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Las Vegas, Nevada, was a simple quiet town until the mob decided to turn it into a gambling mecca. Established in 1905, it became a city in 1911 and from then onwards grew rapidly. Today some of the world's most famous casinos are here and wild nights can be experienced here. The city's tolerance for various forms of adult entertainment earned it the title of Sin City. If you want to hit up the big casinos on the strip or some of the smaller ones in downtown there is a casino for everyone. If you don't want to gamble, there are plenty of musicians, dance clubs, magic acts and even some outdoor activities around to entertain you. Remember: what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas and VIVA LAS VEGAS!
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The Las Vegas Strip is where all the action takes place in Sin City. It's a 7-kilometre stretch of the Las Vegas Boulevard where all the hotels and casinos are located and where almost all of the gambling and other activities in the city can be found. Although historically, Downtown Las Vegas had all the gambling going on, the casinos that were not in here along Fremont Street were restricted to outside of the city limits on Las Vegas Boulevard. Quickly, this part, the Strip, grew rapidly and now is the centerpiece with all the famous hotels, shows and casinos.
Las Vegas has an arid climate with low precipitation year round, just over 100 mm annually. From June to September, average daytime temperatures are between 35 °C and 40 °C, sometimes hitting 45 °C. Nights are pleasantly warm during this time. Winter days are between 15 °C and 20 °C, with nights around zero. Occasionally, snow is possible during this time. March to May and October and November are pleasant months for a visit.
|Avg Max||14.1 °C||17.4 °C||20.4 °C||25.3 °C||31 °C||37.9 °C||41.1 °C||39.6 °C||34.8 °C||27.8 °C||19.7 °C||14.2 °C|
|Avg Min||0.9 °C||3.8 °C||6.6 °C||10.4 °C||15.7 °C||20.8 °C||24.6 °C||23.4 °C||19 °C||12.4 °C||5.9 °C||1.1 °C|
|Rainfall||12.2 mm||12.2 mm||10.7 mm||5.3 mm||7.1 mm||3 mm||8.9 mm||12.4 mm||7.1 mm||5.3 mm||10.9 mm||9.7 mm|
McCarran International Airport (LAS) is the main gateway to Las Vegas and Southwest Airlines offers most flights to/from here. Destinations include Albuquerque, Baltimore, Buffalo, Chicago, Cleveland, Denver, Los Angeles, Houston, Oakland, New Orleans, Phoenix, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, Tampa, Salt Lake City, Washington, D.C. and San Diego, among many more.
US Airways offers a lot of flights as well, including most of the above places and Minneapolis-Saint Paul, Toronto and Vancouver. Westjet has flights to quite a few Canadian cities as well.
New York is served by Continental and Delta and international connections include Mexico City, Frankfurt, Guadalajara, London, Manila, Belfast, Glasgow, Manchester and Monterrey.
The airport is located about 5 miles (8 kilometres) from the business district of Las Vegas, and just a mile or so from the Strip.
To/from the airport
Las Vegas can be approaced from all directions. The main Interstate 15 (I-15) runs from northeast (Utah) through southern Nevada and Las Vegas, towards the southwest crossing into Caliornia at the Mojave Desert and continuing towards LA. Route 93 runs from Kingman, Arizona, into Nevada passing Las Vegas and continuing north. Route 95 from southern California runs to Las Vegas and onwards in northwestern direction parallel at the California-Nevada border.
Megabus offers three daily connections to Los Angeles. They take around 4 to 4.5 hours. It works as a lowcostairline, that is if you book well in advance you can get seats for as little as one dollar! Greyhound has buses to San Diego, LA and San Francisco, among other places. There are even buses run by Amtrak (train company) from LA as well.
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Many international rental companies have a wide selection of rental cars and these include Hertz, Avis, Dollar, Thrifty, Enterprise, Budget and Alamo/National. Most companies will require you are at least 25 years of age, although younger people might be able to rent cars at slightly higher rates and with some insurance differences as well. A national driver's license is usually enough, but an additional international one is recommended. Also note that it usually costs more to include lots of other extra things. For example extra drivers, GPS, the first full tank, SLI (Supplemental Liability Insurance), PAI (Personal Accident Insurance, usually covered already at home), road assistance/service plan, and drop-off costs for one-way rentals.
If you want to book a car, it is recommended that you book your car before arriving in the USA. This is almost always (much) cheaper compared to just showing up. Also, try and book with a so-called 'broker', which usually works together with a few or many car rental companies and can offer the best deal. Some examples include Holidayautos, Holidaycars and Sunny Cars. Some of the cheapest deals to book from Europe, includes Drive-USA, which also has a German version.
For more information and tips about renting cars and campers, additional costs, insurance, traffic rules, scenic routes and getting maps and fuel it is advised to check the USA Getting Around section.
Citizens Area Transit offers city and suburban bus routes usually from 5am to 2am daily, with the double-decker Deuce buses running 24/7 along the Strip and to downtown. The regular fare is $1.25 per ride, except on Deuce buses ($2). Exact change is required!
The Las Vegas Monorail travel up and down the main part of The Strip between the Sahara hotel and the MGM hotel.
It costs $5 one-way, $9 return and $15 for a one-day pass.
If traveling along the Strip, walking is a reasonable option as the hotel-casinos are close to each other. However, note that what may look to be a short walk of only a couple hotel-casinos away may be farther than you expected as the resorts often look closer than they are due to their large size. In most cases, hotels are connected to each other either by bridge or underground or in the case of Excalibur, Luxor, and Mandalay Bay, by a complimentary rail shuttle. Be aware that during the summer, the oppressive heat during the daylight hours may make walking a very uncomfortable activity.
Large casinos will invariably offer a variety of dining options, ranging from the omni-present buffet to simple cafes to gourmet restaurants.
The most famous buffets in Las Vegas are at the Rio, Bellagio, Paris and Planet Hollywood, though the newly opened Wynn buffet is becoming more and more of a favorite with tourists and locals alike. The best buffets typically run about $30 a person for a weekend dinner. Lunch is your best value at most buffets when they are around half price, breakfasts are cheapest and often have a great spread too. Do not forget that tipping your buffet waiter 10-15% is customary. You can leave cash on the table at the end of your meal or tip the cashier at the counter on a credit card. Some buffets give "early bird" discounts, which means that if you arrive early the price is a few dollars lower.
In Las Vegas, free drinks are offered to all gamblers, even those playing 5-cent slot machines. You should tip the waitress at least $1 per drink; failure to do so will likely cost you free drink privileges.
Although it is officially not allowed per the lawbooks, drinking on public sidewalks and other areas on the Strip and Downtown is rarely if ever enforced. Thus it is entirely common to consume alcohol in public areas, including the public sidewalks within the Las Vegas city limits which includes all of Downtown, The Strip and close-by areas. Again, as previously mentioned, over-intoxication and disorderly conduct is frowned upon, so stay within your own limits. On special occasions (New Year's Eve and Independence Day for example) there may be bans on glass bottles and/or aluminum cans for the Strip and the Downtown area. Plastic cups and sports bottles are allowed at these times and either provided at purchase or often available at hotel/casino exit doors. When inside a casino or hotel there is seldom any restrictions on carrying drinks from one bar, restaurant or playing location to another with the exception of some showrooms and theaters where it will be clearly posted. Individual shops may also have rules about carrying in food and drink of any kind.
The towns of North Las Vegas, Henderson and other outlying areas have very different regulations forbidding removal of alcohol from bars, etc. so check with your host or doorman if in doubt. Many bars and liquor stores are open 24 hours a day. There are also special posted laws for convenience stores, grocery stores and other retail liquor outlets restricting consumption in the immediate vicinity. Most of all, always remember to drink responsibly and realize that the hot, dry desert air in the summer months can have very adverse health affects on people consuming alcohol such as rapid dehydration and deadly heat stroke, even after dark. Drink plenty of water as well!
The vast majority of visitors to Las Vegas arrive on Friday or Saturday nights and stay for the weekend. As such, room rates can seem ridiculously cheap from Sunday-Thursday night but zoom upwards on weekends. Travelers can plan a trip to their advantage: by staying, say, Sunday through to Thursday, one can not only save a bundle on hotel rates, but also take advantage of package deals that may include a show, meals, and gambling coupons - occasionally worth more than the cost of the hotel room itself.
A bad surprise at check in are so-called "Resort Fees". Many hotels in Las Vegas collect this fee on top of the actual room charge(typically between $10 and $20 per night) when you check in. You won't get around paying it, even if you claim that your hotel booking website had indicated the total pricing as final. The resort fee is apparently an attempt at introducing low-cost airline-style pricing to hotels: splitting up the price into an attractively cheap basic fee, and charging the customer for almost everything separately. Thusly, in Las Vegas, the resort fee typically "covers" the usage of the swimming pool and of the fitness center. Some hotels do not collect resort fees. It may be worth it to ask the front desk to remove this fee; especially if you had a bad experience with your stay. However, keep your expectations low but be polite and reasonable.
Be aware that in Las Vegas hotels, even the resort fee does not always cover hotel amenities that are included for free in hotels in the rest of the world: These charges may be quite expensive; most hotels charge for use of the fitness center with rates around $20 to $40 per visit, local calls are usually billed, and wireless internet is generally at least $12 per day. Unless the service is free; it is better to use your own cell phone or mobile router.
Due to the flamboyant and lively atmosphere of most casino hotels, be aware that you may not get a good night's sleep, especially on weekends or during busy tourist seasons. Drunken parties and associated recklessness are frequent occurrences in most of the motels and hotels on The Strip. Most hotels will send security personnel up to dispel loud parties or to warn drunk patrons to keep the noise down if you call the front desk, but their effectiveness may vary. Quiet alternatives include the Four Seasons Hotel, Mandarin Oriental, and Skylofts at MGM Grand.
In Las Vegas parlance, the words "hotel" and "casino" are interchangeable. There is a big difference between casino hotels and mainstream hotels without gambling. Casino hotels tend to be large (often with a long walk from the parking to your room and often via the gambling floor). The size of casino hotels means that they often have a wider range of services (restaurants, bars, shops, coffee shops, etc.) and many facilities have long opening hours or are open 24 hours.
|AAE Casino Wild West Las Vegas||3330 W. Tropicana Ave. Near The Strip||Hostel||60|
|AAE Las Vegas Palace Station Casino||2411 W. Sahara Ave Las Vegas, NV||Hotel||71|
|Sin City Hostel||1208 Las Vegas Blvd., South||Hostel||79|
|Las Vegas Hostel||1322 Fremont St.||Hostel||72|
|Travelodge Las Vegas||2830 Las Vegas Blvd||HOTEL||-|
|Las Vegas Airport Travelodge||5075 Koval Lane||Hotel||-|
|Bonanza Lodge||1808 Fremont Street, Downtown - Fremont Street||Hotel||-|
|Desert Moon Hotel||1701 Fremont Street||Hotel||-|
|Emerald Suites Hotel - Las Vegas Boulevard||9145 S. Las Vegas Blvd||Hotel||-|
|Howard Johnson Inn Las Vegas Strip||1401 Las Vegas Boulevard||Hotel||-|
|Motel 6 Las Vegas||195 E Tropicana Avenue Las Vegas, NV, 89109||Hotel||-|
|HI Las Vegas Tod Hostel||1508 S. Las Vegas Blvd||Hostel||-|
|West Coast Hostel||1150 Las Vegas Blvd S.||Hostel||-|
|Hostel Cat||1236 South Las Vegas Boulevard Las Vegas, Nevada||Hostel||78|
|Shalimar Hostel||1401A Las Vegas Blvd S.||HOSTEL||-|
|Siena Suites||6555 Boulder Highway||Hotel||-|
|Super 8 Las Vegas||1213 S. Las Vegas Blvd||Hotel||-|
|Best Western Mardi Gras Hotel & Casino||3500 Paradise Road||Hotel||-|
|Bridger Inn Hotel||301 S. Main St.||HOTEL||-|
There is a very small internet bar/cafe culture in the USA. Even then most of the internet bars/cafes tend be located in major urban centers. Accessible WiFi networks, however, are common. The most generally useful WiFi spots are in coffee shops, fast-food chains, and bookshops, but also restaurants and hotels more and more have a network to connect on. Some of them might require you to buy something and you might need a password too, especially in hotels.
See also International Telephone Calls
The general emergency phone number is 911. The USA has a great landline phone system that is easy to use. The country code for the U.S. is +1. The rest of the telephone number consists of 10 digits: a 3-digit area code, and a 7-digit number. Any small grocery store or pharmacy has pre paid domestic or international phone cards. These phone cards are very cheap and offer good rates. The once ubiquitous pay phone is now much harder to find. Likely locations include in or near stores and restaurants, and near bus stops. The cellphone network in the states is slowly getting better but is still not as good when compared to other western countries. Cell phones tend to operate using different frequencies (850 MHz and 1900 MHz) from those used elsewhere in the world (2100 MHz). This used to prevent most foreign phones from working in America. Phones must be tri- or quad-band to work in the U.S. Fortunately, technology has meant that most phones should now be able to pick up one of the U.S. networks. Prepaid phones and top-up cards can be purchased at mobile phone boutiques and at many discount, electronics, office supply and convenience stores. A very basic handset with some credit can be had for under $40.
The US Postal Service is a very good and well priced mail system. There are post offices in every small and large town for sending packages internationally or domestically. Although some might keep longer hours, most are open at least between 9:00am and 5:00pm. If wanting to send a letter or postcard it is best just to leave it in a blue mail box with the proper postage. First-class international airmail postcards and letters (up 28.5 grams) cost $1.10. There are also private postal services like FedEx, UPS, TNT and DHL, which might be better value sometimes and are generally very quick and reliable too.
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