Downtown Eastside, Vancouver
Before I visited Vancouver I read several tips on Vancouver on the Virtual Tourist web site and when I got to Vancouver the lady at the Concierge Desk at the Holiday Inn downtown repeated that it was not wise to visit East Hastings Street. This is important because it is in between Gastown and Chinatown two very good places in Vancouver.
I ignored all advice and done a tour of East Hastings Street. At 10 am in the morning it was very busy with a lot of homeless people, you can see the line up in this picture of people returning cans and bottles for money.
It was a very uncomfortable feeling the entire time on East Hastings but the best was yet to come. To get to Gastown from Chinatown our conceirge helper at the hotel recommended a specific street to use as a crossing. I don't remember the name of it and I don't think it matters.
On that street we came upon about 15 people all balling and arguaing about something. Then all of a sudden a blond homeless drug bruised lady jumped from the crowd as her shirt was being ripped off. This is no joke, she then gave some the finger as she ran down an alley.
Needless to say I quickly crossed the street trying not to be noticed and scrambled over to Gastown. But for me 15 minutes was plenty of East Hastings Street and now I can join the ranks of people that can't recommend this area of Vancouver unless you are really into some preverse activities.
Have fun. Please rate my tips and leave your comments I enjoy them all. But be careful getting from Chinatown to Gastown. I still don't think you are to much at risk, just be careful and behave. At night I am sure it is that much worst, for me witnessing an incident probably made it a little worst.
While Vancouver is one of the wealthier cities and more beautiful cities it is also home to the poor neighborhood in all of Canada. While there is some cool grafitti in this area and it is home to the first safe injection site in Canada these are definately not 'Must See Activities' in Vancouver. Needless to say if you are in Gastown late at night and you do not know where you are going, err to the west, it's much better to accidentally wind up in Stanley park than in needle park!
well, the DTES is not as bad as people would think, if you don't do drugs, or have any bad habits, nobody will bother you.. I live down hre, i walk down the Hastings every day. No problems, the people here are just trying to make a buck. I don't know if anyone reading this ever grew up poor, but these people are not looking for problems. we are a real community, and there are people living here because this is all we can afford, If you came down and met the people, said hi, you will be safe.. as an inner city community. do not judge. When you see me. don't judge... DTES IS MY HOME
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.
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.
Im from Vancouver and I work as a social worker in the downtown east side. I have lived and or worked in the down town east side for five years. On the surface its a pretty rough neighbourhood but its bark is worse than its bite. it is a problem we are trying hard to resolve in Vancouver with billions of dollars being spent in social programs and social housing. However there are still many unique challenges left to overcome. I never feel unsafe in the down town east side. There is massive police presence. Especialy at night. People do not "get mugged" in the down town east side unless you are looking for drug dealers in the alleyways. which hopefully you are not!
Vancouver just hosted the Olympics and did a lot of work in the down town east side to improve it. I dont think any city's slums or ghettos are really a tourist option anyway. But there is not a lot of violence in the down town east side towards strangers. There is a lot o mentally ill and addicted people down there, but they are pretty harmless. Hope that put things in perspective. J
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.
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.
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.
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.
I work in the area and I'm asked this a lot. Obviously, I couldn't care less about the Downtown Eastside. Nobody bothers me when I'm there, unless they try to sell me crack or something. But I'm a big young guy. So when people ask me how to get from Chinatown to Gastown or vice versa, here's what I tell them. Chances are nobody will bother you, but you might not like what you see. If you're timid you may wish to take Cambie all the way to Pender, then down the south side of Pender past Tinseltown. That is the cleanest route - almost normal even. Abbott and Carrall are the most direct routes, but they are also the grottiest. Always take Pender - never Hastings or Cordova. Columbia St, which starts a block east of the foot of water, is also okay.
Doing any of these will allow you to avoid the worst blocks - 000 and 100 Hastings W, 000 Hastings E, 300 Main, 300-400 Abbott, 000 Cordova, 300 Carrall.
Oh, and don't take any alleys. THose are worse than any street.
Unless you're looking to score a quick hit of crack or heroin, avoid Hastings street from Granville to Commercial Dr.
Main & Hastings is the absolute worst.
Worth noting, Chinatown which is very close is OK, the freaky-o's generally stay away.
Many other Vancouver sites have mentioned this, just becareful when you're walking around Vancouver, you could easily end up in the Hastings-Eastside area.
It's not super dangerous or anything, but something you will probably want to avoid since it is a very scumy area.
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..
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.