Thinking of going to Vancouver for maybe 4-5 days, is this enough to see the "must sees" and what are they? Also, if anyone could give an approximate budget per day? And lastly, we wont have any transport so what is the bus / train service like there?
Vancouver is totally worth the trip! That should be enough time to see the city. Being a local, I couldn't be certain about the accomodation pricing, but I'd guess that the cheapest dorm type hostel you'd find is probably about $30Cdn. Cheapest hotel room would probably be around $80.
While in van, there's a lot to see. You can check out gastown, the old part of the city, but I wouldn't wander the area too much at night as its a bit shady nearby. Also, you can visit our beaches. From wreck beach (nude optional) at the edge of UBC there are absolutely beautiful sunsets into the water, and the other beaches border the city. From jerico beach there's an awesome view of downtown and the mountains behind it. As for shopping, there's metrotown in Burnaby. Downtown is easy to get around and also has shopping (robson and granville streets highlight) as well as a bunch of cool restaurants and the bar district along Granville St. Davie st downtown is the Gay district and it's awesome to wander down. There's great restaurants, the people are super nice, and English bay beach and stanley park are at the end and within easy walking distance. All of downtown is totally walkable, and the busses downtown are frequent enough to help out. Another cool neighborhood is kitsilano, with everything from restaurants to specialty shops all full of style and grace. The hollywood theatre on brodway has double features of second run films for super cheap. Also, there's commercial drive, which is more affordable, and has its own trendiness. Come here for great coffee shops and dollar-slice pizza. If in this area, you can't miss out on marios gelato factory with 198 flavours. Its a big pink building on Venebles near clark, you can't miss it. My favourite bar is the two parrots, which is on the corner of granville street and davie street. Its laid back, busy and has cheap drinks all the time (3$ tequilla shots everyday for instance). Another vancouver hot spot is granville island. It's an artsy area with cool shops and workshops and its right on the pier. There's tons of theatre there and the public market has lots of goodies to look at and taste. If you're into parks, stanley park is key. Go for a walk, bike or rollerblade (all can be rented nearby) on the seawall and wander through the ancient trees in the park. Its right at the end of downtown, so its very accessible. The great thing about Vancouver is that it is pretty mild year round, so if you come in the winter, you can do any and all of your wintersports on our local coast mountains and not have to deal with the snow or the cold until you're up there. It might be worth it to go up to Grouse mountain year round because you can take a gondola up top and the view of the city is spectacular. As for museums, I'd say the Vancouver art gallery and the UBC museum of anthropology are your best bets. Oh, and an absolute must if you want to be a real vancouverite is all you can eat sushi (and other japanese food). You can get it almost anywhere and its well worth the 12 dollars if you go for lunch (12-3 ish) or late night (9-12 ish). Awesome food. Just awesome. And if you want something cheap and filling, try pho. Its everywhere too, its this vietnamese noodle soup and for about 5-7 bucks, you have an awesome meal. Budget-mid range meals all around would come as cheap as a 3$ hot dog at a stand to lunch or dinner at most for 15-20 bucks (but easily enough for 10-15).
There isn't a super compex metro system or anything in Vancouver. There's a skytrain that connects certain parts of the city, and its quick and convenient but doesn't go everywhere. Most likely you'll be bussing it everywhere. It takes a bit longer, but you can get anywhere you need to go (even the foot of the mountain). You pay $2.25 for one zone, and $3.25 for two. There's also a third, but you probably won't use it. The fares all go down to a one zone after 6 and on weekends. You get a transfer after paying for your first bus and it's good for any sort of transit until 90 minutes has passed, when you'll have to pay again.
If you're interested, any of the gulf islands are worth the visit, and Victoria, BC's provincial capital, is only a 10 dollar ferry ride away. I've seen whales on route and the islands are pretty to look at along the way. If you make your way to Vancouver Island for a few days, I'd strongly suggest you go to pacific rim national park. Its along the pacific coast. You can explore the tide pools, treck through the rainforest, surf on long beach, and stare into the open pacific. Its well worth the trip, but you may have to rent a car for this one. As for acomodation, you can probably get a hostel in Tofino or in Ucluelet, but I'd try for the camping on the beach within the park.
Phew, I guess that's everything. Let me know if you have any questions! Vancouverites are pretty friendly and should help you get around should you need anything.
Cheers and hopefully you can make it here. You'd have a good time!
Wow...I agree! But definitely see Stanley Park...