In India, when you say you visited Las Vegas, lots of folks make different faces and most of the times these are the people who have heard of or seen Las Vegas only in movies. And like other things in movies, they start imagining what all would have happened in Vegas :). This year, I visited this magical land and was very impressed. This post shares my experience of Las Vegas as a first time visitor there. The post also shares some tips about how to make pocket friendly travel plans and ways to best optimize your time.
The very first experience of flying to Las Vegas is very interesting. Suddenly you find yourself flying over a vast stretch of barren land, which has hardly any green landscapes around. From the flight you can only see deserts and pale brown landscapes. And then suddenly you see a huge city in the middle of this desert. The experience is even more awesome when you are landing in Vegas in evening. The glitter of this place blows you away.
Vegas is a unique place and it offers experiences which no other city can offer. The whole city is full of huge casinos with grand setups and a whole lot of money. My first feeling was - why am I here with a few hundreds of dollars and that too for the overall trip. It seemed like money is flowing all over. But gradually you figure out that you have lot of options to explore apart from sitting on those grand Casino tables.
Before going to Las Vegas, I had read various blogs and talked to friends who had visited Las Vegas. All that they said sounded very superficial but I could relate to it after visiting Las Vegas.
In this post I am not going to list all those fancy chandeliers, various famous structures from different parts of the world, restaurants by michelin star chefs like Gordan Ramsey, Musical fountains, fire show and plenty of other shows which happen in Las Vegas. In this post, I will share my viewpoint of exploring Vegas as a first timer.
Casinos and Gambling limit in Las Vegas : Casinos can be overwhelming for first timers, but a basic rule is important - set your limits. It is important to decide how much money you want to spend on gambling but don't expect to earn on that. It is good if you make money but stop when you exhaust this limit. I would not ask to limit drinks but if you drink more, it can lead to irrational decisions about gambling. I set my limits (don't want to share the number), gained 75% on top of the limit I had set and kept playing. Finally I earned nothing, but no sweat. It was a lot of fun to try those fancy machines & casinos tables. At any point I didn't play any game which demands more than $20 at a time. But that's my limit. Your can be $100 for one game :) or more. For me it was not about money but more about experiencing this environment and taking a feel of gambling in Vegas.
Drinks inside Casinos & outside on streets of Las Vegas : This is one tip that everyone gives you when you visit Vegas. So let me continue with the custom :). Every Casino has staff which offers free drinks. Usually these guys visit high value tables but they would also check with you. What they expect is a good tip and then they will take care of you. Depending upon the casinos $5 or $10 as first tip should do. After this tip, you can tip $1 for consequent drink. And when you do it, you need to be little smart in choosing your drink.
The above model works well when you plan to sit in a casinos for longer periods of time as you can calculate how much you spend inside the casino and what can you get outside w.r.t. time you have. Outside the casinos there are various liquor shops on the strips. The ones just below casinos are costly so you need to locate shops which are not in the center of all the action. If you like beer, there are pretty interesting deals on the strip as well. Lots of folks pick liquor from petrol stations which are some distance away from the strip. If you intend to grab a beer and walk around, you need to stick to the local stores on the strip. For the hotel, you can grab stuff from petrol stations.
Famous shows of Las Vegas : There are hundreds of shows that happen in Las Vegas and let me tell you why people talk a lot about these shows. World famous artists come to Las Vegas to perform for travellers from different parts of the world. Some of the most popular shows of Las Vegas include -
- Britney Spears: Piece of Me - Planet Hollywood
- David Copperfield - MGM Grand
- Terry Fator: The VOICE of Entertainment - The Mirage
- Absinthe - Caesars Palace.
- O by Cirque du Soleil - Bellagio
Some of these shows are pretty expensive but worth it. There is one way to optimize this cost, if you are interested in seeing multiple shows. There are show cards available online which can be bought at discounted rates, but be aware that you check the schedule and locations well. Without proper info, it may lead to a bigger hole in the pocket.
Strip clubs in Las Vegas : There are plenty of strip clubs in Vegas and most of them are set aside from the main area where people stay. You would find various people on the streets handing over cards of various strip clubs and to make it tempting they offer limo ride from your hotel to the Strip club. Please mind that you have to come back on your own, so be careful about the location and how far is the club. I don't have any recommendations to share on this one, but I am sure there are plenty of sources online to find appropriate details. BTW, Limo ride should not tempt you to choose the wrong option, as you can easily hire Limo from Airport to your hotel in Las Vegas.
Girls who approach you in Casinos or on streets on Las Vegas : This was little crazy. We had a funny incident in Linq Casino. We were staying in Linq and one night, my friend and I were enjoying drinks & playing on those machines. A few minutes later a girl came and sat on the machine next to ours. With a very casual hello, she started talking to us. After playing a bit, she said that she is in Vegas alone and came here after her college exams and she would like to go to some club but doesn't have company. She asked us, but we were not really willing to go out at that time. Then she suggested why don't we grab few drinks and have a dance party in our room. That sounded weird. Soon after this, the casino's security team came and took that girl out, as it seemed she was part of some gang who would take you to a secluded place and mug you. That was very scary.
Other Business sellers on streets of Las Vegas : You will find kinds of folks on the street selling various shows, services etc. At times, you can get some interesting deals on shows happening on that night. Sometime, lot of tickets are available for night show, so instead of wasting that companies offer good discounts. So be aware and make good use of these offers.
All these photographs are clicked with a mobile camera and if you see above photograph, it's clicked during the day. Lots of folks believe that Las Vegas is only about the night life, but I don't think so.
Beer & Food Deals in Las Vegas : I think I talked about beer in stores as well as in Casinos. Let me share a little about food. Every casino has connected cafes. Food is comparatively expensive in Vegas, so it makes sense to chose things wisely. Why not go to a good restaurant and have an interesting experience. There are various popular options of different cuisines. Some of these offer great deals to guests staying in hotels by Linq. We found one deal and had dinner in a fine dining restaurant at 50% discount on food.
How to save money on shows and rides in Las Vegas...
Places in Las Vegas to get photographs clicked & flaunt...
Free shows (not to miss in Las Vegas) :
- The Bellagio Fountain Show
- Fremont Street - Downtown
- Relive rock history at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
- Roses at Bellagio’s botanical gardens
- Flamingos at an exotic wildlife habitat
- Volcano show at The Mirage
- Take a hike around Red Rock Canyon
- Complimentary ride to Strip club
- Circus show in ‘Circus Circus’
... the list is huge. Just search and find out more, but do that after reading whole blog-post :)
Interested in shopping in Las Vegas ? :
Lot of folks laugh at this but there is a mall just across the road from Wynn and there are plenty of showrooms there where you can get great deals. We shopped there when we were little tired of walking. Basically we went there for food and then did some shopping. It's worth trying.
Do you find Indian food in Las Vegas (I don't :) ) ?
It was our second week in US and my friend was craving for Indian food. We hadn't had any Indian meal so far. We found one Indian food kiosk in the mall I just mentioned above. We ordered north Indian food and it was not worth the money they charged. Then we realized that getting a Sub would have been a much better option :). But I am sure you can try other Indian places and recommend in comments if you know a good place for Indian food in Vegas.
Cameras and Photography in Las Vegas : If you want to enjoy Vegas, I won't recommend carrying a DSLR kind of camera. I did the same. All photographs in this post are clicked with a mobile phone. At times you miss having a DSLR but then be clear that you want to do photography because some of the places around the streets can be very tempting to shoot in camera.
Be ready to walk a lot in Las Vegas: The center of the gambling and entertainment industry is located on the Las Vegas Strip. The largest and most notable casinos and buildings are located there. It's always recommended to stay around strip because then you have access to all the main action happening in the city. Since these casinos are connected to each other, it makes sense to walk from one to another and explore the grandeur of these wonderful casinos. And that reminds me that you need one good day to take rest. And after spending a weekend in Las Vegas, you appreciate your legs in better way. And you also get to know how legs function. So keep grabbing your drinks and walk to explore the strip in night.
Major attractions in Las Vegas are the casinos and the hotels, although in recent years other new attractions have begun to emerge. Things have been changing very fast in Vegas. Food is also becoming an important part and lot of top chefs of the world want to open their restaurant in Vegas.
Be Safe in Las Vegas : Vegas is also considered pretty unsafe if you are not cautious. One of my friends had hired a car and it was parked near casinos. When they came back to the parking area, someone had broken the car glass and taken out the bag which contained the passports of these guys. So it's extremely important to keep your valuables safe, preferably in hotels. Choosing a good hotel in Vegas is very important. This is just one example, so what I intend to share is that don't take things lightly and have some good plans about your safely.
Most of the casinos in the downtown area are located on the Fremont Street Experience, The Stratosphere being one of the exceptions which is located at a distance. Fremont East, adjacent to the Fremont Street Experience, was granted variances to allow bars to be closer together, similar to the Gaslamp Quarter of San Diego.
Overall my Vegas trip was super productive and I hope to go there again, as it has a lot to offer and you can visit it multiple times.