United Airline From Hong Kong, joined Jan 2001, 8803 posts, RR: 17 Posted (9 months 2 weeks 5 days 5 hours ago) and read 1494 times:
I plan to be in USA and Canada between late September and mid October. I will be in Vancouver too and I plan to make a side trip to Banff. What shall I take? How do I get there? Where and how to book? Train? Plane? Also which is the best hotel in Banff? What to do/see there?
MrChips From Canada, joined Mar 2005, 914 posts, RR: 0 Reply 1, posted (9 months 2 weeks 5 days 3 hours ago) and read 1469 times:
Best way to get to Banff from Vancouver is to fly to Calgary, then either coach or rent a car and drive to Banff. There are no regular scheduled passenger trains from Vancouver to Banff (not even the Rocky Mountaineer, which is just a tour train, runs that time of year). Driving probably isn't an option, as it's roughly an 11-hour drive from Vancouver to Banff, assuming perfect road conditions.
There are lots of good hotels in Banff; you'd be travelling in shoulder season, so there should be good deals just about anywhere you look. The Fairmont Banff Springs is probably the most prestigious hotel there, but it's pretty po-faced and can be very expensive, even after deals. The Rimrock is somewhat cheaper, but it's where I'd stay if money were no object (also, the restaurant at the Rimrock is one of the best in Alberta, if not Canada). There are a number of cheaper options out there too; have a look online to find something in your price range.
As for what to do, there's a reason why early October is shoulder season - there isn't all that much to do then. It isn't really nice enough for most summer activities, and the ski hills aren't open yet. You could probably fit everything worth doing at that time (museums in town, hot springs, Sulphur Mountain gondola, trip to Lake Louise) into a couple of days easily.
They exist as an option, but its a 14-16 hour trek including stops, and the weather can affect it badly.
Fly to YYC and bus it in to Banff would be my recommendation... you can sometimes find combined Westjet & Brewster Transport (bus) fares on the Westjet website, though I don't know about from Vancouver.
Bussing it avoids 2 things:
Paying for park pass
Long lines to get into park
However be aware, no trip to Banff is going to be cheap. The full fare Calgary-Banff by bus runs $40-60 one way (Brewster is about $50 and is the most convenient usually).
[Edited 2012-09-04 10:14:08]
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WrenchBender From Canada, joined Feb 2004, 1779 posts, RR: 9 Reply 4, posted (9 months 2 weeks 4 days 12 hours ago) and read 1389 times:
If you are into a little adventure driving it would be fun. There is incredible scenery between Vancouver and Banff, a choice of routes and some interesting sites along the way. Take a couple of days each way to do it, taking Highway 1 (Trans Canada Highway) one way and Highway 1 & 5 (Coquihalla) the other. Lots to see along the way, Hells Gate, Shuswaps, The Last Spike, Spiral Tunnels, Lake Louise etc. Once in Banff (with a vehicle) - day trip up to the Athabasca Glacier, or east to Canmore. Banff tends to be touristy expensive, so bring lots of cash.......