Vancouver's a fun place to shop because it's international and cosmopolitan, but hasn't lost its funky, fun-loving edge. There are stores galore, and most of them are not in malls. Blessed with a climate that seems semitropical in comparison to the rest of Canada, Vancouverites never really developed a taste for indoor malls (though there is one -- Pacific Centre -- right downtown).
A Special Vancouver Experience: Asian Night Markets
One of the most delicious things to do in Vancouver in the summer months is to head out to Richmond and browse your way through one—or both—of its Asian night markets. The tradition of the night market is a longstanding one in many Asian countries and now it has happily been exported to Vancouver. Vendors set up stalls that sell everything from Hello Kitty socks to diamanté iPhone cases, watches, purses, and Chinese art at vastly discounted prices. There’s usually live music and games for the kids. But the real attraction is the food: dozens and dozens of stalls serving up sizzling chicken skewers or smoky turkey legs, tender dumplings, sweet fruit drinks, curly “Ro-tatoes,” spicy grilled squid, fragrant noodles, crispy bubble waffles and, oh, so much more.
Sadly, the short-lived Chinatown Night Market is no more—it never did really catch on with locals—but there are two popular ones in Richmond: the Richmond Night Market (8351 River Rd.; tel. 604/244-8448; www.richmondnightmarket.com) and the International Summer Night Market (12631 Vulcan Way, Richmond; tel. 877/278-8008 or 604/278-8000; www.summernightmarket.com). These busy markets are loads of fun, and have the feel of a summer festival, only with amazing food. They run mid-May through Mid-September, open Fridays through Sundays 7pm to midnight (the International Summer Night Market closes an hour earlier on Sun).