresso Lounge and Timbertrain Coffee Roasters are great options for your morning coffee. One of the top things to do in Vancouver is to enjoy some Gastown Vancouver restaurants such as The Birds & The Beets.

One of the best things to do in Gastown is to EAT! It doesn’t get much better than this Gastown walking food tour gives you a full rundown of the area’s history while showcasing some of the best food in the city. The tour costs $124.95 CAD ($93.37 USD) per person and includes 7 food tastings and 3 alcohol tastings while passing through the iconic sites of the area.

Nestled into the heart of downtown, a trip to Gastown is one of the best things to do in Vancouver, especially if you’re short on time. A trip to the Gastown Steam Clock should be at the top of your list. Every 15 minutes it emits steam with an hourly show of whistles and steam. Ironically, this steam clock is actually electric now but still emits steam for historic appeal.

One of the most interesting ways to see this area is by taking a Vancouver Lost Souls of Gastown Walking Tour. This is an hour and a half walk through the famous Vancouver area that includes 5 stops showcasing Gastown’s storied history.

Gastown is known to locals as being home to some of the best restaurants and pubs in Vancouver. This is an area you will want to do a pub crawl. Whether you are looking for high end restaurants or a beer chugging Vancouver Irish pub, you’ll find it all. If you’re looking for great family restaurants in Vancouver Gas Town is home to the Old Spaghetti Factory where you can have your dinner served inside an old train car.

Some of the top things to do in Gastown include:

  • Visit the Gastown steam clock
  • Grab a cold beer from one of the many Gastown Pubs
  • Marvel at the old architecture as you walk down cobblestone streets

5. Visit Grouse Mountain in North Vancouver

One of the best hikes in North Vancouver is the Grouse Grind trail on Grouse Mountain. Heading to North Vancouver you will find this urban mountain hiking trail. The Grouse Grind is a gruelling 2,830 stair climb that will take you 800 metres up the mountain for this vertical hike. 

Looking to beat the crowd? Head to the lesser known BCMC trail. This Grouse Mountain trail has the same starting point as the Grind but has much fewer stairs and instead just has the hill up.

Notes about the hike:

  • Grouse Grind elevation gain is 800 metres (2,625 feet)
  • You cannot hike down the mountain. You will need to bring $20 to pay for the Grouse Grind Gondola to take you back down the mountain. 

For those looking for a ride to the top, there is the option of taking the Grouse gondola. This easily transports you from the parking lot and runs up to the village. Once on Grouse Mountain, you can go mountain biking, try a treetop obstacle course and even visit some Grizzly bears at the wildlife refuge.

If you are looking for the best things to do in Vancouver in the winter, the most popular activity here is downhill skiing and snowboarding. There is also a network of cross-country trails. Bring some ice skates and try out the mountain’s 8,000 sqft skating pond. There is a rental shop on the mountain that offers ski, snowboard, skates and snowshoes for rent.  

If you’re wanting to see a couple top sites in North Vancouver, this Capilano Suspension Bridge & Grouse Mountain combo tour is a great way to do so. This full day tour costs $227.90 CAD ($170.31 USD) and includes transportation from Vancouver hotels, entrance fees to Capilano Suspension Bridge, and a roundtrip ride up the Grouse Gondola.

Some of the top things to do in Grouse Mountain include:

  • Go skiing or snowboarding in the winter months
  • Take in the sights as you ride the Grouse Mountain Gondola
  • Visit the rescued grizzly bears at the Grouse Mountain Wildlife Refuge
  • Get your heart pumping at Grouse Mountain’s zip lines or mountain ropes adventure courses

6. Cross a Vancouver suspension bridge

There are a few different suspension bridges in the Vancouver area. These hanging bridges sweep across valleys and have you suspended in the air walking amongst the top of the trees. Vancouver’s rainforest is one of the greatest draws to the city so getting an aerial view of the forest is one of the best things to do in Vancouver. There are two beautiful suspension bridges, both are great things to do in North Vancouver.

North Vancouver is home to Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge. One of the best things to do in Kelowna is visit the Lynn Valley Suspension Bridge.

Lynn Valley Suspension Bridge is one of the most popular suspension bridges in Vancouver. One of the best FREE things to do in Vancouver, you can easily spend your whole day here. Located in North Vancouver, this Vancouver suspension bridge swings 160 feet (50m) over the Lynn Canyon.

The Lynn Canyon Park is an impressive 617 acres in size offering numerous hiking trails, lakes and crystal clear river access points to swim in. We recommend a trip through the Lynn Canyon trails to Twin Falls where you will find a less busy swimming hole to explore. Entry into the park is completely free but you will have to pay for parking ($3/hr) if visiting between March and October.

Capilano Suspension Bridge is located not far away from Lynn Canyon, also in North Vancouver. This park has a few different attractions including the walk amongst the treetops at Capilano Suspension Bridge Park. This is a network of bridges from treetop to treetop and a thrilling cliff walk and of course, the suspension bridges that sit 230 feet (70m) above the Capilano River. 

Buy your Capilano Suspension Bridge tickets ahead of time online to save a few dollars as entry fees are around $65CAD. While entrance fees are high, you can trust that you will have a great time in this treetop adventure. After all, it’s one of the top things to do in Vancouver.

If you are a resident of BC, your one-time ticket will allow you a full year of access to the park.

If you don’t have a car, there is the Capilano Suspension Bridge shuttle that picks you up from downtown Vancouver and brings you to the suspension bridge. The Capilano Canyon lights operate between November and January and are one of the best times to visit.

If you’re looking for an unforgettable experience, book this seaplane and Capilano Suspension bridge combo tour. For $184 CAD ($139 USD) you can fly above Vancouver’s harbor taking in the stunning sights in the area. Once you’re done with the birds-eye view of the city, you can submerge yourself in the treetops at Capilano Suspension Bridge. This tour includes the $63 CAD ($47 USD) entrance fee and transportation to Capilano Suspension Bridge, making it a great deal.

Sea to sky peak suspension bridge

Another less well-known Vancouver suspension bridge is at the top of the Sea-to-Sky Gondola called the Sky Pilot Suspension Bridge. Offering gorgeous views of the Howe Sound area, this is another beautiful way to get your thrill walking above the rainforest. 

7. Take a cable car up the Sea-To-Sky Gondola

If you are looking for adventurous things to do in Vancouver, head towards Squamish along the Sea to Sky Highway. The Sea to Sky Summit offers some of the best views of the Howe Sound and the Lower Mainland. The Sea To Sky Gondola up the mountain has large floor-to-ceiling windows which will leave you feeling like you’re flying above the treetops. En route up the mountain, you will have a unique view of the nearby Shannon Falls and the infamous Stawamus Chief.

Sea to Sky Gondola Hours

Sunday – Thursday: 9 am-6 pm

Friday & Saturday: 9 am-8 pm

Sea to Sky Gondola Prices

Adults: Weekday: $62.95, Weekend: $65.95

Kids (6-12yrs): Weekday: $24.95, Weekend: $27.95

Youth (13-18yrs): Weekday: $37.95, Weekend: $40.95

Families (2 adults, 2 child/youth): Weekday: $143.95, Weekend: $148.95 

* Children under 5 are free. Discounted prices are available for seniors and online purchasers.

If you’re looking for a heart-pumping hike, you can take the Sea to Sky Summit Trail which will have you trekking 6.5km up the mountain. This is an intense hike with the first half of the trail being the steepest part. With a 918 metre elevation gain up this trail, you can expect to pass by the Stawamus Chief Trail and Shannon Falls.

While this hike is dog friendly, it is not an easy hike so make sure your dog can handle the trek. Dogs are not allowed up the gondola but they are allowed to ride down ($20 ride down fee – dogs are free).

Once you reach the top of the mountain, you will be met with stunning views of the entire Howe Sound area. This area is best visited in the summer months when you can fully explore the many walking trails at the top of the mountain. There is a restaurant and cafe at the top of the mountain along with a large suspension bridge. In the summer months, you can even enjoy live music and a bbq on Friday nights. 

Adventure seekers will want to try out the Squamish Via Ferrata located at this mountain peak. Try your hand at some great mountain climbing where you will get harnessed in to climb steep rock surfaces and climb across narrow bridges. Steel rungs have been put into the mountain making this more accessible and safe for families and inexperienced mountain climbers.

Some of the top things to do at the Sea-To-Sky Summit include:

  • Take in the sights riding the Sea to Sky gondola up the mountain
  • Walk the Sea to Sky suspension bridge
  • Hike through the outback
  • Sip coffee with unbelievable views

8. Head to a Vancouver Beach

Vancouver is home to some of the best beaches in a big city. Being almost completely surrounded by water, enjoying the many beaches in the city is one of the top things to do in Vancouver. The area south of Stanley Park is lined with sandy beaches and cold Pacific waters.

English Bay Beach

One of the best places to catch the sunset in the whole city is English Bay Beach. You can sit here for hours watching the waves crash against the long white sandy beach. Nestled right beside Stanley Park, the seawall actually runs right past this beach. Centrally located in Vancouver’s thriving West End, this Vancouver BC beach is notoriously busy, especially on sunny afternoons. Arrive early, or stop by for the sunset, to ensure you get a good spot on the beach for some Vancouver beach swimming

English Bay in Vancouver is one of the most popular beaches in BC. The Inukshuk is a staple of the beach showcasing the Indigenous rights to the Vancouver land.

Kitsilano Beach

Kitsilano Beach in Vancouver is one of the best beaches in the city. This is a great place for fun summertime sports with its volleyball, basketball and tennis courts. If the ocean is too cold for you, take a soak in the outdoor saltwater pool. There is even a specially dedicated dog off-leash area on the beach. (YES! This is a dog friendly beach in Vancouver!) Centrally located you can plan to head to one of the nearby Vancouver beach restaurants or cafes after you’re done at the beach. 

Second Beach

One of the best family-friendly beach in Vancouver, Second Beach offers fun for the whole family. The large outdoor heated swimming pool makes it so you don’t even have to brave cold ocean temperatures to cool down from the heat.

With two parks at this beach, kids are sure to be entertained. For the best family-friendly things to do in Vancouver on a hot summer evening, check out the summer outdoor theatre located in Stanley Park. 

If you are looking for the best beaches in Vancouver, Stanley Park has some great options. Third beach has a beautiful sandy shoreline that leads to a rocky coastline.

Third Beach

This quiet beach in Vancouver offers the tranquillity you wouldn’t expect from a downtown Vancouver beach. One of the best Stanley Park beaches for escaping the crowds, this is a great place to go to relax.

Jericho Beach

If you are looking for more of an upscale beach with stunning views of the city, this is the one for you. Get beautiful downtown views across the ocean as you lay on the white sandy beach of Vancouver. Home to both the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club and the Jericho Tennis Club, this is a fairly busy beach that hosts tons of regulars. If you are looking to get out onto the ocean in Vancouver, water sports lessons and rentals are offered at the Jericho Sailing Centre.  

Wreck Beach

Wreck Beach Vancouver is for those looking to push past their comfort zone. If you’re looking for unique (aka risky) things to do in Vancouver, this is certainly that!  Wreck Beach is Vancouver’s only nude beach. This Vancouver beach is clothing optional but takes a fair amount of effort to get to.

Located on the coastline at UBC, about a half hour’s drive from downtown Vancouver, you will find parking on what seems like the side of the road. Hundreds of stairs down this cliff (literally, about 500 steps) you’ll be at the topless beach.

9. Paddleboard through False Creek

With recent popularity surrounding stand up paddle boarding, more and more people are getting into this watersport. False Creek is a very popular area of downtown Vancouver. This is especially picturesque at dusk when you can catch the sunset in Vancouver. 

False Creek is an inlet meaning the waters are well protected and you won’t be fighting large ocean waves and strong currents. Kayaking and paddleboarding in this area can be done year-round making this a great activity, no matter when you’re heading to the city.

This is one of the best things to do in Vancouver because it gives you unbeatable views of the most popular sights in Vancouver. Paddle past Science World giving you a great view of this Vancouver landmark. You can stop in on your way past Granville Island to grab a snack. Expect to see a lot of birds in the Vancouver inlet as well as potentially some harbor seals.

There are a couple of places you can rent a paddleboard in Vancouver if you don’t have your own. The most popular place to rent from is in Olympic Village: Creekside Kayaks. If you are in Granville Island, Vancouver Water Adventures offers kayaks and paddle boards to rent. 

10. Go on a Brewery Tour in East Vancouver

With more than 40 breweries in Vancouver (and more than 75 in the metro area), it is clear drinking beer is one of the most popular things to do in Vancouver. Brewery tours, much like winery tours, mean you stop at many different spots to sample their beer.

We like to get beer flights when we brewery hop in Vancouver so that we can sample a few different beers from each brewery.

The brewing district in Vancouver has some of the best craft beer in BC. East Van brewery has some of the best micro brewed beer you can have.

This behind the scenes brewery tour gives you VIP tours through 3 different local craft breweries. The tour costs $110 CAD ($82.20 USD) and will meet downtown Vancouver and provide transportation between the breweries, samples at each brewery and a souvenir beer glass.

Craft breweries in Vancouver are super popular! It seems like every month a new Vancouver brewery is opening up. You may be wondering what the best breweries in Vancouver are.

  • One of our favourites is East Van Brewing Company, especially if visiting during happy hour between 3-6 pm where you can get a 4 beer flight for only $6!
  • Strange Fellows Brewing is another great Vancouver brewery that we love for one main reason: their sours!
  • We also recommend 33 Acres Brewing.

 Really, you can’t go wrong with any breweries in Vancouver, they’re all delicious!

11. Take the family to Science World

Science World in Vancouver is famously known for its large globe shape that sits right in the Vancouver harbour. Science World is an area with a lot of nostalgia for locals having been built in 1977, it is a trademark of the city’s skyline. Easily one of the best things to do in Vancouver for families, a trip to Science World is the best way to make learning fun.

Inside Science World you will find a bunch of great family friendly (but fun for adults too) interactive demonstrations. Individual science related experiments are set up throughout the building to allow kids to interactively learn and explore the world of science. Science World often features different large temporary exhibits that are more geared towards adults here such as the Body exhibit. For the rest of 2022, they have a dinosaur exhibit called T-Rex: The Ultimate Predator. There is also an OMNIMAX theatre on site.

12. Go on a Whale Watching Tour

One of the main draws to Vancouver is its coastal location alongside the Pacific Ocean. One of the best things to do in Vancouver for ocean lovers is to go whale watching. Vancouver waters are packed with marine life – they’re just too cold to be explored as easily as in tropical destinations. The best way to get up close with animal interactions is to visit them in their natural habitat and witness their activities.

Whale watching in Vancouver will have you seeing a ton of sea life. Seals, sea lions, river otters, orcas and even the occasional humpback whales are all commonly seen on Vancouver whale watching tours. While not as common, there is a chance that you may even see grey whales, porpoises or dolphins.

There are many companies that offer whale watching tours in Vancouver. We recommend this half-day whale watching tour from Vancouver is $199 CAD ($151 USD) and guarantees you will see whales – or you can get on another tour! 

Be sure to dress warmly as you will spend a good amount of time on these windy waters (3-5 hours) and run a good chance of getting sprayed by water.

The best time to see whales in Vancouver waters is in the warmer months, April through October. While killer whales are common in these waters, humpback whales are more commonly seen en route migrating north to Alaska. The best time for humpback whale sightings is in the spring and fall months.  

13. Try Sea Kayaking in Deep Cove

Deep Cove in North Vancouver is one of the most beautiful areas in BC. You can easily spend the day in this part of town. Kayaking in Deep Cove is one of the most popular areas in all of Vancouver.

Departing from Deep Cove beach you will take your kayak and head north up the Indian Arm. One of the most beautiful things to do in Vancouver, you can expect panoramic mountain views as you paddle your way up the Indian Arm.

If you don’t have your own kayak, Deep Cove Kayak rentals is right on the water for convenience.

There is a good chance you will see some great wildlife on your paddle. The waters here are packed with lots of marine life including starfish, jellyfish and salmon. It is very common to see seals in Deep Cove as well. If you paddle along the shore, you may even get lucky enough to see bald eagles, bears and other wildlife.

There are so many things to do in Deep Cove. The Quarry Rock hiking trail is one of Vancouver’s most popular hikes. Deep Cove hiking trails will not disappoint. Head to Baden Powell Trail where you will find a network of trails that weave up Burrard Inlet.

This seaside town has great restaurants, quaint cafes and the beautiful Deep Cove park beach. The beach is small but great for swimming and the large grass area has a park that is great for kids.

Deep Cove brewing in North Vancouver is some of the best BC craft beer. One of the best things to do in Vancouver is go ocean kayaking in Deep Cove.

If you are travelling over New Years, Deep Cove is famous for its January 1st polar bear swim where thousands of locals take the plunge into the cold ocean waters.

Some of the top things to do in Deep Cove include:

  • Hike Quarry Rock in Deep Cove
  • Grab a cold craft beer from Deep Cove Brewery
  • Have a picnic at Deep Cove Park

14. Make a splash at Cultus Lake Waterpark

If you are out of things to do in Vancouver, head to Cultus Lake. This area is a relaxing lakeside resort town in Vancouver’s suburb of Chilliwack. A 100kms from downtown Vancouver, you will need a car to visit this area. Worth the trip, Cultus Lake in BC is a vacation destination of its own. Here you can find the best waterpark in BC, an amusement park, great hiking trails, a large lake and awesome camping.

Cultus Lake Waterpark is the biggest in the area with tons of rides ranging in difficulty. Young kids will love splashing in the Family Spray Park, Pirates Cove and the Tots Castle. Thrill seekers of any age will love swirling down the Bazooka Bowls, the Cultus Lake Valley of Fear or the 72’ vertical drop in the Freefall ride.

 If you are looking to stay dry, a quick walk across the street will get you to the Cultus Lake Adventure Park. Weave through the trees on thrilling roller coasters, get an aerial view in the park’s Cloud Buster or take a ride on the Wave Swinger. The area also has a mini golf course. Adults will also appreciate The Cultus Lake Golf Club.

Cultus Lake itself is a big beautiful lake with surprisingly warm water you will want to jump right in. There is a main Cultus Lake beach that sits at the provincial park as well as many smaller beaches that run along the edge of the lake.

With multiple campgrounds on the water and many resort-style villas offering AirBNBs, there are tons of places to stay overnight in the area. One of the most popular family friendly hikes in the area is Teapot Hill where, just as the name describes, you will walk through the forest greeted by teapots along the way. 

Some of the top things to do in Cultus Lake include:

  • Make a splash at the Cultus Lake Waterpark
  • Book at one of the Cultus Lake campsites and enjoy a weekend in the woods
  • Take a ride at the Cultus Lake amusement park

15. Ride the Seabus to North Vancouver and visit the Lonsdale Quay

A short 12 minute ride on Vancouver’s SeaBus will transport you across the ocean from Vancouver’s downtown core to North Vancouver. Departing from downtown’s Waterfront station, the SeaBus Vancouver will float you across the Burrard Inlet and drop you right in the Lonsdale Quay. While the Lonsdale Quay has a lot to offer, a ride on the SeaBus is one of the best things to do in Vancouver in its own right. Make sure to have your camera ready.

The Lonsdale Quay Market offers great food, farm fresh local food markets and boutique style shopping. Here you will find food, clothing, jewellery, hand-carved wood, wine, handmade crafts and more. If you find yourself here on a sunny day, stroll through the nearby Waterfront Park or Victoria Park or take the family to the Shipyards Splash Park.

The North Vancouver SeaBus runs from 6 am to 1 am Monday to Saturday and 8 am to 11 pm on Sundays and holidays. SeaBus fares are also reasonable making this a fun thing to do in Vancouver. This also makes staying in North Vancouver a great option while not having to compromise the big city vibes.

North Vancouver Lonsdale Quay is home to delicious Vancouver restaurants, handmad shops and a fun waterpark for kids.
North Vancouver Lonsdale Quay shopping. best things to do in North Vancouver.

Some of the top things to do in the Lonsdale Quay include:

  • Shop at the Lonsdale Quay Market
  • Take the family to splash in Shipyards Splash Park
  • Enjoy the city views from the pier

16. Drive the Sea-To-Sky Highway

The stretch of highway (Highway 99) between West Vancouver and Whistler is known to locals as the Sea-to-Sky Highway. Driving along this stretch of Vancouver is a trip on its own where you can expect stunning views, rocky coastal beaches, gorgeous waterfalls and mountainous hiking trails. The road is narrow and windy and is frequented by supercars looking to test out performance.

If you are looking for the best outdoorsy things to do in Vancouver, this road will take you to some of the best hikes in the city. Along the route, a popular stopping point is at Whytecliff Park, a beachfront area frequented by scuba divers and offering unbeatable views of the Howe Sound.

Further up the road you will find the Britannia Mine Museum which can be seen from the highway. Formerly a large copper mine, taking a tour through the mine can be a lot of fun for the whole family.

The town of Squamish is small with a definitive hippie-vibe. A hub for outdoor enthusiasts, you will find tons of rock climbers and mountain bikers living in this city.

The Shannon Falls are some of the most popular waterfalls in the area stretching an impressive 1,100 feet (334 metres) into the air. Not far from the falls you can take a gondola ride up to the Sea-to-Sky Summit and get an aerial view of the area. This area is famous for the Squamish Chief, a 6km loop hike that leads you through the forest and scales you up the mountainside.

Hands down the best way to see this road is with a Sea to Sky exotic driving experience! Myles is a car guy and his dream is to take a Lamborghini or Ferrari down this road. The cost varies on the number of people in your booking and includes fuel and hotel pick up. You will get the chance to drive multiple exotic cars.

Some of the top things to do on the Sea to Sky highway include:

  • Hike the Squamish Chief
  • Have a picnic on the ocean at Whytecliff Park
  • Check out Shannon Falls in Squamish

17. Visit the Lighthouse Park

This 185 acre park is located on the coast of West Vancouver. Made up of a network of some of the best Vancouver hiking trails that take you around the park, Lighthouse Park is a place for the whole family. Pack a picnic and head to this coastal park. If you are looking for some things to do in Vancouver in the forest, this is a great place to spend the afternoon. 

The main draw to Lighthouse Park is the historic lighthouse that sits on the rocky shoreline. A protected area, you will see some beautiful old growth trees sitting in this forest. There are tons of picnic areas and ideal spots on the rocks to have a picnic with a view.

18. Go snorkeling or scuba diving

After getting PADI scuba diving certified in Thailand in 2017, there are few things we love more than jumping in the water and exploring marine life. While Vancouver doesn’t have the same warm tropical waters that may come to mind when thinking of going snorkeling or scuba diving, the waters are packed with life such as seals, octopus, eels, and impressive reefs.

If you are wanting to go scuba diving, this Vancouver scuba diving tour costs $139.95 CAD ($104.58 USD)  and is a great way to get into these beautiful waters.

If you’re not convinced about scuba diving, you may prefer to snorkel. This half day snorkel, kayak, and seal adventure is a great way to explore the coastal waters. You will get up close and personal with seals as you jump in the water and snorkel alongside them.  The tour costs $99.95 CAD ($74.69 USD) and is a great way to spend your afternoon.

19. Take a trip to the Tri-Cities

One of the best things to do in Vancouver is to check out the many neighbouring cities that make up the Greater Vancouver Area. Three cities make up an area known to locals as “the tri cities” including Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam and Port Moody.

This is a great area to visit for those who like to mix a whole lot of outdoors into their urban lifestyle. A fast growing area of metro Vancouver, the tri cities are designed to be a part of the forest instead of demolishing it. This makes the area especially green and allows a very dense population of wildlife (such as coyotes, deer, raccoons, bears, cougars, etc) to co-exist with the people here.

Port Moody

Port Moody is a city that wraps around the Burrard Inlet. Known for its artsy vibes, this thriving city offers the perfect balance between beachfront bliss and urban busyness.

Newport Village is packed with restaurants and markets making it a great place to get some lunch. Or you can grab fresh ingredients for a picnic on the ocean in nearby Rocky Point Park.If you’d prefer to dip into freshwater or looking for a good hike, head up into the mountains where you will find two beautiful wilderness lakes: Buntzen Lake and White Pine.

Freckles and Samara at the dog beach at Buntzen Lake

Rocky Point is Port Moody’s shining star. With gorgeous trails that weave along the water, a kids playground and splash park, an outdoor pool and a skateboard park there is guaranteed fun for the whole family.

There are also lots of places to get replenishments. A lively string of Port Moody breweries lines the street across from the park, one of the best being Yellowdog Brewing. This Port Moody brewery offers parkside views and a lively upbeat vibe.

In the summer months, Rocky Point Ice Cream Parlour opens up and is the place to be. There are also food trucks serving fish and chips in the Rocky Point park. There is also a watersports rental offered here for those looking to kayak in the Burrard inlet.


Coquitlam, located just beside Port Moody, is the largest of the 3 cities. This outdoor playground offers lots in terms of hiking trails, lakes and waterfalls. Minnekhada Regional Park in Coquitlam is one of the most serene and beautiful places in the city to go for a hike in Vancouver

Coquitlam parks are plentiful and can be found around every corner in this family friendly city. If you are looking for a great area for kids, head to either Mundy Park or the bigger Town Centre Park. These areas are especially big during festive seasons such as Christmas, Halloween and July 1st (Canada Day) where there are often fireworks shows.

Town Centre Park in Coquitlam is home to the beautiful Lafarge Lake. When exploring this Coquitlam park, be sure to keep a look out for some resident beavers that roam the area. 

Port Coquitlam

Port Coquitlam is the runt of the three with significantly less wilderness to offer. One of the best things to do in this city is to walk along the Fraser River boardwalk. The Traboulay PoCo Trail has many access points, our favourite being at the DeBoville Slough Trailhead. There is tons of wildlife in the area so make sure to bring a bell. 

Some of the top things to do in the Tri Cities include:

  • Go for a hike at Minnekhada Regional Park
  • Spend the day at Rocky Point Park
  • Spend the day at Buntzen Lake beach

20. Go on a walk through Yaletown

Yaletown is one of the most famous areas of Vancouver. Known for the best restaurants in Vancouver, hip Yaletown bars and a young lively atmosphere. If you are looking for things to do in Vancouver that revel in city life, be sure to visit Yaletown.

Walking the False Creek boardwalk in Yaletown is a great way to get fit and enjoy some stunning views. Walk this picturesque stretch and pass many cafes and coffee stands along the way. You will pass large grassy parks with playgrounds for the kids. Be sure to keep a lookout over the water where you may even spot some marine life.

Yaletown itself has a buzz of its own. With many great restaurants and pubs, this is a great area to find a patio to hang out. Yaletown happy hour is the place to be. If you find yourself in Yaletown between 2-6 pm-ish, be sure to check in at the many restaurants offering great happy hour deals. There are also lots of boutique-style shopping in this area. 

Some of the top things to do in Yaletown include:

  • Eating at one of the best Yaletown restaurants
  • Grab a beer at one of the Yaletown Breweries
  • Enjoy the ocean views along the False Creek boardwalk

21. Spend the day (and night) in Langley

If you are looking for some fun things to do in Vancouvers suburbs, head about 45km east from downtown Vancouver to Langley. The city itself is on the rise with large developments turning this once rural farm town into an urban hub. 

Nestled up to the Fraser River you will find the quaint historic trading village of Fort Langley. A former fur trading hub for Hudson Bay Company, you can now take walking tours through the fort and explore all the history in the area.

Fort Langley is packed full of cafes, boutique shops and breweries. With an expansive trail system that walks along the river and networks up into the fields of Langley, there is tons to do around here. There’s even an off-leash dog park in the area.

If you’re hungry, a visit to the Langley Olive Garden is a must do – in fact it is the only Olive Garden in BC. 

The Twilight Drive In Theatre in Langley is one of the best summer things to do in Vancouver. Pack some snacks, or head to the concession, and get cozy enjoying the double features playing at the drive-in movie. The drive in theatre is pet friendly making this a great summer night for the whole family.   

You know what else the Fraser Valley is known for? Wine! Taking a Fraser Valley wine tour will have you visiting 4 wineries in the lower mainland. The tour lasts 6 hours and costs $165 CAD ($123.30 USD) per person and includes all wine tastings, a wine tour, lunch, and round trip transportation from Vancouver.

Some of the top things to do in Langley BC include:

  • Having dinner at one of the restaurants in Fort Langley
  • Catch a movie at the Twilight Drive In Theatre
  • Go on a hike through the trails in Fort Langley

22. Day trip to Whistler

We may have saved the best things to do in Vancouver for last. Whistler is Vancouver’s secret gem of a mountain town. To get to Whistler from downtown Vancouver, you will first need to cross the Lion’s Gate Bridge into West Vancouver and then jump on the Sea to Sky Highway. For those who don’t have a car, the Whistler shuttle bus takes you from either Vancouver Airport or downtown Vancouver to Whistler.

Riding the Peak 2 Peak Gondola is one of the best things to do in Whistler. A glass bottomed gondola spanning between Whistler and Blackcomb mountains delivers epic views.

Whistler BC is one of the top vacation spots in BC. Visiting Whistler Village is one of the best things to do in Vancouver.

Whistler Village offers tons of great boutique style shopping, restaurants and a lively mountain village vibe. If you are visiting Whistler in the winter, you will want to make sure you bring your skis and snowboard along. Whistler Blackcomb ski hills are some of the best in the province (if not the whole world).

If you are enjoying summer in Whistler, the ski hills turn into some of the best mountain biking trails in Vancouver.

For $199 CAD ($150 USD) you can take this daytrip tour through Whistler, BC. This guided tour will pick you up from your downtown Vancouver hotel and take you past Stanley Park and wind you up the Sea-to-Sky highway towards Whistler. You will take a breif stop at Shannon Falls to stretch your legs and take in the stunning views of the waterfall. You will then be taken to Whistler where you will have lots of free-time to explore Whistler Village, ride the peak-2-peak gondola or take to the slopes.

Some of the top things to do in Whistler include:

  • Take in the sights as you ride the Peak 2 Peak Gondola
  • Shop in Whistler Village
  • Go skiing or snowboarding down Whistler or Blackcomb mountains
  • Get your heart pumping by zip lining or bungee jumping in Whistler

23. Relax at the Scandinave Spa

One of the most relaxing things to do in Vancouver hands down is a trip to the Scandinave Spa Whistler. This is a meditative retreat that has a natural feel built into the mountainside. You will be soaking in hot baths, sitting in saunas and steam rooms and then plunging into ice cold pools right after. Visiting the Scandinave Spa in Winter is one of the best romantic things to do in Vancouver.

Heading to Kelowna? Read about the top romantic date ideas in Kelowna

24. FlyOver Canada at Canada Place

We visited FlyOver Canada a couple years ago and I still sing its praises to whoever will listen! We went in without any idea of what to expect and we were so pleasantly surprised at the experience. Having driven across Canada, we absolutely reveled in the experience of flying above it.

FlyOver Canada is located at Canada Place right downtown Vancouver. The entire experience will last about 25 minutes including the 8 minute flying experience.

First you will get a brief run down of Canada’s history. You will then start your flight by entering a room and taking your seat aboard the ride. The room has a giant wraparound screen. Expect movement in your seats to mimic the feeling of flying, wind being blown and nature scents to follow as you take flight. You will fly over the rocky mountains, the prairies, Niagra Falls and more.

25. Take a day trip to BC's capital Victoria, BC

Victoria is BC’s capital city and one of the prettiest cities in the province. Located on Vancouver Island, the only way to access Victoria is by plane or ferry. Victoria is located on the southern point of Vancouver Island and has a large inlet that the city is centered around. Island life is in full effect in this city making Victoria a perfect vacation destination in BC.

This full day guided Victoria tour from Vancouver will take you through the best areas of this coastal city. The tour costs $203 CAD ($154USD) and includes pick-up from specified locations in Vancouver and takes you aboard the 95-minute ferry ride to Vancouver Island. Once in Victoria, you will take a guided tour through the Butchart Gardens, BC’s Parliament Buildings, and more top sights in Victoria. You will then be taken back on the ferry and returned to Vancouver.

If you’d rather tour yourself around, you can take this quick flight from Vancouver to Victoria riding a seaplane. During your flight, you will enjoy stunning views of Vancouver’s harbor, the Salish Sea, and will fly you above some of the 200 islands off the coast of Vancouver. For $268 CAD ($202 USD) this flight will get you to Victoria’s harbor in 35 minutes.

26. Take a sunset dinner cruise through Vancouver's harbor

I would argue that there is no better way to see the city than by doing a Vancouver sunset dinner cruise. Not only will you get a romantic date night and a gourmet meal serving up delicious west coast cuisine but you will get a unique and beautiful view of Vancouver’s skyline. Taking a sunset dinner cruise is one of our favorite things to do in Vancouver.

A Vancouver sunset dinner cruise will cost $140 CAD ($106 USD) and includes dinner and a 2.5 hour evening cruise past some of Vancouver’s top sights. Starting near Devonian Harbour Park you will board the large yacht and spend your time cruising through the Burrard Inlet. You can expect both city and forest views as you cruise past Stanley Park and Canada Place. You will circle around Stanley Park giving views of North Vancouver and West Vancouver and the beautiful Lions Gate Bridge. 

If you’d like to do a day cruise through the harbor, this sightseeing cruise is a really popular way to see all the best sites of the city and take in the stunning mountain views. The cruise costs $70 CAD ($52.31 USD) and has a licensed bar on board where you can purchase drinks.

Thanks for reading!

We were both raised in Vancouver and LOVE telling people all the cool things to do in Vancouver. The city buzzes with life and offers so many great activities whether you’re looking for adventure or a lazy getaway. 

We hope you liked our top things to do in Vancouver. Let us know what your favourite one is (or if we missed any) in the comment section below!


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The best things to do in Vancouver BC include going to Stanley Park, Gastown, Granville Island, and more.
On your next trip to Vancouver, be sure to check out these top things to do in Vancouver. Stanley Park, Whistler Village, Grouse Mountain, Deep Cove, the best beaches in Vancouver and more
The best things to do in Vancouver are visit stanley park, deep cove, north vancouver, the grouse grind, whale watching and more.

Ahhh Kelowna – the Hawaii of Canada! In 2019, after travelling quite extensively, we made the calculated decision to make Kelowna our home base. After thoroughly exploring North America on our three-year road trip it is safe to say we knew exactly what we wanted in the place we decided to call home: tons of hiking trails, long hot summers with mild winters, slow good vibes and friendly people. You need to visit Kelowna now!

Looking to get romantic on your next trip to Kelowna? Check out these romantic date ideas in Kelowna!

Kelowna checked all of these boxes off with flying colours! We could go on and on about why we love this city (and often do) so we decided to do just that by listing the top reasons that Kelowna needs to be at the top of your must-visit travel list.

Travelling to British Columbia? Read about 6 secret spots that are our favourite in the province.

1. Kelowna has long hot summers with mild winters

If there is one thing that Kelowna excels at it’s outdoor living. Everywhere you look you will see patios, parks, people on their bikes and at the beach. Kelowna is great for those looking for short milder winters and long hot summers.

Wondering what the best way to spend a summer day in Kelowna is? Packing a cooler and relaxing aboard a private pontoon boat cruise on Okanagan Lake is the way to do it! This cruise will take up to 11 people to spend the afternoon on the lake for $960 CAD ($715.99 USD). Split that cost 11 ways and this becomes super affordable!

All the sunshine in Kelowna makes the spring and fall months feel like an extension of summer. In fact, many locals will start their outdoor living as early as late March when the snow has melted and the sun is in full force. By April, patios are in full swing and it seems every single house has a BBQ going for dinner. The many surrounding lakes help to break the heat you may be experiencing as summer temperatures are known to sit around the mid-30s (in the 90s Fahrenheit).

Tucked amongst the mountains, Kelowna continues to be a playground even through the winter months. Big White in Kelowna is a popular option amongst locals for skiing and snowboarding but there are many in the area including Apex mountain in Hedley and Silverstar mountain in nearby Vernon. A great place to experience all 4 seasons, Kelowna winters drop just below freezing to around -5℃ (around 25℉) allowing for white winters that aren’t too chilly.

Looking to go to Big White? Booking private transportation from Kelowna to Big White will get you there without stress.

2. Shopping local is easy

Kelowna, and most of the people living here, place a great priority on shopping locally. With a dominating farming industry, sourcing produce and meat fresh from local farms are the norms.

From the budding local farmers’ market to the many small markets selling locally produced goods, you have endless farm-to-table options. Even big corporations such as Save On Foods have entire sections of their stores that highlight all locally crafted items.

Click here for info about how to get around Kelowna like a local

Walking down Bernard Ave. or Pandosy St., the two streets that are most dedicated to “downtown shopping”. A majority of these stores are all local boutique-style businesses. The top cafes and restaurants in Kelowna are all smaller family-owned businesses that serve local craft beers and wines.

If you’re wanting to take part in the shop local eat local trend, this 3 hour private downtown foodie tour will take you to some of the best downtown local restaurants that are exclusive to Kelowna. The tour costs $120 CAD ($89.50 USD) and includes all food and drinks at the different independent restaurants.

If you are looking to get on board with this trend there are many farms in the city where you can go directly to buy all your produce, meats, cheeses, honey, and more.

Looking for more of a one-stop shop? The farmers market in Kelowna is large and bustling with great local finds and runs every Saturday and Wednesday morning in the summer months. You can find everything from fresh locally grown vegetables to homemade clothes and dreamcatchers.

3. There are over 100 wineries in the Okanagan

The Okanagan is BC’s little Napa Valley – full of stunning wineries. Summerhill Pyramid Winery is one of our favourites with lake and city views that are sure to take your breath away. Sandhill Wines is right downtown Kelowna making it a super popular destination. With every winery having its own spin on things you can even find some great niche wines, such as the honey wine found at Meadow Vista.

Take this self guided wine tour of the best wineries in Kelowna!

If you don’t have a designated driver, booking an afternoon Kelowna wine tour is a great option. You can choose between either an east Kelowna or West Kelowna wine tour here visiting 4 of the best wineries in the city. All tasting fees and transportation from your hotel is included in the cost. The price varies based on the number of people in your group with 2 people costing $250 CAD ($186.46 USD) each and a group of 6 costing $179 CAD ($133.50 USD) per person.

Wine isn’t your thing? There are TONS of small craft breweries and cideries in the city and surrounding area. If you want it all in one place visiting any number of the local pubs around town will give you local options.

If you’d be more into checking out the craft beer scene, this Kelowna brewery tour will take you to 3 of the best breweries in the city: Tree Brewing, BNA Brewing, and Kettle River Brewing. Flights of beer from each brewery and transportation are included in the $110 CAD ($82.04 USD) per person price tag.

Downtown Kelowna has developed a brewery district with a bunch of craft breweries opening close together. The best way to see this is with a walking self guided Kelowna brewery tour that takes you to the best Kelowna breweries. Our top recommendations are BNA, Red Bird and Bad Tattoo Brewing (all located within a few blocks of each other).

4. Kelowna’s Okanagan Lake is full of activities

We LOVE the water and that is a massive positive for the city – it’s surrounded by huge lakes.  Okanagan Lake runs North to South between West Kelowna and Kelowna. Kalamalka Lake and Wood Lake also run vertically but are northeast of the city.

Kelowna’s waterways are beautiful providing gorgeous views both in and out of the water.

The lakes here are BIG and offer warm clear waters that are perfect for boating, kayaking and even scuba diving. Kelowna’s main lake is called the Okanagan Lake and is famous for having the friendly Ogopogo monster living inside, similar to Scotland’s Loch Ness monster.

This lake is lined with beaches every few hundred meters making it so there is plenty of access in the summertime. As a general rule, the farther away from downtown you go, the better your chances are of finding a great spot.

The most popular beaches in Kelowna are Boyce-Gyro Beach, Hot Sand Beach at City Park, Tugboat Beach and Rotary Beach Beach. If you are looking for less busy Kelowna beaches to visit, we recommend driving down Lakeshore Rd/Abbott Rd to find some smaller beach access points.

Venturing into West Kelowna is another great option for finding quieter beaches.

If you want a bit more luxury, another great way to enjoy the lake is by sailing on it. This private sailing cruise is a great way for your group to see the city. The price of this cruise varies on the number of people in your group with 2 people costing $160 CAD ($119.33 USD) each and groups of 6 costing $130 CAD ($96.96 USD) each. My favorite part about this tour is your captain will even let you take the wheel giving you a quick sailing lesson as you go.

If you are looking beyond just Kelowna, there are 50 lakes in the Okanagan area so you have plenty of options and may even find some secluded havens. Heading down some local FSRs (forest service roads) will take you to smaller, less crowded lakes such as Chute Lake, Lambly Lake, Hydraulic Lake, Postill Lake and Beaver Lake. 

One of our favourite things to do is to hike in or kayak along the coastline to find our own private beaches. We often pack our dogs into our kayaks and paddle up the lake to find some great secret spots along the water. If you don’t have a kayak, try exploring on foot.

Knox Mountain is a great hiking spot that is located right downtown Kelowna and if you are brave enough to bushwack a bit you can find some great water access spots. A popular one to hike to is Paul’s Tomb – the walk is easy and the views are priceless. Another great hike-in-only beach is Rose Valley Lake on Kelowna’s Westside.

5. You get to enjoy the best restaurants in Kelowna

The amount of high-quality restaurant options in Kelowna is enough to make your head spin. We HIGHLY recommend skipping the big-name chains and opting for one of the many local restaurants in the area.

Wine more your thing? Check out these top Kelowna winery restaurants.

In the downtown core, higher-end restaurants such as Oak & Cru and Micro Bar & Bites combine with eclectic must-visit places such as BNA brewing, Leopold’s Tavern and Curious Cafe.

If you are looking to soak up the sunshine with a great patio and lake views check out King Taps or Cactus Club downtown or head to a winery such as Quails Gate in West Kelowna.

A great way to taste the city is to book this downtown Kelowna walking food tour. You can eat your way through 7 different places in the city. This tour costs $83 CAD ($61.90 USD) and includes all food and drink tastings along the way. Your guide will teach you about the city and the food as you spend 3 hours touring downtown.

If you’re looking for a meal with a ton of nightlife head to Craft Beer Market or Social 242 Lounge (bonus: Tuesday is Ladies Night where ladies get $20 off of a $40 or higher bill INCLUDING drinks!). Kelowna is fairly vegan-friendly with restaurants like Central Kitchen, the Naked Cafe, Frankie We Salute You and KB &Co offering many plant-based options.

6. The perfect mix of fresh fruit & local farms

Kelowna has a delicate balance of city life mixed with gorgeous farms and orchards. Okanagan fruit is definitely something to write home about – the cherries.. the peaches!!! You can expect the streets to be lined with fresh fruit stands in the summertime that are all well worth a visit.

Looking for a great date idea in Kelowna? Pack a picnic and head to a u-Pick.

If you are up for the adventure, there are MANY u-pick farms that you can visit to pick your own fruit straight from the source — it doesn’t get any fresher than this!

If you are up for the adventure, there are MANY u-pick farms that you can visit to pick your own fruit straight from the source — it doesn’t get any fresher than this!

There are even great sanctuaries that allow hands-on experience with some rescued farm animals. The Arion therapeutic farm is a favourite of ours and a great place to get in touch with nature.

7. There are so many things to do in Kelowna

If you are lucky enough to visit the Okanagan in the summertime you will be left with no shortage of amazing things to do around the city. With all the wineries, farms, and patios you will have no shortage of ways to enjoy all the beautiful sunshine that comes in this area.

If you enjoy the outdoors, we recommend exploring the Kettle Valley Railroad. This offers endless stunning views and is great for hiking, biking or even cross-country skiing in the wintertime. There are a couple of different access points, our favourite of which is located here.

If you’re wanting to try biking this trail, the Kettle Valley Railway tour from Myra Canyon to Penticton is a great way to do it. While the whole trail is either flat or downhill, you will be traveling long distances so make sure you’re physically fit. You will be biking all the way to Penticton crossing the trestle bridges and going through tunnels. The tour is great for groups of 4 or more and includes your bike rental and round trip transportation for $225 CAD ($167.81 USD) per person.

Expect a bit of a drive from the city and a dirt road climb up a forest service road but trust us it is well worth it.

If you are coming in the winter months, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the relatively mild temperatures in the area. Winter makes a short and sweet appearance in Kelowna perfectly dusting the city with some snow to make all your winter wonderland dreams come true. This gives the local mountains some great fresh powder while allowing the city to put on their FREE annual outdoor skating rink.

Looking to explore more of British Columbia? Check out the top things to do in Vancouver!

8. Kelowna has an artsy vibe

From local craft breweries to hipster cafes this city has an artsy vibe that rivals San Francisco. Everyone here has their own unique style and it seems most have found their own ways to combine their passions with their business.

The downtown core is full of life and diverse hotspots sure to light your fire whether you’re a foodie or fashionista. With a buzzing arts and culture district, there is something new to do and see every night of the week.

9. There are SO MANY places to camp!

It is no surprise that we LOVE to camp. If you’re anything like us and love to find private FREE campsites, Kelowna and the surrounding area have plenty to keep you busy. As Kelowna is nestled between mountains, forests and lakes you will find that there are a ton of great spots to camp.

Less than half an hour from the downtown core in practically any direction you will find yourself in the middle of the outback with endless free campsites to enjoy.

10. It’s dog friendly

With three dogs, this should really be at the top of our list as it is one of the first things we look for in a new city. To be honest, we were nervous to move to Kelowna as we previously had found Kelowna incredibly not dog friendly but it turns out we just didn’t know where to go.

On a hot summer day, you can keep your dog cool by hitting the beach. Cedar Creek Park in the southern mission area is one of our favourite spots to bring our dogs.

Minutes from downtown you will find Mushroom Beach (also called Lake Ave Dog Off-leash beach), another great dog-friendly beach spot. There are also lots of great trails around that allow your furry friend to come along.

If you are wanting more of a city vibe you can walk your pup downtown along the water. Bernard Street offers up a plethora of restaurants some of which have patios with water dishes for your pup.

If you are wanting more of a city vibe you can walk your pup downtown along the water. Bernard Street offers up a plethora of restaurants some of which have patios with water dishes for your pup.

Where to stay in Kelowna

Delta Hotels by Marriott Grand Okanagan Resort – If waking up to stunning lake views sounds great to you, the Delta Hotel is one of the best hotels in Kelowna. Choose to soak in either their indoor or outdoor pool, enjoy the on-site restaurant Oak + Cru, or take a trip to their on-site wine cellar to do the most Kelowna-y thing you can do – enjoy a wine tasting. Located right downtown Kelowna, this hotel is within walking distance to the best beaches, restaurants and shopping in the city. 

Hotel Zed – This quirky colorful downtown Kelowna hotel has a young and hip vibe with tons of cool extras to offer. With a pool, hot tub, outdoor firepit and sauna on site, there is tons to do. This is a great place to meet people whether you’re enjoying a cold beer on their rooftop patio taking in views of Okanagan Lake, raving at their mini-disco on site or having fun at their Ping Pong lounge complete with a Wii station. You can get around on their free bikes and rollerscates offered. Best of all, the hotel is pet friendly!

Hotel Eldorado at Eldorado Resort – This stunning boutique-style hotel is located in the southern Mission area of Kelowna. This lakefront resort has a stunning indoor pool and a whole lot of character. With a charming restaurant on site, this resort is close by the top beaches in Kelowna including Rotary Beach.

Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Kelowna – A great option for families traveling to the Okanagan, Fairfield Inn has a giant waterslide that is great for keeping the family happy. Rooms are spacious and breakfast is included at this hotel. A great location sandwiched between downtown Kelowna and Kelowa’s airport, this hotel is within walking distance to many great restaurants and Orchard Park Mall.

Thanks for stopping by!

All in all, Kelowna is the ultimate destination offering something for everyone. Whether you are looking to set down some roots or planning the ultimate road trip through BC Kelowna has so much to offer!

Ever been to Kelowna? What was your favourite part of the city?

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Vietnam is one of those amazing countries that never disappoint. It was easily one of my favourite places I’ve been. The history, lush greenery,  friendly people, lazy beaches, delicious food, stunning landscapes, affordable price…. Ah! There is so much to love about this stunning south-east Asian country.

Not knowing what to expect from the country was likely a big part of the reason I loved it. You will need to set aside at least 2 weeks to travel through this country. As a Canadian, you will need to get a visa on arrival which will allow you a 1 month’s stay in the country. I stayed the whole month and could have easily stayed longer.

Vietnam is a long and skinny country which makes it an easy spot for traveling. Most of the significant sites are situated along the country’s coastline making this a very scenic country to travel to. For traveling purposes, you will want to note that there is a significant city in the north: Hanoi, and another in the south: Ho Chi Minh City. We highly recommend utilizing both cities for their international airports and booking a flight into one city and out of the other. This will allow you to travel through the entire country and efficiently hit all the major spots on your travels.  For the purposes of this post, I list the cities in order from south to north. 


The weather is HOT so packing light is easy. Lots of bathing suits, sunscreen, and comfortable walking shoes are a great start. Tourists will enjoy that English is widely spoken here so you will have no trouble communicating. As with most other countries in the area, costs are incredibly affordable here. 

When traveling from city to city, I highly recommend taking overnight buses that will get you from city to city. These are comfortable as they have a full bed that allows you to fall asleep and wake up in a new city. They are affordable and easy to book making them perfect for almost every traveller.

Without further ado, the best cities in Vietnam to travel to: 

1. Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)

As the largest city in the country, it has two different names that are both frequently used throughout the country. Ho Chi Minh City is the official name of the city while Saigon was the name pre-1975. Ho Chi Minh was a leader in the north of the country. Following the north’s success in the civil war in 1975, the north flexed its power over the south, forcibly changing the name from Saigon to Ho Chi Minh City.

Ho Chi Minh City is a history buff’s dream. If you aren’t familiar, Vietnam has had a very turbulent history with a long presence of war up until 1975 with lingering effects of the war still seen throughout the country. With the war being largely between the north and south of the country, there were a few notable outside players such as France and the USA. 


The city is full of museums that will give you insight into the history of the country. A great one worth visiting is the War Remnants Museum. This will give you a good overview of the history of the country and equip you with a better appreciation of what to expect from your trip. 

In Ho Chi Minh City, be sure to take a trip to the Cu Chi tunnels.  This is an incredible way to take in history as you get to literally immerse yourself in it. The tunnels that the Vietnamese people carved out during wartime to hide through are still accessible today. Some of these tunnels have even been expanded making them “American sized” and allowing tourists to crawl through them. If that’s not enough, you can fire off an M30 gun to get the full magnitude of the battles throughout the war.

Tunnel, Vietnam, History, War, Saigon
A hidden entrance to the Cu Chi tunnels
Saigon, Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam, History
Shooting a clip from an M30 at the Cu Chi Tunnels

If you are going to visit any of the historical monuments in the south, I recommend prioritizing a visit to museums in Hanoi, as well. The differences seen in the way the history is represented from north to south is very interesting and show a very real change in perspective. A civil upset between the north and the south, while not being actively fought, is still felt throughout the country.

If history isn’t your thing, the city still offers so much to do. You can’t go here without enjoying some local cuisine. Pho, iced coffee and salad rolls are all must-tries when visiting. The food in the city is all amazing, in fact, I even had the best sushi of my life in this city! 

There are many large markets and street shopping to be done in this walkable city. With a largely Buddhist population, you will find pagodas and temples throughout the city that are well worth a visit.

History, Cu Chi Tunnel, Vietnam, War, Ho Chi Minh
A view of inside the “American-sized” tunnels

Where to stay in Ho Chi Minh City

Mia Saigon Boutique Hotel is the place to go if you’re looking for luxury. The staff is so friendly and makes this beautiful hotel that much more appealing. The massive pool will make you forget you’re in the city. If you’d rather have luxury in more of a traditional Vietnamese style, The Reverie Saigon is a great hotel. The decor here is stunning, the staff is friendly, and the food on site is unbeatable. 

If you’re looking for a stunningly quirky urban mid-range hotel, Fusion Original Saigon Centre is a must-see. The location of this hotel is perfect and its rooftop pool will give you insane city views. 

If sticking to a budget is important to you, Sunrise City Central By Dhome is a great hotel. The rooms are clean and bright and there’s even a rooftop pool. If you don’t need a pool and are looking for a beautiful place on an even tighter budget, the Woody House Saigon is one of the best budget hotels in Ho Chi Minh City.

2. Mekong Delta

The Mekong Delta is located a few hours south of Ho Chi Minh City making it seem very out of the way. While this might detour you, it really is worth the visit. 

If you are looking for a simple trip, there are lots of tours you can book leaving from Ho Chi Minh City that may be for you. If you’re looking for more adventure, you can take a bus or plane here to take in the beautiful sights. 

You can expect large lush agricultural lands and a fairly dense population in this area. Rivers, swamps, and islands dot the area which is all easily accessible by boat. In fact, boats are actually the primary means of transportation in this area.

The soil is so nutrient-rich that you will find rice paddies, vast orchards, tall coconut palms, and sugar cane growing everywhere in this area. The Mekong Delta is full of life and is one stop you will not want to miss.

If you’re staying in Ho Chi Minh City and are looking for a day tour, this full day tour on the Upper Mekong River is a great trip to book. The 10 hour tour costs $35.10 CAD ($25 USD) and includes round trip transportation from Ho Chi Minh City. 

Where to stay in the Mekong Delta

The Mekong Lodge Resort is a beautiful mid-range hotel for those looking for a luxurious jungle inspired experience. The resort has so much greenery, the rooms are amazing, and the pool is clean and beautiful. 

The Ben Tre Riverside Resort is an excellent budget friendly hotel option. The rooms are clean and bright and the views from the large pool area are unbeatable. 

3. Mũi Né

Sticking to the south-north route plan, Mũi Né (pronounced moo-ee-nay) is a coastal city located 4 hours northeast of Ho Chi Minh City. If you’re looking for a lazy beach vibe, this is the city for you. A top vacation spot in the area, the stunning white sandy beaches of this gorgeous seaside vacation town are sure to impress. Not really a city as much as a picturesque beach town, this is one area where you can happily sit on the beach with a good book and some tasty iced coffee. 

If you prefer to be in the water than looking at it, this is a great spot to try your hand at sailing or windsurfing. The windy coastline brings in some great waves which make this a dream spot for many water sports enthusiasts. 

For adventurers, there are two sand dunes in the area that are both worth a visit. The red dunes are the closest to town while the white sand dunes are much larger in size and therefore much more popular amongst tourists. Both make for an incredible day trip. 

Get here early and enjoy the serenity of the sunrise glistening on the sand. Throughout the rest of the day, the peacefulness of the dunes is disturbed by a mass of tourists and loud quads so coming first thing in the morning will give you a good alternative look. 

Renting a quad to explore these dunes is a great way to explore and will save you a ton of energy. The dunes may look small as you don’t have a lot of references but the hills are high and the sand is hot.

Vietnam, beach, summer, vacation, ocean

Mui Ne, Vietnam, Resort, Beach, Pool

Where to stay in Mũi Né

If you are looking for luxury, there are two great hotels I highly recommend in the area.

  • The first is the Anantara Mui Ne Resort which is an absolutely stunning boho style hotel with a jungle meets beach vibe. There are multiple pools to choose from, the food is delicious and the greenery makes it feel so luxurious.
  • Similarly, the Sailing Club Resort is another great option with similar jungle-beach vibes that just scream relaxing luxury

Centara Mirage Resort is a great hotel option for those looking for a lavish mid range option. Located right on the water, you will enjoy stunning rooms with your choice of multiple pools offered at the resort. This is a great family friendly hotel with lots of amenities including playgrounds, water parks, bowling, karaoke, and more!

If you are looking for budget friendly accommodations but don’t want to compromise on luxury, I highly suggest the Gia An Hung Guest House. The rooms are clean, the staff is incredibly friendly and the rooms are bright and clean. The location is ideal with a lot of restaurants and markets nearby. 

4. Nha Trang

A 4-hour drive north up the coastline of the country you will find the bigger coastal city of Nha Trang. This area is a beach bum/water enthusiast’s paradise. Not far from the coast, there are many different islands that you can sail to that offer scuba diving and snorkelling tours. 

Overfishing in the area unfortunately means the waters are not as densely populated with marine life as they once were. Still, the crystal clear tropical waters are worth exploring, specifically when entering the water from a boat. 

Vietnam, ocean, boat, fishing, holiday

Interested in scuba diving? Read about what to expect getting scuba certified in Thailand.

One popular island in the area is called Monkey Island. As the name suggests, the island is home to a ton of primates who freely roam around. A tourist island, there is a surprising amount of family-friendly activities to do on this island. 

If you’d prefer to spend your day in freshwater, this area has a lot of nearby waterfalls that are worth exploring. A light trek through the jungle will take you to some impressive waterfalls, the most popular being the Fairy Springs and the Ba Ho waterfalls. Yang Bay is another great, far less touristy, area to go in search of impressive waterfalls.

For those more interested in exploring dry land, you are sure to enjoy the many markets, malls and street vendors in the area. Lots of cafes and stunning ocean side restaurants are offered in the area. This is a great spot to enjoy a relaxing massage right on the beach. For a truly relaxing experience, head to Thap Ba Hot Springs where you can dip in both cold and hot mineral pools. The mud in this area is known to be packed with minerals that offer an array of healing properties. Mud baths here are a great way to soak in wellness.

Where to stay in Nha Trang

It doesn’t get much more luxurious than Vinpearl Luxury Nha Trang. This is a great secluded resort style accommodation for those looking to live a stunning island life. If you’d rather stay on the mainland, Mia Resort Nha Trang is another great hotel on the mainland. The villas are amazing with stunning ocean views and the staff here are incredibly friendly.

Nevada Beach Hotel is a great mid-range hotel for those looking to blend luxury and affordability. Spending your days looking out on the water from the rooftop pool will not disappoint. 

Azura Gold Hotel & Apartments is a great budget friendly hotel with the best location in the city. You will not know you’re on a budget with the luxury treatment you get at this hotel. The rooftop pool has stunning views of the ocean making this hotel one of the best in the area.

5. Hoi An

Hoi An, Vietnam, history, architecture, boats, water

A long 9-hour drive north from Nha Trang will take you to the beautiful coastal town of Hoi An. To get here, an overnight bus is a great option and will save you both travel time and hotel accommodation price. 

This colourful town is full of rustic charm and looks like it’s right out of a fairytale. One of my favourite places I’ve visited, this is a must-see area for those that visit Vietnam. In fact, the old town, the area along the river, is a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site. This is due to its impeccable preservation from its time as a trading port.  

This is a great area to rent a pedal bike as the geography is fairly flat and the ideal size. While you can see the sights walking, renting a bicycle will help you to get around faster and allow you to take in more areas. With a river in the center of the city, bars, restaurants and shops line the sides giving you a very unique vibe. 

One of the best things to do in this city is eat! Every restaurant we went to seemed better than the last until you’re in a full food coma. I ate the best Indian food I’ve ever had in this city. If you want to stick with the tropical vibe, the beaches are not far from the city center in this area. One of the best beaches in the area that is often less crowded is An Bang beach.

Culture, japan, vietnam, buddhism, history
Inside the Japanese Covered Bridge in Hoi An

Where to stay in Hoi an

Ann Retreat Resort & Spa is a great hotel to choose if you’re looking for a slice of luxury in this beautiful city. The pool alone is absolutely gorgeous but combine that with the spacious rooms and delicious food and you are set for a perfect vacation.

The Silkian Hoian Hotel & Spa is a great mid range hotel with a great location. The swimming pool is unbelievable and there are bikes you can use free of charge. The Hoi An Golden Holiday Hotel & Spa is another great hotel close to the city center and the beach.

For those on a budget, you can’t get better than Hoi An Heart Lodge. The cozy hotel has a great location, friendly staff, and a fun vibe. Le Charme de Joi An Villa is another great budget hotel with a stunning pool. The location is great being about a 20 minute walk from Old Town. 

6. Da Nang

Vietnam, beach, vacation, holiday, summer

A short 1-hour trip north will transport you into the hustle and bustle of city life found in Da Nang. This city is most known on Instagram for its stunning golden bridge nestled into the Bà Nà hills. Iconic for the large sculptured hands that look as though they are holding the bridge up, this is a must-see travel site. To get to this bridge, you must first take a cable car from Sun World. Head there in the early morning (the first cable car is at 7 am) to beat the crowds.

Da Nang is one of those areas where you will definitely want to rent a scooter. Travelling inland you will find many lush hillsides just waiting to be explored. The street food in this city is an absolute must as it offers a wide variety of delicious cuisine. Da Nang beaches are some of the nicest in all of Vietnam.

The nightlife is also worth a note in the area. This city is booming with growth which you can easily see in the many new resorts lining the beaches and big cosmopolitan towers being constructed in the downtown core. We recommend heading downtown at least once to soak up some of the buzzing downtown scenes. 

Ocean, Summer, Beach, Vacation, Tropical, Vietnam

Where to stay in Danang

A great luxury hotel is Sel de mer Hotels & Suites. You will feel like a VIP with the large rooms, the incredible pool that overlooks the beach, and the on site spa. Louis Mo Apartment is another great space with a stunning pool and friendly staff. If you’re looking to stay on the water, Le Sands Oceanfront Hotel is a great mid-range hotel. This is an especially great hotel for families traveling with kids

Daisy Boutique Hotel is an absolutely gorgeous budget friendly hotel. Full of greenery and a gorgeous pool in the center of the hotel, this is a beautiful place to stay. Similarly VernalHome Boutique is another great budget conscious hotel with lots of greenery and a beautiful pool. 

7. Hue

Vietnam, Water, Hue, History, vacation

Two hours up the coast of Vietnam gets you to the old smaller town of Hue. This is a great place to visit because it’s located in the middle of Vietnam. A top site in the area is the Đại Nội Citadel. This was built in the 19th century and has a moat completely surrounding it. Thick stone walls encompass the grounds and is currently one of the top sights to visit in the area. Renting a bicycle to tour through this area will allow you to see and get more from this place. 

Taking a day trip to the demilitarized zone not far from Hue is another great experience you shouldn’t miss. This is home to the border between the North and South and is marked by the 17th parallel. There is a great walk-through history tour and you will spend the day looking through tunnels and old military bases.

When in this area I walked into a backpackers hostel for some lunch and had the opportunity to visit a local orphanage. Getting a tour of the facility and spending the morning playing with the kids and building awareness through donations are so important and incredibly valuable. Be sure to take part in some of these opportunities as they come your way.

Where to stay in Hue

If you want to make Hue a destination in itself and are looking for a stunning resort to spend all your time in, the Vedana Lagoon Resort & Spa is a destination in itself. You will stay on the water in a slice of paradise as you enjoy a full royal treatment. 

If you’re looking for pure luxury with a mid-range price point, look no further than Pilgrimage Village Boutique Resort & Spa. You will feel like you’re in the jungle with all the greenery, huge beautiful pool, and cozy boho vibes

Jade Scene Hotel is a great hotel for travelers looking for clean comfortable rooms, a nice pool, and a great price tag.

8. Hanoi

Vietnam’s capital city is more than 12 hour’s drive north of Hue making this the longest leg of travel you will do. This northern city is home to a large international airport that we recommend using as your port of exit from this trip. There is lots to see and do in this city, although it should not be your last stop – trust me Sapa and Halong Bay are worth their own visit! 

The downtown area is centred around a massive lake, Hoan Kiem Lake. According to Vietnamese legend, this lake is home to a mythical ancient turtle. This is the main hub where you will see many locals exercising around throughout all hours of the day. One of the best places to take in the sights of the city is from the 65th floor of the Lotte Tower Observation Deck. Grabbing a drink at the building’s rooftop bar is a must! 


Hanoi offers a rich history from both the civil war and international wars with France and the USA. If you took the time to explore the history in the south, you will want to compare that with what you learned in the north. Walking the halls of the famous Hoa Lo Prison is an experience that will stick with you. This capital city is one that is very walkable and loaded with history. A trip to the city’s Imperial Citadel, a UNESCO World Heritage site, will give you another great look into the country’s rich history.

The far northern location of this city makes it easy to see the heavy external influences at play. With a large French and Chinese influence, the old architecture is a sight to behold. The French Quarter in Hanoi is also one of the best places to stay in Hanoi. The old quarter is very budget-friendly and therefore popular amongst backpackers. 

From Hanoi, you have two remaining must-see destinations: Sapa and Halong Bay. Hanoi is nestled in the center of the two cities (Sapa being inland west and Halong Bay being a coastal town to the capital east) it is up to you which you’d prefer to explore first. 

Where to stay in Hanoi

Looking for luxury in the big city? Look no further than La Sinfonia del Rey Hotel & Spa. The stunning dark decor throughout is sure to impress but if that’s not enough the rooftop bar sure will. The Peridot Grand Luxury Boutique Hotel is another great luxurious hotel option with a stunning pool, great location and amazing staff. 

The Golden Rooster Hotel is a great mid-range hotel with an amazing location in the city. The rooms are clean and spacious and the beds are comfortable

If you’re on a budget, Hanoi La Cacada House & Travel is a budget friendly hotel with a nice location

9. Sapa

Veering inland, a long 5-hour bus drive west, or take an overnight train, will take you from the country’s capital to the mountain town of Sapa. This area is a popular destination among tourists – and for good reason. The lush green mountainous landscape is hard to get through in a short period of time. In these hills, you will find different tribes of people living throughout the paddies. They offer guided overnight tours through the paddies, some of which are overnight explorations that will allow you to sleep with the locals in the villages. These Sapa trekking tours are one of the best things to do in Sapa.

Don’t Forget: Be sure to bring along a good pair of trekking shoes as this requires a decent amount of hill climbing through muddy landscapes.

If you don’t want to commit to an overnight stay in this area, it is still a great place to go hiking. With many waterfalls, a favourite being Silver Waterfalls, there is so much to see and do. The cooler weather in this inland town will welcome change-making hiking much more accessible. 

If you aren’t thrilled about the idea of hiking through Sapa, consider renting a motorbike and driving through the nearby streets. Many of them are not paved so you will need to be comfortable on a motorbike before taking to these rugged streets. There are a lot of other small villages that you will come across when exploring. A noteworthy one is Cat Cat Village which is just as cute as the name suggests. 

The shopping in this area is unique in that most of the items are handmade by locals. You can expect to see everything from beautiful jewelry, clothing, and trinkets that line the streets. If you take a trek or stay in a homestay, you can often buy some of these trinkets straight from the locals in their village. 

Hiking, Sapa, Vietnam, Adventure, Hill tribe, rice,

If you’re staying in Hanoi but are looking to get a taste of the beautiful hills in Sapa, this 2 day 1 night Sapa hiking tour is a must! The price varies based on the size of your group but is $137.50 CAD ($98 USD) for 2 people including transportation from Hanoi. 

If you’d prefer to stay a bit longer and explore some of the city, this 3 day 2 night trekking tour is a great option. You will spend some nights in the city and one night in a hotel in the city.

Both of these tours will have you spending your days hiking through the terraced fields and small villages and staying overnight in a bungalow in a local hill tribe village. These tours are all inclusive and include a guide, all transportation, and even your meals along the way.

Where to stay in Sapa

Luxury in the mountains can be found at the 5 star Silk Path Grand Resort & Spa. This whole hotel is Instagram worthy from the restaurants, the rooms, and the pool! The KK Sapa Hotel is another hotel built for luxury with stunning views of the mountains. The rooms are bright and spacious and absolutely gorgeous. 

If you’re wanting luxury but a more affordable price tag, Sapa Relax Hotel & Spa will give you just that. A great location, bright beautiful rooms, and friendly staff combine to make this hotel amazing. Pao’s Sapa Leisure Hotel is another great hotel in the area with a spacious, upbeat, and quirky vibe with stunning views of the area.

If you’re wanting to stay on a budget, the Sapa Mountain Queen House is a great hotel with big beautiful rooms with authentic decor. The location is ideal and the staff is friendly. Cat Cat Galerie d’Art is another great hotel with clean and large rooms.

10. Halong Bay

Perhaps the most photographed part of the country, Halong Bay is located 2.5 hours west of Hanoi. All those picturesque limestone rock formations you see in Vietnam lie within this one magical northern mecca. It’s a true sight to behold. 

The most popular way for seeing this area is, of course, to get out on the water and stand amongst these stunning rock formations. Sure to give you a fresh perspective of the country, these boat tours are incredibly popular amongst tourists.

The limestone rocks are topped with jungle paradises. Overnight cruises are referred to as  ‘junk boat cruises’ and are a great way to weave through these islands. If you are feeling more adventurous, rent a sea kayak and tour yourself through some of the 2000 islands. Or you could take a Halong bay cruise through the area for a different perspective of this area.

The beauty in this area goes far beyond the limestone cliffs and stretches into the underwater world. Halong Bay is one of the best places to scuba dive in Vietnam. There are a ton of snorkelling trips that you can do in these emerald green waters. 

The rock formations found here naturally house some impressive caves that can be fun to explore. Some popular ones are Hang Sung Sot Caves and Me Cung Caves which are well worth a visit. 

As you can imagine, these large limestone rocks are also popular amongst rock climbers and really act as an outdoor playground for adventurers. A great place for hiking is through Cat Ba National Park

Where to stay in Ha Long Bay

If you’re looking to stay overnight, this all inclusive 2 day 1 night cruise is one of the best experiences you can have. The price for the tour varies based on the type of room you’re wanting but luxury is guaranteed. 

If you’d rather just spend the day on the water, this Ha Long Bay Day Cruise is an action packed day you’ll never forget. You can expect to spend your time kayaking, swimming, and exploring caves with this experience. 

Since the beauty of the area is the water, why not stay on it with this luxurious 5 star Elite of the Seas. If you are looking to splurge, staying aboard this stunning yacht is the way to do it! 

If you’d rather stay on dry land and instead do day tours you have lots of options! A great budget friendly hotel is Ha Long Essence Hotel. The rooms are bright and spacious and a great value for your money.  

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Getting scuba certified allows you entry to an elite club of humans scattered around the globe who have the privilege of breathing underwater. Earth is roughly 70% ocean, meaning you haven’t travelled until you’ve explored below the water’s surface. PADI has issued over 28 million diving certifications in the last 55 years. While that may seem like a high number, that’s only 0.35% of the world’s population. 

Scuba diving has been increasing in popularity thanks to underwater technologies that have allowed photos and videos to be taken of this secret world. 

Thailand is one of the most beautiful places in the world. Each island hones its own vibes making them all worth a visit. Koh Tao is a small island sitting just north of Koh Pha Ngan (famous for its full moon parties and yoga retreats) and is most famous for its affordable scuba diving certification. Not only is it one of the cheapest places to get PADI Scuba Dive Certified in the world, but it also has some of the best diving.

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What To Expect In Koh Tao?

No matter where you come from, you will be arriving on the island by ferry. As you approach the island you will be met by pristine waters washing up on white sandy beaches with a lush jungle on top. Koh Tao is the smallest of the three islands clustered together in this area. The closest to Koh Tao is the neighbouring island, Koh Pha Ngan, while the biggest is Koh Samui.

Koh Tao is a tropical paradise swimming with natural beauty. Despite its boom in tourism, Koh Tao has a very rustic feel, having as many dirt roads as paved. A good portion of the island is lush, undeveloped jungle that is great for hiking. The calm and clear turquoise waters surround this island with multiple pristine beaches to visit.

Filling your time on the island is easy. One of the most popular things to do in Koh Tao is actually located just a couple hundred meters from the island. A three-island series that are connected together with thin strips of white sandy beaches make up Koh Nang Yuan. This famous Instagram spot is a must-visit while here.

This is a great island to rent a scooter to drive around and explore the small island – just be careful on dirt roads (especially where they transition to paved roads) because there are some pretty large potholes.

A scooter will allow you access to the island’s many pristine beaches. While many of these beaches have a small entry fee (normally around 25THB or $1CAD), they are worth the visit as most offer great snorkelling right from the beach. Having snorkel gear with you is invaluable when visiting Thailand.

How To Get To Koh Tao?

Thailand is a very easy country to travel around. With trains, buses and multiple airports, getting from place to place is a breeze. As Koh Tao is an island, you will need to take a ferry to get here no matter where you are coming from.

A typical boat schedule in Thailand

There are three ways to get to Koh Tao:

Plane – Ferry: The closest airport to Koh Tao is Samui International Airport located on Koh Samui (an island just south of Koh Tao). If coming from the airport you will have to get from the airport to the ferry terminal. You will then need to buy a ticket through Lomprayah High-Speed Ferries to Koh Tao. While this is undoubtedly the most expensive way to get to the island, it will save you a lot of time and stress.

Heading to Thailand? Read about the best ways to get around in Thailand

Bus – Ferry: Another great way to travel is to take the bus/ferry combo. Taking a bus from Bangkok is incredibly popular and budget-friendly. If you head to a local travel agent you can easily book a bus ticket to get to Koh Tao. You can either book a day bus or a night bus.

I prefer the night buses as I have no problem sleeping anywhere and hate losing days to travel. A roughly 7-hour bus drive will take you from Bangkok to Chumphon where you will be dropped off at a ferry terminal. You will then take a stunning 2.5-hour ferry ride to the tropical island of Koh Tao.

The harbour at Chumphon to Koh Tao

Train – Ferry: A luxurious form of travel, Thailand has a great train system that can be very comfortable. A mid-range way of getting to Koh Tao, sleeper trains offer comfort and efficiency. You can choose between their first-class or second-class sleeping options.

Where To Get Scuba Certified In Thailand?

The island of Koh Tao is able to offer such affordable open water diving certification due to the huge supply and ongoing demand. Almost every hotel has its own dive center meaning you don’t have to leave your hotel. This is the ideal way to go about getting your diving certification as they will often package dive prices with hotel stays leaving you with free, or reduced-priced, accommodations.


When deciding where to get dive certified, make sure you ask a lot of questions. The most important question is to ask what ratio of divers to instructors can you expect. We always ensure this number is 4 or under. In order to feel the most confident below water, you want to make sure your guide is focused on you. For maximum comfort, numbers should not exceed a 4:1 ratio for open water certifications.

There are many different scuba diving courses and companies that you can choose from. The ferry ride to the island will have salespeople from many different companies trying to get you to choose theirs. It’s best to compare a few different salespeople to make sure you’re not being taken advantage of.

PADI Scuba Certification Requirements

When deciding on the right dive center for you, make sure to check that they are a PADI certified facility. It means the certificate is recognized all over the world and is a requirement for further diving.

 PADI = Professional Association of Diving Instructors

In order to scuba dive, the first course that is required is the Open Water Diving Certification. This is a fairly simple certification program that only has a few basic requirements. You must be over 10 years old, be able to swim (there will be a treading water test) and be medically fit to dive.

Similar to gaining altitude in an airplane, sinking below the water’s surface will change the pressure around, and on, you. This is why you have to do safety stops to properly equalize when ascending from the depths on a dive. It’s important that you are able to properly equalize your ears at this time. Those with ear problems should consult their dive centers before signing up.

Steps To Getting PADI Open Water Certified

Plan for the open water diving certification to consume about 4-7 days, depending on where and how you choose to go about training.

1. In class/online training: 5-10 hours of classroom work with an instructor. You will first learn the skills through a knowledge-based program that reviews terminology, goes over what to expect and equips you with the knowledge you will need to successfully dive below the water’s surface. For those short on time, you can often do this training online at a reduced price. This means you can complete the training before you go to maximize your time.

2. Written test: Your classroom knowledge will then get confirmed in a basic test.

3. Practice skills in the pool: Once the theory is behind you, you will move to pool training to get comfortable with the dive equipment. During this time you will practise key skills like removing your mask and regulator underwater and then retrieving them. You will also dive to the bottom in an effort to get comfortable breathing under the water. You’ll learn how to purge your mask (which involves taking it off underwater – it sounds scarier than it is), and inflate and deflate your buoyancy control device (BCD).

4. Ocean dives: Once you have the tools you need, it is time to get into the ocean. 4 dives in the ocean complete this course and give you a great introduction to the world of scuba diving.

During the first ocean dive, you can expect to again practice your main diving skills like dropping your respirator and retrieving it, taking your mask off and on, purging your mask and performing necessary safety stops.

How Much Does It Cost To Get Scuba Dive Certified In Thailand?

The price to get PADI Scuba Dive certified ranges depending on where you choose. We chose Koh Tao because of the low cost and the amazing diving. The scuba shop resort we chose included 5 nights of accommodation at their resort along with shuttles to and from the Koh Tao pier, all the course material, diving gear and refreshments on the boat.

All of this worked out to around 10, 000 Baht a person (~$360 CAD). If you are planning on completing the PADI Open Water dive certificate in a group of people you may be able to get it for a bit of a discount.

The resort was right on the beach and had an amazing property. We were upgraded for free to an airconditioned queen room. It also had a restaurant offering stunning ocean views while you eat.

Is Scuba Diving Dangerous Or Scary?

You may be wondering if scuba diving is a safe sport. While it is important to have the skills and a knowledgeable guide to the area, you should not be scared to get scuba certified. If you are diving with a PADI accredited facility, checking over your gear (you’ll be taught how to do this) and are confident in your training, there is nothing to worry about.

As with anything unknown in life, a little bit of fear is natural in something you’ve never done before. You should embrace the butterflies in your stomach and jump in anyways to explore a unique world, unlike anything you’ve experienced before. Trust me, scuba diving is addictive and one of the best ways to explore our big beautiful world.

There are typically 3 big fears with scuba diving:

1. Claustrophobia: Many people worry about feelings of being trapped or claustrophobic underwater. The great thing about getting certified in a tropical climate like Koh Tao is that ocean temperatures sit around 28℃ (83℉), even in the winter months. This climate means you’re able to wear thin wetsuits or short skin guards that are a lot more comfortable than bulky wet suits.

The underwater visibility in Koh Tao sits around 30 meters or more. This means that you can see far underwater and helps to reduce any claustrophobia you may anticipate.

2. Breathing underwater: This can feel really unnatural and take a while to get used to. Everyone you are getting trained with will have the same nerves around this one. Be patient with yourself as you’ve never done this before. Similar to flying, it’s a fantasy of many but one we aren’t expecting to be able to do.

Really use the time in the pool to calm your heart rate down and relax your breathing. I go into a meditative state below water repeating a mantra to keep myself comfortable and happy. The calmer your breathing underwater, the less air you will use, meaning a longer dive. This is why it is so important to calm your breathing.

When I jump into the water on any dive, I immediately put my face below the water while we wait for the team to get ready. Before we begin the descent, I like to spend a couple of seconds breathing underwater while still on the surface to acclimatize myself.

3. Animal encounters: If your fear comes from animals you may see below the water, thank Hollywood for that one! The most common fear for diving is simple: SHARKS. While these majestic creatures are villainized so heavily in our world, they are so misunderstood.

Most sharks are very gentle creatures that offer absolutely no risk to human life. In fact, of the hundreds of species of sharks that roam our oceans, only 3 actually pose any threat to humans. Great White Sharks, Tiger Sharks and Bull Sharks are deemed a dangerous species only resulting in about 10 combined human deaths worldwide a year. You are more than 15 times more likely to die from a falling coconut than a shark.

What Can I Expect In Open Water Dives?

Your Open Water Certification allows you to dive 18 meters, 60 feet, below the water’s surface. There are two main ways to enter the water on your dives: by boat or from the shore. Having done both types of dive, we greatly prefer boat dives as you don’t waste time and energy getting to the site. Most of the dive centers in Koh Tao offer boat dives for PADI Open Water certification.

We recommend packing light for your trips. Refreshments (water and light snacks) are typically provided but bringing a water bottle along is never a bad idea. You will want to wear a bathing suit, have your hair tied back and bring some flip-flops along.

You will go on 2 dives for 2 days totalling 4 tank dives to complete your PADI Open Water certification. These dives will take up a good portion of your day. You can expect to spend roughly 45-55 minutes underwater per dive, depending on your air consumption.

Diving takes a lot out of you, physically. Spending an hour or so above the water on the boat drinking water, resting and enjoying some light snacks will be a welcomed break between the two scuba dive sessions. This combined with the time it takes to get to and from dive sites, you can expect your dives to consume about 4-5 hours of your day.

To protect the underwater reefs you swim through, we recommend skipping the sunscreen altogether and instead bringing light clothing to provide some coverage. Keep in mind you will have a fair amount of above-water time as you will be needing to get to the dive site.

Waiting for you onboard you will find your tanks, BCD, wetsuit and the rest of your gear. As these are your first ocean dives, expect to be nervous. We were most nervous about equalizing underwater. Your body, especially your ears, builds up pressure the further you dive. To release the pressure you plug your nose and gently blow air through it. Of course, you will be told a number of scary precautionary stories during your classroom sessions, but trust the process.

First Dive Of PADI Open Water Certification

Your first dive site will look like nothing more than a random spot in the middle of the ocean. With barely any landmarks visible, trust that you are about to be shocked at all that is going on underwater. You will go over with your instructor how to check over all your equipment and go over some basics on board. Your instructor will then guide you on how to get in the water. There are a number of different methods to this, most places will try different entry styles on different dives to get you comfortable with getting into the water.

Jumping in the water you will be met by warm 30-degree Celcius temperatures. If you were doing a shore dive, you would follow the shoreline in a gradual descent. In boat dives, you follow a buoy line in a straight descent to the ocean floor.

Descending to the bottom is scary as there are so many unknowns. Visibility at the surface is also disorienting as you don’t have any notable reference points to show how far things are. You will likely not even notice the descent on your first dive as you will be focused on all the skills you just learned, most importantly equalizing and breathing.

Once you reach the bottom, your instructor will go over the same skills already practiced in the pool the day before. Don’t overthink this, removing and retrieving your goggles and air supply is an easy skill that goes exactly the same in the ocean as it did in the pool.

One thing I didn’t expect is all the sound underwater. I thought this was going to be a completely silent experience. My breathing was loud and for the first couple of minutes, it was all I heard. This noise quickly turned to a white noise that actually was useful for calming down and getting into a meditative state. You can at times hear ships soaring above.

Once we got down to our desired depth I forgot about everything going on in the world above me.

I didn’t know (or care) about time, any stresses, or the skills I had learned. None of it mattered. I don’t think I had a regular thought the whole time I was down there. All the colours, the schools of fish, the hiding stingray – that was all that I cared about.

Your dive instructor will consistently check what PSI you have left in your tank. Once the first person has reached their limit, you will begin to ascend as a group. When your whole team groups together, your instructor will put a line up to the surface which will have a buoy on top letting boats know divers are on the surface. You will then begin to float towards the water’s surface. At about 5 meters deep you will stop for 3-5 minutes in an important safety stop. This allows your body to properly acclimatize to the pressure changes.

Following this, you will continue to swim to the surface and meet with your group. The boat you took will come to pick you up and you can climb back above water with guaranteed smiles and a ton to talk about. Time to relax a bit before your next dive.

On The Boat Between Dive 1 and Dive 2

Between your first and second Open Water certificate dive, you will relax on the boat for around 1 hour. There will be some fresh water and snacks that you should eat and drink. Use this time to take some photos and take in the scenery.

You can also ask your instructor any questions you had about the first dive.

Second Dive of PADI Open Water Certification

The second dive of the day will be used to go over more of the skills you learned in the pool. You will feel more comfortable getting in the water and diving below the surface. Your breathing will be more steady and you won’t feel as nervous as on the first dive.

Getting scuba dive certified was probably one of the most life-changing things I have ever done. Now all I want to do, all I want to spend my money on, is underwater diving. I am more hooked than I ever thought I would be.

Upgrading Your PADI Scuba Dive Training

Once you start your dive training, you may want to keep advancing your skills. There are many different courses and certificates you can work your way through. Once you get your Open Water Diver scuba diving license the specialty courses allow you to do advanced dives like digital underwater photography, wreck diver, night diver, underwater navigation to name a few.

Check out all the cool things you can do with your PADI certification below:

A flow chart of PADI Scuba Dive Courses and the specialties available
Have you tried to scuba dive? Let us know how getting certified was for you!

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 PADI open water scuba diving certification in Thailand  PADI open water scuba diving certification in Thailand

Indonesia is a laid back country made up of more than 17,000 islands. Of all these islands the most popular amongst tourists is the large island of Bali. Surrounded by water and full of a boho vibe this island is full to the brim with surfers and yogis. The islands are dotted with stunning white sandy beaches that have large waves that are perfect for surfing. Some calmer areas are heavily used for snorkeling and diving where you will see a plethora of colourful tropical fishes.

The island’s center, an area called Ubud, is where you will find the many hippie/yogi types and the city carries a very earthy vibe. With some world class restaurants and hotels, rich green rice fields and many temples to visit this is a super unique area.

The north of the island is more reserved for locals with no huge touristy areas. Rock lined beaches lead way to some of the most spectacular dive sites in all of Southeast Asia. With shipwrecks, walls of coral and gardens of sunken Buddha statues there is lots to be explored below the sea.

This island is one of many in Indonesia but with a rich culture and such vastly different landscapes it can easily leave you with countless stories. We know we left with many. Read them below.

Thailand is one of the most touristy countries in all of Southeast Asia for young people to visit. With cheap flights, stunning beaches and delicious food it is no wonder it is quickly becoming a top destination. Perfect for backpackers this country is becoming more and more accessible with many international airports and a cheap and user friendly bus and ferry system.

Having an increasingly tourist driven economy ensures that you will stay safe and have a fun time touring through this country. But with quirks like penis shrines and unmanned potholes you can’t help but think “only in Thailand.”

Get ready to laugh when you hear some of our wild stories with this country.

Myles and I consider ourselves pretty worldly, for our age at least. We have both explored different corners of the world, but we both agree that Vancouver island is unlike anywhere either of us has ever been. Perhaps it’s the expensive ferry ride to get here or the incredible charm of Victoria that makes people not want to explore further, but we have found ourselves in the clearest of waters and the most incredible of beaches without a single other soul in sight – and we are traveling in August, what should be peak season.

On our drive from Nanaimo to Tofino I tactfully convinced Myles to pull over at a rest stop along the way so we could nap. What I didn’t expect was Myles to come running back to me before my head could even hit the pillow and tell me to follow him. What he found literally steps away from the rest stop was a little lagoon filled with the clearest water either of us had ever seen. Fully equipped with a rope swing and lots of rocks for cliff jumping, the only thing that was missing was the hundreds of other people that would have been sitting there as well. Maybe we just come from a big city but I couldn’t help but feel like Vancouver Island was this absolutely gorgeous unexplored tropical island with lush rainforest and some of the most beautiful sights that was yet to be discovered by anyone else. If you don’t believe me, take a look at some of the places we’ve found, all without another soul in sight: 

Spoke Potholes, Sooke, BC

Holland park trail, Duncan, BC

CY Hampson park, Saanich, BC

Taylor river, Port Alberni, BC

East Sooke, BC
The funny thing about it is, we have been told by most of the locals that the northern part of the island is much more remote than the southern and central parts that we have already explored, as wild as that seems. Who knows what’s yet to be explored, one thing we do know is always have a camera close by!

Before we started this trip Myles would rave how Nelson would be a perfect stop for us in this trip. The people, the shoppes and the lifestyle combine into an eclectic atmosphere. After falling mesmerizingly in love with Nelson, we decided to spend our evenings at the nearby Ainsworth hot springs.

A mixture of the hot steamy water with the enchanted swim through caves and our long hot sunny summer days left us wonderfully relaxed and ready to sleep. Unfortunately for us, life had other plans. That night I awoke to a little baby mouse crawling up my curtains inches away from my face. I wish I could say this was the first time I had a startling wake up with unwanted creepy crawlies by my face but I do also have a not so distant memory of awaking to a cockroach on my hair in Vietnam, but that’s a different story. 

Fast forward a few hours and Myles and I found ourselves in a 7/11 getting energy drinks and fuel. After a chat with the attendants we were on our way to a 24 hour Waffle House (of course) where we were served by a modern hippie talking to us about his views on life, business and travelling and inviting us to stay on a compound that he and a group of about 80 people live on together. 

Another 10 hours (for a typical 6 hour drive in a modern vehicle) and we were back at my parents place washing all of our clothes and planting mouse traps. Too much spray foam and a wonderful week spent in the sun with our loved ones and we were itching to get back on the road. On the bright side, the break and access to tools let us do some much needed projects to make our home even homier.

 It took about 15 minutes of us driving to remember how much we loved this lifestyle, with no rushing and endless beach and family time, what’s not to love.