Las Vegas, an ever-changing fantasy-land of a city, has seen unbelievable expansion since it emerged from the desert just over 100 years ago.
The sights and sounds of Las Vegas are enjoyed by millions of visitors every year. They stay in some of the most glamorous, unique hotels in the world. They eat at five-star restaurants and expansive buffets. They play at casinos, pools, health spas and golf courses. Sometimes (many times, actually) they even marry each other.
You will be dazzled by Vegas, but the sheer number of things to see and do can seem overwhelming. A little advance planning will help you to enjoy your Vegas trip. Continue reading for basic visitor information (what to bring, things to know) and an overview of this special destination.
Electricity: The United States uses 110 to 120 volts AC (60 cycles). If visiting from outside of North America, you may require an electrical adapter for any electronics or appliances you want to bring. Las Vegas electrical outlets accept the standard North American plug with two flat parallel pins.
Emergencies: For police or medical assistance call 911 (toll-free).
Telephone Area Code: 702 (most hotels/businesses in Vegas) & 725 (new area code). Please dial 10 digits to make a local call (i.e. 702-555-1212)
International Calling Code: +1 (i.e., if you are calling Las Vegas, you will dial +1-702-555-1212)
Tax: There is an 8.15% sales tax on purchases and a 12% tax on hotel rooms in Las Vegas.
Do have lots of fun. Don't worry too much about it. And other rules to live by.
It is best to avoid bringing personal electronic items into the casino. Hotel security is always on the lookout for photography and video of casino machines and tables and will quickly remove persons doing so.
All players must be at least 21 years old - no exceptions.
You are in a desert, and your body will need fluids, especially in the summer months. Carry a bottle of water, and be sure to bring sunscreen.
The high-concentration areas of Las Vegas are among the safest places for visitors in the world. Security is tight, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't take the same precautions that you would at home. Be aware of your surroundings and stay away from threatening situations. If gaming, keep an eye on your purse, change bucket or chips. If there is an incident, police and security personnel are generally highly visible.
Generally speaking, smoking is permitted on the casino floor at most resorts, in some guest rooms and in bars that don't serve food. It is not permitted in public areas such as restaurants, hotel lobbies, the Las Vegas Convention Center concourse areas, or McCarran International Airport.
This town is all about people working hard to make you happy. A little tip helps to say thanks. Here's a handy guide.
Credit or charge cards are widely accepted throughout Las Vegas. The most common are Visa, MasterCard and American Express, while Discover, Diners Club and Carte Blanche are also generally accepted. Some vendors may accept international cards like enRoute, EuroCard and JCB.
Cash machines, or ATMs, are available at virtually every hotel. If you need to cash a check, some check-cashing businesses will handle out-of-state personal checks, with provision of verification and personal identification. (Check in advance to see what fees may be charged.)
In terms of budgeting, it all depends on how high or low you want to go. Las Vegas is a great choice for travelers looking for value; it's possible for two people to eat well and have a great time on around $100 a day, not counting room accommodations. Or, visitors can choose from among myriad world-class restaurants and spend more than that per person for dinner. It's all about choice!
Great deals are available on lodging throughout the city, where you can pay from less than $50 for a room to well over $1,000 a night. Prices vary widely depending on the time of year and day of the week.
In Vegas, 15 to 20 percent of the total bill is a good rule of thumb for tipping. Some additional guidelines follow.
Dealers and slot attendants: A small bet for the dealer is the usual method of tipping at gaming tables. A small tip is also appropriate for keno runners and slot attendants.
Dining: Restaurants in Las Vegas do not generally charge a "service charge." Tipping is appreciated for service after dining between 15 and 20% of the pre-tax bill. (Often, restaurants will tell you up front that a tip will be added automatically for groups of 8 or more)
Hotel personnel: Generally tip $1 to $2 for each bag of luggage. If you are using concierge services, a $5 tip is appropriate.
Taxi drivers and tour guides: Taxi drivers usually receive $1 to $2 for a direct route, or follow the 15 to 20 percent rule, whichever is greater You should provide $1 to $2 to tour guides for each person at the end of the tour.
Hint: Wear what brings out your inner Vegas: gold lamé. Feather boa. Leather briefs. Whatever. We're not here to judge.
Bathing Suit - Everyone needs to take the edge off by a pool now and then, and Vegas has some of the best.
Camera - There are plenty of snapshots to take, and plenty of sunlight to help capture the moment.
Dress Clothes - For a five-star restaurant or gala show.
Power Converters/Adapters - If you're visiting from outside North America, you may need power converters.
Sunglasses - There are 320 days of sunshine a year, so chances are you'll need some shades.
Sunscreen - You'll want to keep this close at hand, especially in the summer months.
Walking Shoes - You'll cover a lot of ground from the Strip to downtown, so make sure your shoes are comfortable.
Since most of the Las Vegas Valley is at an elevation over 2,000 feet, the winter months can be more chilly than you might think, particularly in the evenings. Long pants, a sweater and/ or a jacket are recommended if visiting between late October and early April.
During spring and summer months, t-shirts, shorts and athletic shoes are a common sight in the hotels and casinos.
Las Vegas, with its arid climate, sees more than 300 days of sunshine per year, with an average annual rainfall of only 4.13 inches (10.5 cm) and an average humidity rate of 29 percent.
Las Vegas has inspired plenty of myths, legends and lore. Here, though, are a few surprising and actual facts.