First off, let me be the first to say that Las Vegas is not one of my favorite places. It can be a ton of fun but it’s just not my typical type of adventure. However, It’s definitely a cool place to see once and I know many people who absolutely love it. When I go, I try to keep things relatively cheap, so here are some tips for you to do the same.
Las Vegas was one of our stops on the 40-day American road trip we did last year. We didn’t have a lot of cash and we knew we wanted to see some shows (which are expensive) so we needed to cut down on other expenses while visiting.
Believe it or not, Las Vegas can be cheap if you want it to be. First off, for accommodation, we chose to couchsurf. We found an awesome guy living in the suburbs who let us, along with other people from all over the world, stay at his place. They were totally cool to hang out with, gave us our own room, but the only problem was the A/C stopped working. June in Vegas was the hottest temperature I have ever experienced, even having been to Australia, Indonesia, and Mexico.
Because of the no A/C issue, we decided to say 2 out of the 5 nights at a hotel on the strip to relax and be able to breathe at night time. We managed to get 2 great deals (Planet Hollywood on Thursday night and Flamingo on Friday night) for just $50 per night thanks to Priceline and Hotwire. Another option if your traveling alone is to book a hostel for about $25 per night. Hostels in the USA are very expensive (especially in New York at $45 per night) but if you’re alone in Vegas, this would be my choice as it allows you to meet other people and create more of a party atmosphere.
Another thing you’ll probably like to do while baking under the sun is take in one of the many fantastic pools the city has to offer. My three favorites were Mandalay Bay, Flamingo Go-Go pool, and the Tropical hotel pool at the end of the strip. If you want a party, the Go-Go pool at the Flamingo is the best bet. It has beautiful waterfalls cascading into the pool along with places for girls to dance. It does smell like beer though as the day goes on. Tickets are usually $20 I believe but you can get in for free by just grabbing a “players” card that someone is bound to leave next to slot machines. We were staying at the hotel and noticed our key said nothing about Flamingo but it got us into the pool. This made me realize anyone can get in for free with a little creativity.
Mandalay Bay is the fancy wave pool that’s very fun to hang out in. You can party here but it’s not really that type of atmosphere, at least not when we were there. It feels more like a posh/family hangout. It’s totally the best pool overall and although I have never stayed at Mandalay Bay, I’ve managed to get into the pool for free on more than one occasion. What you need to do is walk to the pool and before going in, ask someone who is about to enter if they will let you come in with them (since you need to be a guest to enter). It worked both times for us and the guests were more than happy to pretend we were with them. Just don’t look too shady. If you look like Tiger King, you may not make it. Then again, maybe you’ll have an even better chance. It is Vegas after all.
A Casino on Fremont Street
There a few free shows in Vegas that are not too bad as well. The two best ones in my opinion are the fountains at Bellagio and the laser show on Fremont street. The fountains at Bellagio are outside and go off at certain times at night to music. It’s only about 15 minutes but it’s well worth checking out. The laser show on Fremont street plays music and effects along the roof of the street. Freemont is the best street in Vegas in my opinion and the drinks are cheaper than anywhere else. The show is very cool to see and you can even zipline across it if you like. That part isn’t free of course.
Although I don’t know of any free food in Vegas, you can eat moderately cheap. My top choice whenever I travel the USA is Subway. A footlong sub is typically just $5 (certain kinds) and is very filling. Two of these bad boys per day is just $10 and more than enough most of the time. If you don’t mind spending a little more, I also recommend the buffet at Flamingo. It’s approx $18 and has hundreds of items ranging from seafood, steaks, desserts, salads, soups, asian food, sushi, fajitas, and much much more. I believe a day pass is $35 if you can eat that much. Also, one of my favorite bars is the House of Blues located inside Mandalay Bay. It has a very cool atmosphere and if you get there for happy hour, most beers are just $2-3 and all appetizers are half price.
Keep in mind that if you want to drink but still save money, buy your booze from one of the many gift/convenience/liquor stores for dirt cheap and then drink it on the strip.
My biggest tip is to STAY AWAY from all the timeshare offers you will get. They will offer you great gifts like free shows or $200 gambling credits. Unless you don’t mind wasting 6 hours of your day (they will tell you it’s just 2 hours or less) in a high-pressure sales situation and then STILL having to go through other troubles to get the free gifts, then just ignore every one of them.
If you’re okay with spending hundreds on shows, you can’t go wrong with Cirque Du Soleil. I’m not usually a big spender for shows but I managed to shell out a whopping $180 for a ticket to O by Cirque. It’s the most famous show on the strip and is almost always sold out. Try and get tickets within the first 20 rows if you’re going to go. The theatre itself is absolutely beautiful and the performance is the best I have ever seen. It’s a mixture of theatrical play, acrobatics, aquatics, and a 25-foot disappearing pool. The music is outstanding and it’s really the best memory I have of Las Vegas. I’m sure any other Cirque show is unbelievable as well.
So, my best advice (from my own experience) on spending a little while in Vegas is:
- Try Couchsurfing, booking a hostel, or using Priceline/Hotwire to find great deals on hotels (unless you bought a package with your flight)
- Check out the great pools in the area and with some creativity, they can be totally free.
- Go see some of the free shows in the area including the Fountains of Bellagio and the Freemont Street Laser show.
- Eat at places like Subway, gorge on cheap buffets, or find happy hour deals at places like House of Blues.
- When booking tickets for shows, try looking online for any deals happening, or if you don’t mind the last minute, you can always find one of the many “Last-Minute” ticket sellers on the strip.
- Walk. The Strip is a cool place to walk, as well as inside the casinos, and down Freemont street.
- Don’t forget to have fun. While you can certainly do Vegas on the cheap, the most important thing is to have fun. When will you be in Vegas again? Go to a show, do some wine tasting in Las Vegas, throw a few bucks into a gambling machine, and just let loose.