Gastown and Chinatown are part of the Downtown Eastside, which some locals will tell you is a dangerous area. These are generally locals who haven't been here. The neighborhood certainly has many social challenges and a high proportion of residents with addiction or mental-health issues. You're far more likely, however, to be asked for 'spare change' in the city center, and muggings here are rare. Stay street smart and avoid the fetid back alleys and side streets (especially at night).
- Bars Sidestep downtown's Granville Strip drunks on a bar crawl of Gastown's top watering holes. You'll find hipster locals as well as more BC craft beer than you can shake a merry stick at. Be sure to include the excellent Alibi Room.
- Shops Gastown and Chinatown are studded with cool stores but a growing number of vintage shops have also popped up on area side streets in recent years; check out several on Columbia St between Pender and Hastings.
- History Vancouver's best heritage buildings line this area, from tile-topped apothecaries to handsome century-old stone edifices repurposed as cool bars and restaurants. Make sure you look higher than shop level for evocative glimpses of the past.
- Market Every hipster in Vancouver seems to flock to the festive-feeling Eastside Flea. They come to browse the vintage and artisan stalls, nosh at the food trucks and sip a craft beer or two from the long bar.