Just a short flight away from most of the hubs in the US, Canada is populated by nice people, classy cities, and picturesque
landscape. Being the second largest country by area, it is impossible to cover the diverse country in one trip. From the French speaking eastern provinces, to the glitter of the west and the picturesque Canadian Rockies, we divvy up the coverage regionally. But the coverage should provide enough material to develop 5-7 days itineraries easily.
For the US citizens, it is as easy as flying domestic, but for others, one needs a tourist visa. Please find some important tips and tricks to make your Canada travel safe and convenient.
A perfect blend of cityscape, art, culture, history, and people makes this capital city a must visit in a trip to the eastern part of the country
A mere 2.5 hours east of Montreal, this capital town of Quebec City province offers a plethora of options to be entertained and mesmerized
Quebec City’s largest metro, with its French traditions, and ultra-modern looks, this city is a river island on the river St. Lawrence
If mountains, glaciers and wilder-ness are your calling, spend a week in the Banff National Park camping or in a cabin to soak in nature at its purest
Quebec and Ontario – Sample Itinerary
While the western states and the great prairies cannot be covered in one itinerary, below is a sample 7 day itinerary for Quebec City and Ontario.
Day 1 – Fly in to Ottawa; explore the city
Day 2 – Drive to Montreal in the evening
Day 3 – Drive up to Quebec City, and explore the surroundings
Day 4 – Spend all day in Quebec City, drive back to Montreal
Day 5 – Spend all day in Montreal
Day 6 – Half day in Montreal, back to Ottawa
Day 7 – Fly back from Ottawa
Visa and Travel Documents:
As Indian citizens with US visa, we needed Canada tourist visas. You can find out if you need one here. We applied for it ~2 months in advance. We learned that it takes about 10-15 working days to receive the passports back. Here are the high level steps we followed to apply for a visa end-to-end:
1. Apply online here – first determine eligibility by answering a few simple questions, and then create an account using “Sign-in partner”.
2. Documentation – You will need to submit the following documents online
a. Filled in forms IMM5645E, and IMM5257E (can be filled in pdf form, no physical signature required)
b. Travel documents – we booked refundable air tickets first, and hotel bookings for some of the days. Later when the plan was finalized, we booked non-refundable cheaper tickets.
c. Financial documents – paystubs, W2s, bank statements for three months
d. Passport – Scanned copy of all pages of the passport where there is a stamp/visa
3. Consent form and finally provide digital signatures.
4. After about 10 working days, we received a message to submit the passports.
5. Print the visa letter that came with the message (IMM5740), and send to VAC. We had a tough time figuring out where to send the letter, passport, and the money. So here are the details:
a. VACs are independently operated by an IT company (CSC) and they act as agents to process the passports. There are two VACs in US – NY and LA. Information about VACs can be found here.
We sent our passports and the letter (IMM5745) along with a copy of the check/MO (find below) to VAC LA, as we learned that it takes way less time than in NYC.
b. A separate mail with a money order/cashier’s check needs to be sent to either Salt Lake City, UT or Philadelphia, PA depending on which VAC you choose. The amount, if applying online and don’t require biometrics, is $31.19.
c. Along with the above two items, it is easier to send a self-addressed and postage paid return envelope. This expedites the process a lot.
d. We found USPS flat rate express mail to be the cheapest option in this regard.
6. After about 7 days, we received our passports in hand with visa granted for multiple entry and valid for 5 years (or passport expiration date which ever is earlier).