Set in the middle of the Nevada Desert, Las Vegas was created with the sole purpose to entertain and has often been described as the world’s largest adult theme park. Sin City is home to over a million people and welcomes 35 million more tourists each year to its sumptuous hotels and casinos. Visitors today would find it hard to believe that only 70 years ago this thriving city was a backwater with less than a thousand inhabitants and they only tourists they attracted was railway passengers stopping off to stretch their legs on the long journey between LA and Salt Lake City.
In 1931 The State of Nevada Legalised gambling, that’s where things took a turn in Las Vegas. One month later the City issued 6 licenses. In 1946 Mafia Boss “Bugsy” Siegel built the outrageously lavish Flamingo Hotel on Highway 91. Las Vegas BV was born and the city would never be the same again.
Las Vegas McCarran Airport is on the outskirts of the City about 2 km from the Strip. The International Terminal is small and has little to offer in terms of facilities. Once you clear the often overzealous (God help you if you take out your camera) Department of Customs and Border Protection a free shuttle bus will take you to the Domestic Terminal where you will find a range of transport options to the Las Vegas “Strip.”
The regular bus service stops at most hotels and there are also Taxis available outside the Arrivals level but the short ride is relatively expensive.
For those looking to start their Vegas trip in style Limousines are just as abundant as Taxis and depending on the number in your party may work out better value.
Car hire is also available in the terminal for those looking to see the sights outside the confines of the strip and who don’t want to rely on taxis.
What to do
Well what do you want to do? Seriously you can do pretty much anything your Imagination, and wallet, will allow you.
* The Casinos – Las Vegas has 18 of the 21 biggest hotels in the world, all within walking distance of each other. Each one has its own theme to attract people in the hope they will spend some dollars at the casino tables.
* There’s the two BILLION dollar Venetian Hotel and Casino modelled on Venice with its replica of St Marks Square and Canals that run throughout the property complete with gondola travel.
* The Italian themed Bellagio is one of Las Vegas’ more opulent hotels with its world-famous water and music show featuring the most powerful water cannons on the planet.
* The Mirage is an MGM owned casino which has a Volcano that shoots 100 ft flames into the sky every 15 minutes. The aquarium located behind the check in desk is another popular free attraction the 20,000 gallon saltwater tank features all sorts of marine life from Sharks to Angelfish
* The Liberace Museum – For those wanting a little more “glam” in their holiday the Liberace Museum was founded in 1979 by the entertainer himself and features all his dazzling jewellery, outfits, sets and other memorabilia.
* Freemont Street – Just off the strip, downtown Las Vegas is where it all began. The Freemont St experience is a must for any visitor with bright neon signs and flashing lights lining the streets. The Vintage Vegas casinos are located here and some people are drawn here by the slightly less commercial and more laid back atmosphere.
* Roller Coasters – You have four roller coasters to choose from all within close proximity of each other. The Manhattan Express at New York New York Hotel, The Roller Coaster at MGM Grand Adventures, The Canyon Blaster at The Adventure dome and the High Roller at The Stratosphere.
* Hoover Dam – About an hour from Las Vegas, unless you’re a high roller and flying there, the 380 m long Hoover Dam holds back the waters of Lake Mead and is one of worlds most famous Dams. Its hydroelectric power keeps the bright lights of Las Vegas Shining. Guided tours are available several times daily.
As mentioned above the Nevada Desert is home to 18 of the 21 biggest hotels of the world. Visitors can stay nestled in the recreations of New York or Paris. Perhaps discover the Canals of Venice in the Venetian or explore the Egyptian treasures to be found at the Luxor Hotel? Despite the extravagance the room rates in Las Vegas are actually the lowest in the western world, all subsidised by the gamblers who are convinced this will be their lucky trip
Nightlife in Vegas has been described as, “Wild, Astonishing and Excessive”. There’s a reason for the phrase, “What happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas”. It’s worth pointing out that money really talks here and you’ll need it in volumes with admission for some clubs at $50 and a Vodka & Cranberry costing about $20.
There’s too many Bars, Nightclubs and Shows to mention here but heres what you should know.
Most hotels will have a “lounge” and a “Club”. The lounges are a little like the pubs we have here, most of them feature a dance floor and it’s where most people will go to start of the night. Admission is usually free to these and if you’re walking through the hotel during the day chances are you can walk up to the door and be put on the guest list to skip the ques. Girls will be given free drink in most of these lounges by the PR reps walking through the hotel. Girls only though (Equality Authority eat your heart out).
The clubs are where the fun really starts, but a little later than we might be used to at home. Depending on the popularity of the club and the time of year if you’re a guy or group of guys and just show up you may be waiting in a queue for up to two hours watching countless people skip the queue and expected to pay $40 or so for admission. If you’re smart you’ll befriend a group of girls in one of the lounges and suggest you all walk in together, walk up to the front of the line with at least 40 per guy and confidently tell the doorman there x amount of people in your group can he take care of the line for you. 9 times out of 10 this will work and you will skip the queue. Worst he will do is say no and hand you your money back, for something that seems a bit backhanded to us “greasing” is the norm in Vegas and they are strangely honest about it.
If that all sounds like too much hassle but you still want to drink, the hotel bars will be open 24 hours in most places and although they attract a strange crowd, including countless hookers, a drink is a drink. Of course you get free drink while gambling, even on the 25 c slot machines, so catch the eye of a waitress walking by (they’ll be the ones in the hot pants with the fake boobs) and give her your order. Make sure you tip her and she’ll keep the glass full for as long as you’re feeding money into the machines
If strip clubs are your thing you’re spoiled for choice here with the extravagance and scale here being relative to the extravagance and scale of the hotels. If you have a group of people most clubs will send a free limousine to pick you up and if you arrive this way its free entry to the club.
Each hotel will also have a signature show on offer and although it may not sound appealing these really are produced on a scale you’ve never seen before. A good tip is to head to the cheap tickets outlet on the strip across from NY NY early in the morning where they sell tickets for most shows at up to half price.