Tips and Tricks on how to tackle the fabulous Las Vegas for the first time visitor.
In January, I was incredibly fortunate to be flown to the fabulous Las Vegas for a conference – officially the furthest I’ve travelled for work. This also marks my first visit to the US, and a new continent!
Fun fact, Vegas is one of the top places to have conferences and business events due to its accessibility and close proximity to the airport, and the amount of space it has for conventions. The concentration of strip hotels made sure everyone can be entertained, and no one will be left homeless.
As a non-drinker, non-partier, non-gambler and generally non-partaker of all of Vegas’ debauchery, it was a bit of a struggle to find things to do here that actually serves me. But I did it, and I had some fun.
Here’s my quick guide on the city’s attractions, and some hopefully useful tips and tricks on tackling vivaaa Las Vegas.
Be strategic to enter Vegas Strip Hotels
Now, the hotels on the strip are attractions themselves, but what no one warned me was how much time you can waste just roaming about the hotel trying to FIND the attraction within the specific hotel.
Before walking the strip, do a quick Google search to plan which attractions you want to hit. You can also find out if the attraction is still running. As in, you don’t stand in front Treasure Island hotel like a fool thinking the pirate ship show still runs. Unlike me.
You can refer to my guide for what I think were worth seeing on the Vegas Strip hotels.
Since I come from the country of fabulous malls, I was not that impressed with the hotels there. A lot of the hotels were dated, but some put in a wee bit more effort. Walking the strip from North to South, and back to North where my hotel was, took me about half a day of strolling including mealtimes.
Walk the Strip at Night
This seems obvious, but the Vegas strip comes to life at night. Though I gripe about the hotels, I did enjoy walking the strip at night, when the bright lights come on. Also that’s when colourful characters come out and roam – and they’re hella fun to watch.
Fremont Street is located at Downtown Las Vegas, and can easily be reached from the strip by either the Deuce or SDX bus. A definite must-go, and you have to visit at night. If you thought the lights on the strip was bright, here it’s a megawatt cacophony of blinding flares.
I only spent about two hours here and I still thought it was worth the 20-minute bus ride from the Strip. I was able to go up and down the street twice in my time there.
Though Fremont Street is a lot smaller that Vegas Strip, I liked it a whole lot more here. Extremely fun atmosphere and a nice taste of Old Las Vegas, with street buskers and live cover bands. And this occasional I-don’t-even-know-what:
Don’t scoff – but I had an unexpectedly good time at Las Vegas’ Premium North Outlet Shopping Mall. I wasn’t planning to go, but I went since it was only a couple of stops away from Fremont Street with my Deuce/SDX bus pass. You can purchase the bus pass at all the bus stops along the strip and costs $8 for a 24-hour pass, by the way.
There is also a South version of the outlet mall. The SDX bus gets you to the North one, the Deuce to the South. Both buses reach Fremont Street, for your planning purposes.
Of course, there’s plenty of shopping that you can do on the strip as well, and depending on the season can offer up some discounts too. But I was glad I made the trip since I scored good deals at Kate Spade and Samsonite. There’s also a Lululemon, though the discounts are only about a mere 30% off – considered paltry when compared to the massive deals at the other shops at the mall. I was excited to see Hot Topic for the first time, though I left with nothing. I guess my emo teenage angst has officially weaned off.
Anyway, shopaholics, you’ll have fun here.
Try a Slot Machine
Even if you’re not a gambler, like me, trying a slot machine is quintessentially Vegas. Slot machines have a special place in Vegas’ history and origins, so you’re not really gambling. You’re paying for that Vegas experience. They also have a lot of fun variations, so I took my pick with Britney Spears. She won me $0.02. She did not gimme, gimme, more.
Visit the “Welcome to Las Vegas” Sign
The iconic Welcome to Las Vegas sign was… smaller than expected. There’s usually a queue to take the photo in front of the sign. If you want to beat the queues however, visit it super early in the morning. No one’s there.
Daytrip to the Grand Canyon
Hands down, the absolute best part of my trip was the Grand Canyon. Read all about my experience here.
I feel like a trip to the awe-inspiring UNESCO site completely made the entire trip worth it. You’re missing out much if you don’t make at least one trip out.
There are two parts of the Grand Canyon that you can visit: the West Rim, or the further South Rim. West Rim is closer to Vegas and is owned by the Native Americans. South Rim is further, but offers up more views of the Grand Canyon.
Daytrip to the Hoover Dam
Or if you don’t have as much time as I did, to the Hoover Dam. My tour to the Grand Canyon included this as well, so I hit a good two-in-one with this. didn’t think much of it when I saw it on the itinerary, thinking that “meh, i don’t want to see a reservoir” but it was a good stopover. Steeped in history, this place was MASSIVE.
There are a lot of restaurants serving all budgets and cuisines that it’s mindboggling. I had Mexican food here, and it was one of my favourite meals. Stay tuned for my upcoming post/review on what I ate while in Vegas.
Although tipping is not a new concept to me, I was intimidated coming to the US because I hear you have to tip everyone. Not just the waiters at restaurants, but the tour guides, housekeepers and even cab drivers too. And now I hear you also tip Uber drivers.
Although the general rule of tipping at restaurants is 10-15%, 20% if you had exceptional service, off your total bill, don’t be surprised if you end up tipping more that you want… That’s when you pay cash, and the waitress doesn’t bring you back your change (which is more than your intended tip).
Happened to me just one time, and I thought that was quite rude that I wasn’t asked, but there’s really no classy way of asking for your change back. So you let it go, and make sure you either have the right amount of cash next time, or a huge note that they HAVE to break.
The service is general is good, but I’ve heard that if you get bad service you’re not obligated to tip. But then, I also heard that if you don’t tip regardless, you get chased after and demanded for tips.
Mobile Data Card
It is so annoying how notoriously hard it was to get a mobile data card on the strip… Or even in the US at all. AT&T charges close to $100 for a data card… nope girl bye.
I needed data to stay connected, so I ended up getting the Tourist Plan with T-Mobile. Unlike AT&T, it charges just $30 for the data sim card. They tack on an additional $10 activation charge which is annoying, but it’s still cheaper that other plans I’ve seen so far. If you know of any other better plans, I’d love to know.
The Tourist Plan comes with unlimited data, but you only get up to 2GB of the “good” LTE data. It was more than enough for me – I mostly used it for texting, facetime, emails, and could hotspot my laptop for emails, work, and googling. I had too full a schedule to use the data for Netflix (though I really, really, wanted to, just for the sake of it).
Good news: a T-Mobile store recently opened on The Strip. So recent in fact that it doesn’t even register on the official T-Mobile website yet. It’s on the south end of the strip, beside the Adidas shop, and opposite New York-New York hotel.
Where to Stay
I stayed here for my first few nights in Vegas due to its proximity. Located just opposite Caesar’s palace, The Linq is a casual, newly-renovated hotel. Unlike at the massive Caesar’s, you can get to your room out on the streets of the Vegas Strip in less than 5 minutes at the Linq.
I also loved that it comes out right at the Linq Promenade, which ended up being one of my favourite places in Vegas strip. The one con is that it does not have good soundproofing with the hallway. I was woken up one night at 3am by people talking loudly in the hallway. I’m a very sound sleeper. So bring earplugs.
The wifi works amazingly in my room, and the beds are not bad. I loved the bathrooms which are modern. The shower space had marble tiling which made it look more high-end. I want marble bathrooms in the future.
The price point was good, especially when compared to the other hotels on the strip. Resort fees are applied here, as is 90% of the hotels on the strip.
TIP: Register as a Total Rewards member first, and book through their website. This was what I did and got much better discount codes.
Conclusion: Good value, fantastic location.
Fantastic views from my room
A more upscale shindig than Linq is The Wynn. The facilities and my room was definitely an upgrade from The Linq – but then again, so was the price point.
Unlike most hotels on the strip however, resort fees are strangely not mandatory here. I didn’t opt for it since essentially I’d be paying $49 for daily wifi… that is only limited to one device. Really. You can pay just for the same wifi, at $19.90 daily I believe – still not a paltry sum to be paying for basic wifi. FYI, The Linq allows two devices to link to their wifi. I would like to note wifi is freely available at The Wynn’s lobby, so this whole wifi business just makes no sense to me.
ANYWAY, besides that little annoyance, I loved everything else about The Wynn. It’s located on the upper North side of the strip, which seems to be calmer than the south end. The room was spacious and the bed was ultra comfortable – I slept very well my nights here. The bathroom was also luxurious and I liked the toiletries provided. Special mention is the vanity mirror, perfect to get my glam on. Best of all, I had amazing views from my room.
Conclusion: Upscale, fancy facilities, good location.