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Las Vegas guide and MSE thread 2020

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Las Vegas guide and MSE thread 2020

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dan28dan28 Forumite
284 posts
Part of the Furniture 100 Posts
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Las Vegas unlike nearly every other holiday destination you may have visited. 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 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 ask a question and join the discussion! We have lots of Vegas regulars contributing to this thread - join us!

Index of front page contents:
1 - Hotels & Casinos
2 - Getting there
3 - Hotels & Where to stay
4 - Getting around
5 - Attractions
6 - Food & Drink
7 - Gambling & Players Clubs
8 - Nightlife & Shows
9 - Shopping
10 - Car hire & driving
11 - Getting married
12 - Coupons & Vouchers
13 - myVEGAS
14 - Other useful bits & bobs
15 - MSE member Trip Reports

HOTELS & 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
MGM Grand Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / www
NYNY Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / www
Palazzo Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / www
Paris Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / www
Park MGM Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / www
Planet Hollywood Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / www
Sahara 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
Oyo 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

  • dan28dan28 Forumite
    284 posts
    Part of the Furniture 100 Posts
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    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).

    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.

    FLYING DIRECT

    You can fly direct to Las Vegas from the UK:


    • British Airways operates direct flights to Las Vegas from London Heathrow (LHR), as do American, Finnair and Iberia
    • British Airways, Delta and Virgin Atlantic also have Las Vegas flights taking off from Gatwick (LGW)
    • Virgin Atlantic and Thomas Cook Airlines operate direct 2019 flights to Las Vegas from Manchester (MAN)


    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

    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
    • Uber or Lyft are good MSE alternatives to licensed taxis. If you've not used Uber or Lyft before, they usually offer introductory credit, so your ride may be even cheaper!


    MSE TIP: Generally, ask 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.
  • dan28dan28 Forumite
    284 posts
    Part of the Furniture 100 Posts
    ✭✭
    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 general 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 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 can start from as little as $25/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, 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:
    • January/February: Superbowl weekend
    • December: Rodeo finals
    • 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.

    GETTING A GOOD DEAL ON YOUR HOTEL ROOM

    Deals where you pay the full price up front
    You can purchase hotel rooms at a cheaper rate by paying the whole cost up front. This can save you money, however you are "locked in" to that booking and you won't be able to cancel it or amend it, without incurring an additional fee.

    Deals which you can cancel for free
    Unless you pay upfront for a cheaper rate (see above), many operators offer a "free cancellation" option. Always read the Ts and Cs, but basically you can reserve your room (sometimes at no cost, sometimes they take the first night's stay as a deposit, paying the balance when you check in) and cancel it if you later see a better deal (typically up to 72 hours before your stay). So in theory you could reserve 5 hotel rooms at a good price, take your time to decide where you want to stay, then cancel the other 4 (more than 72 hours before you stay!). This is great if you want to "secure" a room, but keep an eye out for subsequent deals.

    For example: I booked a room directly with the hotel and paid the first night's rate as a deposit, a price I was happy with. A week later, an offer was released which worked out $30 cheaper + came with some free resort credit. I simply logged in to the hotel's website, booked the new deal and cancelled my existing reservation - all online.

    Deals with a Price Match / Best Price Guarantee
    No matter who you book with, check to see if they offer a Price Guarantee / Best Price Match, etc. (many do, e.g. Expedia, hotel's website, etc.) This means that if you find exactly the same reservation at a cheaper price after you've booked (and usually up to 72 hours before your stay), your booking agent will refund you the difference.

    For example I recently booked a hotel with Expedia, total cost £531. A couple of days later, the same room was available on Expedia for £517. I simply filled out an online form, they checked the details and agreed - all in less than 24 hours. It was coincidence that the cheaper room was also available through Expedia. But if a cheaper rate was on the hotel's website for example, the process would have been the same. (Ts & Cs apply, so read them: must be exactly the same room, dates, the cheaper price must not be an exclusive offer to certain people, etc.)

    Booking directly with the hotel
    This has its advantages:
    • you are cutting out the middleman
    • most 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 (see above). Some offers are NO REFUND offers, so 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. e.g. MLife is free to sign up for online and will give you a 15% discount

    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, Twitter and Instagram 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:



    Stay in different hotels
    Staying in two different hotels is also a good idea if you find great deals for different blocks of nights. Moving hotels 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 different parts of The Strip.

    Should I wait until I get there to find a room?
    No. US Immigration requires you to have your first 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 $25 to 45+tax per night. This is important to factor into your budget as this could add an additional $200+ for a week's stay. A full list of resort fees can be found here.

    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 and asking if there are any complimentary upgrades available. This isn't guaranteed to work, but you may find it harder to get a upgrade 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.

    There are reports that the $20 trick is becoming less successful, as staff are being encouraged to up-sell upgrades at check-in ("Would sir be interested in an XYZ suite for just $15/night extra?"). This will probably work out cheaper than if you booked the XYZ suite online, but consider if this is worth it to you.

    But do try the $20 trick, the worst case scenarion is the check-in clerk will say "sorry, nothing available" and return your $20!

    Links to $20 Trick advice and successes:

    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 4 January at 1:19PM
    dan28dan28 Forumite
    284 posts
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    edited 4 January at 1:19PM
    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 Park MGM
    1.0 City Center (Cosmopolitan, Aria, Vdara, etc.)
    1.0 Harley Davidson Cafe (closed)
    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 Slots O' Fun
    3.1 Circus Circus
    3.9 Stratosphere

    DRIVING

    If hiring a car you will have the choice of parking it yourself at the hotel (used to be free, but many now charge) 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.

    UBER and LYFT
    Uber and Lyft have changed the game in terms of getting around Vegas. Both regularly run offers, for example free credit to new users. A recent LV Review Journal experiment showed that Uber and Lyft are cheaper, reliable alternatives to a classic taxi journey. A trip from the airport to SlotZilla in Downtown cost:
    • Taxi: $35.51 (17 mins)
    • Uber: $21.73 (23 mins)
    • Lyft: $19.96 (27 mins)

    If you're using Uber or Lyft for the first time, check their websites and social media accounts for offers. For example, Uber has been offering $20 off your first trip.

    Uber codes (active April 2017):
    VDARA ($20 off first ride, from Vdara hotel)
    RideAA ($20 off first ride, from American Airlines receipt)

    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 via the rideRTC app, 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 on the rideRTC app or 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 Sahara. This costs $5 for a single journey, $13 for a 24hour 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 to midnight/2am/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. Park MGM - City Centre/Aria - Bellagio (8am - 4am, daily)
  • dan28dan28 Forumite
    284 posts
    Part of the Furniture 100 Posts
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    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 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.
    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 and plane.

    The main locations of the Grand Canyon that are visited from Vegas are The West Rim and The South Rim. 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"!)

    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…

    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 6,000 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.
  • dan28dan28 Forumite
    284 posts
    Part of the Furniture 100 Posts
    ✭✭
    FOOD & DRINK

    food.jpg

    EATING

    There are 1000s of places to eat in Las Vegas, from budget to high-end, across every type of world cuisine; from exclusive celebrity chefs 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.

    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 $15.99 breakfast buffet (Stratosphere), to a $65 brunch (Wynn), 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 free 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.

    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 4 January at 1:23PM
    dan28dan28 Forumite
    284 posts
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    edited 4 January at 1:23PM
    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 those out.

    Playing slot machines
    Slot machines (or slots) are just you and the machine. There are themed machines (Michael Jackson, 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 stake, the greater your winnings will be! 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 $30.50. You just hit the 'cash out' button and the machine prints a voucher for $30.50. You can then insert this 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 (MLife, Caesars Rewards, etc.)

    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 American Casino Guide 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:
    • Caesars Rewards - Bally's, Paris, Harrahs, Flamingo, Caesars Palace, Planet Hollywood, Rio All Suites and The Linq.
    • MLife Players Club - (MGM Resorts) Aria, Bellagio, MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay, The Mirage, Luxor, Excalibur, New York New York, Park MGM
    • Red Card - Wynn, Encore
    • Club Grazie - Venetian, Palazzo
    • Identity - Cosmopolitan


    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!
  • dan28dan28 Forumite
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    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. If you're keen to see a certain show and want best available seats then you can book ahead online from venue websites or authorised website such as Ticketmaster or BestOfVegas.com (good for discounts).

    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 Tix4Tonight which offer tickets for the same night upto half price. If you have a car, booths just off-Strip are usually less busy than the centre Strip booths. Be aware that not all shows will be available at these booths.

    You're likely to find more choice of shows on weekdays rather then weekends. 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
  • dan28dan28 Forumite
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    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:

    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, it's 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.
  • dan28dan28 Forumite
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    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: 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.

    PARKING
    If hiring a car you will have the choice of parking it yourself at the hotel (used to be free, but many now charge) or using the valet service. A tip ($1-2) is usually given for valet.
  • dan28dan28 Forumite
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    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.
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