Visiting Las Vegas For The First Time? A Simple Guide
Visiting the "Sin City" for the first time? Here are some tips to make your travel and stay at Las Vegas a memorable one!
The Vegas strip
Travel and stay - how to decide which hotel is best for your needs?
Let's start with how you can book your air + hotel package. This would depend on your preference and the kind of deal you are looking for. Here are some tips.
If you are traveling with your family or as a couple, I would suggest you look for a hotel on the strip. There are many hotels on and off the strip in Vegas which cater to different needs, from cheap motels to expensive resorts, so it does depend on how much money you are willing to spend during your stay.
I stayed at the New York New York hotel and casino which is towards the southern end of the strip and I really liked it. It is a neat, family hotel with friendly staff. I was traveling with my husband and we decided on New York New York after going through TripAdvisor reviews. We booked our package directly from the hotel website and got a pretty good deal for a 5 day - 6 night stay.
I am not too sure about accommodations off the strip but make sure you do your research before booking anything! There are plenty of shady areas in Vegas and you should not make any booking just by looking at the hotel/motel's website. Things can be deceptive on websites!
Try to book your package directly from the website of the hotel you choose to stay in and not third party ones, only for reliability reasons. You will also have an option to choose transportation from and to the airport at a modest price. I suggest you to go ahead with that, then you would not have to worry about how to get to your hotel after landing (unless you are driving of course!). Since we were traveling from the East Coast, transportation to the hotel was important to us.
A small video tour of New York New York hotel & casino
How to get around while you are in Vegas (if you don't have a car)?
The cheapest mode of transportation would be "walking" but could be pretty tiresome during the day because of the extreme heat! Try to use the bus, monorail or the taxi.
The monorail has designated stops which cater to a bunch of casinos in the area. It runs from MGM Grand (southern part of the strip) to Sahara (northern part of the strip). Buy a single/multi day pass if you wish to use the monorail. But here's the thing, although the monorail caters to a few casinos in a particular area, you still need to walk quite a bit while moving from one casino to another in that area. For example, to go to Stratosphere you would have to get down at the Sahara station and walk a considerable distance! Hence, comfortable footwear is recommended for casino to casino hopping!
I did not use the bus or a taxi during my stay. The bus service has designated stops and I would recommend finding where they lie to reduce walking during the day (it can get really hot!). I don't think the taxis charge an exorbitant fee, so again, would recommend finding out more about the service.
New York New York hotel and casino review
- New York New York Las Vegas
I stayed at the New York New York hotel and casino. If you chose to stay here, my review might help you!
What to wear?
Vegas is HOT! Wear light, comfortable clothes, flip flops while you are outside. Use plenty of sunscreen and drink lots of water.
If you do not want to venture outside during the day, stick by the poolside and relax. The Mandalay Bay has a wave pool and a beach. If you are going with kids you could consider staying there. Technically speaking you need to be staying at the hotel to gain access to the wave pool but I will tell you a little secret, for adults above 21 get to the Moorea Beach Club first and you are granted access to the wave pool after that. Most hotels also have Cabana rental options available at their poolsides. You can check their individual websites for more details.
A sneak peek of the beach at Mandalay Bay
What to see?
Of course the glitz and glamor of Vegas is best experienced at night! Apart from the casinos there is a lot to do in Vegas - plenty of shows to choose from, exhibits, thrill rides and aquariums to name a few.
The world famous Bellagio dancing fountain show is free. I heard that it is best viewed from the Eiffel Tower of the Paris hotel and casino across the street but waiting times to get to the top of the tower can go up to one and a half hours! That's the maximum which was told to us on a Friday night and I don't know how much more it can go up to. My suggestion would be to try and see the show on a weekday if you can. If you are going on a weekend get your tickets in the morning itself and try to get to the tower as early as possible!
Other free attractions would be the volcano show at the Mirage and the Freemont Street Experience in downtown Vegas. Everything else you pretty much need to pay for! You even need to buy tickets just to go up to the top of the Stratosphere to catch a glimpse of the glittering strip at night! They have some interesting rides at the top (not my cup of tea!) but if you don't mind being suspended in mid air definitely give them a try.
DO'S and DONT'S
I will list down a few do's and dont's while you are in Vegas:
1. If you are buying show tickets from any of the discounted ticket booths outside, they do not give you your seat numbers. You need to get to the box office of the casino where the theater is located to get the seat numbers. Try to go to the box office as early as you can (best case as soon as you buy your tickets) so that you can get an option to select your seats.
2. Do not walk too far from the strip. Personally I felt that the southern part of the strip is safer than the northern part (towards Stratosphere). I would avoid walking in the northern part of the strip at night.
3. Be careful while crossing the roads and cross only at the crosswalks. Most of the casinos have over-bridges to ease walking from one casino to the other. Use them. Some casinos have trams running between them (free of cost). You can use them instead of walking on the outside.
4. Food is expensive if you plan to eat inside the casinos. But a safe option instead of venturing too far out at night. There are other food courts on the strip and probably cheaper options in downtown Las Vegas.
5. Keep all valuables inside your luggage (for e.g. passports, ID's etc.) and keep it locked at all times when you are away. New York New York hotel rooms have electronic safes to keep your valuables.
6. If you have specific things in mind (to do and to see) I would suggest you to make an itinerary so that you don't miss out on anything while you are there! That is because there are many many things to do and see in Vegas and you must have a priority list depending on the amount of time you plan to spend there. It will be difficult to fit in everything if you are there only for a day or two.
Other attractions around Vegas
There are many other attractions around Las Vegas. Among them, the Grand Canyon is the most famous.
There are many tours operating from Vegas to the Grand Canyon. We booked ours from allgrandcanyontours.com. It was a very well organized tour. They have a pick up and drop facility from most of the hotels in the city. The guide was knowledgeable and entertaining. We got a good four hours to spend at the West Rim of the Grand Canyon and did not have to rush from one point to another. I would certainly recommend this tour to all who want to visit the Grand Canyon and are reluctant to drive all the way. There are many other attractions nearby to explore and I leave that you and the amount of time you have in hand to visit them while you are there.
I hope this will give you an idea of what to expect in Vegas on your first visit. Hope you have a safe and exciting stay in Las Vegas!
Grand Canyon snapshotsClick thumbnail to view full-size
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