Whisper it, but after the long months of restrictions, there are the best indications yet that the world is returning towards some semblance of normality. For those with a love for travel, it’s been a tough old year, and naturally enough, many thoughts are turning to those bucket list destinations that we’ve always promised ourselves to visit “one of these days.”
If there’s one place that appears on those sorts of lists more than anywhere else, it’s Sin City. Even if you’ve never been into a casino in your life and gambling is really not your thing, Vegas is a place like no other and it’s somewhere everyone needs to experience at least once. Unlike Europe’s gambling Mecca, Monte Carlo, Vegas is not somewhere you’ll feel out of place without a seven-figure bank balance. In fact, as tourist hotspots go, it is one of the easiest to do on a limited budget.
So what are you waiting for? Shine up the sequins, get those platform heels on, even the ladies, grab your lucky rabbit’s foot and let’s hit The Strip.
Where to stay
There are literally scores of cheap hotels and motels in Vegas, but unless you are travelling on a really limited budget, you can steer clear of the bargain basement offerings. Hotels on or very close to The Strip are more affordable than you might think, especially ones with casinos attached, as their main priority is to get people in through the doors.
The Stratosphere is a great example of this, and the Aria is another good option that’s just off The Strip but has fantastic views and good facilities. Once you’ve checked the usual online comparison sites and found the best price, contact your hotel of choice directly and they will almost certainly undercut it. Even the big-name hotels are nowhere near as expensive as you’d expect, so don’t automatically rule out places like the MGM Grand – you might just be in for a surprise.
Hitting the casinos
Five simple words: “It has to be done.” You don’t need to spend every night in the casino – in fact that would probably be a really bad idea for all sorts of reasons. However, you can’t visit Las Vegas without at least checking out a couple of the more famous ones like the Bellagio, Paris and the Golden Nugget. If you’re a casino novice, you’re certainly not alone in Vegas, but if you’re smart you can spend an hour in any casino and have a lot of fun and a couple of drinks without spending more than $20. On top of that, you might even get a big win, you never know!
First of all, Make sure to take advantage of no deposit deals available in Las Vegas – if you’re gambling with free money, there’s really no downside, so those vouchers are definitely worth using. Second tip is to choose your game with care. Slots can swallow your money with frightening speed, so don’t be afraid of the table games. Blackjack and three card poker are great fun, and the dealers are friendly and will help you along. Alternatively, a game like video poker is more strategic than slots but is something you can play at your own pace. It also brings us neatly to the third tip, which concerns the famous free drinks.
They really do give them away in Vegas, just as long as you keep playing and you remember to tip the bartender. A great strategy is to sit yourself down at a video poker screen at the casino bar, feed it a $20 bill and play at a leisurely pace for minimum bets. Even if your $20 eventually disappears, the free vodka martinis would likely have cost twice as much!
We could spend all day talking about where to eat in Las Vegas, but for current purposes, let’s restrict ourselves to Sin City’s legendary brunches. Most take buffet form, and the type of drink you choose to accompany them is for you and your conscience to decide – after all, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.
You’ll find great brunch offers the length of The Strip, but the Border Grill at Mandalay Bay and Studio B at M-Resort both have great reputations and are inexpensive. If you want to treat yourself, La Cave at Wynns is one of the fanciest eateries in the whole of Vegas, and does an amazing weekend brunch – at $48 per head, it’s not as expensive as you’d think.
Don’t bother renting a car in Vegas unless you’re planning on taking a trip out to Lake Mead or perhaps to go alien-hunting in Area 51. For life in and around The Strip, the best means of locomotion is either your own two feet or the monorail, which gets you everywhere you might need to go and also provides some interesting views of the city.
If you prefer four wheels, Ubers seem to offer better rates than traditional taxis, especially when going to and from the airport. They also save you the bother of cash as everything is done through the app, so if you don’t have it already, it is definitely worth installing on your phone before you land. Avoid paying taxis by credit card, as most of them charge an extra $3 fee per transaction.
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