Planning your first visit to Las Vegas? Exciting! Las Vegas is a fast-paced, exciting and colourful place that can sweep you off your feet and leave you with a 4-day hangover… and on that note, here are my Las Vegas tips for first-timers! It’s not all about gambling – check out these things to do in Vegas besides Gamble!
Las Vegas tips for first timers
1. Don’t go for the cheapest hotel
There are some amazing hotels on the strip and there are some big-name hotels that are surprisingly cheap. But, check the location of that great deal hotel first. Hotels on the strip are, of course, going to be the most convenient but check WHERE on the strip the hotel is; you want to aim for a hotel in the centre; personally, I would aim for any of the hotels between the Mandarin Oriental and The Mirage hotel.
Check the website for your chosen hotel too; you can often find deals that help you save money or get free extra when you book directly with the hotel.
(Check out our favourite Las Vegas hotels)
Affordable hotels in good locations on the strip:
2. Travel from the airport to your hotel
As you exit the airport, look for the taxi rank. They have massive signs up listing the price of the fare from the airport to your chosen hotel. This is by far the most convenient way of travelling directly to your hotel.
Alternatively, if you aren’t in any rush to get to your hotel, you could always opt for the airport shuttle. There is usually a wait but they are cheaper if you are travelling solo or as a couple.
3. Your hotel’s entrance
This one may sound strange but when you arrive at your hotel from the airport, make a mental note of where the entrance is – where the driver has dropped you off at. Vegas hotels are huge and you don’t want to spend half your night looking for the taxi rank at your hotel on your way out to a club or casino.
4. Las Vegas hotels are huge
Related to the tip above, Las Vegas hotels are huge, so if your hotel room doesn’t have a map in it, ask the reception desk for one. Or even check their website and download an electronic version (or screenshot). It may sound silly but a map will come in handy when you are exploring your hotel.
We stayed at The Cosmopolitan which is relatively small compared to other major hotels on the strip and we still found ourselves getting on more than one occasion.
5. Places aren’t as near to each other as you may think
You look at google maps and yeah, everything is right next to each other. But, because of the size of the hotels and the long blocks, you will still need to do quite a bit of walking. Keep this in mind when you a) pack your footwear (trainers over heels ladies) and b) plan your day. With the distance and heat, you won’t be able to see and do as much as you perhaps originally planned, so don’t over plan those itineraries!
6. It is cheaper than you think
We were super worried that Las Vegas would be expensive and thought there was no way we could do Vegas on a budget. Our guide to how expensive is Las Vegas includes detailed prices of everything, from hotels on the strip to budget options and hostels. We also include prices for drinks, restaurants, shows, attractions and lots of Las Vegas Tips.
You can get some great deals on hotels by checking out websites such as booking.com, using websites like vegas.com to get the best deals in the city, drinking at the casino slots rather than the Casino bars and enjoying the best buffets of Las Vegas.
P.S. Whilst you hop around the Las Vegas Casinos, enjoy your time but remember to give yourself a daily limit and cash out when you hit big.
7. Essentials: Light jacket and water
Vegas is so incredibly humid so water is a must. But so is a light jacket. Even in the heat of the summer, you will still need a jacket. The hotels are a haven of cold air but it can get too chilly; hence the jacket.
8. The Las Vegas Explorer Pass
This multi-attraction card is a great option for those staying for more than a weekend and wanting to see a variety of attractions. Some of the best attractions it has to offer include the Hoover Dam, Higher Roller Observation Wheel and The Stratosphere.
You can also use the Hop-on Hop-Off Bus Tour which comes free with the explorer pass or you may wish to just go with the bus if you are short on time in sin city. If you are more into exploring than gambling and partying then I would definitely recommend this pass – my parents loved having the bus as an option too!
9. Avoid peak dinner times
Peak dinner times in Las Vegas are between 6-8 pm and restaurants can get crazy busy, as you would expect. If possible, head to your restaurant of choice between 5-5.30pm or 8.30 – 9 pm.
If you have plans to see a show, head to restaurants early and give yourself plenty of time. You can always call ahead but we prefer using the OpenTable app or website; they always list the best deals too.
10. Cheap tickets
You can get cheap tickets for shows if you book your tickets in advance. Use vegas.com for discounted tickets or head to Tix4Tonight for same-day discounts on shows and restaurants. We love the Cirque de Soleil options; particularly LOVE; a Beatles-inspired showcase.
11. Rent a car
Personally, renting a car in Vegas is a must. If you are planning on spending some time in and around Vegas, you will probably want to see more than just the strip. The canyons are all a drive away as are many of the unique attractions surrounding the strip. Compare prices at rentalcars.com, enjoy the free parking available many restaurants and hotels and explore the area in your own comfort.
TIP: If you are planning to see the Canyons, leave early to beat the tour groups.
12. Don’t spend all your time on the strip
Related to the above point, don’t spend your whole time on the strip. Visit Fremont Street for a bit of old Vegas, head to Neon Junkyard to see the old signs and make sure you plan a trip to the nearby National Parks if time allows!
13. Cab waiting times
Heading to a show or dinner reservation? Allow plenty of time if you are taking a taxi; they have a habit of being late – like 30 minutes late! I would always recommend getting to the theatre 30 minutes before the show too, take advantage of the drink deals and find your seat.
14. Costumed characters
Similar to those dressed up in Times Square, you will see people dress up as your fave cartoon characters along the strip. Expect to pay them if you want a photo with them, they will insist – generally, it is probably best to just avoid them unless you are dying for a pic.
15. Ask for an upgrade
Vegas hotels have more people asking for an upgrade than not – the reason? Because it works. If they have an upgraded room available, they will often give these out complimentary – they want you to have an awesome time and recommend their hotel to your friends, so always ask!
First time in Las Vegas FAQ
What should I avoid in Las Vegas?
Always check the resort fees to avoid paying high fees, wear comfortable shoes to avoid blisters and don’t ever forget to tip; especially the waitresses in the casinos.
How much do you tip in Las Vegas?
For restaurants, you can follow the American standard of tipping; 15-20%. In a bar, tip around $2 and in the casinos, tip the waitresses $1 per drink but it doesn’t hurt to tip $4-5 on the first drink the offer. Drinks on the casino floor are free in most places as long as you are actively gaming.
Can you walk from McCarran airport to the strip?
You could walk from the airport to the strip but we advise jumping in the taxis available instead; with the heat and wind, it isn’t a great start to a trip.
Is the Las Vegas Strip safe at night?
The strip is a safe place to walk along, even at night. There are a lot of people around, it is very well lit and there is plenty of police around. However, avoid walking off the strip late at night as the quieter areas can have crime occurring like pickpockets.
What should I do on my first day in Vegas?
On your first day in Vegas, take in the strip by walking along it. Watch the Bellagio Fountains, explore The Venetian hotel, watch The Mirage volcano and try out a buffet in Las Vegas.
What is the cheapest month to go to Vegas?
The cheapest months to visit Vegas are January, February, April and September – just check your visit doesn’t coincide with a conference or special event and avoid weekends where possible.
How much do you need for 3 days in Vegas?
If you intend to stay in a cheaper hotel on the strip, are not a big gambler and are happy o see all the free attractions in Vegas during your trip, then you would only need to budget around $300 a day. There are plenty of chain restaurants and stores to get cheaper meals from and take advantage of the happy hours too.