The Monorail links eight major resorts and runs seven days a week till 2am Monday to Thursday and 3am Friday to Sunday. Travel from one side of the Strip to the other in just 15 minutes. A three-day pass costs US$28, with singles $5 each. This is probably the most reliable and convenient way to travel without bumping into any traffic.
For entering Las Vegas in style there is nothing like rolling up behind the wheel of a vintage Cadillac. Flamboyant and excessive, just like Vegas, rates start at US$250 for five hours or $350 for 24, however with prices here, the sky’s the limit. Alternatively hire a compact car for around $25 per day, with plenty of companies to choose from.
Buses run 24 hours a day on the Strip and cost around $US2 one-way. Even if you haven’t had much luck on the tables or slot machines, you will always be able to find a ride back to your hotel. Grabbing a taxi is equally straightforward with fares starting at $2.70 on the meter, adding $1.80 for every mile.
Traffic on the Strip is known for being bumper to bumper. The public transport may be cheap, but in some cases you could be waiting up to an hour to get from one side of the Strip to the other. Taking the Monorail or renting a car is your best bet as there is free parking available and backstreets to beat the queues.
Don’t miss out on the slot club membership for Vegas’ best bargains. Each hotel has its own club with benefits so make sure you visit the rewards centre on arrival. Earn points on your club card by playing and betting to gain comps. These can be used in exchange for food, hotel rooms and show tickets; the more you spend, the better comps you receive.
Avoid bringing any personal electronic items into the casinos as security will be on the look out for use of photography and video while on the slot machines or tables. Casinos may be tight on security, however keep an eye on your belongings, chips and change bucket, females in particular, as there are people who often prey on unsuspecting tourists.
In Las Vegas tipping is the norm. At the gaming tables, a small bet for the dealer is the usual policy for tipping, in between hands or at the end of your game, ranging from a dollar to whatever you want. Tips of around US$2 are usually accepted for most services and an extra 15% of your fare to give your taxi driver.
No matter when you fly to the Nevada desert, the weather is always hot. During the summer months, the temperatures can reach a blistering 40°C, so hotel rates are much cheaper. Peak season for visiting is during winter with milder temperatures around 20°C. Fortunately the casinos will blast you with air conditioning but still stock up on sunscreen.
The McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas is one of the 12 busiest airports in the world. There are no direct flights from Australia or New Zealand here but you can fly to Los Angeles or San Francisco and continue your journey from there. There are a number of airlines offering direct flights on a daily basis.
From Sydney : Sydney to LA is the cheapest route, with the most frequent services.
Delta, V Australia, United Airlines and Qantas fly direct to LA daily, taking around 14 hours; and United Airlines fly daily to San Francisco, taking around 13 hours.
From Melbourne : Qantas flies direct daily to LA and V Australia flies three days a week, taking around 14 hours. There are no direct flights to San Francisco.
From Brisbane : Qantas flies direct daily except Mondays to LA and V Australia flies four times a week, taking around 13 hours. There are no direct flights to San Francisco.
Whether flying from New Zealand or Australia, a stopover is a great way to break up your journey with your family or partner. Air Pacific flies via Nandi, Fiji to LA and Hawaiian Airlines flies via Honolulu to LA.
If you fancy an all American road-trip, hire a car from Los Angeles. If you’ve come with a group, a drive through the southern deserts can be half the fun of your trip. LA to Las Vegas is approximately 270 miles, taking around four to five hours. The Interstate 15 will take you through the ruggedly beautiful Mojave Desert. Alternatively drive from San Francisco, however, this is over twice the distance.
Catching a connecting flight from either LA or San Francisco to Las Vegas is the quickest and hassle free way to travel. From the McCarran International Airport, there are several shuttle bus services in operation that offer a cheap alternative to getting a taxi. A single trip to the Strip Hotels will cost around US$6 and $11-13 for a round-trip.
You can reach Las Vegas by getting the Greyhound bus service from Los Angeles, however this runs on a first come, first served basis with a journey of five to seven hours so consider your options. A single trip costs around US$60. Alternatively the Go To Bus costs between $30 to $88 one-way or $45 to $133 for a round-trip.
If you dread the thought of sitting on a bus for a day when you could be at the heart of the action, catching a connecting flight is the most pain free, value for money way to travel. Get to McCarran in just over an hour with up to 35 flights running daily from LA and up to 22 from San Francisco.
No trip to Las Vegas is complete without flying over the magnificent Grand Canyon. Enjoy incredible views over Hoover Dam, Lake Mead and Fortification Hill before descending for a champagne toast above the Colorado River. From AU$345 per person for a four-hour tour, this is a trip worth taking, leaving you overwhelmed. Disappointment is really not an option.
High energy acrobatics and powerful athleticism, Cirque du Soleil offers a world famous theatrical experience to capture your imagination and inspire. The top selling show, Mystère, brings together seventy-five artists from around the world at Treasure Island. Ticket prices range from around AU$74 to $88 for an evening show. A great experience for all the family.
For adrenaline junkies, the X-Scream thrill ride at 1,148 feet above the Strip will have your heart in your mouth. Tilting you 30 feet over the edge of the tower, this is not an experience for those scared of heights. Hanging on the edge with nothing between front riders and the ground, it may feel like the longest ten seconds of your life.
For close encounters with some of the earth’s greatest predators, the Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay offers a sensory experience through its 14 exhibits and scuba dive with sharks. The 1.3 million gallon Shark exhibit is a must, captivating for all ages with its 360° views. For a dive experience, prepare to pay big dollars up to US $1000 for two.
For the best submarine sandwiches in Vegas, Capriotti’s packs a mouthful with sandwiches sized 9-20 inches. Great for lunch whether you are on a budget or just have a craving, these ‘man’ sandwiches freshly prepared on the premises won’t let you go hungry. Make sure you don’t leave without trying the ‘Bobbie’ and ‘Capristrami’, eat in or take out.
If you feel like a splurge, Joel Robuchon serves the best in French fine dining. The only restaurant in Las Vegas to win three Michelin stars, dining here is a sumptuous affair with an indoor garden and modern rooms fit for French aristocracy. Try the multi-course tasting menu and choose from the divine bread trolley, where even the best of us could happily set up camp.
The best all-you-can-eat sushi experience in Vegas. Enjoy a lunch for US$23.95 for up to 45 minutes or an hour’s dinner for $26.95. If you love your sushi, this is great value for money and doesn’t compromise on quality. You won’t find pre-made sushi chilled and sad looking like most buffets, as everything is made fresh to order.
For a traditional experience and arguably one of the best steaks in town, Carnevino doesn’t disappoint. Modern Italian cuisine meets traditional steakhouse classics for juicy meat you can really get your teeth into. With 16ft ceilings and Italian wood and marble, you may find yourself dreaming of an Italian villa. Leave room for the Fig Jam and Lemon Curd Napoleon!
Chic and exclusive, Pure can be tricky to get into with a strict dress code. Once inside, choose from three stylish venues, each with its own DJ and sounds. With a patio boasting an unparalleled view of the Strip, Pure is a favourite haunt among celebrities. Look out for the street team to get a place on the guest list.
This ‘Asian City’ nightclub and bistro is as popular for its exotic cuisine as it is for its all night beats. With dancers, high energy DJ sets, waterfalls and a hand carved 16ft tall Buddha, Tao is Vegas’ answer to a Far East utopia. Try the Tiger Lily Martini and Kobe Beef Shabu Shabu.
Hyde offers unrivalled views of the iconic Fountains of Bellagio, regarded as the most desired nightlife setting in Vegas. Taking the place of the old Fontana Bar, Hyde combines sophisticated, metropolitan flair with old-world Italian touches. Unlike other nightspots, Hyde isn’t a place for loud beats and shouting across dancefloors. Its appeal is in its subtlety and skilled mixology at the bar.
Away from the neon lights, this sophisticated cocktail bar and speakeasy offers an inviting glow and chilled out atmosphere. Popular with the local urban and creative crowds, wind down at the end of a busy day with a cocktail. Set in a renovated wedding chapel, the door may not be the most glaringly obvious to find, but then that is its appeal.
On foot, spend a day on the Strip, sampling some of the best sights and trying your luck in the casinos. Start at the Venetian on the east side of the Boulevard, for its two Guggenheim museums, the 585,000 gallon canal and homage to Venice. Stroll down a Roman Street in Caesar’s Palace through the Forum Shops or gawp at the exuberant ceiling in the Bellagio lobby. Finish at the MGM Grand for an evening show.
For the trip of a lifetime, break away from the bright lights and experience white water rafting in a day. With an early morning start, begin your journey by jeep to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. From there, ride 40 miles of rapids through the steep cliffs of the canyon before ascending 4,000 feet in a helicopter for breathtaking views. At around US$540 this may be steep (no pun intended) but is a trip worth taking.
Hire a car and set off early morning for the panoramic 13mile drive. Red Rock is less travelled and known to visitors, however offers majestic views and great opportunities for hiking. For something a little different, go horseback riding at Bonnie Springs Ranch for US$55 per person for an hour. Alternatively pay $134 each and stay afterwards for a steak dinner.
For an activity the whole family can enjoy, go to the Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat at the Mirage Resort. With white lions, tigers, panthers, leopards and Bottlenose Dolphins, the wildest part of Las Vegas isn’t necessarily the nightlife. For a personal encounter with the dolphins, the Trainer for a Day program at US$550 offers the chance to slip on your wetsuit for a unique one to one experience. For those on a budget, admission to the Habitat is under $20.
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