The second-largest country in the world by area, Canada is a location that many people long to visit. Indeed, with its vast wilderness, and wildlife, as well as cosmopolitan cities, there truly is something for everyone. However, before you rush off to pack your bags and plan your trip, it’s important to know a little more about this fascinating country and what you can expect from it. Something you can read more on in our post below.
Provinces, Territories & Languages Spoken
At around 9.98 million square kilometers, there is plenty of ground to be covered when visiting Canada. There are 3 territories, and 10 provinces, although you would be hard-pressed to visit all of these in a single trip!
You’ll also notice that the population of Canada is concentrated towards the south of the country. Something that is hardly surprising as the northern parts reach up to the Arctic Circle and are difficult places in which to survive. That is not to say that people don’t live up in the north because they do. Indeed, you can visit Yellowknife or Whitehorse in Winter for some excellent skiing, and there are also many First Nation population centers to the north of the country.
It is also worth noting that several languages are spoken in Canada including English and French, depending on the location you are visiting. However, English speakers will be glad to know that while using French in areas such as Quebec is encouraged, it is not a requirement to make yourself understood, for the most part.
Currency, Sales Tax, And Tipping
You probably already know that when visiting Canada you will be paying for goods and services with the Canadian Dollar. However, when people start asking you for Loonies and Toonies you may get confused. Don’t panic though, as these are just the colloquial names for the one and two-dollar coins used in Canada.
Of course, these days most people don’t carry too much cash on them, and just like most other countries debit and credit cards are accepted in Canada regularly. Although it is worth checking that the ones you hold are in use before you fly.
Not every country works on the same type of sales tax system as you will find in Canada. This is because the tax is added at the checkout, and won’t be displayed on price tags or lists. Indeed, the Candian sales tax contains the national tax and the tax related to the province you are currently visiting. Something that can make knowing exactly how much things will cost a bit confusing.
The best approach here is to find a table of the provincial taxes like the one you can see here. Then look up the number and make a note of them so you can do a quick calculation on your phone every time you buy something.
Last of all when it comes to money in Canada, visitors are advised to be aware that tipping is expected. Not only in restaurants but also for hairdressers, bar servers, and even taxi drivers. Usually, an acceptable tip will be around 20%, so it’s wise to budget accordingly.
You May Need An ETA To Enter Canada
In addition to your passport, If your home country is part of the visa-exempt scheme then you will need to get an eTA to enter Canada. Indeed, these are often known as a Canada eTA visa, but they replace the visa and are much easier to get. Not to mention cheaper to boot!
Food And Drink
For those traveling from other Western countries, the food is likely to be daily recognizable. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t some delicacies specific to Canada that you shouldn’t miss!
In particular, if you find yourself in Nova Scotia be sure to sample their delicious lobster rolls, then there is the fruity and tart Saskatoon berry pie that you cannot miss. Bannock is another popular food, initially a bread made by First Nation peoples, it has now found its way into almost everyone’s diet. The fried version that is crispy on the outside and fluffy in the middle is an experience you don’t want to miss!
Last, of all, it shouldn’t be a post about Canada without mentioning the most famous dish of all Poutine! Traditionally, this is a meal made of french fries, gravy, and cheese curds. Although, these days you will find all sorts of weird and wonderful variants from sausage wurst to pulled pork!
If you are looking to swish your Poutine down with a beer or two, or a glass of wine, it’s worth noting that there are rules that need to be followed when buying alcohol in Canada.
The first of these is that you will need to buy booze from an official liquor store if you want to take it home. Yes, that is right there is no guarantee that a supermarket or grocery store will stock liquor.
Additionally, you have to be of age to buy alcohol in Canada, and this is something that you will be challenged on if you look younger than 18. (in some locations the legal drinking age is 19 so its best to look into this if could affect you before your trip)
Packing For The Seasons
Finally, before you head off on a holiday of a lifetime to Canada you need to be aware of the type of weather you can expect when you arrive. Indeed, many people have a specific idea of Canada as being a snowy wilderness, and while this is the case in winter towards the north of the country, there are plenty of hot and sunny summers as well.
With that in mind checking the average temperature, rain, and snowfalls, as well as the wind chill of the locations you will be visiting before you go is a very smart idea. Otherwise, you could end up packing entirely the wrong type of clothes and end up spending the first day of your break shopping for new ones, rather than exploring the many delights Canada has to offer.
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