How to get around Las Vegas
Getting around Las Vegas - my advice
Luckily, the central part of the Strip is fairly concentrated – apart from in high summer, when walking more than a few feet will make you cry. You can easily walk from MGM Grand (the start of the Strip proper) to Caesars Palace (what I consider the central point of the Strip) in about 30 minutes (it’s just over a mile). It is, however, bigger than it looks, and the Strip is always crowded, which slows you down a lot, so leave plenty of time to get around.
Luckily, there are a couple of free monorails to help you along your way on the western side of the Strip: Mandalay Bay to Excalibur (via Luxor) and then from Monte Carlo, through CityCenter to the Bellagio.
If you want to go anywhere off the Strip, the bus system in Vegas is appalling, but there are two good options for whisking you up and down Las Vegas Blvd: the Gold bus (also called the ACE) and the Deuce.
The Gold is the one you’ll take if you catch a bus from the airport – it starts at the South Strip Transfer Terminal at Town Square (below the Strip) and runs up Las Vegas Blvd until Convention Center Drive (above the Wynn), and then heads on up to Downtown Las Vegas on Paradise Road.
The Deuce is similar but the route is shorter – it runs up the Strip from Mandalay Bay up to the Wynn.
Both buses run 24 hours (every 12 minutes in the day, and 30 minutes in the dead of night). Tickets on the Strip cost the same for both routes: US$3 for a one-way trip, $7 for a 24 hour pass or $15 for a three day pass.
The Las Vegas Monorail is an odd beast. It should be wonderful – beating Strip traffic, a fun ride with great views – but it’s always deserted, pretty sad, and in January, it filed for bankruptcy. Oddly, though, it’s still running, and there’s no word on when – or if – it will officially give up the ghost.
I’m not a huge fan of the monorail, because it’s pretty pricey - $5 for a single ride, $12 for a 24 hour pass, or $28 for a three day pass. Its hours aren’t ideal – 7am-2am Mon-Thu and 7am-3am on weekends, and there are only four stops on the main section of the Strip (seven on the full line, from MGM Grand to Sahara).
My main issue, though, is that it runs along the back of the casinos, dropping you past the back entrances, so you have to walk a good five minutes to get inside, and up to 15 minutes to actually reach the Strip. By that point, once you’ve waited for a train to arrive, you may as well have walked.
Having said that, it’s a good option if it’s hot or you’re in heels, and if you’re alone (because if there are more than two of you, you may as well get a taxi). So I appreciate its existence.
Vegas cabbies have an unpleasant reputation, and although I’ve had good and bad, I can confirm the urban legend that every single one of them moans at you about how little they earn, reminds you how expensive international flights are (and therefore how much money you have) and tell you that they’ve not earned enough tips that day.
They expect huge – by UK standards – tips and will often get shirty if they think you haven’t given them enough. I’ve had some who’ve taken the fact that I won’t tip $5 on a $7 ride with a sulk, but more scarily, I’ve been shouted at and, in one case, threatened in an empty car park at 5am.
Obviously I’ve had some bad apples, and I don’t want to put you off taking them. I’ve had some good experiences, when I’ve tipped well (over 20 percent). But you should be prepared for them to make an issue over the tip (they seem to expect a minimum of $4.50, no matter how much the ride costs). Just be firm in requesting your change, and if there are any problems, note down the cab number and call (or threaten to call) the firm to complain.
Or do as I do, which is walk or drive everywhere.
Getting to the city
For advice on getting to and from the airports, see Las Vegas flights.