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Las Vegas guide and MSE thread 2016

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secretmachinessecretmachines Forumite
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Las Vegas is not like other destinations you may have visited, 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:
Coming soon

HOTEL CASINOS

On Strip
ARIA Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / www
Bally's Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / www
Bellagio Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / www
Caesars Palace Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / www
Casino Royale Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / www
Circus Circus Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / www
The Cosmopolitan Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / www
The Cromwell Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / www
Delano Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / www
Encore / Wynn Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / www
Excalibur Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / www
Flamingo Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / www
Four Seasons Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / www
Harrah's Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / www
The Linq Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / www
Luxor Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / www
Mandalay Bay Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / www
Mandarin Oriental Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / www
MGM Grand Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / www
The Mirage Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / www
Monte Carlo Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / www
NYNY Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / www
Palazzo Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / www
Paris Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / www
Planet Hollywood Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / www
SLS Hotel Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / www
Stratosphere Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / www
Treasure Island Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / www
Tropicana Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / www
Trump Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / www
Vdara Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / www
Venetian Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / www
Wynn / Encore Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / www

Downtown (Fremont Street area)
4 Queens Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / www
California Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / www
the D Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / www
El Cortez Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / www
Fremont Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / www
Golden Gate Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / www
Golden Nugget Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / www

Off Strip (selected popular hotels)
Boulder Station Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / www
Days Inn Wild Wild West Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / www
Green Valley Ranch Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / www
Hooters Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / www
Westgate Las Vegas Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / www
Orleans Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / www
Palms Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / www
Red Rock Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / www
Rio Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / www
Tuscany Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / www
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Replies

  • edited 2 February 2016 at 12:36PM
    secretmachinessecretmachines Forumite
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    edited 2 February 2016 at 12:36PM
    GETTING THERE


    intro1.jpg

    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 flights and hotel room separately. Do your research and try out a variety of bookings: sometimes an all-in-one package (with Expedia, Ebookers, etc.) can work out cheaper than booking flights and hotel room separately, but the opposite can be true too.

    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).

    FLYING DIRECT

    Direct flights to Las Vegas from the UK are available from:

    British Airways: Gatwick, Heathrow
    Virgin Atlantic: Gatwick, Manchester (includes Delta airline flights)
    Thomas Cook: Manchester, Glasgow, Stansted (from Summer 2015)

    Upgrade at the airport: it is unlikely that you will be able to upgrade your booking from Economy to Premium Economy, or Premium Economy to Upper Class. However it is not unheard of: well-dressed, polite requests are more likely to be successful, after all you won't lose anything by asking. However a more active frequent flyer/membership status is more likely to result in success.

    FLYING INDIRECT

    Flying indirect (i.e. with a stop over / change at another airport) 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 or Atlanta).

    To save money, you can also consider flying to Los Angeles. The drive from Los Angeles to Las Vegas is a very simple simple journey (265 miles), 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:
    Skyscanner.net
    Google flights

    ESTA

    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 per person. Before booking you should check that you qualify for entry to the USA under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). An ESTA lasts for 2 years (no matter how often you travel), or until your passport expires, whichever comes first.

    Read the MSE guide to ESTAs.

    ARRIVAL

    Las Vegas McCarran International Airport is pretty much next to The Strip, only about a 3 mile drive. 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.

    MSE 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 18 September 2016 at 9:45PM
    secretmachinessecretmachines Forumite
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    edited 18 September 2016 at 9:45PM
    HOTELS & WHERE TO STAY


    strip-aerial1.jpg

    "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, where many of the hotels/casinos are located. A few hotel/casinos 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).

    Oyster.com 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 hotels are likely to make it on to a "Hotels from Hell" show on TV, but you do get what you pay for. A good starting place to get an idea on prices is vegas.com.

    A word of warning about using Tripadvisor to pick your hotel. There are nearly dozens of 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 on Las Vegas Boulevard but it is about a 15min car ride to the heart of The Strip and is not walkable.

    HOW MUCH DO HOTEL ROOMS COST?

    Basic rooms on The Strip range from $25-$150/night, going to up to any price you care to think of for suites & penthouses! 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. The hotels on The Strip to be most wary about are unsurprisingly the cheapest, for example: Circus Circus, The Stratosphere, The Riviera, Excalibur and Hooters. Post for some advice before on these hotels before booking. We'd recommend you work out your budget for hotels and go from there.

    Friday and Saturday nights are peak times to stay, so will be more expensive. Other events which will increase the rates you pay include:

    Sport: 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.

    GETTING A GOOD DEAL ON YOUR HOTEL ROOM

    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.
    • you can sign up to the hotel's "Player's Club" card: login to your account and check out the room rates.

    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.

    vegasmessageboard.com
    vegastripping.com
    vegas-promotions.com
    vegashotelhunt.com
    vegashotelspecial.com
    totalrewards.com/hot-deals
    vegas-hotels-online.com
    smartervegas.com
    earlyvegas.com

    Most hotels have Facebook and Twitter profiles (see first post in this thread), 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:

    atlaschoice.com
    netflights.com
    lowcostusa.co.uk
    travelrepublic.co.uk
    hotels.com
    lastminute.com

    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.

    Staying in two different 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. 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.

    RESORT FEES

    Nearly all hotels charge a 'resort fee', a mandatory amount per room per night that covers the cost of things like Wi-fi or Gym access. This is not usually included in the room rate prices you will find quoted online. For Strip hotels, resort fees range from $14.50-$28+tax/night. This is important to factor into your budget as this could add up to nearly $200 for a week's stay. A full list of resort fees can be found here. Here's an interesting write-up on resort fees from VegasChatter.com.

    CHECKING IN

    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). 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 "which rooms travellers prefer" section within the hotel review page, which can give some very good information. Of course, please do ask for advice on this forum.

    $20 TRICK / COMPLIMENTARY UPGRADES

    Cash is King is Las Vegas and you can sometimes get a room upgrade using the "$20 Trick": by tipping the check-in clerk $20. 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. Sometimes, just being polite and friendly can result in an upgrade.

    Links to $20 Trick advice and successes:
    frontdesktip.com
    thetwentydollartrick.com
    fatwallet.com

    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.

    FACILITIES

    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.

    HOTEL MAPS & FLOORPLANS

    Here's a useful link to maps/floorplans of most hotels and casinos.
  • edited 2 February 2016 at 12:37PM
    secretmachinessecretmachines Forumite
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    edited 2 February 2016 at 12:37PM
    GETTING AROUND

    strip-traffic1.jpg

    WALKING

    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

    DRIVING

    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 $2.50/gallon).

    TAXIS

    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.

    BUS

    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 $20 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 or at vending machines.
    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.

    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... passes are also available for 2, 3, 4, 5 and 7 days.

    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 whichever 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.

    The Monorail operates from 7am - 2/3am.

    FREE MONORAILS (west-side of The Strip)

    There are also 3 separate free-to-ride Monorails:
    1. The Mirage - Treasure Island (7am - 2am, daily)
    2. The Excalibur - Luxor - Mandalay Bay
      (Southbound: Excalibur and Mandalay Bay stops only, 9am -10.30pm, Northbound: stops at all 3 hotels, 11am - 10.30pm)
    3. Monte Carlo - City Centre/Aria - Bellagio (8am - 4am, daily)
  • edited 2 February 2016 at 12:37PM
    secretmachinessecretmachines Forumite
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    edited 2 February 2016 at 12:37PM
    ATTRACTIONS
    dolphin1.jpg

    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.

    TOP FREE ATTRACTIONS

    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 the Eiffel Tower Experience.
    Monday - Friday: 3pm - Midnight, show every 15/30mins
    Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays: 12pm - Midnight, show every 15/30mins

    The Mirage Volcano
    begins daily at 6pm and runs every 30mins (except 7.30pm) until 11pm.

    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 casinos 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 Flamingo
    Bellagio: World's largest chocolate fountain
    Bellagio lobby: Chihuly glass flower ceiling
    Bellagio: Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
    Circus Circus: Circus acts
    • [URL="http://www.vegaschatter.com/story/2013/12/2/1117/72439/vegas-travel/Fall+Of+Atlantis+Rises+Again+At+The+Forum+Shops]Caesars Palace: Atlantis show at Forum Shops[/URL]

    Off Strip:
    Ethel M's Chocolate Factory & Cactus Garden
    Silverton: Mermaid show & aquarium
    Silverton: Bass Pro shop

    TOP PAY ATTRACTIONS

    You can often find upto discounts in the many of the free magazines distrubuted around Las Vegas.

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

    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 (free for under 4s).

    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 a number of thrill rides at the top, standings at 1149 feet it is comfortably the tallest building in Nevada. The Observation deck costs $20/$12 to enter, the rides $15 a piece (but plenty of discount packages available).

    Roller coasters:
    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.

    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. $19.95 adults / $14.95 children, with experience packages also available.

    The Eiffel Tower Experience
    provides great views of The Strip. The not-to-scale replica sits half-in-and-out of the Paris casino, witha restaurant inside too. Prices from $14 adults, $10 for seniors / children, prices higher after 7.30pm. Free entry if it's your birthday!

    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 alo operates a Strip tour in the scooter cars. These tours are seasonal, check the website.

    THE GRAND CANYON

    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 and The South Rim. A lthough 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”!)

    WEST RIM
    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 and they do have the SkyWalk. However, you cannot 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.

    SOUTH RIM
    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. Parts of the South Rim are up to 10miles wide and is on average 1mile deep. 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/vehicle to drive in. More information on the South Rim can be found here.

    Accommodation
    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). www.xanterra.com

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

    HeliusaPapillonMaverickSundanceGrand Canyon Tour CompanySerenity ...and many others if you Google.

    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 online, and 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).

    Driving
    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. You can also stop off at other destinations along the way, such as the Hoover Dam and Boulder City.
  • edited 2 February 2016 at 12:37PM
    secretmachinessecretmachines Forumite
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    edited 2 February 2016 at 12:37PM
    FOOD & DRINK

    food.jpg

    EATING

    There are 100s places to eat in Las Vegas, from budget to high-end, across every type of world cuisine; from exclusive celebrity chefs (Gordon Ramsey) to cheap pile 'em high buffets.

    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 can often be more expensive than independent/off-site restaurants.

    www.restaurant.com 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.

    BUFFETS

    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). Prices range on the Strip from a $12 breakfast buffet, to a $65 brunch, the average cost being $20-30. For this set price 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.

    MSE TIP: pace yourself! You can spend as much time as you like eating, so try eating little and often. As tempting as it is, don't pile your first plate and then feel stuffed!

    DRINKING

    Alcohol is easy to get hold of in Vegas and is free in casinos, as long as you are playing any casino game (tables, slots, etc.) and are not too drunk!

    Casino cocktail waitresses 'patrol' the floor and will ask you what you'd like. They make regular rounds and as long as you're 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. cocktaildoll.com 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!
  • Important update! We have recently reviewed and updated our Forum Rules and FAQs. Please take the time to familiarise yourself with the latest version.
  • edited 1 January 2017 at 3:38PM
    secretmachinessecretmachines Forumite
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    edited 1 January 2017 at 3:38PM
    GAMBLING & PLAYERS CLUBS

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    GAMBLING

    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. Many MSE regulars never gambled when they first visited, but now look forward to a little dabble!

    Playing at tables (blackjack, pokers, roulette, etc.)
    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.

    Playing slot machines
    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 dollar bills or 'cashout vouchers'. Having a spin on these machines can cost you as little as 1 cent a time, 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.

    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, even if they're in the same group (e.g. Caesars Entertainment).

    PLAYERS CLUBS

    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 room rates 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: 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
    • 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 2 February 2016 at 12:38PM
    secretmachinessecretmachines Forumite
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    edited 2 February 2016 at 12:38PM
    NIGHTLIFE & SHOWS

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    NIGHTLIFE

    You won't be surprised 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 www.vegas.com. 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. Also be wary of buying VIP passes from street sellers, the sales patter is very good and you might think you're saving a lot of money, but often you will be disappointed. VIP lines can be longer than general admission, and no difference in price.

    Visit jackcolton.com for a full nightclub guide.

    SHOWS

    On any given night in Las Vegas there are dozens of top quality shows to choose from, not to mention many others in and around town. If you're very keen to see a certain show and want best available seats then you can book ahead online from the official website or a well-known website such as Ticketmaster or BestOfVegas.com (good for discounts). You then pick the tickets up from the Theatre Box Office on the day.

    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, booths just off-Strip are ususally less busy than 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. VIP passes are available for $25 and last for a year, the VIP line gets served before the regular line.

    also check out these links to see if they have any good offers on:
    goldstar.com
    travelzoo.com/entertainment/las-vegas
    BestOfVegas.com
  • edited 2 February 2016 at 12:38PM
    secretmachinessecretmachines Forumite
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    edited 2 February 2016 at 12:38PM
    SHOPPING

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    MALL SHOPPING

    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
    These two outlets are the most popular as they are within easy reach of the Strip (by taxi/bus/car, not walking). By registering with the website, you can print off a number of discount vouchers, as well as receive a free coupon book which you can collect at the Information Centre at each outlet.

    Fashion Outlets Las Vegas
    Despite its address is a good 30-40mins drive south of The Strip in Primm. But while you're there, you can ride Desperado, one of the world's longest roller coasters.

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

    LUGGAGE

    If you are a serious shopper, you may want to consider paying in advance for an extra piece of baggage to bring with you on the flight home. Typically each passenger will have a 23kg baggage limit, with 10kg (23kg on BA) for hand baggage. For a couple, a third suitcase for the return journey may be economical. You could either purchase a cheap piece of luggage when in Vegas, or place a medium-sized bag inside a large bag on the way out, taking two bags with you, in one.

    FOOD/DRINK SHOPPING

    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, at a Walmart for example.
  • edited 2 February 2016 at 12:38PM
    secretmachinessecretmachines Forumite
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    edited 2 February 2016 at 12:38PM
    CAR HIRE & DRIVING

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

    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 2 February 2016 at 12:38PM
    secretmachinessecretmachines Forumite
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    edited 2 February 2016 at 12:38PM
    GETTING MARRIED

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    Las Vegas is the wedding capital of the world, hosting over 115,000 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. wizardofvegas.com is a good forum with lots of info about hotels, shows, casinos, etc.
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