Stay Safe

Safety in Vancouver

Stay Safe

Safety ( overall) - Very High /8.5

Safety ( day) - Very High /9.2

Safety ( night ) - High/6.6

Vancouver is a great place to visit if you use common sense like keeping an eye on your possessions, knowing where you are going and avoiding alleys and unfamiliar areas at night should keep you out of trouble. Unless involved in illegal activities (such as the drug trade), it is highly unlikely you will fall victim to any sort of violent crime. If you need emergency help, dial 911.

Like any major metropolitan city, Vancouver has areas that should be travelled with caution. The most notable is the Downtown Eastside (specifically Hastings Street between Abbott and Gore). This neighbourhood is infamous for homelessness, drug-use, and prostitution. As a result of these conditions, violence is quite a common problem. If you do accidentally stroll into the Downtown Eastside it is not difficult to find your way out, but if you get lost or feel uncomfortable the best thing to do is approach a police officer. Tourists exploring Gastown and Chinatown can easily wander into the Downtown Eastside unwittingly.

It's also wise to exercise caution in the Granville Mall area downtown on Friday and Saturday nights. As Vancouver’s bar and nightclub district, the sheer volume of people combined with alcohol consumption make disorderly conduct and rowdy behaviour fairly common. But this shouldn't act as a deterrent - if you're not looking for trouble, you probably won't find it, and there is a strong police presence. The streets at night in the Granville Mall area are usually (and quite literally) clogged with people at night time. Such an enormous mix of people and alcohol can be a dangerous mix if you are not cautious.

Some parts of the city have high rates of property crime. Theft from vehicles is especially problematic and parked cars with foreign or out-of-province plates are frequently targeted. The best thing is to not leave any money and valuables in plain view. Many of the locals use steering wheel locks to prevent vehicle theft.

Panhandling is common in some parts of downtown, but is unlikely to pose a problem. Don't be rude, as there may be negative consequences.


Marijuana is illegal in British Columbia, and throughout Canada, except for medical use by doctor's prescription. In summer 2015, the Supreme Court ruled all forms of medical cannabis legal, including edibles and extracts.

Despite illegality, Vancouver has a reputation for tolerance, even celebration, of marijuana. There are numerous dispensaries that routinely offer in-house consultations, where even foreign tourists can obtain the diagnosis and prescription needed to buy medical cannabis products at the dispensary. But be aware that these dispensaries operate in a legal grey area, and customers are not guaranteed the legal protection afforded to medical marijuana patients with federally sanctioned prescriptions.

Vancouver's police and the justice system tend to turn a blind eye to minor possession and use of marijuana. If you are caught with a small amount (7 grams or less) in Vancouver, it is extremely unlikely that you will be charged. If anything, usually the police will simply ask you to move somewhere else that's out of sight to finish up.

Nonetheless, if you use marijuana illicitly, you do so at your own risk. It goes without saying that there are severe penalties for driving under the influence of marijuana.