WINTER: Snowbird locations and overnight RVing. TRAVEL ALERTS: Know Before You Go

Farmers Market Penticton Stall, South Okanagan, BC - Photo Anne P

General Travel Information

The following is a list of General Travel Information that you may find useful when planning a trip to British Columbia.

Business Hours/Shopping Hours

Most business hours are 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. or 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Most shops are open 9:00 a.m. or 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and Saturdays with many staying open until 9:00 p.m. on Thursday and Friday evenings. Many shops are open on Sundays, generally 11:00 a.m. or 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

British Columbia Public Holidays

  • New Years Day – January 1st
  • Family Day – Third Monday in February
  • Good Friday – March or April – check calendar
  • Easter Monday – March or April – check calendar
  • Victoria Day – Third Monday in May
  • Canada Day – July 1st
  • BC Day – First Monday in August
  • Labour Day – First Monday in September
  • Thanksgiving Day – Second Monday in October
  • Remembrance Day – November 11th
  • Christmas Day – December 25th
  • Boxing Day – December 26th

Conversion Information

Canada uses the metric system of weights and measures. Speed limit signs are in kilometres/hour and gasoline is sold in litres. Fresh goods and meats are sold in kilograms with many stores providing the equivalent weight/price in pounds. The following metric conversions may be useful:

  •  1 Canadian gallon = 4.5 litres
  •  1 American gallon = 3.8 litres
  •  Miles x 1.6 = kilometers
  •  Kilometers x 0.6 = miles
  •  30°Celcius = 86° Fahrenheit – Warm weather
  •  20°Celcius = 70° Fahrenheit – Referred to as room temperature
  •  0°Celcius = 32° Fahrenheit – Water Freezes
  •  -10°Celcius = 14° Fahrenheit – Cold weather
  • 1 Kilogram = 2.2 pounds

Cuisine and Restaurant Food

British Columbia’s cosmopolitan culture provides eclectic cuisine and foods that tantalise the palette. Well-known for its seafood and particularly Pacific salmon, the addition of flavours and dishes from almost every other corner of the world brings wonderful flavours to some of the best restaurants in the country.


Canada operates on 110V, 60 cycle electric power (same as the U.S.). Non-North American visitors should bring a plug adaptor to use on their own personal appliances and computers (e.g. razor, hair dryer, laptop). Canadian electrical goods come with either a two-pronged plug (same as the U.S.), or a three-pronged plug. Most sockets accommodate both.

Liquor Laws

The law in British Columbia prohibits the sale of alcoholic beverages to anyone under the age of 19 years. Alcoholic beverages can be purchased at BC Liquor Stores, beer and wine stores, at a few supermarkets, and at licensed restaurants, pubs and lounges. In general, alcoholic beverages can only be consumed on licensed premises or on private property, not in unlicensed public areas, including parks, beaches, and streets. Drinking in BC campgrounds at your site is permitted, as it is considered private property.


British Columbia has passed smoking by-laws which prohibit smoking in public places and workplaces, including restaurants, bars, and casinos, as well as within 3 meters of doorways. Smoking is prohibited in vehicles when passengers under age 16 are present. Local municipalities have the right to enact stronger smoke free air regulations. Many hotels and motels throughout British Columbia still offer some smoking rooms. If you require a non-smoking or a smoking room, it is advisable to mention this when making a reservation.


Public telephones are located in major centres such as airports and shopping malls. A local call costs 50 cents in cash. Most public telephones accept credit cards. Phone cards are available at most small grocery or newspaper stores, which allow you to purchase a certain amount of time in advance.

Time Zones/Daylight Savings Time

British Columbia operates on Pacific Standard Time (PST) which is three hours behind Eastern Standard Time (EST) in Ontario and eight hours behind Greenwich Time (GMT) in London, UK. BC is one hour behind Alberta (Mountain Standard Time). Daylight Savings Time requires that clocks move forward one hour at the beginning of April and go back one hour at the end of October. There are two areas in BC that do not change their clocks. They are Creston to Yahk in southeastern BC and the Peace River area in the northeast.


Tipping in BC is usually not included in services provided. Following are some guidelines for tipping.

  • Restaurants 15% – 20% before taxes
  • Taxis/cabs 10% – 20%
  • Hotel Bellman $2.00 – $5.00
  • Room Attendant/Chambermaid $2.00 to $5.00 per day
  • Room Service $2.00 – $5.00
  • Hair Stylist 15% – 20%

Visitor Information Centres

To assist you with your travels within British Columbia, watch for the network symbol displayed along the highways. This sign is located at over 100 community operated Visitor Centres and is your assurance that you will receive helpful information, a wealth of travel literature and friendly, personalised service.

Camping Lodging

The Super Camping / Select Lodging Guide

First Published in 1989