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A complete guide to Banff

Before You Come to Banff

  • Banff is located in Canada, therefore you must bring Canadian currency (Canadian dollars). It's a good idea to purchase Canadian dollars from the country of your origin before you arrive. Major credit cards (Visa, MasterCard) are accepted everywhere as well. U.S. dollars are accepted in most places, however it is still advisable to exchange at least some of your currency into Canadian dollars. Travelers' cheques and U.S. dollar currency are accepted by many businesses in Banff. Also note that the nick names "loonie" and "toonie" refer to the $1 coin and the $2 coin respectively.

  • Canada has a Goods and Services Tax (GST) of 7%. Therefore, whatever you purchase from Banff will have a 7% tax added on top of the cost. Non-Canadian tourists may claim the GST from the Canadian government. Please click here for details.

  • Banff's weather can change very quickly. Warm clothing and proper footwear are very important. In the winter time, snow-boots (insulated water-proof boots; available throughout Calgary) and warm jackets are a must. If you are planning on going skiing, then you should bring snow-pants and proper gloves as well. Don't be fooled by the warm sunshine during the summer, make sure you bring at least a jacket even then. Please click here for detailed weather statistics.

  • Though Canada is a bilingual country where the official languages are both English and French, few people speak French in western Canada and everybody speaks English. Due to Canada's rich ethnic minorities, you will find lots of Punjabi and Cantonese speaking people as well.

  • Though reservations are not necessary, they are a very good idea before you arrive. Try to plan your trip thoroughly and reserve appropriately. For example, reserve a rental car (if you're going to be renting a car) beforehand, also make reservations with tour-guides (if you're taking a guided tour).

  • The AC-power voltage in Canada is 110 volts (60 Hz). Most notebook computers and cell-phone chargers are made for both 110 and 220 volts, however check your power adaptor just to be safe. Power converters can allow you to plug in your 220 volt appliances into the Canadian 110-volt AC-power supply. Power converters are available in most electronics stores. Canada uses the same electric current as the United States.
     

  • Unlike most tourist spots, Banff's crime rate is very low. If you are bringing valuables however, it would be a wise decision to place them in a locked safe. Most hotels have small vaults for this very purpose. Other than that, use common sense.
     

  • Banff is located in the Mountain Standard Time Zone. Canada switches to daylight savings time on the last Sunday in April and switches back to standard time on the last Sunday in October. So it is GMT-7 hours in the summer and GMT-6 hours in the winter.
     

  • Incase of an emergency, call 911 for police, fire, and ambulance. The hospital located in Banff is Mineral Springs Hospital on 301 Lynx Street, Phone: (403) 762-2222. Pharmacies are located throughout Banff. They are normally open from Monday thru Friday from 9am to 6pm.
     

  • Internet is available through a cyber cafe located on 215 Banff Avenue, Phone: (403) 762-9226. Internet access is available in many hotels as well.
     

  • Stores, restaurants, banks, and other tourist spots are open through most holidays however with shorter timings. The holidays observed in Banff are listed below.
     

    General Holiday Definition 2006 2007
    New Years DayJanuary 1st January  1 January 1
    Alberta Family DayThird Monday in February February 20 February 19
    Good FridayFriday before Easter April 14 April 6
    Victoria DayMonday before May 25 May 22 May 21
    Canada DayJuly 1, except when it falls on a Sunday, then it is July 2 July 1 July 1
    Labour DayFirst Monday in September September 4 September 3
    Thanksgiving DaySecond Monday in October October 9 October 8
    Remembrance DayNovember 11 November 11 November 11
    Christmas DayDecember 25 December 25 December 25

  • Banff's area code is 1-(403). When calling from outside Canada to Banff, dial 1-(403) before the 7-digit phone number. When making phone calls between Banff and Calgary, the area-code is not mandatory, you may dial the 7-digit phone number directly.