Chinatown Vancouver

Chinatown in Vancouver is the largest Chinatown in Canada, and the third largest in North America, after New York City and San Francisco.

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The Millennium Gate at Chinatown’s entrance

Chinatown covers six blocks, bordered by East Pender Street, Gore Avenue, East Georgia Street, and Carrall Street.

Chinatown, which was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 2011, was established back in the 1890s. Chinese people immigrated to Vancouver to work in the mines and build the Trans-Canada railway.

The Millennium Gate / China Gate on Pender Street, which welcomes visitors to Chinatown was donated by the government of the People’s Republic of China following the Vancover Expo 86, where it was on display. The gate was renovated in 2005.

A highlight is the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden and Park. Click here to read my blog post about this classical Chinese ‘scholars’ garden – the first one built outside of China.

I arrived in Chinatown with my parents quite late in the afternoon so after looking around the Chinese garden majority of the shops were closed. We chose to have dinner at New Town Bakery and Restaurant (148 East Pender Street). After dinner we tried one of their award-winning apple tarts.

Chinatown is full of rich history, architecture, colour, and flavour – well worth a visit.

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Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden

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Apple Tart at New Town Bakery & Restaurant

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Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden

Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden is a Chinese garden located in the Chinatown district of Vancouver.

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The garden is based on the garden homes of Ming Dynasty scholars and officials. It is the first Chinese ‘scholars’ garden built outside of China.

It was built by 52 Chinese craftsman between 1985 – 1986 using mainly material imported from China. The garden opened on 24th April 1986 ahead of the Vancouver 1986 World Expo.

The park is named after Dr. Sun Yat-Sen, who was the first president and founding father of the Republic of China.

The opening hours of garden vary throughout the year, so check the website for current hours and admission prices. Note the garden is closed on Mondays from November 1 to April 30.

It is worth taking the 45 minute guided tour, which is included in the entry ticket. Check their website for timings. A tour guide will point out the significance and history of various elements in the garden, explaining Chinese philosophy, including ideas of Taoism, Feng Shui, and the balance of ying and yang.

The garden is located at 578 Carrall Street (between Pender and Keefer Streets).

Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Park located next door is a freely accessible public park. It is not as beautiful as the Chinese gardens but a good alternative if you wish to save time or money.

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Queen Elizabeth Park

Queen Elizabeth Park is a 52 hectare (130 acre) public park in Vancouver, Canada.

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It is the second most visited park in Vancouver after Stanley Park. It is a 152 metres above sea level, making it the highest point in Vancouver, offering views over Vancouver towards the mountains on the North Shore.

During the early twentieth century the land was quarried for rock to build Vancouver’s first roads. The old quarries were later turned into sunken gardens. The park was dedicated by King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (later known as Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother) during their visit to Vancouver in 1939.

Within the beautifully maintained gardens there are redwoods, a rose garden, arboretum, and the ‘dancing waters’ fountain, which has 70 jets, which burst around 85,000 litres of recirculated water. The park is also home to the Bloedel Conservatory, a domed conservatory with exotic birds and tropical plants and flowers.

For sports and recreational enthusiasts there is a bank of 17 public tennis courts, three basketball courts, two outdoor roller hockey courts, the Vancouver Lawn Bowling Club, and the Queen Elizabeth Park Pitch & Putt golf course.

The park is located at Cambie Street and West 33rd Avenue. There are also entrances on Ontario Street and West 33rd Avenue, and West 37th Avenue between Columbia and Mackie Streets.

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Bloedel Conservatory

Bloedel Conservatory is an domed conservatory and aviary located at the top of Queen Elizabeth Park in Vancouver.

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Bloedel Conservatory in Queen Elizabeth Park

In this temperature-controlled conservatory, which opened in 1969, there are more than 120 exotic birds and 500 tropical plants and flowers.

It is home to red, blue and gold, and dwarf macaws; African, Amazon, Eastern Rosella, and Eclectus parrots; a Sulphur Crested Cockatoo; and a variety of canaries, finches, pheasants, and waxbills.

There are laminated self-guided maps available with information on the various birds, tropical plants and flowers.

Bloedel Conservatory is located off 33rd Avenue, between Cambie and Main Streets. During the summer (May to August) the conservatory is open from 10am to 8pm, and in winter (September to April) from 10am to 5pm.

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VanDusen Botanical Garden

VanDusen Botanical Garden is a 22 hectare (55 acre) garden in Vancouver, Canada.

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VanDusen Botanical Garden, which first opened in 1975, is located at 5251 Oak Street at West 37th Avenue.

The opening hours change each month with the change in daylight hours. So it is best to check the website for accurate timings and admission prices.

Garden highlights include an Elizabethan Hedge Maze, Sino-Himalayan Garden, Japanese Garden, South African Garden, Chilean Garden, Australian & New Zealand Garden, Mediterranean Garden, Canadian Heritage Garden, Woodland Garden, Fern Dell, Vegetable Garden, Fragrance Garden, Rhododendron Walk, and formal and heritage rose gardens.
Also onsite there is the Shaughnessy Restaurant and Truffles Cafe, otherwise visitors can find a spot and enjoy a picnic.
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VanDusen Botanical Garden Map

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VanDusen Botanical Garden

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Totem Poles

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“Transformation Plant” – Artist: Chris Booth, New Zealand

Vancouver Lookout

Vancouver Lookout, in the heart of downtown Vancouver, is an observation tower offering 360° panoramic views of the city.

The observation deck is located 553.16 feet (168.80 metres) above Vancouver. A glass elevator ride to the observation floor takes approximately 40 seconds.

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Glass elevator

Vancouver Lookout is at 555 West Hastings St (atop the Harbour Centre building). The tower is open from 8:30am – 10:30pm in summer (May to October) and 9am – 9:30pm in winter (October to May). Last ticket is sold 20 minutes before closing.

Tickets are valid all day, so one could visit during the day and return in the evening for sunset and the city lights.

Also located in the tower is Top of Vancouver, a revolving restaurant.

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