Vancouver: Gastown, Chinese Garden & Vancouver Lookout

January 16, 2020

This summer (2019) we went to Vancouver, Canada.

I have wanted to go to Vancouver for a very long time so I was super excited to have a chance to visit.

In today’s post, I’m going to tell you a little bit more about Vancouver’s famous Gastown, Dr. Sun Yat-Sem Classical Chinese Garden, and the Vancouver Lookout Tower.

Those three attractions are located very close to each other and you can definitely see them in one day, which is why I have combined them into one post.

Let’s get started!!!

Gastown

Gastown is the oldest neighborhood in Vancouver.

Its funny name comes from John Deighton, also known as Gassy Jack, who founded a tavern in what is now know to be Gastown, back in the late 1800s.

From that single tavern grew the entire neighborhood, and then the rest of Vancouver.

Water Street is the main street where you can find picturesque old buildings, walk around the cobblestone streets and shop at unique stores.

gastown, vancouver, water street

View of Water Street 

Some things to look out for:

Steam Clock

The Steam Clock is probably the most famous attraction in Gastown. It is located on the corner of Water Street (the main street) and Cambie St.

You will not miss it, there is always a huge crowd around it.

Every hour the steam clock releases steam from the whistles located on the top, creating a little tune which is what people are usually waiting around for.

Here is a video of what it looks like.

Here is a video of the mechanics inside the clock.

steam clock, gastown, clock

There is always a crowd around the Steam Clock

A fun fact about the steam clock is that it was featured on the cover of Nickelack’s album called Here and Now.

Gassy Jack Statue

The statute is located at the very end of Water Street (at the intersection of Water St. and Carral St.).

It pays tribute to the founder of the Gastown neighborhood, Gassy Jack.

He was called Gassy because apparently he was very talkative.

Make sure to take a quick picture with him during your stroll!  

statue, Gassy Jack, Vancouver

Here is a pic of Mr. Gassy Jack

Food

Gastown is known for having very good restaurants and interesting food options. I would recommend Tacofino, which serves mainly tacos.

They had really nice nachos and cocktails as well. This restaurant chain started in Tofino, BC and at this point has at least 3 locations all over Vancouver.

So if you want to try something local, try the Tacofino in Gastown. It was delicious!

Also, I wrote a whole article on Tofino, which you can check out here

 

nachos, food

This was our nachos plate

 

tacos, food

One of our tacos

 

Other restaurants that I’ve heard a lot of people recommend but I have not personally tried are The Old Spaghetti Factory, Steamworks, The Flying Pig, Catch 122.

Also, I have been told to try a Porchetta Sandwich at Meat and Bread.

Google their menus and see what tickles your tummy.

We also tried Cacao 70 Dippery which is an ice cream place where you have a vanilla ice cream base and then they can dip it into different flavors creating a very yummy outside crust.

Some of the options that are very popular for dipping into are Matcha, Maple, Earl Gray, Chai, etc.

The one I chose was the Earl Gray and it was very yummy. They also do waffles. 

Dr. Sun Yat-Sem Classical Chinese Garden

The Chinese Garden is a 10 to 15-minute walk from the Gassy Jack statue.

Word of advice: Just be careful because as you walk towards the garden you are going to cross a street where there are a lot of homeless people who seemed to be either drunk or on drugs.

Having said that, we walked there and back and we had no problem. Just be careful, don’t go alone or when it’s dark. Or you can take a taxi if you are worried.

The entrance is a bit ticked away – look for a tall, white wall. The garden is divided into two parts. One is paid and one is free. 

Paid garden

The paid one in the first scholar’s garden that was built outside of China.

It was constructed by experts from China and they used the same tools and materials that were used centuries ago to build the houses of the scholar elite and their families.

 

Chinese garden, Vancouver

The entrance to the original garden (paid area)

 

There is also a tour included in the ticket price.

I highly suggest for you to do the tour, otherwise, you would not fully understand the whole philosophy behind those classical gardens.

Without doing the tour, the admission you pay to go in is not really worth it.

I also learned a lot of interesting information and how these beautiful gardens tie in with Chinese philosophy, art, and architecture.

Everything you see – the rocks, the water, the plants, the shapes of the windows and doorways, all mean something and tie in together. 

The tour guide was very knowledgeable and explained everything very clearly.

I would say the tour was around 10-15 mins. After the tour was done, there was complimentary tea.

 

Chinese garden, attraction

The lovely original garden (paid area)

 

Free garden

The free portion looks identical to the paid portion however it was not constructed by experts using original material and tools that were shipped all the way from China.

So if you care about seeing the real, original garden then you have to pay to get in.

If you are on a budget and you just want to take a few pictures or sit and take a break from walking around all day, then you can do the free proportion.

 

Chinese garden, lake, plants

View of the free garden from the paid one

 

However, keep in mind that even though they are right beside each other you cannot cross from one to the other once inside.

Their entrances are outside and are beside each other. Both gardens are relatively small and can be seen pretty quickly. 

I would recommend doing the original garden only if you do the tour.

For more information check out their official website

 

garden, lake

This is the free portion from within it

 

Vancouver Lookout Tower

The interesting thing about the Vancouver Lookout Tower is that it is a tower inside of another building.

I know you are probably like, what the heck are you talking about, but just look at the picture below.

 

tower, Vancouver, Canada

The tower is inside a building lol

 

Vancouver Lookout Tower is located on the other side of Gastown, it is very easy to spot it.

I really like taking pictures from above so I really enjoy going up towers.

The day that we visited was very sunny and you can see the mountains, the water, and the city.

 

city view, buildings, Canada

City view

 

There was even a cruise ship. It is very close to the harbor, so if you have some extra time it is a nice area to walk by the water.

Also, there weren’t many people in the tower that day so it was actually a very relaxing experience.

When you buy a ticket you can go up twice – once during the day and again when it’s dark.

 

boat, view, mountains, harbor

View towards the harbor and the mountains

 

You get a 360° view of Vancouver and the views are beautiful.

There is also a revolving restaurant called Top of Vancouver, one floor above the observation deck.

The glass elevator ride is also cool, here is a video of it.

It would take you about an hour to enjoy the Vancouver Lookout Tower. 

If you want to learn more – check out the price of the tickets or see the hours of operation, you can check their website. 

 

city view, buildings, Canada

Another city view

 

Since you are already in the area, just a five-minute walk from the tower, you can find the Pink Alley.

Which is exactly what you would think it is. It is a pink alley where you can take some cool pictures.

Just put it on your Google maps, it is indicated.

 

pink alley, Vancouver

The Pink Alley

 

Well, there you have it, Gastown, Dr. Sun Yat-Sem Classical Chinese Garden, and the Vancouver Lookout Tower.

It was a lovely day, exploring those three attractions. We did not pre-book any of the tickets in advance.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post and I hope you have a chance to visit Vancouver sometimes soon.

1