Canada has long links with British and French traditions as well as with its American neighbours. This makes Canada’s culture truly unique with some of the most approachable locals in the world. You will find Canada similar to the US in terms of standard of life and services available but you will find the pace of life a little more relaxed in Canada and the scenery in the rural parts is some of the most spectacular in the world. A great country to travel in itself it also makes an excellent addition to any American tour.
- Currency: $ Can (Canadian Dollar) 100 cents to the dollar
- Time Zone: Spans 6 time zones from GMT-3.5 to GMT – 8
- Language: English, French in some regions
- Telephone Services: Country code is +1, the international dialling code is 011
- Emergency Numbers: 911 or 0 depending on province
Summer tends to be warm and sunny but winter can be very cold indeed, especially further north. In some particularly bad areas of the Rockies snow and ice can build up rapidly preventing road crew from keeping up with road cleaning and snow can accumulate to several centimetres. When driving during these conditions you will be required to use winter tyres or snow chains on your tyres. In fact any road in Canada can suffer from this condition during the numerous winter storms but the Rocky Mountains are particularly unpredictable from September to May.
Things to see and do
Canada can offer pretty much anything you want to do but some highlights include such wonders as a coach ride onto Glaciers in the Rockies. After loading into a heavily modified (read spiky wheeled, 4 wheel drive) coach you are taken out onto a glacier and even get to drink from a glacial spring. These glaciers are high enough to be ice even in the summer so you can go on this extraordinary experience any time.
Many travellers are drawn to Banff to its incredible natural hot springs which local rumour has it prolongs youth, others prefer to go in winter where resorts like Whistler give arguably some of the best snow sports in the world.
Outdoorsy adventurous types will find plenty to cater for their tastes such as white water rafting, husky rides and an amazing array of water sports at locations such as Lake Louise and Lake Ontario. And of course everyone should see the famed Niagara Falls at least once!
Travel is cheap and affordable in Canada, Greyhound offer extensive point-to-point coach routes and hire cars are readily available. Train travel is an alternative although you may have trouble getting to some locations by train. Most provinces have a local train operator and Canadian National run a service which covers a large portion of Northern USA and Canada.
Cheap Accommodation is easily available, motels are generally available in any town and the standard compared to for example Eastern Europe is very high. You should find it quite easy to find Motel rooms and spaces in Youth Hostels on the day but if you want to book locally you will find literally hundreds of motels/hotels have online booking service.
The Hostel Handbook for the USA and Canada is a great resourse for backpakcers in North America. The list includes HI locations and all independent hostels. It’s updated every year so the information is current. It includes a great section on travel tips and budget travel resouces. A new print version comes out every February but you can order the book or browse the information on their website.
In general the health service is very good in Canada and easily competes with that of Western Europe. You will however need to have comprehensive travel insurance to cover any medical attention you may require.
No shots or injections are required to travel from Western Europe to the UK.
As of 2 July 2003 the World Health Organisation has taken Canada off the list of SARS affected countries.
Canada’s High Commission in the UK
Canada’s Tourist Commission can provide detailed advice for tourists.
Canadian National is the most extensive rail operator in the area.
The Canadian branch of Greyhound, offers good value travel passes for their extensive network of point-to-point bus routes.
Toronto Pearson International Airport – all you need to know about this airport, whether it’s your final destination or a connection airport. The site lists airport details, services, updates and customer reviews.