It is illegal to hitchhike Westwards of Golden, BC. Thumbers are issued a fine and drivers are issued a bigger fine. Hitchhiking is not illegal along the Sea-to-Sky Highway (Hwy99 - Vancouver to Whistler). Where it is illegal or cannot be conducted in a safe manner, signs are clearly posted that indicated that picking up hitchhikers is prohibited. (From a September 14th, 2006 letter from Kevin Falcon - BC Transportation Minister reference: #149730).
Hitchhikers frequently pass through the city of Vancouver when going to or from Vancouver Island. The ferry to and from Victoria docks at Tswassen, southwest of the city, and the ferry to and from Nanaimo docks at Horseshoe Bay, northwest of the city. When arriving in the city en-route to the island, it's easy to take a local bus to one of the ferries if you're not able to get a ride straight there. But arriving on the mainland and heading farther east by thumb can be a bit more difficult. If possible, you should try to find a ride from someone while on the ferry boat. Talk with people and/or carry a sign. If you're heading towards Nelson, the Okanagan valley, or the Rockies, try to find a ride with someone going at least as far as Hope.
To leave the city heading east, the best option is to take the Sky-Train to Surrey and then get on a local bus that will take you to Langley - along the main highway 1. From there you can get a ride further east towards Hope.
If you are on your way into Vancouver, try your very best not to get dropped off in Langley, because it is pretty difficult to get anywhere from there - it has little public transit, is very spread out, and people there are generally unwilling to pick up hitchhikers. It is worth it to turn down rides going to Langley and wait for a lift that will get you into the city itself or at least to Surrey, from where you can get a bus to your destination.
(If you do end up in Langley ask the people about the transit, there is a central bus station at Carvolth Exchange- which is on the highway between Langley and Fort Langley - maybe even ask your driver to drop you off there, as you will find a bus that will take you to Surrey and from Surrey you can take the Sky-train.)
East to Hope and beyond
Most populated cities it may be harder to find rides, especially around the Greater Vancouver Area & toward the west coast.
There are different ways to hitchhike out of Vancouver to the east.
1) One easy way is to get onto the Trans-Canada Highway, a.k.a. Canada Highway 1, at the highway entrance right across a road at the eastern boundary of the City of Vancouver, very cleverly named Boundary Road, at the intersection with Grandview Highway, which is not a highway but a normal city street. There is a stop light which causes drivers to stop. Many of them are getting onto the Trans-Canada Highway and going very far. You want to stand on the southwest corner of Grandview Highway and Boundary Road with a sign saying where you want to go. The drivers will look you over and one will take you. To get there from in the city of Vancouver, go to Broadway and take a #9 regular bus or #99express bus east on Broadway to Boundary Road and then a #28 bus south on Boundary Road less than 1 km to Grandview Highway. Or take a Skytrain on the Millennium Line to Rupert station and walk about 8~10 blocks. That's probably faster than the bus on Broadway. Or go to 12th Avenue and hitchhike east. 12th Avenue becomes Grandview Highway and is the main route out of central Vancouver to the Trans-Canada Highway.
2) A very different way is to first take the Skytrain to Gateway Station in Surrey. From a bus stop across the street, a bus will take you fairly close to a certain highway on-ramp on the Trans Canada. Bus drivers will be able to give more specific information.
3) Another way to hitch east would be to take the Millenium line Skytrain to Lougheed Town Centre station, where you take the express bus 555 to Carvolth. It really is an express bus, and thus faster than the ones starting in Surrey. Carvolth is a bus stop right on Highway 1, between Langley Centre and Fort Langley. At the moment, the on-ramp right next to the bus stop is being renovated, but if you walk a bit back west, you will find another one. (As well as some gas stations with accessible dumpsters.)
4) Another option that may save you hours of public transit and waiting, but will add to the actual driving time is to head North towards Whistler. That highway eventually ends up near Kamloops, which is a great gateway to the Okanagan. This road is, in my opinion, way more scenic than the highway 1 to Hope and people are a lot more likely to stop on this road.
To go North
If you want to go North out of Vancouver towards Squamish and Whistler, catch the #257 Express heading to Horseshoe Bay (2 minute walk from the Granville Street Skytrain Station). The ride takes 25 minutes or more, and can be very full of people with luggage near ferry departure times. Try to leave yourself time as drivers with full buses must sometimes pass you by. Get off at the last stop, which is the Horseshoe Bay Ferry terminal. Cost (2019) is 2.57CAD. Catch the community shuttle C12 Brunswick (also called 262, leaves every hour) just next to where the 257 last stop leaves you and ask the bus driver to let you off near the end of his route at the good hitch hiking spot; they all know where it is. Cost is the same fare. From there you face all the traffic headed north up the Sea to Sky corridor.
Another spot easily accessed is near the mall Park Royal. To reach Park Royal take any of the 250 or 257 buses from downtown off West Georgia St and get off at the Park Royal North stop. Walk back in the direction the bus came from to Taylor Way. If you walk up Taylor way on the right side there is a great spot about 75-100 metres up. Stand behind the rail on the sidewalk and hitch from there. It has a great pullout for cars and you catch all the traffic coming from downtown going up to Squamish, Whistler, and beyond.
Border Crossing to Washington
It is strongly reccommended that you go to the border and clear customs by yourself before trying to hitch a ride, because asking drivers to take you across poses a much higher risk for them. It is not hard to get there by public transport. From the skytrain station Bridgeport, take bus number 351 to White Rock Centre (the bus route goes along the Vancouver-Blaine Hwy, so if you really hate walking, you can get off at Mathew Exchange or South Surrey Park & Ride and try to hitch a ride to the border). From White Rock, take bus C51 to Marine Dr/Stevens St. Cross the street and turn left. You will see a wooden walking bridge on your right side. Cross it, ignoring the No Trespassing sign (it existis because you are entering an Indian Reservation, but the people there are generally not at all fussed about it). Turn left when you get to the paved road, and simply keep going (when in doubt, the sea should be on your right side). The road will lead you straight to the border. From where you exit the bus to the border is about a 3km walk. After you've gone through, there is a little roundabout right next to the toll station where you can easily hitch a ride South. (The toll station man wouldn't let me hitch on that roundabout. He told me I had to be out of his sight. So I walked down highway 5 to look for a spot. the cars were going too fast and no pull over space. Blaine is not a very good place for trying to get south. if you keep walking highway 5 for like 100 meters, you'll see a Subway down on your right. And a Chevron gas station, that's where I went and asked people if they were driving south, not long till I got a ride to Everett. From there I took $2.50 public bus to downtown Seattle.)
Public Transport in Vancouver
Vancouver has three SkyTrain lines with one more set to open in 2016, and one of the biggest trolley bus networks.
To get all info on public transport in Vancouver, go to www.translink.ca. You can plan your trips, find the times, prices, location of stops, everything.
As of October, 2015, all bus tickets for all zones are $2.75. If you are taking the SkyTrain or SeaBus the pricing is $2.75 for 1 zone, $4.00 for 2 zones, and $5.50 for 3 zones. After 18:30 on weekdays and all day on weekends and holidays it is always $2.75 for all zones on buses, SkyTrain, and Seabus. One ticket lasts for 1hr 30min, and permits unlimited transfers within that time frame. If you tell a bus driver your ticket just expired, they may let you get on with an expired ticket.
On trolley buses, it is sometimes possible to sneak in through the back door (especially for B-line buses buses which allow multi-door boarding, such as the 99 to UBC - everyone goes in through the back door of these) but you should respect the drivers. They are often willing to give you a ride even if you don't have change with you or just explain that you're broke.
Wild camping on the beach (Spanish Banks, Locarno or Jericho Beach) or on the grass nearby is possible, although Jericho Beach Park closes at night. Wonderful view of downtown Vancouver at night. You might see some tents already pitched there! Mosquitoes (tons of them) are a possibility, but it depends on the day : Vancouver is actually known for not having a lot of mosquitoes but we got unlucky.
The North Shore (suburbs of North Vancouver and West Vancouver) is another great option for wild camping. These suburbs have very low crime and a lot of green space. There's a lot of great hiking/exploring to be done on the North Shore as well, so it's a great place to chill if you're visiting Vancouver. Try the neighbourhoods, of Horseshoe Bay, Lighthouse Park, Lonsdale Quay, Lynn Valley, or Deep Cove