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Hoot Blog

The beginner’s guide to Las Vegas

When most people hear the words Las Vegas, the first thing that comes to mind is casinos.

 And make no mistake, there’s a good reason for that. The Flamingo, Bellagio, Caesars Palace, Mirage, MGM Grand, the list goes on and on. There are 104 (to be exact) in this Nevada desert playground with the largest being The Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, the setting for the 2006 Rocky Balboa movie.

 But there is so much more to Vegas which is why more than 42 million tourists make their way to ‘Sin City’ every year for the food, the lights, there’s shopping in Las Vegas, and some of the biggest shows on earth. To keep people coming back, Vegas has mastered the art of re-invention. Every year there are new restaurants, bars, new clubs, new shows and new hotels. It’s hard to keep up.

 The Las Vegas strip is more than six kilometres long and here are some tips that will help you come up aces on your next visit.

 Pick the right Vegas hotel

 Firstly, you need somewhere to rest your head and you don’t want to be too far from the action. Of all the Las Vegas strip hotels, Caesars Palace is perhaps the most iconic. Opened in 1966, it was one of the last haunts of the infamous Rat Pack; has hosted some of the greatest fights in boxing history; and still, today puts on the best shows in its 4000-plus seat Colosseum. Tropicana Las Vegas opened its doors in the 1950s but thanks to some recent renovations it still manages to stand out on the boulevard with its sexy Miami-styled rooms. Built next to CityCenter, The Cosmopolitan has 2,995 rooms with most offering balcony views of The Strip. If you want to be close to some big-name entertainment then consider staying at Planet Hollywood. It has gaming tables, fantastic dining options (Gordon Ramsay Burger and Strip House) and musical acts like Florida Georgia Line, Gwen Stefani, Christina Aguilera, Def Leppard and Shania Twain.

 Tip, tip and tip

 Let’s start at the beginning. Tip your taxi driver 15 to 20 per cent of your fare. When you reach the hotel the valet will expect $1 per bag (up to five bags) or $2 per bag if you have more than six bags. If you want good service in restaurants and bars be prepared to tip 20 per cent of the bill for each round of drinks. If you decide to gamble remember the golden rule - if you win, so does the dealer.  If you win $30 tip the dealer $5. If you win really big, it is considered polite to tip the dealer up to 10 per cent of your winnings. If you are going to a show, hand the usher a $20 tip and suddenly your seats will get as a whole lot better. Now we realise this can seem like a foreign concept, but tipping is part of the Vegas culture.

 Drink for free

 If you are gambling in a casino, don’t buy drinks. If you are sitting at a table a cocktail waiter will very quickly offer you a complimentary drink. They want to make sure you are happy and stay at the table as long as possible.

 Avoid peak dining times

 Las Vegas restaurants are super busy between 6-8pm. If you can eat outside of this time you will avoid the queue, get better service, and probably get a better meal. The other thing about dining is that the breakfast menu is available 24/7.

 21 is not just for BlackJack

 The legal drinking ages in Las Vegas is 21 years old. All casinos and bars will check your ID, there’s no way to get around this.

 Wear comfortable shoes

 Traffic in Las Vegas is terrible, so most people end up either walking, catching monorails between casinos, or trying to get on the local buses. As we said before, The Strip is about 6 kilometres, so you don’t want to be traipsing uptown in high heels for hours on end.