How to Enjoy University of British Columbia on a Student Budget

How to Enjoy University of British Columbia on a Student Budget

Students in UBC have access to tons of free or discounted attractions and activities that are perfect for those on a tight budget!

The University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver, Canada is the oldest institution of higher learning in the province and has over 60,000 students in both its Vancouver and Okanagan campuses. It also houses some of the scenic spots in the lower mainland, like the Rose Garden, the Nitobe Garden and the Greenheart Tree Walk. It’s quite common for some tour groups to make UBC one of their stops – with its beautifully crafted main mall and historically rich architecture. While enjoying the highlights of Vancouver can drastically drain your wallet, there are ways to enjoy UBC on a student budget.

First off, make sure you have your UBC student ID with you at all times – especially, when you want to visit the museums and the parks. Your UBC card serves as your all-access pass. Non-students who are fortunate enough to live in UBC also get student perks when they become a member of the University Neighborhood Association (UNA). UNA cardholders get discounts and free entrance passes to some places in UBC. If you are neither a student nor a resident at UBC, fret not, as there are ways to enjoy UBC on the cheap. Just follow the tips below to get the best bang for your buck.

Take advantage of the free admission to museums and parks

UBC students and staff can come in for free at the Museum of Anthropology (MOA), Beaty Biodiversity Museum, Nitobe Memorial Garden and the UBC Botanical Garden.

MOA displays the world’s finest Northwest Coast First Nations art in a picture-worthy Arthur Erickson-designed building with the mountains and ocean as backdrop. It also houses extensive collections from around the world, complete with guided tours and public events. Indulge on the dramatic and colorful art pieces that tell the story of the First Nations. A surprising fact is that there is an exquisite collection of European ceramic in the museum, as well.

Don’t forget to visit the outdoor totem display behind the Museum of Anthropology building.

People strolling into the university’s main mall never miss the massive whale bones hanging from the ceiling of the Beaty Biodiversity Museum. Not only are the whale bones impressive, but the story of how the museum was able to collect and display the bones is even more fantastic. During the museum’s “Nocturnal” nights, (happening every third Thursday, 5pm to 8.30pm) they show the “Raising Big Blue” documentary about how a team of scientists recovered, cleaned, and restored the skeleton of the largest creature on earth. There is also a guided tour at the museum at 7pm. “Nocturnal” nights are admission by donation so better block off this Thursday on your calendar.

You won’t miss the gigantic whale display while walking past the Beaty Biodiversity Museum.

If you’re into big beautiful gardens, UBC has more than a handful to offer to you. The Nitobe Memorial Garden, a traditional Japanese Tea and Stroll garden, is one of the most authentic Japanese gardens in North America and among the top five Japanese gardens outside of Japan. It’s difficult to capture the overwhelming beauty of this carefully-manicured garden in just one stroll. You simply must sit down at the waiting bench by the pond and immerse in the quiet beauty of the place.

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Garden lovers would absolutely love the UBC Botanical Garden as it virtually has all kinds of plants available. In it are the David C. Lam Asian Garden, the E. H. Lohbrunner Alpine Garden (showcasing mountainous plants), the BC Rainforest Garden (growing elements of the coastal rainforest), the Carolinian Forest Garden (representing eastern North American deciduous hardwood forest), the Food Garden, the Harold and Frances Holt Physic Garden (educating physicians and apothecaries), the Gary Oak Meadow and Woodland Garden (sharing the First Nations’ influence on biodiversity) and other gardens like the pacific slope garden.

If you aren’t “gardened-out” yet, you might want to get your brave on by walking through the Greenheart TreeWalk. Nestled inside the UBC Botanical Garden is a 310metre-long treetop canopy walkway hanging from huge Douglas firs, cedars and grand firs – many of which are over a hundred years old. While the garden is free of charge for UBC students and UNA residents, the Greenheart TreeWalk has an additional $10 charge.

university of british columbia student budget

Almost 20 metres above the forest floor, the Greenheart TreeWalk will give you a magnificent view of the coastal temperate rainforest.

The public can visit these places at an affordable price when they avail of the UBC Museums and Gardens Passes. The admission pass to MOA, UBC Botanical Garden and Nitobe Memorial Garden, which includes 10% off the gift shops and the Greenheart TreeWalk, is only $27 per adult. When you want to include the Beaty Biodiversity Museum in your trip, you only pay $33 per adult, which will include an additional 20% off the UBC Bookstore. A lot of tourists avail of these passes as they really are quite good deals, especially when you want to get the most of our trip to UBC.

Enjoy the greens and the reds

The Pacific Spirit Regional Park serves as the green-belt between the Vancouver campus and the city. It is close to several beaches like Acadia Beach, Spanish Banks Beach Park, Wreck Beach and the Jericho Beach Park. Walking through the Pacific Spirit Regional Park is just amazing as it closely connects you to nature. Enjoy just being in the moment with fresh greenery by taking on some of the numerous trails in the forest, running the more than a hundred steps at Wreck Beach or going biking along the sea wall. Not only are these fun activities free, you’ll get to work out those muscles at the same time.

The Wreck Beach is one of the many beaches surrounding the Vancouver campus – but be warned as this is a nudist beach.

One of the campus’ best-kept secrets is the Rose Garden – which is surprisingly on top of a parkade. The place is just crazy beautiful in the spring and summer with the wide variety of roses in full bloom. Complemented with the stark view of the ocean and the mountains, the place is close to a Monet painting perfection.

university of british columbia student budget

Imagine the fragrance that will envelop you when you walk through the Rose Garden with flowers as big as your fists

The UBC Aquatic Centre is one place to drop by if you have the time. It’s free for UBC students and could be as low as $6 for drop in rate on off-peak hours for the public. The place is just ginormous – and boasts of a 50-metre competition pool, a leisure pool and a lazy river with accessible ramp, among many other features.

On top of that, there are a million fun free things to do in UBC as students showcase admission-free events all through  the year. UBC might be an institution of higher learning but it’s also a place to have fun on a student budget.

university of british columbia student budget

Figure 7: The UBC Aquatic Centre also offers swimming lessons and swimfit classes to students and the public.

About Author

Jihan Estrella
Jihan Estrella

Jihan is a neo-Vancouverite who is enjoying discovering her new "hometown". When she is not getting lost in this beautiful metropolitan, she is busy baking fluffy cakes, knitting warm blankets, biking through beach side trails and Netflix-ing any Anna Kendrick movie. While she has a degree in creative writing, she is (surprisingly) doing graphic design professionally. Currently, she is on the hunt (and saving up) for her next big adventure.


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