Phones in British Columbia are identical to phones in the U.S. The country code is the same as the U.S. code (1). Local calls normally cost C25¢. Many hotels charge C$1 or more per local call and much more for long-distance calls, although more hotels are providing free local service. You can save considerably by using a calling card or your cellphone. You can buy prepaid phone cards in various denominations at grocery and convenience stores.
To call Vancouver or Victoria:
1. If you're calling from outside North America, dial the international access code: 00 from the U.K., Ireland, or New Zealand; or 0011 from Australia. (Omit this step if you're calling from the U.S.)
2. Dial the country code 1.
3. For Vancouver or Whistler, dial the area code 604 and then the number. For Victoria or Tofino/Ucluelet, dial the area code 250 and then the number.
Calling within Vancouver and Whistler: If you are in Vancouver or Whistler and want to call another number in Vancouver or Whistler, you must use the area code 604, followed by the number.
Calling within Victoria: If you are in Victoria and calling another Victoria number, you do not need to add the area code. If you are calling from Victoria to anywhere else on Vancouver Island, however, you must use the area code 250 before the number.
To make international calls: To call the U.S., dial 1, followed by the area code and phone number. To call the U.K., Ireland, Australia, or New Zealand, first dial 00 and then the country code (U.K. 44, Ireland 353, Australia 61, New Zealand 64), followed by the area code and number.
For directory assistance ("Information"): For automated toll-free directory assistance within Canada (and the U.S.), dial tel. 800/555-1212. You can also dial tel. 411 if you're looking for a number inside Canada. Dial tel. 0 (zero) for numbers to all other countries. (You will incur a charge if you use the 411 and 0 directory assistance numbers.)
For operator assistance: If you need operator assistance making a call, dial tel. 0 (zero).
Toll-free numbers: Numbers within Canada beginning with 800, 866, 877, and 888 are toll-free from the U.S., but calling a 1-800 number in the States from Canada is not toll-free. In fact, it costs the same as an overseas call.
Canada is part of the GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications), a big, seamless network that makes for easy cross-border cellphone use. GSM phones function with a removable plastic SIM card, encoded with your phone number and account information. If your cellphone is on a GSM system, and you have a world-capable multiband phone such as many Sony Ericsson, Motorola, or Samsung models, you can make and receive calls across Canada. Just call your wireless operator and ask for "international roaming" to be activated on your account. (Many U.S. cellphones are already equipped with this capability and need no further modification to operate in Canada.)
You can rent a cellphone at a Touristinfo Centre at Vancouver International Airport (Touristinfo Centres are found in both the domestic and international terminals), or in the city at the Vancouver Touristinfo Centre, 200 Burrard St. (tel. 604/683-2000), for a minimum charge (approx. C$50). For current rates and more information, contact the phone provider, Cita Communications (tel. 604/671-4655; www.cita.info).
Internet & Wi-Fi
Almost all hotels in Vancouver and Victoria provide some kind of computer access to guests traveling without their own laptops. In some cases, it's a free public computer in the lobby; in other, more high-end hotels, there may be a charge to use computers in the hotel's business center. To find cybercafes in Vancouver and Victoria, check www.cybercaptive.com and www.cybercafe.com. For those people traveling with their own computer, almost all hotels, resorts, airports, cafes, and retailers have gone to Wi-Fi (wireless fidelity), offering free high-speed Wi-Fi access or charging a fee for 24-hour usage. In the service information for every hotel in this guide, note whether the hotel offers free Wi-Fi or high-speed Internet access; if not, rates generally average C$15 for 24 hours. Almost invariably, it is large upscale hotels and resorts (such as Westin and the Four Seasons) that charge guests for Internet or Wi-Fi use.
To locate public Wi-Fi "hotspots," go to www.jiwire.com; its Hotspot Finder holds the world's largest directory of public wireless hotspots.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.