Hikari's Food/Japanophile and Other Interesting Stuff blog

How to visit Las Vegas WITHOUT breaking the bank; Part 2 (Exploring on a budget)

on July 16, 2013

So you’ve planned your holiday, chosen your hotel and have arrived in Las Vegas. Now what do you do? Everywhere you look in Vegas, at least on the strip, there is something to do. Always. Being in Vegas is like visiting multiple cities around the world all at once. You can see the Eiffel Tower, the Statue of Liberty, a pyramid and the Sphynx as well as ride in a gondola along Venetian canals all on one road.

~First thing, explore what your hotel has to offer. Got a room at an off-strip “normal” hotel? Skip this and continue to the next. Vegas casino-hotels are virtual self-contained cities. Take the time to browse the restaurants, shops, and entertainment venues. Look at how expensive the food is, how much is that bottle of water, where are the souvenirs?

But beware, because this leads to my second tip:

~Never look someone other than your co-travelers directly in the eye. Unless of course, you’re intending to initiate direct contact. Everywhere you go in Vegas, someone wants to sell you something. Maybe it’s that woman with the hand cream made of crushed unicorn horn and dragon testicle. Or perhaps it’s the man handing out cards with the numbers of  naked women who will visit your room for a fee.


When spending time in Vegas, think of it like this: The locals see you as a walking wallet. If you do not make eye contact, it makes it harder for them to engage. Someone shoves a pamphlet for a show under your nose while you’re trying to get on the escalator? Manipulative marketer trying to wrap you in a convertible dress you can wear 100 ways? If you have the undeniable urge to respond due to how you were raised, consider one of these replies (All while NOT looking them in the eye):

“Already been there/done that/seen it.”

“I already have one of those.”

“No thanks.”

“No Speak English” (Works best if you’re not as white as Wonderbread)

Do all this as you continue moving, don’t slow down, and for the love of baby pandas, Don’t Stop!

panda copy

If all the person is doing is handing out pamphlets, you can take one. Just be prepared to end up carrying about a tree’s worth of paper around with you by the end of the day.

~Some of those free pamphlets people hand out are actually worth taking. Just follow the “No Eye Contact Rule” and keep walking. In Vegas, there are coupons and discounts for almost everything. There are thick booklets of coupons that can be found almost everywhere. They’re great for ideas if you aren’t sure what you want to see. However, all those pamphlets don’t beat the best deal I’ve found in Vegas thus far:

~Tix4Tonight is the second place (other than online) you should look for ticket prices for almost everything. There are kiosks all along the strip and they sell tickets for shows, attractions and even buffets. All at a discount.

Example: We wanted to go to Madame Tussaud’s wax museum. Normal ticket price: $30. Online ticket price: $24. Tix4Tonight price: $20. The only thing better? Twilight Ticket (Online purchase only, after 6PM): $18.

It only takes a moment to ask one of the ticket staff (usually armed with a tablet) what the current price of something is. Best thing? If it’s not a scheduled show, you usually get about 3 days leeway to use the ticket. And they’re completely legit. If you’re seeing a scheduled show, just don’t expect the best seats.

~Bundle packages: The MGM group has two different bundle packages running, in case you don’t feel comfortable using Tix4Tonight.

Pick Two shows for $75* special: This is through Luxor and Excalibur. You have to go to the box office to get your tickets, so try to haggle for a good seat while you’re there. *Take care and read the extras, as some shows cost a bit more.

3 attractions for $57: This works best if you want to do the most expensive things on the list. Adventuredome and the CSI Experience are the best value on the list as day passes are $28 each to begin with. You get a third attraction for free, basically.

~Do Something FREE! There are tons of free attractions if you know where to look. Look at this list to get an idea, but it’s far from comprehensive. *Fall of Atlantis is not aging well, and the animatronics are starting to develop palsy. I’d pass on this unless you’re already there when a show happens to start.

Also, remember how I said that each casino-hotel is like a city? Spend an entire day checking out architecture, shopping and art of the different hotels! Sneak some peeks at street performers. Just touring Vegas and taking in the sights is an adventure!

~Going Shopping: If you’re in Vegas and are a shopaholic, there are three places that are Must-See: Las Vegas Premium Outlets (North & South both have basically the same stuff), Fashion Show Mall, and Miracle Mile Shops. The outlets are a little off-strip, but have ample parking. Fashion Show is next to TI and across from the Wynn. Miracle Mile is in Planet Hollywood.

If you took my suggestion from my previous posts and rented a car, go off-strip! There are strip malls and places all over that aren’t expecting tourists to visit and have awesome deals.

~The Food! Just because you’re in Vegas doesn’t mean you’re stuck eating at the often overpriced boutique restaurants located on the strip and in the casinos. It’s the same as with shopping: going off-strip gets you better deals. Many off-strip hotels like the Palms and Orleans have buffets at semi-normal prices. Also off-strip are the typical array of national and local restaurant chains. If you love eggs, try Eggworks, but come hungry. Many of the menu items involve 4 eggs.

~One more thing: Forgot sunscreen or a toothbrush? Dying for a candy bar or need a bottle of water but don’t wanna pay $3 at the little shop inside the hotel? Rite Aid and Walgreen’s have locations right on the strip. Or, consider an off-strip trip to the store of your choice such as Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Target, Walmart, etc. Seriously, Google Maps = your friend!

~Stepping Outside the city: Oft-overlooked are the other fine things to see just outside the city within driving distance.

Hoover Dam: I for some reason never remembered this American landmark being just outside of Vegas. In less than an hour from the strip, You can take a Dam tour, visit the Dam gift shop, buy a Dam t-shirt, and eat a Dam hamburger at the Dam snack bar. (Percy Jackson references, props to Rick Riordan)

Valley of Fire: Beautiful rock structures, petroglyphs and petrified wood, one of the best places to see desert nature ad reachable in a little over an hour. (While not the actual petrified forest where Rachel Morgan freed Ku’Sox, I like to think it’s pretty darn close! Props: Kim Harrison)

Grand Canyon: Okay, be careful when planning to visit! DO NOT go to the West Rim! It’s a money trap and not worth the extra fees the Hualapai natives extort from you just to get to see some canyon! (Seriously, check out Trip Advisor. I don’t care how cool the Skywalk is, the price is ridiculous and they don’t allow you to take your own pictures.) For the best experience from Vegas, visit the South Rim. Shop around and find a tour with everything included and enjoy sleeping during the long bus ride. It will be an all-day trip.

I think that’s everything, but it feels like something’s missing. If I remember what it is, I’ll update and re-post.


One response to “How to visit Las Vegas WITHOUT breaking the bank; Part 2 (Exploring on a budget)

  1. […] How to visit Las Vegas WITHOUT breaking the bank; Part 2 (Exploring on a budget) Jul […]

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