By Azure Lee
Dreaming of a land where towering mountains meet pristine lakes, where multiculturalism thrives, and where vibrant cities pulse with energy? Look no further than Canada, a country that promises an awe-inspiring experience like no other. With its diverse landscapes, captivating wildlife, and friendly locals, Canada beckons travelers from around the globe to embark on a journey of a lifetime.
But before you set foot on this captivating land, it's crucial to arm yourself with essential knowledge that will unlock the full potential of your adventure. In this enticing article, we'll unveil the secrets that will make your visit to Canada truly extraordinary. So, pack your bags, open your mind, and let's dive into the essential things to know before going to Canada, unlocking the door to a truly remarkable travel experience.
Essential things to know before going to Canada
Top 8 Things You Need To Know About Canada Before Embarking On Your Journey
Canada, with its breathtaking landscapes, vibrant cities, and multicultural society, is a popular destination for travelers and immigrants alike. Before embarking on your journey to the Great White North, it's essential to arm yourself with knowledge about the country's customs, weather, transportation, and culture. Check out this list of things you need to know about Canada to ensure your trip goes as smoothly as possible!
Make sure you're weather-ready
One of the important things to know about Canada before visiting is that even if you visit in the summer, it can get chilly at night in the mountains.
Contrary to popular belief, Canada doesn't always have subfreezing temperatures, and much of the country has extremely hot summers. Typically, in July and August, much of central and southern Canada experiences temperatures higher than 30 °C (86 °F).
That said, because Canada has seven distinct climate zones, the best time to visit will largely depend on how the weather behaves at any given moment. So pack accordingly, considering the season and the activities you plan to engage in during your visit.
Make sure you're weather-ready
Canada is a big nation!
In actuality, Canada is the world's second-largest nation, immediately behind Russia. So when you come to Canada, don't expect to be able to travel across the country in just a few weeks. Given the size of Canada, getting from one city to the next requires considerable distance.
For travelers with limited time, it is advisable to focus on one or two provinces and delve deep into the attractions and experiences they offer. By narrowing down your itinerary, you can make the most of your visit and immerse yourself in the unique offerings of a specific region.
Additionally, it's important to note that Canadian cities are often spread out, meaning that the distance between various points of interest can be significant. When making hotel or accommodation bookings, it is essential to verify the actual distances to popular sights, bus or train stations to avoid any misconceptions about proximity.
Canada is the world's second-largest nation
Check visa requirements and entry
To enter Canada, you typically require a visa or an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) unless you are a citizen of the United States. The type of passport you have will determine what you require, so be sure to check this well in advance of your trip.
Except for Americans, all visa-free foreigners must have a Canada ETA. Prior to taking off for Canada, travelers must obtain this travel document. You can complete the eTA application form in a matter of minutes through the Canada Immigration Services website. The procedure is not complicated; no paperwork is required, and you can apply remotely without making long lines at the Embassy or Consulate.
Canada is a bilingual country with two official languages
While English is the primary language for the majority of Canadians, approximately 20% of the population considers French their mother tongue. Canada's multicultural nature contributes to a diverse linguistic landscape, where you will encounter varying levels of proficiency in both English and French, as well as a multitude of accents and other languages spoken.
French, on the other hand, holds a significant presence in the province of Quebec, where it is the dominant language. Quebec has its own distinct culture and regulations regarding language use, including the use of French in government, education, and public signage. It is important to note that French is also spoken in other provinces, particularly in certain regions of New Brunswick, Ontario, and Manitoba.
When visiting Canada, it can be helpful to have a basic understanding of English, as it will be widely understood and spoken throughout the country. However, learning a few French phrases can be advantageous, especially if you plan to visit Quebec or interact with francophone communities.
Canada is a bilingual country with two official languages
Tipping customs in Canada closely resemble those in the United States.
When receiving services from waiters, hairdressers, cab drivers, hotel employees, and others, it is customary to provide a tip as a token of appreciation.
While tipping is not mandatory, it is generally expected in most situations. The standard practice is to tip within the range of 15% to 20% of the total bill.
It is worth noting that in Canada when you receive the debit or credit machine to settle your bill, you will often encounter a screen that prompts you to input the tip amount. The default minimum suggestion is typically 15%, which has become the standard norm.
If you are dining with a group and decide not to leave a tip, it is important to be aware that this may lead to some level of annoyance among your companions. In such cases, your friends might feel obligated to cover the portion of the tip that you did not contribute.
Consider Travel Insurance for Canada
While Canada is renowned for its excellent healthcare system, it is essential to note that this system primarily benefits Canadian citizens and permanent residents. As a visitor, you may not be entitled to the same benefits.
In the event of an unforeseen medical issue or emergency that requires hospitalization or medical attention during your stay in Canada, the expenses incurred can be substantial without adequate insurance coverage. It is crucial to recognize that a trip to the hospital or medical facility in Canada, without insurance can result in a significant financial burden.
To safeguard yourself against potential financial hardships and ensure peace of mind during your trip, we recommend you buy Travel Insurance for your trip. Travel Insurance can cover a range of scenarios, including medical emergencies, trip cancellation or interruption, baggage loss, and more, depending on the policy you choose.
Learn more about Travel Insurance for visitors
Travel Insurance can cover a range of scenarios
Check the drinking rules
In contrast to some countries where alcohol regulations are more relaxed, Canada enforces strict rules that must be followed. The first key point to note is that the legal drinking age in Canada varies between 18 and 19, depending on the province. To ensure compliance, you should carry a valid photo identification document to prove your age when purchasing alcohol.
After confirming your age and obtaining your desired alcoholic beverage, you might be tempted to enjoy it in a picturesque park or take a leisurely stroll while sipping from a can of beer. However, it is vital to reconsider these plans. In the majority of places across Canada, except for certain exceptions in Quebec, drinking in public is strictly prohibited and can result in fines and penalties. Even if you are quietly enjoying a glass of wine on the beach, there is a possibility that a police officer may intervene, confiscate your bottle, and pour out its contents.
Expect sales tax
You've found yourself in a situation where you have only $50 left, and you stumble upon an amazing souvenir priced at $49.99. It seems like a perfect match, right? Well, brace yourself for some bad news: you won't be able to afford it. Why? Of course, thanks to sales tax.
On top of the 5% Goods and Services Tax (GST) applied nationwide, each province in Canada levies its own provincial sales tax at varying rates. The frustrating part is that sales tax isn't included in the listed price of an item; you always have to be prepared to pay an additional amount.
Allow me to illustrate with an example: In British Columbia, the combined sales tax amounts to 12%. So, that seemingly affordable souvenir priced at $49.99 would actually cost you $54.99 with tax included. If you happen to be purchasing liquor in British Columbia, the tax burden becomes even higher!
As you prepare to embark on your journey to Canada, these top 8 things to know before visiting Canada will provide valuable insights and ensure a smooth and enriching travel experience. Familiarize yourself with the country's diverse geography, climate, and cultural nuances. Understand the visa requirements and have the necessary documentation for entry. Plan your transportation, currency needs, and healthcare coverage in advance.
By being well-prepared and knowledgeable about these essential aspects of Canada, you will have the foundation for an unforgettable journey filled with breathtaking landscapes, cultural discoveries, and warm encounters with the Canadian spirit. Enjoy your trip to the Great White North!