Downtown Eastside, Vancouver
Just a helpful tip. Go to googleMaps. Type in Main and Hasting Vancouver. Take a look at the street shots or web cams, this allows you to take a look at the people and type of behavior that seems to take place there. A visual idea of what to expect.
There are fabulous things you'll miss if you leave the DTES (downtown east side) of Vancouver out of your trip. The chinese garden is phonominal and the Carnegie Center stained glass windows are a tourist stop because they haven't begun to warp as all glass does even though they are more than a century old.
Unfortunatly the Carnegie is located at Hastings and Main - the epicenter of the DTES. usually surrounded by people, many of whom are selling drugs. Mostly perscriptions. The thing about dealers is this. None want to attract police attention. They want to make their money and go. As long as you are not showing any inclination in purchasing said product, You are left alone. Now don't assume that because of your way of dress or type of personallity or age might show you aren;t there to buy, but having spent time there, I can say I have seen ALL types so it isn't rudeness to be asked, usually soemeone is trying to sell fake stuff to the unaware or just simply try to help a newcome to find their drug of choice. Many come to reduce pain. Not to get high.
Don't get involved and they will not bother you.
I am 16 now and I used to live on East Hastings as a drug user.
Vancouver is a beautiful city and not one to ignore or miss out on when traveling. You will be warned time and time again not to go to Main or Hastings (A.K.A Downtown East side). Ironically enough these streets are right between China Town and Gas Town. Both great tourist sites.
I lived there for a little over a year in a run down apartment with no bathroom and part of the floor missing. I know how hard it is and the people living down there don't deserve to be gawked at like sideshow freaks because WE'RE not.
Everyone there will frighten you, I'm sure. It's not every day you walk down a street that smells of urine and is stained with blood. I myself suggest not to walk around the area at night but you won't find trouble unless you really go looking for it.
I lived in ground zero and I even went looking for trouble. The very worst that may happen in the day time is someone will look at you and ask for some money.
Vancouver is an amazing city. From the richest to the poorest. You can enjoy both. I myself have lived in Yaletown and frequented the Downtown East side daily and never once had any type of confrontation. Some basic tips, look the part. If you go walking into the the east side looking like a tourist, splashing a flashy watch, wearing shiny metal or gold rings, sporting brand new $300.00 running shows, smell of polo then you are asking for trouble.
If you are a frugal tourist or on a tight budget you could utilize some amazing resources in the East Side. A full course lunch/ dinner for $2.50 at the 44 club on east Alexander st. A free lunch and dinner at the Union gospel, free coffee and snacks all throughout the neighborhood if you slow yourself down and observe what others are doing.
Dress the part and like someone else indicated, do not treat the people there as sideshows. Again, people will pick up on it and pounce.
I usually dress in jeans (American Eagle) , a pull over sweat shirt (American Eagle or GAP) Toque (Nike -in winter) and keep my watch un-noticed. No other jewelry. You don't have to dress like you're homeless or in walmart brand clothes. Just don't dress excessive, don't appear afraid, look like you know where you are heading and be observant of whats going on around you, You can enjoy all of Vancouver if you exercise a little common sense.
As for at night. Well, I always got through it by looking like I'm uber pissed off about something and ready to snap. No one ever has approached me yet. One of my friends which lives further up on East Hasting sometimes has to walk Hastings home, what she does is act like a crazy person screaming and pointing at people. One has bothered her yet either.
All the warnings I have read afterwards I went accidently to this place have been true.And I was there during daylight!Thank god I didn`t go there during the night.Blood on the street,awful smell and all those sick people.
As well-travelled Australians, my husband and I have been to the big cities - Paris, London, Rome, New York, Tokyo, Sydney, etc. But we can honestly say that we have NEVER experienced poverty in a city like we saw in the Eastside of Downtown Vancouver. Like many tourists, we were innocently wandering the streets in search of Chinatown from Gastown. And before we reached the infamous East Hastings Street, we came across an alley named "Blood Street" - it was dark and dingy, and we should have headed its warning. Within a couple of minutes we found what appeared to be hundreds of people living in poverty. The homeless, the drug addicts, the prostitutes, and the just-plain-dodgy were all out in search of who-knows-what - and it was only 3pm! Never have I felt so terrified as a tourist. No law enforcement could be seen, and if it wasn't for a bus, and a very kind bus driver, I don't know what would have happened next.
Just stay away.
My wife and I went to CHINATOWN and thought we could just walk the few blocks on Carrell st. to qucikly get to GASTOWN. Wrong. The area goes from bad to worse real quick. Best described as what it must be like to see the Plague in real life, right in front of your face. Hundreds of people thin and obviously sick. Open Sores. The smell of the place was stuck in my MOUTH for probably 10 blocks after. NOT GOOD. If your in Vancouver on a nice vacation do not go here! Avoid it at all costs. You do not need to see this. It is not just some bums sitting around, its full blown drug addicts. It felt like a wicked sick place. I spoke with police later in the evening about the situation on East Hastings, they said the druggies pretty much leave the tourists alone (dont take comfort in this). He said its been like that since the 60's but lately there are more people. Don't let your curiosity get the best of you. I wish I had never walked thru. I am 6ft. and weight 225 muscular. I have no pictures because my hands were wet with sweat and I was walking so fast, pulling my wife along.
I was walking there monday evening around 8PM and I have never so many people so wasted before. All other places where I have seen wasted people they have been alone, or maximum two of them. But in here tens of people were wandering the street without knowing what happend around them.
i'm very familiar with Vancouver..since i live and born here..druggies, pimps, drugs, crime, break-ins, etc etc etc are in that area..aviod that area! its ok to take a bus threw it..but don't walk threw there at night!you may get robbed..downtown east-side is located after Cambie and Hastings street..downtown is generally safe
I was in Vancouver on Business in Jan. 2007. A bunch of us went to a bar in "gastown" and left the bar when it closed, we were walking around waiting for a free cab (tons of people all looking for cabs) so we decided to walk a bit to find a quieter and easily cab accessable area.. we (all of us from 500km away from Vancouver) stumbled across what is known to us NOW as East Hastings, it looked extremely sketchy, so we figured we'd just walk fast and mind our own business. When after a while, 3 Native americans jumped out of some corner we didn't see them in and started yelling at us. We tried to calm them down and then one of them pulled a massive glass jug out of her jacket and smashed me in the face and then turned to my other friend and hit him in the back of the head. I broke my nose and required an ambulance and my friend just needed a staple in his head. It was a unprovoked attack and it was extremely hard to get out of the situation. As when I got hit, my other friend covered me (he's much bigger then I ) and ran with me away, when the natives saw this, they called "johny" and a man with a knife came out of nowhere and chased us and my friend. We eventually found a police car and flagged him down and were able to get out of there. This area is messed up.... I would extremely recommend not going anywhere near it.. take a cab to china town, or gas town... but avoid that general area..
A lot of people tell horror stories about the Downtown Eastside. Most of those people down there are hurting and homeless, and don't want any trouble. If you just ignore them, almost all of the time, they'll leave you alone. Walking down there in the daytime isn't a pretty sight, but I highly doubt you'll run into trouble unless you deliberately go looking for it. There's no need to get all freaked out about it if you find yourself there, day or night. Just keep to yourself, and keep moving, and you should be fine. Like I stated before, you'll only run into trouble if you go down and initiate it. I'd be more concerned about finding myself venturing into alleys and some of the poorly lit side streets off Main which are more of a potential threat than Hastings St. itself.
Everyone is so freaked out about the DTES. It's like this: If you aren't looking to score drugs or a looking for sex from a "professional" then you are basically safe.
Don't let paranoia get you, especially since the Chinatown night market is in the DTES, you may miss something special. Gastown is also in the area (on the fringes) but in the day you won't be bothered, stay off of Hastings though.
I would reccomend not parking in the area...property crime is pretty high in Vancouver (especially there), but violent crimes are not commmon unless you are trying to do something illegal anyway.
I was doing some research on the downtown eastside and came across this message board.I just had to leave a comment!Im now 14 and i love to wonder around my beautiful city.Sometimes ill even walk around Main and Hastings.And when i do im not afraid at all.The only people that will actually come up to you are either beggars or drug dealers the rest are just preoccupied with their own little business.Sure it may be a scary looking place but its most deffinetly not worth avoiding.Walking down Hastings is actually informative and it shows you how crazy the world has gone.The place is a little more frightening in the night,but why would you stroll down an alley at 2 am?And yes my parents do know i walk around there and they have no problem with it.
Perish the thought. Every city has a dark side and Vancouver's isn't as dangerous as the people who have posted before me have made it seem. I am in this neighbourhood everyday. I have worked afternoon shifts down on East Hastings for almost a year and never had a problem. Part of it is because they see me all the time, but tourists should be alright if they stay in groups and do the following
- Stay out of the alleys
- Realize that you're in their territory
- Keep your attitude and opinions about their lifestyle to yourself.
i dont know where yous get your evidence about vancouver being not dangerous but it is no different than any other city and is dangerous. we have indo-canadian gangs (theres a funny story about this. a couple of months ago, a border guard was arrested for smuggling drugs accross the border, and he said 'i had to do it, i was being forced by indo-canadian gang members'), marijuana grow ops, shootings (richards on richards), stabbings, beatings. some woman got beat up twice getting out of the sky train. her name was hazel. i saw that on the news a couple of nights ago. if you go to discover vancouver.com, you always hear about cops harasing people. there have been widespread news coverage about cops abusing the drug addicts in the downtown east side too. people in vancouver, not just the downtown east side are afraid to open their doors. while im on the subject of doors, notice how many of the washrooms (toilets) are locked in vancouver? do u really think that is because we live in such a safe city? even in a war zone like new york, they dont lock their washrooms at the level that vancouver does. and im talking about walking into a mcdonalds and having to ask for a key to take a leak. bottom line is, people in vancouver are scared to death. even in the supposed nicer neighbourhoods like the rich west end, you have people that are scared to death. i was looking for an apartment there, wanting to locate the manger of the building, and this woman said, i cant let you in because you dont live here. now, would a woman say that if this was such a "safe" city. obviously not. even in new york they arent as paranoid.