What I did in Vegas for a day!

What I did in Las Vegas doesn't have to stay in Vegas. You can all read about it here!
Vegas is a popular destination because of its casinos, luxury resorts and night life. While I didn't have any particular interest in Vegas, I decided to include it in my plan because of two reasons:
1)It was on my route-between Texas and California and I could get cheap tickets- some 99$ for 3 hour Austin-Vegas flight and some 49$ for Vegas-SFO flight both on South West. Flying was cheaper than bus or train.
2) Vegas is nearest city for the popular Grand Canyon. All Grand Canyon tours essentially begin from Vegas.

I planned about 2 days in Vegas. My plan was to spend one day in Vegas town, next day take a day trip to Grand Canyon and then proceed to my next destination- SFO.

The Crazy Cleaning Fee!
I wanted one night accommodation in Vegas. As I scouted for budget stay options, I found many cheaper rooms but I was taken aback by crazy total amount payable- almost all property owners include a "Cleaning Fee" per booking and most resorts include a "Resort Fee". Both these are mandatory and effectively take total payable amount to upwards of 100$ per night.
After lots of search found one Air BnB which didn't charge this crazy fee and I could book a night for about 25$.

But the drawback of this residential Air BnB property was that
- It was away from town and would cost me few dollars in bus fare each visit
-Tour companies won't pickup from here- they only pick up guests from hotels around the strip.

Arrival- Gamble Right away
As soon as I stepped out of aircraft in Las Vegas I could see gambling machines everywhere. So I was sure I arrived at right destination..

Walk to the city
My AirBnB was some 6 kms from airport. For some reason Google maps didn't show public transport options from airport. I was not keen to spend on taxi, so made an attempt to find about bus service- but failed. Then I decided to walk a km or two into the city, hoping to find cheap bus service to my stay. This strategy worked- I had to walk till Tropicana street.

Booked a day tour
As I walked to Tropicana Street, I came across this Grand Canyon Tour company. I decided to book my day trip for next day from here. Earlier I had checked online- while operators like Viator sold Grand Canyon day trips from 83$, they would charge a hefty single user supplement in next page taking total to almost 2x. So I decided not to pre-book and book directly with operator.

The South Rim tour was cheaper at 83$ but would return to city only by 9PM (if it gets late by an hour I might miss my flight- so I had to decide against this option)
The West Rim tour was the only option suitable for me, but cost me about 104$. I booked my tour and proceeded towards my AirBnB. Because they won't pick up from the residential area where my AirBnB is located, I had to give Hard Rock Hotel as pickup point- some 3kms walk for me in the morning.

Next as I was walking along the Tropicana Street, I found an Indian market and restaurant. They sold lots of Indian food and groceries. They also had tender coconut for 2.5 USD but didn't have provision to serve it. The restaurant next door would serve it for an extra fee of 0.5 USD

I got some rice in the restaurant and my food. I realized only later that this restaurant is far cheaper than ones on the strip- else would have eaten more.

Bus to Air BnB
City buses in Vegas have an unusual pricing system
- For s single ride, you pay 2$
- If you pay 3$, driver will give you a ticket which gives you multiple rides for next 2 hours
- For about 5.5$, you get an all day pass
but the regular bus pass won't work on a service that runs across the Vegas Strip- that one costs 6$ per ride, 8$ for day pass.

It did take me some time to figure out the above- I did lose a few dollars due to non-optimal selection of ticket type that day.

Walk all afternoon and evening
This was the day I walked the most during my entire US trip- about 28 kms of walking.
After dropping bag at my AirBnB, I headed out- While there was a bus option, I decided to walk. My plan was to walk from top to bottom of the famous Las Vegas Strip. I passed through Marriott, reached Strats Hotel. Stratosphere hotel has a tower on which you can have a joyride - ticketed at about 23$. I think this can be considered the starting point of the Las Vegas Strip.


Walked down the strip passing across Wynn, The Palazzo, Venetian and other super luxury resorts. I went inside Palazzo and Venetian shopping complexes. [Detailed post on Venetian Macao]


Rent a supercar:
It was very tempting- to rent and drive the McLarens, Ferrari and Lamborghini. But I was on a budget tour and couldn't afford to splurge 300$ + on rental for these cars. You can check n book here or on the spot at the strip.



Scooter rental in Vegas is more expensive that what it costs to rent an Avis car in other cities...


Indian Food on the Vegas Strip
There were multiple Indian restaurants on the Vegas strip, but all were 2x more expensive than what I had seen earlier in the day. Probably because of high rentals on the strip.

Casinos Everywhere
Every building in Vegas has a Casino- one was offering to reimburse your first 20$ loss. All casinos are designed to ensure that house always wins. This is why I have always resisted temptation of going to a casino, though I had several opportunities in Singapore, Macao, Copenhagen and other places.

Open adultery 
Las Vegas is also full of unregulated sex industry- Displays advertise to send hot girls direct to your room. Several clubs advertise free limo pickup and various other freebies for you to visit their clubs/shows. Streets have several girls clad in minimal cloths who would pose with you for a few dollars. The popular saying "what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas" is probably because of this.

Calm residential areas
While the strip bursts with activity, just a few blocks away residential areas are calm and peaceful.

Discounted last minute tickets
Keep an eye for shops like this- they sell tickets for shows and events last minute at more than 50% discount. It is a good business model because unsold seats in a show means 100% loss for the organizers.

Trump Tower
In a city of skyscrappers, Trump Tower alone stands tall without any other high rise nearby

Las Vegas Hostels
I saw multiple displays of Las Vegas hostel, offering clean rooms for 30$. They were not listed on Booking.com or AirBnb while I was searching- you might want to give them a consideration during your visit. If the location is closer to the strip, compared to my AirBnB which was away in residential area, you will save some time and money in transport.

Roller Coaster Ride around the resorts
Resorts and hotels need to constantly innovate, find new attractions to draw the crowd. There are over 1,50,000 hotel rooms in Las Vegas, so ensuring most of them are occupied is mega task. New York hotel has a roller coaster ride around the hotel complex.

I saw Ceaser's Palace hotel and few other hotels I had seen in some movies.

When I reached Mandalay Bay it was dark. My initial plan was to walk till the famous "Las Vegas Sign"- but it was still 3 kms further from Mandalay Bay- I had walked a lot that day and didn't want to walk another 6kms in the dark, so decided to call it a day and return home. Reached Tropicana street from where I could get bus to my AirBnB.



So in summary this is what I did in Vegas. Do read history as to how legalized gambling turned Vegas into a bustling metro in the middle of a desert. People come from all over the world here largely to lose their money, but driven by the hopes of making it rich overnight.

Will write about Grand Canyon tour and Hoover Dam in a separate post

10 comments:

  1. I so want to visit las vegas one day.. felt like I did a virtual tour through your post now.. loved reading it..

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  2. Very much interesting read, heard that sentence "what happens in Vegas..." in a movie.

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  3. Walking the strip is a great way to get a feel of it. Interesting place, no? Good you got to see it lit up too. :)

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    1. Yes.. Both day n night, but missed seeing the Las Vegas sign

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  4. The bus fare info is pretty amusing. :)

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    1. yes, lost a few dollars while understanding it as I took wrong tickets.

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  5. My info is a few years old, but usually you can get a room on The Strip for under $100 especially towards the ends of the strip (Luxor, Excalibur on the southern end, or Stratosphere on the other side).

    Personally I would start exploring The Strip from the opposite end. Go to the Las Vegas sign if you have a car, otherwise start from Tropicana Ave (maybe a roller coaster ride in New York, New York) and then walk north till the Venetian. I would only go to Stratosphere for the rides.

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