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Las Vegas guide and MSE thread 2013

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secretmachinessecretmachines Forumite
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Las Vegas is not like other places you might have been, where the hotels are near to the attractions. In Vegas the hotels ARE the attractions. Most have a huge casino attached, but if you think that's all there is to the place, you are sorely mistaken! Each hotel is very different, with its own theme and attractions.

The good news is, is that Vegas can be a friend for us Money Saving Experts, with lots of free attractions, cheap eats/drinks and value for money to be had.

This page cannot hope to cover everything, but hopefully should point you towards some good money saving tips. All information at the start of this thread is put together by members of the forum and is accurate at the time of writing - we will update it when we can.

After reading the 'information' posts at the start of this thread, feel free to post a reply, ask a question and join the discussion! We have lots of Vegas regulars contributing to this thread - join the gang!

Index of front page contents:
Click here for the Las Vegas guide and MSE thread 2012



4 Queens Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / Google+ / Youtube / www / Blog / App / Pinterest

ARIA Twitter / Facebook / Instragram / Google+ / Youtube / www / Blog / App / Pinterest

Bally's Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / Google+ / Youtube / www / Blog / App / Pinterest

Bellagio Twitter / Facebook / Instragram / Google+ / Youtube / www / Blog / App / Pinterest

Boulder Station Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / Google+ / Youtube / www / Blog / App / Pinterest

Caesars Palace Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / Google+ / Youtube / www / Blog / App / Pinterest

Casino Royale Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / Google+ / Youtube / www / Blog / App / Pinterest

Circus Circus Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / Google+ / Youtube / www / Blog / App / Pinterest

The Cosmopolitan Twitter / Facebook / Instragram / Google+ / Youtube / www / Blog / App / Pinterest

the D Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / Google+ / Youtube / www / Blog / App / Pinterest

Days Inn Wild Wild West Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / Google+ / Youtube / www / Blog / App / Pinterest

El Cortez Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / Google+ / Youtube / www / Blog / App / Pinterest

Encore / Wynn Twitter / Facebook / Instragram / Google+ / Youtube / www / Blog / App / Pinterest

Excalibur Twitter / Facebook / Instragram / Google+ / Youtube / www / Blog / App / Pinterest

Fiesta Henderson Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / Google+ / Youtube / www / Blog / App / Pinterest

Fiesta Rancho Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / Google+ / Youtube / www / Blog / App / Pinterest

Flamingo Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / Google+ / Youtube / www / Blog / App / Pinterest

Four Seasons Twitter / Facebook / Instragram / Google+ / Youtube / www / Blog / App / Pinterest

Green Valley Ranch Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / Google+ / Youtube / www / Blog / App / Pinterest

Harrah's Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / Google+ / Youtube / www / Blog / App / Pinterest

Hooters Twitter / Facebook / Instragram / Google+ / Youtube / www / Blog / App / Pinterest

Luxor Twitter / Facebook / Instragram / Google+ / Youtube / www / Blog / App / Pinterest

LVH Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / Google+ / Youtube / www / Blog / App / Pinterest

Mandalay Bay Twitter / Facebook / Instragram / Google+ / Youtube / www / Blog / App / Pinterest

Mandarin Oriental Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / Google+ / Youtube / www / Blog / App / Pinterest

MGM Grand Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / Google+ / Youtube / www / Blog / App / Pinterest

The Mirage Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / Google+ / Youtube / www / Blog / App / Pinterest

Monte Carlo Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / Google+ / Youtube / www / Blog / App / Pinterest

NYNY Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / Google+ / Youtube / www / Blog / App / Pinterest

Orleans Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / Google+ / Youtube / www / Blog / App / Pinterest

Palace Station Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / Google+ / Youtube / www / Blog / App / Pinterest

Palazzo Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / Google+ / Youtube / www / Blog / App / Pinterest

Palms Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / Google+ / Youtube / www / Blog / App / Pinterest

Paris Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / Google+ / Youtube / www / Blog / App / Pinterest

Planet Hollywood Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / Google+ / Youtube / www / Blog / App / Pinterest

The Quad Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / Google+ / Youtube / www / Blog / App / Pinterest

Red Rock Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / Google+ / Youtube / www / Blog / App / Pinterest

Rio Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / Google+ / Youtube / www / Blog / App / Pinterest

Riviera Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / Google+ / Youtube / www / Blog / App / Pinterest

Santa Fe Station Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / Google+ / Youtube / www / Blog / App / Pinterest

SLS Hotel Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / Google+ / Youtube / www / Blog / App / Pinterest

Stratosphere Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / Google+ / Youtube / www / Blog / App / Pinterest

Sunset Station Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / Google+ / Youtube / www / Blog / App / Pinterest

Texas Station Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / Google+ / Youtube / [URL="]www[/URL] / Blog / App / Pinterest

Treasure Island Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / Google+ / Youtube / www / Blog / App / Pinterest

Tropicana Twitter / Facebook / Instragram / Google+ / Youtube / www / Blog / App / Pinterest

Trump Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / Google+ / Youtube / www / Blog / App / Pinterest

Tuscany Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / Google+ / Youtube / www / Blog / App / Pinterest

Vdara Twitter / Facebook / Instragram / Google+ / Youtube / www / Blog / App / Pinterest

Venetian Twitter / Facebook / Instragram / Google+ / Youtube / www / Blog / App / Pinterest

Wynn / Encore Twitter / Facebook / Instragram / Google+ / Youtube / www / Blog / App / Pinterest


  • edited 2 April 2013 at 5:53PM
    secretmachinessecretmachines Forumite
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    edited 2 April 2013 at 5:53PM


    Las Vegas is 5235 miles from London, with direct flight times in the region of 10 hours.

    You can book a package from pretty much any high street travel agent or online agent (Expedia, Ebookers, Opodo, etc.) which includes flights and hotels. However this is a money saving site so we can sometimes beat those package prices by booking flight + hotel separately. However, that's not to say the package deal might not be the cheaper option. It's easy to work out if a deal you have been quoted is value for money:

    X = Price of the package (flight+hotel), booked with an agent
    A = Price of flight, booked direct with the airline/flights website
    B = Price of the hotel, booked direct with hotel/hotels website

    If X is more than A+B, then save money and book things separately. The only real inconvenience is having to make 2 bookings, rather than one.
    So before asking on the forum "is this a good deal?", try working out if X is greater than A+B.

    If you are booking in advance there might not be a deal for your hotel yet, but you should be able to get a reasonable idea of prices by looking at current deals. Factors such as public holidays, sporting events (particularly boxing) and big conventions can increase the price of hotel bookings (see further down).


    Only 3 airlines operate direct flights to Las Vegas from the UK:

    British Airways: Gatwick, Heathrow
    Thomas Cook: Glasgow, Manchester
    Virgin Atlantic: Gatwick, Manchester

    (nb. Virgin flights from Manchester are suspended 27 Oct 2013 - 27 Mar 2014, during which time the route will be reviewed, and may not be continued)

    As of the end of 2012, 7 of the 8 Virgin Atlantic aircraft have been refurbished, including a new interactive in-flight entertainment (IFE) system.

    Extra leg room seats - if you would like more leg room, you can purchase 'exit row seats' at Gatwick on selected flights, on the day of travel, from between £50 and £75 one way depending on the route. Alternatively Virgin Atlantic is creating a number of Economy seats on its Gatwick fleet of aircraft with a larger seat pitch of 34 inches which will also be available to purchase at check in for only £30 one way.

    Upgrade at the airport - if you want to travel with more space and luxury, you may be able upgrade at the airport to Premium Economy. Depending on your economy ticket type, an upgrade can be purchased on the day of departure at the airport, prices start from £149 one way. Premium Economy offers passengers a leather seat with a seat pitch of 38 inches. Passengers travelling in Premium Economy benefit from many dedicated services including a dedicated check-in, cabin crew and meal service along with priority boarding and luggage.


    Flying indirect (i.e. with a stop over / change) often works out cheaper than direct flights.

    Should you consider flying indirect there are many choices available, and far too many to cover here, but please be sure you know what you are letting yourself in for. Flying times are 12 hours+ involving 'changing' at another airport during the journey (for example Amsterdam, Portland, Paris, New York, Memphis, Minneapolis, Atlanta, etc.)

    The drive from Los Angeles to Las Vegas is a very simple simple journey, so it might be worth checking out flights to Los Angeles + cost of car hire/drive to Las Vegas (see the Car Hire & Driving post further down the page).

    Getting a good fare is not straightforward, factors which can see you getting that good fare are:
    • Flexibility: be prepared to travel mid week not at the weekends like everyone else.
    • Preparation: look into you flight upto 11 months before you fly if you can.
    • Time of year: most Brits like to take holidays June-September.
    • Research: asking advice to regular posters on this site.
    • Risk: great fares can be had if you a prepared to wait till very close to your chosen dates.
    • Airline Sales and Offers: airlines know when people start thinking about booking trips, keeping very regular tabs on the airlines websites for sales and fare reductions is a good idea. Some airlines offer reduced fares for frequent flyers and members of there flying clubs. MSE members have found good fares by booking before Christmas for the following year: when Christmas is over lots of people start planning their holidays.

    Useful flight price comparison websites:
    Google flights


    Before booking you should check that you qualify for entry to the USA under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP).

    You will need to obtain an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) to board a flight to the USA. You can find info and apply for an ESTA here. ESTAs used to be free, but now cost $14.

    An ESTA lasts for 2 years (no matter how often you travel), or until your passport expires, whichever comes first.


    Las Vegas McCarran Airport is pretty much next to The Strip. Shuttle Buses operate to all the main hotels. Taxi is by far the most popular way to get to your hotel though. You can find a good estimate of the fare to your hotel here.

    TIP: instruct the taxi driver to NOT take "the tunnel" - this is a route which is slightly longer and therefore more costly. However for some hotels, this can be a more efficient route, taking into account traffic, etc.
  • edited 28 February 2013 at 11:06AM
    secretmachinessecretmachines Forumite
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    edited 28 February 2013 at 11:06AM


    "The Strip" is where most visitors tend to stay. The Strip is the name given to Las Vegas Boulevard, the road that runs through the centre of Las Vegas. A few hotel/casinos worth staying at are slightly off The Strip and usually have a free shuttle bus to-and-from The Strip. The other main area is called Downtown (at the North end of The Strip), where the standard of accommodation is lower (and cheaper). is a great site for lots of hotel pics including room pics and reviews.

    If you're a first time visitor you really should try to stay on The Strip if your budget allows - you can then check out the other areas and hotels, to see if you would consider them on a return visit (because you WILL want to return!).

    Where is nice, but reasonably priced?

    This is a commonly posted question on previous Las Vegas threads, it is a hard question to answer. None of the main trip hotels are likely to make it on to a "Hotels from Hell" show on ITV, but you do get what you pay for. A good starting place is

    Anything with a 4-star rating is unlikely to displease the vast majority of people. But a fair few people will probably be happy with something in the 3-star bracket and consider the hotel to be nice.

    But it's a very personal choice, some visitors will just need a place to crash between parties, some visitors will want a bit of luxury and pampering.

    A word of warning about using Tripadvisor to pick your hotel. There are nearly 300 hotels reviewed on the site, meaning the truly good hotels can end up way down the list of "best hotels". The site also lists hotels that are in the Las Vegas area, but nowhere near The Strip. South Point for example is listed has been listed as the 8th best reviewed hotel, and is on Las Vegas Boulevard but it is about a 15min car ride to the heart of The Strip and is not walkable.

    The hotels on The Strip to be most wary about are unsurprisingly the cheapest, for example: Circus Circus, The Stratosphere, The Rivera, Excalibur and Hooters. Post for some advice before on these hotels before booking.

    There is no set price for the majority of hotel rooms - it's a myth that rooms are given away for next to nothing. Friday and Saturday night prices are always more expensive than weekday prices (upto 3 times as expensive is not unusual).

    Other factors can have a big impact on the price you pay:

    • Super bowl weekend in January
    • Rodeo finals at the start of December
    • March Madness basketball
    • Boxing (particularly MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay)
      Check the sporting calendar here

    Large Conventions:
    Events like The Consumer Electronics Show, can have 150,000 attending.
    Check the conventions calendar here.

    National and Public Holidays:
    Las Vegas never closes down, but public holidays/celebrations can increase prices.
    Check USA national holidays here.

    Finding a good deal on a room usually only requires a small amount of searching. Booking directly through the hotels direct has big advantages:
    - you are cutting out the middleman
    - all of the hotels operate the same booking policy, that you only need to pay your first night's rate as a deposit, which is 100% refundable if you cancel upto 72 hours before you stay. This is generally the rule with all hotel offers but there are exceptions. Some offers have recently have been NO REFUND offers. Be sure to check all terms and conditions before you book. Offers can become available any time, but generally start appearing 12 weeks before your dates.

    There are several websites that list offers and discounts for hotels. Remember these sites simply list the deals which hotels release, so there is no need for a flashy website. Unless stated, these offers usually take you to a direct booking with the hotel.

    Most hotels have Facebook and Twitter profiles, which update regularly and promote flash sales, discount codes, offers, etc. It is also worth signing up to the hotels emailing lists, via their website, to receive offers.

    Also try 3rd party sites for good prices:

    Some deals say they require you to be a member of the hotel's "Players Club" to book. Usually if you can book it without a Players Club ID, then they won't generally ask for it at check in.

    When you have found and booked a hotel, it's a good idea to keep checking the new offers as they come in on the various threads, as you might find a better deal for the your dates. If the better offer is for the same hotel, you can probably get the hotel to pricematch your existing booking by calling them up (don't forget to use the MSE International call checker). Really good offers may not hang around if there is a lot of interest, so get in early if you see a new one that's a great deal.

    Moving hotels is also a good idea if you find great deals for different blocks of nights, and is not as much hassle as you might think. This is also a nice thing to do, to experience a couple of different hotels in one trip. A popular combination is to spend a few nights in one of the 'cheaper' hotels, then finish your stay with a couple of nights at a high-end hotel, or in a suite. This is also a nice way to experience both ends of The Strip.

    Some people ask if it is better to find a hotel when you arrive, this is most definitely NOT a good idea. US Immigration requires you to have your 1st night's stay booked, to enter the USA under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). Simply showing up at a casino without a booking will almost certainly mean you being charged "Rack Rate" for a room, which is pretty much the most you can end up paying.


    Most hotels charge a 'resort fee' (upto $25+tax), a mandatory amount per room per night that covers the cost of things like Wi-fi or Gym access. A full list of resort fees can be found here. Here's an interesting write-up on resort fees from

    Caesars Entertainment properties used to have a "no resort fee" policy, but for reservations made from 1 March 2013 onwards, a resort fee will be charged (ranging from $10-25, depending on the hotel). This is now also true for South Point.

    Hotels which do NOT currently charge a resort fee, are now mainly "off-Strip" properties: The California, El Cortez, Elara, Golden Gate, Golden Nugget, LVH, M Resort, Main Street Station, The D, The Platinum.


    You can check in to some hotels from McCarran airport. When you check in at the hotel, the clerk will will assign you a room. Some rooms of the same class are more desirable than others: Strip views are always more sought after, as are corner rooms or rooms overlooking a hotel attraction (e.g. the Bellagio fountains for example). Also try to get a room that is not situated directly next to an elevator. You should try to do as much research on the rooms within your hotel as possible to find out what to ask for. Some websites, such as TripAdvisor, have a "travellers' tips" section within the hotel review page ("See which rooms travellers prefer"), which can give some very good information. Of course, please do ask for advice on this forum.

    $20 TRICK

    Cash is King is Las Vegas. The following sites give advice on how to try and obtain a upgrade or a better positioned room by tipping the check-in clerk using The $20 Trick. This works more often than not, but you may find it harder to get a upgrade by doing this if you have a long stay, or if the hotel is fully booked. Also don't expect to get upgraded to a Penthouse suite from a standard room booking, you will probably only get one or two steps up the luxury ladder. For longer stays, or better upgrades, some people have reported that tipping $50 instead of $20, can work.

    Regardless if you tip of not, if you're not happy with the room (noisy, smoky, etc.), contact the front desk and get one you are happy with. Vegas is a holiday resort, and the customer service is usually exceptionally good. As with most "complaining", if you remain calm and polite, you should be treated equally respectfully.


    Las Vegas hotels usually have all you could ever need... apart from an in-room kettle, coffee and teabags! Although usually found in even basic UK hotel chains, they seem to be scarce in Vegas hotel rooms! So taking a travel kettle, or buying one when you're there is an option, along with taking a supply of your favourite teabags, etc.


    Here's a useful link to maps/floorplans of most hotels and casinos.
  • edited 25 February 2013 at 12:07PM
    secretmachinessecretmachines Forumite
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    edited 25 February 2013 at 12:07PM



    Although it's only about 3-4 miles from one end of The Strip to the other (the main part at least), do not underestimate the amount of time it will take you to get from A to B. Walking 1 mile at home may take you 20mins, but 1 mile on The Strip will take much longer! This is because of the attractions, the sights, the heat, the people, the traffic... A to B is rarely a straight line as you may have to go up-and-over the walkways to cross roads, or walk through casinos to get some air-conditioning. You can actually walk the majority of the length of The Strip without taking many steps outside, as many of the hotels/casinos are linked together by indoor walkways.

    Here is a guide to the distances between the main Strip hotels, going from South to North (in miles)

    0.0 Mandalay Bay
    0.2 Luxor
    0.4 Excalibur, Tropicana
    0.6 New York New York, MGM Grand
    0.8 Monte Carlo
    1.0 City Center (Cosmopolitan, Aria, Vdara, etc.)
    1.0 Harley Davidson Cafe
    1.2 Planet Hollywood
    1.4 Bellagio, Paris
    1.5 Bally's
    1.7 Caesars Palace, Flamingo
    1.8 Harrah's
    1.9 Mirage
    2.0 Venetian
    2.2 Treasure Island
    2.3 Fashion Show Mall
    2.5 Wynn/Encore
    3.0 Westward Ho, Slots 'O Fun, Riviera
    3.1 Circus Circus
    3.9 Stratosphere


    If hiring a car you will have the choice of parking it yourself at the hotel (usually free) or using the valet service a tip ($1-2) is usually given for Valet. The Strip is very busy at most times trafficwise. Hiring a car gives you the freedom to explore the many great places to visit around Las Vegas (e.g. Lake Mead, The Hoover Dam, Primm, Boulder City) while being able to hop around The Strip easily and cheaply (roughly $3.00-3.50/gallon).


    Taxis are good option for speed and convenience, but cost more than the other methods of getting around The Strip. You cannot flag them down, you get them called for you by staff outside the front of the hotels/casinos, or designated pick up areas. Most hotels/casinos have an obvious taxi line out front. Here is fare guide for taxis.


    The Deuce is the local 24 hour bus service and is pretty reasonable. It costs $6 for a 2-hour pass, $8 for a 24 hour pass or $30 for a 3-day pass up and down The Strip, stopping at most hotels. Be warned though the buses fill up at popular mid strip locations and make it hard to get on at busy times.
    Tickets are purchased on the bus.
    Deuce bus map.

    The SDX route is run by the same operator as The Deuce and follows pretty much the same route, but goes a little further south and a little further north and only runs from 9.30am-12.30am. The prices are the same as The Deuce. As well as travelling a little further, it also does not make as many stops up and down The Strip, so in theory should be quicker!
    Tickets must be purchased in advance from machines on the street (5day/30day passes available from varius 7-Eleven, Albertsons, Mariana's, Walgreens).
    SDX bus map.

    You may read about the Las Vegas Strip Trolley, but this is no longer in service.

    LAS VEGAS MONORAIL (east-side of The Strip)

    The Monorail runs from MGM Grand to The Sahara (the station is still open, even though the hotel is now closed). This costs $5 for a single journey, $12 for a 1-day pass, $28 for a 3-day pass.

    While it is certainly fast, clean and comfortable, the downside is that stations are at the back of the hotels, furthest from The Strip. You have to walk through which ever casino you get off at. Casinos are designed to be difficult places to escape, so it can be a trek to get back to The Strip! If you're going less than a mile you're probably better off walking.

    FREE MONORAILS (west-side of The Strip)

    There are also 3 separate free-to-ride Monorails:
    1. The Mirage - Treasure Island
    2. The Excalibur - Luxor - Mandalay Bay
      (Southbound: Excalibur and Mandalay Bay stops only, Northbound: stops at all 3 hotels)
    3. Monte Carlo - City Centre/Aria - Bellagio
  • edited 18 May 2013 at 5:44PM
    secretmachinessecretmachines Forumite
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    edited 18 May 2013 at 5:44PM


    You will find something unique in most of The Strip hotels to try and lure you in, some are free. Keep your eye out for Groupon deals around the Las Vegas area.


    The Bellagio Fountains are easily the best free attraction on The Strip, performing to a variety of music, it's a different show each time. It is still one of those shows that can make you stop and watch, even if you have seen them a lot of times. A good place to see them is from the top of Eiffel Tower - The Ride.

    Monday - Friday:
    3:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. show every 30 minutes
    7:00 p.m. - 12:00 a.m. show every 15 minutes
    Saturdays, Sundays* and Holidays
    12:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. show every 30 minutes (from 11am Sundays)
    7:00 p.m. - 12:00 a.m. show every 15 minutes

    The Sirens of TI is a pretty cheesy attraction. It was updated when Treasure Island became the swisher (and a lot less family friendly) "TI". To get a good spot, get to the viewing area a good 30 mins (45 mins on busy weekends) before the show starts.
    In Summer the show times are 7pm, 8:30pm, 10pm and 11:30pm. In Winter 5:30pm, 7pm, 8:30pm and 10pm

    The Mirage Volcano begins at 5:00 p.m. and runs every hour on the hour until 11:00 p.m. (nightly)
    It will be closed for preventative maintenance starting January 2, 2013 and reopening February 15, 2013.

    The Show In The Sky at The Rio is performed hourly from 6 pm until 11pm every Thursday through Saturday. The Rio is a little ways off The Strip so has to offer something a bit special to lure visitors over. It's a unique high energy performance every time, with three different shows featuring stunning dancers in eye-popping costume fashions from the likes of DKNY and Victoria's Secret.
    [closing 31 March 2013]

    The Fremont Street Experience is Downtown's attempt to compete with The Strip. It is a huge roof canopy that covers all of Fremont Street and at night transforms into a spectacular light and sound show. It was a joint venture by all the casino's it covers and they all turn off their own lights when it is on. Light and sound shows begin every night at dusk, and continue at the top of every hour until midnight.

    Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign... you really need a car to get there, or get a bus closer to the sign, or a taxi. Here's a live webcam of the Las Vegas sign!

    Other free attractions, recommended by MSE regulars:

    On Strip: Wildlife habitat at FlamingoBellagio: World's largest chocolate fountainBellagio lobby: Chihuly glass flower ceilingBellagio: Conservatory and Botanical GardensCircus Circus: Circus acts

    Off Strip: Ethel M's Chocolate Factory & Cactus GardenSilverton: Mermaid show & aquariumSilverton: Bass Pro shop


    Shark Reef @ Mandalay Bay is a huge aquarium filled with a large variety of sea life (and more than a few sharks). You get audio wands that will fill you in on each tank. It is priced at $18 adults / $12 children and is open 10am-8pm (10pm Fri/Sat)

    The Stratosphere is a hotel/casino, but counts as an attraction in its own right (especially if you want a stunning high up view of Las Vegas and the surrounding area). It has four thrill rides on the top of it, stands at 1149 feet it is comfortably the tallest building in Nevada. The Observation deck costs $16 to enter, the rides $22 a piece (although there are a variety of good discounts for buying all at once).

    Other rollercoasters on The Strip are The Roller Coaster @ New York New York and the Canyon Blaster @ Circus Circus. Circus Circus also has free circus performers inside the casino but they don't really warrant a specific visit, but are diverting enough if you happen to be around. You can often find upto half price discounts on the above coasters in the many of the free magazines.

    Siegfried & Roy's Secret Garden & Dolphin Habitat @ The Mirage is a favourite attraction. Here you find the world's largest collection of white lions and tigers, as well as a dolphins. Seigfried & Roy were The Mirage's headliners until Roy was severely injured onstage by one of the white tigers. The big cats you can see here are theirs and are magnificent creatures to see up close. The dolphins perform tricks and interact with the keepers. You can also view the dolphins from underwater observation room. Open 10am - 5pm (11am opening on weekdays), $19.95 adults / $14.95 children, with experience packages also available.

    The Eiffel Tower - The Ride provides great views of The Strip. The not-to-scale replica sits half-in-and-out of the Paris casino. It too has a restaurant inside it. Open daily, 9:30 a.m. - 12:30 a.m., weather permitting. $10.50 for adults, $7.50 for seniors and children. From 7:30 p.m. - close: Admission is $15.50 for adults, $10.50 for seniors and children.

    Scoot City Red Rock guided tours are a favourite amongst MSE members. You get to ride 2-seater scooter cars through the suburbs of Las Vegas, out to Red Rock Canyon and around the park. Although quite expensive ($125 per person), Groupon often has 2-for-1 deals, which makes it great value. Tours last for a morning or afternoon. Scoot City has also recently started a Strip tour in the scooter cars.

    This is obviously only a tiny selection of what is available in Las Vegas, just a few of the MSE favourites.


    Last but by no means least you can see one of the greatest sights on the planet while in Las Vegas. There are many different ways to get to the Grand Canyon, as well as being different parts of the Grand Canyon that can be visited. These include car (self-drive), bus trip, helicopter, plane.

    The main locations of the Grand Canyon that are visited from Vegas are:

    The West Rim (Link to Directions / Approx. Driving Time)
    The South Rim (Link to Directions / Approx. Driving Time)

    Although the West Rim is a much shorter distance, it is often cited as not being the 'real' Canyon due to it being nowhere near as 'impressive' as the South Rim… (although to some, “a hole in the ground” is “a hole in the ground”!)

    The West Rim is 'private' and therefore it is very much like a 'theme park' with rules such as “you aren't allowed to bring your own food and drink”. This can bring the price of visiting the West Rim up a bit. They do have the SkyWalk however which recently opened and you have probably seen on the news. HOWEVER, it is reported you can not take shoes, bags or cameras onto the SkyWalk, and there is a further charge to actually go on it. Again, like a theme park, it seems you pay to get in, pay to eat and drink their foods and also pay to go on some of the good stuff! They will also take your photo on the Skywalk and let you buy it…

    More information on the West Rim can be found here.

    If you are short on time, the West Rim is the easier and quicker (although not necessarily cheaper) option.

    One thing to note is that if you plan to drive to the West Rim, due to it being a private road for part of the journey (21 miles, 14 of which are unpaved), some car insurance policies for hire cars may not cover you for this part of the journey and in turn your insurance will be deemed void - so it is worth asking the question when booking/collecting your car.

    Parts of the South Rim are up to 10miles wide and is on average 1mile deep. The journey from Vegas to the South Rim is a lot further than to the West Rim but if feels you are entering a different world. Over 6000 feet high, the weather is not like the same weather you will experience whilst you are in Las Vegas and from October to March, snow is not uncommon and at its worst can sometimes make access to the park very awkward / impossible, whilst in Summer, it can get hotter than Vegas. The Grand Canyon South Rim is a national state park, meaning it will cost you $25 to drive in.

    More information on the South Rim can be found here.

    Both rims have accommodation, for example Bright Angel Lodge at the South Rim. Note the website sometimes lists there is no availability if they are running low on rooms, so you must phone (except it doesn't tell you this so just ring and check your dates if that's easier).

    By far the most popular method is a helicopter trip. There are several operators out of McCarran airport.

    It is not a cheap trip by any means (budget on least £200 per person for a standard flight).

    Helicopter flights that land in the Grand Canyon will only take you to the West Rim (because of the distance) – but this is not a bad thing as it is still an experience in itself (and unlike driving, there will be no extra charges). You can sometimes find discounts and coupons for the above operators in the free magazines you can pick up around The Strip. All of the above will pick you up from/return you to your hotel. You will also probably get to see the Hoover Dam if you choose a helicopter tour.

    You may also find trips costing less by choosing to fly from airports closer to the Canyon. Some of the Vegas trips will actually depart from Boulder City (usually offering a free shuttle bus to get there first).

    The links to 'more information' on each rim (above) detail instructions on 'how to get there'. If you are going to drive in America, then both the South or West rims are probably some of the simplest journeys you can make. Long straight roads, with not much traffic apart from driving through Vegas city itself.
  • edited 4 January 2013 at 3:54PM
    secretmachinessecretmachines Forumite
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    edited 4 January 2013 at 3:54PM



    There are hundreds upon hundreds of places to eat in Las Vegas. It would be impossible to scratch the surface in terms of recommendations here. Las Vegas provides pretty much every price range of food, from practically every type of world cuisine: from exclusive celebrity chefs (Gordon Ramsey) to cheap pile 'em high buffets (and everything in between).

    Your hotel will almost certainly have more than a few places to eat at. But bear in mind the hotel has a captive market so in-house restaurants are often more expensive than independent/off-site restaurants. is a website which sells discount vouchers for eateries across America. For example, you buy a voucher for $10 which gets you $30 deducted from a bill of $60+. Keep and eye on this thread, as our regulars will post up the latest offers and passwords for the latest discounts - but you have to be quick as the most popular restaurants will sell their allocation very quickly. You must register with the website: use your own address, Nevada for the state and 89109 for the zip code. It doesn't have to match your credit card.

    There are still great deals to be had on food if your prepared to search them out and venture a couple of minutes "off Strip". Although some deals come and go, a few have been running for many years and should be around when you visit. Some of the popular ones can be found here.


    The most famous of dining options in Las Vegas are the buffets, which are open all day and vary in price depending if you go for breakfast, lunch or dinner (and can include alcohol for an additional supplement). For a set price (anything from $10-$50) you can eat and drink as much as you want from the huge food selections available. Nearly all The Strip casinos have a buffet and it is unlikely you are either going to feel short changed or not find something you enjoy at nearly all of them. You will probably be pleased with the quality of most of the other buffets on The Strip. Although you can eat as much as you like, give some thought if a buffet is going to be the most economic choice - for example, if you're a light grazer, then spending $50 on a buffet might be a false economy.


    Alcohol is easy to get hold of in Vegas. What's more free Alcohol is given out if you meet 2 simple requirements within a Casino:

    Rule 1: you playing any casino game
    Rule 2: are not in a state where they cannot serve you

    Meet these and obtaining a free drink from a cocktail waitress is a simple as saying "one large whiskey please". Cocktail waitresses make regular rounds asking anyone playing if they would like a drink. As long as your not asking for super expensive bubbly, they will happily give you a drink to keep you playing. "Free" is a little misleading though, the waitress relies on tips, so she is unlikely to be in a rush to ask or serve you again if you don't tip her. $1 a drink is acceptable, but you should tip a bit more if you have a group order or will be using her services regularly. is a good site that gives information on the subject.

    If for some reason you want to pay at the bar for drinks (!), be warned that they will be quite expensive!

    As the minimum age for gambling and drinking is the same (21), ordering drinks from bars can be a little more hassle. Most establishments will ask for ID, so if you plan on ordering any alcohol, always have some photo ID with you no matter what your age. Your passport will be fine, but a photo driving licence is better as it is easier to carry and not a disaster if you lose it while tipsy!
  • edited 12 February 2013 at 3:57PM
    secretmachinessecretmachines Forumite
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    edited 12 February 2013 at 3:57PM



    Think of Vegas, and you think of the casinos - poker, blackjack, high rollers, slot machines. It really is like the scenes in Oceans' 11/12/13!

    But you don't need to be rich & wealthy to have a good time and a gamble. Even if you're not a gambler in the UK, having a little flutter is all part of the fun and only needs to cost you cents at a time.

    There are 2 main types of gambling:
    - playing at tables (blackjack, pokers, roulette, etc.)
    - playing machines

    Tables will carry a minimum bet, this is usually $10, though you may find some tables with a $5 minimum. Don't worry if you're not sure what you're doing, the dealer and fellow players will usually be happy to help. Some casinos even offer free lessons, so check that out.

    Machines (or slots) are just you and the machine. There are themed machines (Dark Knight, Ghostbusters, Sex In The City, etc.) which are good fun and have entertaining bonus features. Again, don't worry about not really understanding the machines, it's all pretty self-explanatory once you start playing. There are also the classic fruit machines/one armed bandits, but very few will accept coins these days, it's all bills or vouchers.

    Having a spin on these machines can cost you as little as 1 cent, but obviously the more you bet, the more you will win! Usually $1/spin is a good amount to bet, but it's whatever you are comfortable with.

    Slots will accept dollar bills or paper vouchers. You get paper vouchers when you 'cash out' or end your session on a machine. Let's say you put a $20 and play for 10 minutes, and your balance is now $23.42. You just hit the 'cash out' button and the machine prints a voucher for $23.42, which you can then insert into another machine, or exchange for real money! You can do this at 'bill-breaking' machines which are dotted about the casino floor. Beware though, you cannot take your voucher from one casino to another - unless they are part of the same chain (eg. Paris and Caesars)


    Think of joining a players club like signing up for a Nectar card or loyalty card scheme. The more you play, the more you can 'earn'. You will be given a plastic card (like a credit card/driving licence) which you insert into the slot machine each time you play, or present to the dealer.

    You can sign up for these clubs at the casino, you just need to have some photo ID - your passport is the best form of ID, there have been MSE member reports that some casinos will not accept a UK driving licence. Some also allow you to sign up online (in advance) but you don't always qualify for some of the 'freebies' on offer. Also, where there are multiple casinos in one club (e.g. Total Rewards), you can only sign up once so you should check which one offers the best deal for you.

    People ask, is it worth signing up? Well, it's free for a start. It only takes about 2 mins and once you have joined you'll usually get some sort of freebie (free slot play, vouchers, etc.) - check the Advantage Player website for the latest sign-up bonuses. As long as you put your card in the slot machines as you play them/present you card to the dealer, you will start to build up points which may help you qualify for reduced rate or even 'comped' rooms in the future. It's impossible to say how much you would need to spend but some people on here have received 'comped' rooms for relatively small amounts of slot play.

    There isn't one card for all casinos (as much as there isn't one loyalty card for all supermarkets), each card (listed below) is only valid its parent casinos. So you might end up signing up for a number of them, or decide to just go with one and gamble at particular casinos to maximise your 'earnings'.

    List of main Players Clubs on or within walking distance to The Strip:
    • Total Rewards - Bally's, Paris, Harrahs, Flamingo, Caesars Palace, Planet Hollywood, Rio All Suites and The Quad (formerly Imperial Palace)
    • MLife Players Club - (MGM RESORTS) Aria, Bellagio, MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay, The Mirage, Luxor, Excalibur, New York New York, Monte Carlo
    • Red Card - Wynn, Encore
    • Club Grazie - Venetian, Palazzo
    • Identity - Cosmopolitan (offering $100 free play* through 31 March 2013)

    List of Players Clubs off-strip (vehicle required):
    • Station Casinos Boarding Pass - Palace Station, Boulder Station, Texas Station, Sunset Station, Santa Fe Station, Green Valley Ranch, Red Rock Casino
    • Wild Card - Barley’s, Gold Rush, Magic Star, The Greens, Wild Wild West and Wildfire
    • B Connected - The Orleans, Gold Coast, Sun Coast or Sam's Town, Main Street Station, California Hotel, & Fremont

    The Wizard of Vegas website offers a great overview of what is on offer at each casino, in terms of minimum stakes, games, sportsbooks, etc. a well as reviews.

    American Casino Guide also updates regularly with sign-up offers to Players Clubs, but also details any current promotions and offers.

    If you really can't wait and want to check out rules, tips and play a few practice hands before you go, The Wizard of Odds website is great for this!
  • edited 3 January 2013 at 10:13PM
    secretmachinessecretmachines Forumite
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    edited 3 January 2013 at 10:13PM



    You won't be surprises to learn that nightlife in Vegas is very diverse. Most casinos will have at least one nightclub, several bars, as well as lounges. Off-site there are 100s of bars, nightclubs, strip clubs, etc. to suit all tastes. A lot of the more trendy places will have door and dress policies so you should research ahead if you planning on visiting a particular club. Entrance fees are also quite varied. If you are planning on a lot of club hopping a good investment is the front of line passes offered by Not all clubs are included but, one of these could save you hours of queuing. Be warned though, that buying alcohol in clubs can be very expensive.

    Useful links:


    On any given night in Las Vegas you will have at least a dozen top quality shows to choose from, not to mention many other less well known or high profile shows around town.

    If you're very keen to see a certain show and want best available seats then you can book ahead from either the show's/hotel's own website or through agent like Ticketmaster or (for good discounts). You then pick the tickets up from the Theater Box Office on the day. If you are prepared to wait until you get there big savings can be made. However, to save more money, you can wait until you arrive in Las Vegas to buy your tickets.

    There are discount ticket outlets on The Strip called Tix4tonite which offer tickets for the same night upto half price. If you have a car and want a nice reasonably priced breakfast before or after you get your tickets, then use the booth located outside MSE fav The Peppermill. You can then use the Peppermill's car park, this booth isn't quite as busy as the centre Strip booths.

    You're likely to find more choice of shows on weekdays rather then weekends, and some shows never seem to appear at these outlets. Popular shows will sell out, so you may need to get there and queue before opening time to secure the tickets you want. The staff at these places are quite helpful and should be able to tell you if a certain show will require you get there early to buy tickets the next day. There are 2 lines at the Tix4tonight booths: one regular and one VIP. You can get a VIP pass by bringing previously purchased ticket stubs with you. VIP customers are served before regular customers.

    also check out these links to see if they have any good offers on:
  • edited 12 February 2013 at 9:28AM
    secretmachinessecretmachines Forumite
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    edited 12 February 2013 at 9:28AM



    Like dining and gambling there is plenty of choice for retail therapy on every budget, from cheap and tacky snow globes at Bonanza (the world's biggest souvenir/gift store) to boutique shopping and Ferrari/Maserati dealership at the Wynn.

    The Strip has several big shopping malls. The biggest are:
    The Forum @ Caesars Palace
    Miracle Mile @ Planet Hollywood
    Grand Canal Shoppes @ Venetian
    Fashion Show mall (opposite Wynn)
    City Center (by Aria)

    You will also find smaller shopping malls and shops in most of the hotels/casinos.

    For bargain hunters and money savers there are several outlet malls close to The Strip, where you can find large discounts on high street names:

    Las Vegas Premium Outlet North
    Las Vegas Premium Outlet South
    Fashion Outlets Las Vegas
    (which despite its address is a good 30-40mins drive south of The Strip in Primm). But while you're there, you can ride one of the world's longest roller coasters.

    For $15, you can catch a bus to the Fashion Outlets Las Vegas from five different Strip locations. For this price, you will also recevie a complimentary Green Savings Card with more than $800 in savings at participating stores, plus a voucher for a free coupon book for Miracle Mile Shops, and FashionShow.

    Also check out these free coupons, there are several that can be printed off and redeemed for coupon booklets at certain shopping malls:


    If you have a fridge in your room, it can be worth stocking up on some drinks and snacks, which you can enjoy back at the hotel, or take out with you. There are a couple of Walgreens and CVS pharmacies dotted up and down The Strip. Whilst not the cheapest places to buy snacks, they're certainly cheaper than some of the 'convenience' stores in the hotels/casinos. If you have a car, then venturing a few minutes off-Strip, prices for drinks/snacks will come down even further.
  • edited 6 January 2013 at 5:51PM
    secretmachinessecretmachines Forumite
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    edited 6 January 2013 at 5:51PM


    The following agencies (websites which search multiple rental firms) have both been tried and tested by MSE members without any complaints so far:

    Take note of terms and conditions, as some rental companies will not cover you for driving on private roads leading to the Grand Canyon.

    Rental Cars will often price match any better quote and include all car insurances in with the price, so probably worth searching with travelsupermarket before going to them.

    Most companies (Alamo, Dollar, etc.) allow pickup/drop-off in Nevada, Arizona and California, including one way journeys - but make sure they note as such on your voucher. Then if Alamo/Dollar get it wrong, you are protected by your Rental Cars voucher. Vegas to Los Angeles is the easiest journey in the world: turn right at Caesars Palace, turn left at the lights, drive straight for 300 miles, turn right into the Los Angeles rental centre!

    Prices from the US sites don't always include any insurances at all and paying for the insurance locally is going to significantly increase the total price - though you may have car hire insurance elsewhere.

    Remember - amongst other 'driving differences', in Nevada you are allowed to turn right on a red light (however crossing pedestrians are given priority), and at none traffic-lighted 'stop' junctions, you give priority to cars that were 'stopped and waiting' there before you.
  • edited 3 January 2013 at 9:18PM
    secretmachinessecretmachines Forumite
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    edited 3 January 2013 at 9:18PM


    Las Vegas is the wedding capital of the world, hosting over 120,000 weddings each year. You won't be surprised to learn that you can have your pick of type of wedding, big or small, cheap or lavish, formal or novelty the choice is yours. There ain't nothing to tying the knot in Vegas, all you need is a wedding certificate from Clark County wedding office and be eligible. You can than hop down to any local chapel and be married there and then. Of course you can find many companies in Vegas who help you organize everything, no matter what size wedding you want. is a good forum with lots of info about Hotels, shows, casinos, etc.
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