Banff, Alberta

2:08 PM

Hi guys! Can’t believe that I write this blog in the middle of my honeymoon trip. Haha! I was thinking to give it a break and start to write about the whole trip once I’m back to Jakarta but I keep getting DMs from you guys to share about this trip. So happy to read thru DMs, find out that you guys love our Canada-US trip as much as we do. Me and Dion were quite worry at first whether we can pull this off since it would be the very first time for both of us arranging long trip together. Well I can say that we made it. Big time!

Me and Dion been travelling for quite a while before we married. Maybe I travel more. Two weeks down the road and one week remaining, we both totally agreed that this trip is one of the most unforgettable trip in our life. I have to thank my dearly husband for his crazy bucket lists. All of our destinations are in his bucket lists. Me, the old grandma here, decided to just follow and help him with the travel itineraries.

It's not our first time to US but yes, it’s our first time to Canada. I have to tell you that Canada is so OH MY GOD. We both feel that we’ve been missing this gem for so long. Where we’ve been?! It took us so long to get to this beautiful country! Other than that, both of us love US so much but this time we agreed that we’ll visit places that we’ve never been to before. So, stay tuned in our blog and we will post more about our honeymoon trip. We’ll start with Canada!

I often ask people around about their bucket list, their wish to visit country and seldom I get Canada in their list. Totally understand you guys because I did have the same thought. We used to think that Canada is way too far from Asia and it’s famous for its harsh winter. I have to say that none of those are wrong. Yes, Canada it’s far and it’s cold. Super cold. BUT. If you can make it to Europe (from Asia) , I don’t see why you can’t make it to Canada.

Cold? Yes, but we always can get ourselves ready with the proper winter gear. I can’t agree more that proper winter gear is needed to visit Canada in winter time. Expensive? Well, I was thinking the same thing but after I bought one, trust me, it’s one of the best investment that I never regret buying. In fact I feel that it’s way more worth it rather than buying branded bags (sorry ladies!). I believe many of you guys can afford it. Other than that, we always have friends, relatives and families who might have one and why not we borrow from them? Sharing is caring, right?

This time I’m trying my best to write in sequence to make it easier for you guys getting the whole information about our latest visit to Banff, Alberta, Canada.  Hopefully it works. Shall we start?

How to get there

Banff is a small city located in province of Alberta in Canada. Average amount of tourist’s visit per year is about 2 million. A lot? Japan can achieve it in one month, so less people, less photo bomb. Yeay? To avoid the crowd, you should come around winter time when most people possibly avoid it because of cold. Either summer or winter, you can basically come anytime! It’s different kind of beauty in every season.

We took flight from Jakarta transiting in Narita and continuing to Vancouver for total 15 hours (7 hours for first leg and 8 hours for second leg). See? It’s not that bad. Same thing works for us when we’re going to Europe. Arriving in Vancouver we decided to spend one night to go around the city and rest our body before continuing for another flight to Calgary. Don’t get confused. The nearest point to get to Banff would be from city named Calgary.

Vancouver is one hour apart from Calgary by plane. From Calgary we have to drive for one hour and half to be finally arrive in Banff. You can do everything in one go but in our part, we take it easy. It’s a matter of choice. You choose. You know your body well.

We read that there’s this bus service named Greyhound that you can take from Calgary town side. The journey takes about 1 ¾ hours from down town Calgary. From Calgary Airport you have to take Allied Airport Shuttle or Airport Shuttle Express for shuttle to Greyhound’s downtown depot. We don’t have further information about this bus service since we travelled with so many luggage, we prefer not to do it by bus. You are always welcome to do the research in advance. I believe there are tons of information in Google on how to get to Banff.

Just a quick one about Vancouver, we know it’s a shame we only had a short time there (totally good reason to come back!), but we must say that the highlight of our visit to Vancouver goes to Capilano Suspension Bridge . It is a MUST go place when you’re in Vancouver. We got lucky to visit at this time of the year while they have all the Christmas decorations around the park.


COST: return ticket to Canada cost around IDR 11-12 million (about USD1000) per person. You don’t need to queue or stress yourself during the travel fair because every airline would have a lot of discount all year long. You just need to keep yourself updated to their website or social media so you can get a good deal. Tips, go and follow some travel agent or airlines social media and get yourself updated with their tickets price.

Additional info, ticket from Vancouver to Calgary cost around 100USD per person. Unless you’re travelling in business class, please take note that check in baggage is not included. For every bag that you’re going to check in, there will be additional price around 20-30USD. Make sure that each bag less than 23kg. Canada and US are very strict about this baggage limitation. If you’re traveling with your partner and would like to be seated together, please buy and reserve your seat thru the seat selection in their website. Otherwise they can possibly locate you in any available seat, no matter you are under one booking reference or so. It doesn’t work that way.

How to go around

I must say that Canada is about the same to US where everyone has their own car. They have public transport but it’s not a popular option. We rent a car and do a road trip. It’s so easy to rent a car in Canada because they have rental car outlet in most of their airports. You can do the booking or reservation in advance but a walk in is also possible. Surely you need to get your international driving license ready. It takes only one day to get the license in Jakarta.

COST: renting a car in Canada is not cheap. It’s more expensive compare to US. Car is always in a very good condition. Don’t need to doubt that. Just need to make sure when you come during winter time, make sure you have your car equipped with winter tire. Renting SUV is more expensive rather than a sedan. From our experience, we don’t necessarily need SUV car even though we’re going to the mountain side. Probably because we came in the beginning of winter.

Just do more research about the weather. When the snow gets higher, would be wise to have SUV with you. Asking the car rental agent won’t be great option since they will always suggest you for upgrade to more expensive car. Calgary Airport has their agents roaming around in every corner of the airport, I believe they are more than happy to provide you with some information about the latest weather condition. Just in case you need one before getting your car. Last minute switch is possible as long as they have the car ready with them.

Please do not imagine the mountain trip in Canada is like the one that we have in Indonesia. I know it’s a shame for us, we have so much to keep up, but come back to the main point, their infrastructure, the road is so smooth. Everything is built to the last point of entrance to minimize the risk and time for us to hike. So, except you’re facing super heavy snow condition, sedan is more than enough.

Quick tips, please do not forget the amount of luggage that you need to squeeze into the trunk. In our experience, the trunk didn’t fit. Haha! We have way too many bags. Four big bags plus two small bags. We have to put some bags in passenger seat but lucky because it’s only two of us, we have no problem with that.

Four days car rental price for sedan type will cost you around 300-400 Canadian dollar. Gas will cost about 1.30 Canadian dollar. In total four days we have to spend 500 Canadian dollar for car and gas. While parking costs 2.5-3 Canadian dollar per hour, but you can always try to find some spot with free parking sign. Just make sure that you read the sign carefully. It’s not difficult to find free parking spot in Banff. We just need to walk a little bit. Very convenient.

Where to stay

Banff has so many places to offer, starting from inn to world class chateau right in front of the beautiful Lake Louise. I have to say that even their very casual inn or lodge has a very good standard. Mostly equipped with fire place, microwave and fridge in your room. Some even have laundry room for the guest to do their own laundry. Mostly breakfast are continental and self service. It’s super homie to stay inside their place that mostly made by wood. You can simply book and do the reservation online. Most of the hotel pictures are real, so you just need to pick one and DONE!

COST: the price range are quite wide depends on what kind of hotel that you choose but it starts from 40-500 Canadian Dollar per night. Tips from us, when you’re travelling together, more than two person and trying to make the best out of it, you can choose their twin bed. Just like in US, their twin bed size is quite big and can fit up to two person in one bed. Good news, there is no extra charge for guest who bring a car with them. Parking fee is free.

What to eat
For me, other than good and clean hotel to stay, the most important thing is good food to eat. I’ll be super upset if I keep on eating junk food for the whole trip. I just can’t. Banff, surprisingly, has a lot of good food. I can say that none of the food that we had in Banff is failed. None. For Asian who can’t be away from our comfort food, you guys don’t need to worry because Banff has some Asian restaurants and they are legit. Different  day you can go to their local supermarket and get some simple meal like roast chicken and salad, they are good and fresh.

COST: food in Banff is not that expensive but I can’t say it’s cheap as well. If you’re wondering about the price range it’s about the same like in US. Around 15-20 Canadian Dollar per person per meal. Tips from us, try to find a hotel that provide you with at least simple breakfast so one meal is settled. Lunch you can choose to dine in or our favorite thing to do is to grab some sandwich (cost about 6—7 Canadian Dollar) and have it during the road trip or by the lake side. Sounds awesome isn’t it? 

While for dinner you can go to their local grocery store or supermarket, they always have this ready to eat and hot meal. Definitely cheaper than dining-in in a restaurant. One whole roasted chicken will cost you about 9-10 Canadian Dollar and additional one big container of soup or salad for 5 Canadian Dollar. Dinner for two is set!

What to bring

If you’re planning to visit Banff during winter time just like what we do this time, you will need proper winter gear. Ultra warm thermal, winter coat, heat tech gloves, beanie, proper and water proof trekking shoes. Everything should be labelled for very low temperature (0 up to -15 degrees celcius). Not just any winter gear. Everybody knows that winter in Canada could be harsh. Proper winter gear is essential to make sure your trip is enjoyable.

While visiting in summer and spring would be more fun. Temperature in Banff during summer time is  around 20 to 27 degrees celcius. Just need to make sure you don’t forget your trekking shoes. Trekking in Banff is not difficult even for beginner. Most of the top visited places are so well prepared and well maintained for tourists. Equipped with very clear signage so we won’t get lost, good condition trekking trails, bear proof waste bins, environment friendly and biodegradable toilet.

Things to take note
Banff has a very strong commitment to keep the nature just the way it is. As a visitor, it is a must for us to respect their good will by following all of their rules. From them I witness myself that people and nature could live in harmony. It’s amazing to see a group of elk or deer wondering around their neighborhood.

There will be certain route and trail that will be closed seasonal due to the movement of the animals pack. We just need to obey and make sure there’s no trespassing for everyone’s safety and the animals existence. At the end of the day, we should remind ourselves that Banff is a national park.

All of their waste bin are bear proof. Let us help them by throwing any rubbish to its place. There is a reason why it’s built up in a way so bear and any other animal won’t have any access into it. Our waste could kill them.

Plucking flowers and walking outside of the designated trail are prohibited. Walking around outside of the trail, stepping on plants will destroy them and damaging the national park.

I don’t want to be sound so naggy like old grandma but please, trust me, it’s not only me who wish to keep Banff beautiful. Enough is enough we see human destroying this beautiful nature. I really wish by writing this blog post, more people would know there’s this paradise on earth called Banff. At the same time, I’m begging you to help the local to take a good care of it.

Banff is super safe. We can leave our car and house unlock. During our trip in Banff we had a photo session and just happened our photographer accidentally left her bag (with wallet, her ID, her lenses and valuables inside) in one of the tourist site. We just realized about it in the next two hours, rushed back and hope that nobody would steal it. Guess what, after two hours we left, the bag remained at the same place. Exact location where she left it in a first place. Amazed? Yeah, that’s Banff.

Of course we are not asking people to be sloppy or careless but we just want to share that this place is tourist friendly and have everything that you ask for from a perfect holiday destination.

Where to go
I like to keep the most exciting part as the last part of my blog post. Guys, I have to admit that strolling around the city of Banff itself is never been boring. Going around without exact itinerary would still works for this city. It just so beautiful and scenic, but for sure we believe that is a must for us to share all the instagrammable locations around Banff. Check this out!

Shops in Banff Avenue
Banff Ave. There are many stores, restaurants and hotel located along this street. It’s right in the heart of Banff where you can see the Cascade mountain right as a back ground. You can drive to Muskat St and park your car there, take a slow walk to the pedestrian bridge. It’s one of the best photo spot after the Banff Ave itself. From the city center, you should check out the Bow Falls. It is not the largest nor the tallest falls in Alberta but we can have a lovely walk around the falls. Very clean and refreshing.

View of Cascade Mt from Muskat St
Pedestrian Bridge
Bow Falls
Still around the city of Banff, driving to the west of Banff, about fifteen minutes, you can find beautiful Vermilion Lakes. These lakes offer spectacular views of the iconic Mt. Rundle and is a popular place to watch the sunrise and sunset in the Canadian Rocky Mountains.

Vermillion Lakes
About half an hour away from Banff city center, there is this majestic lake named Lake Minnewanka. Lake Minnewanka itself is famous as “The Lake of the Spirits”. This lake is one of the favorite spot for landscape photographer. We can catch the beautiful sunrise there and if we’re lucky, we can see the aurora in certain month of the year. While during summer time, a lot of people come to this lake to dive and canoeing. Don’t forget to stop in Two Jack Lake on your way to Lake Minnewanka. The journey to the lake even more fun with group of elk who often lingering around along the street. They are not dangerous but make sure not to get to close to them. Their antlers could possibly harm you.

Further up, about one and half hour drive from Banff, is our favorite place, Lake Louise. Surrounded by mountain peaks, the majestic Victoria Glacier, the iconic Lake Louise is a must visit place in Banff. In summer time this lake is glistening emerald blue, while in winter time it will goes completely frozen, all white coated by thick snow. It’s just so beautiful beyond words.

Not too far from Lake Louise, about 14 kilometres away, you can visit another beautiful and majestic lake named Lake Moraine. These two lakes are the most iconic and popular among the North American photographer. Both of the lakes are as beautiful. During summer time you can visit these two lakes in one day. Unfortunately Lake Moraine is closed in winter. But you don’t need to worry, as long as you have time, you can drive about one more hour from Lake Louise or about two hours from Banff to the Emerald Lake.  It is the largest lake in Yoho National Park and its premier tourist attractions. During summer time months, canoe rentals are open, while in winter, this lake is a popular destination for skiing.

When you have longer time to visit Alberta, you should go to Jasper National Park. Jasper is located about 290 kilometres in north of Banff. Seems far but the journey along the way to Jasper is so fascinating. TOO PRETTY!!!!! The joy of going to national park is more than going to one point, reach there, taking a photo, been there, done that. NO. The whole journey itself is a bliss. There is no place on earth that has the same landscape. Every national park will have its own characteristic. Its own beauty. Our God is an amazing God!

More Insight
Me and Dion always have this habit to do research before going somewhere new. We called it doing our homework before trip. It’s very helpful to set the travel itineraries. Just make the best out of our visit. From our honest opinion, Banff is very tourist and family friendly. Very easy to find all the information needed by ourselves.

You can choose to go blankly, arriving Banff and start to find out what you can do during your visit. It’s totally fine. Their people are more than welcome to help you. Tourist information is available in Banff City Centre. There are so many things that you can do in Banff but please take note that there are different activities in different seasons. For us, Banff is just beautiful in any seasons. Different kind of beauty.

We find it hard to move on from Banff. This place has a very special place in our heart. The scenery, the culture and the friendliness of the people. Really, you should place Banff in one of your bucket lists! WE LOVE YOU, BANFF!!

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  1. Hi my name is boy

    I have to say thats a really good written travel blog with great photos!

    I recently also heard that Alberta in Canada is worth visiting for the natural scenery. I want to ask how many days/weeks you guys spent or the ideal one to do the road trip around banff alberta etc?

    I read from your blog that you have been to NZ as well. Could you tell me if Alberta is worth visiting than NZ or else? I love traveling to outdoor nature. I’ve been to Norway and Iceland and both are beautiful, and considering to visit Alberta or NZ first!


    1. Hi Boy,

      Thank you for your kind words! Wow, that’s a tough question. I have to say, if you’re looking for something grande and majestic, Banff is the answer. Both are very beautiful. Very tourist friendly. Total expenses are about the same too, only different in airplane ticket fare (depends where you start your journey). So, really it’s up to you. If you want to keep the best for last then you can do Queenstown follow by Banff. Should you’re planning to visit both places, you can do Queenstown follow by Banff. Hope this help. Cheers!