If traveling along the Strip, walking is a reasonable option as the hotel-casinos are close to each other. However, note that what may look to be a short walk of only a couple hotel-casinos away may be farther than you expected as the resorts often look closer than they are due to their large size. In most cases, hotels are connected to each other either by bridge or underground or in the case of Excalibur, Luxor, and Mandalay Bay, by a complimentary rail shuttle. Be aware that during the summer, the oppressive heat during the daylight hours may make walking a very uncomfortable activity.
The Las Vegas Monorail, ☎ +1 702 699-8200, runs along the east side of the Strip with stops behind several of the hotels and at the Las Vegas Convention Center. It costs $5 one-way, $9 return and $15 for a one-day pass. Do the math before boarding, it could be cheaper for a small group to take a taxi. Because the monorail stops at the back entrance of the hotels, it takes a long time to wind through the maze of casinos, often taking 30 minutes to an hour to get from one point to another on the Strip - if you're in a hurry, take a taxi. The monorail's carrying capacity of 4,000 people per hour is woefully insufficient to handle the evening exodus from the larger conventions which have as many as 150,000 attendees. If you are visiting with a friend from Nevada and want to ride the monorail, consider asking them to buy your fare because by showing a Nevada State ID or Clark County Work Permit Card (issued to all hotel employees) they qualify for the locals fare of $1. The discounted fare can be purchased from the customer service booths located at each station.
Due to high prices, inconvenient station locations, low passenger ridership, and the fact that it does not connect to downtown or the airport, the Monorail is widely regarded as a failure. It has been operating under the supervision of a federal bankruptcy court since January 2010 while it tries to reorganize its finances under the protection of Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.
Buses can be an inexpensive and convenient option, especially if just traveling up-and-down the Strip, or to-and-from downtown. A bus ride is a good way to recuperate during those hot summer months after a long and tiring walk on the Strip since the buses are air-conditioned.
The city bus line Citizens Area Transit (CAT), +1 702 228-7433, operates 49 routes throughout the valley. Most routes operate 5:30 a.m.-1:30 a.m daily, but some routes operate 24 hours per day. The fare is $2 for adults and $1 for kids and seniors for all residential routes. The Deuce, the London-style double decker bus operating the route along Las Vegas Blvd, costs $3 for adults and $1.50 for children and seniors, and the fare may be paid directly to the driver (no change given). In addition to the Deuce there is now also another bus operating along the Strip, the futuristic-looking Strip and Downtown Express (SDX). It runs from 9AM to 12.30AM and uses roughly the same stops as the Deuce, but skips three out of four Deuce stops and doesn't "park" at the bus stops. Thus it is a faster alternative than the Deuce, but you might also need to walk a longer distance to and from the bus stops. On the SDX you can't buy the ticket on board the bus, but need to use the machines at the bus stops.
If purchasing a child or senior fare, be prepared to show some form of picture ID to prove your age to the driver. During the larger conventions (such as CES, NAB, and MAGIC) the Deuce also operates on a special one way service from the Las Vegas Convention Center. This service operates only in the afternoon from the convention center to the Strip, and the bus travels southbound and services all regular stops from Circus Circus onward. Tickets must be purchased in advance from the ticket vending machines (located in front of the north and south halls). In addition, two additional ticket vending machines are located on the Strip, one at the Slots-of-fun/Circus Circus stop and one at the Showcase Mall/MGM Grand stop.
The bus drivers do not give change. However, the ticket vending machines give change and accept credit/debit cards. Transfers require payment of an additional fare.
Be aware that on the Strip, buses may stop at short intervals and may be there for a couple of minutes as passengers board and disembark. If traveling longer distances, it is often worth it to wait and catch an express bus, which has less stops and does not collect tickets or money, making it faster to walk on and off. Tickets must be purchased in advance at bus station kiosks along the strip.
A residential 24 h day pass ($5 for adults and $2 for kids and seniors) covers all routes except The Deuce, which costs $0.50 extra, and an "all-access pass" for $7 covers all routes on the system. If you will be staying for a long period of time (at least 8 days for adults or 4 for children and seniors) and plan to buy an all access pass, a more economic option is to purchase a 30-day bus pass. These can be purchased from either of the two bus terminals (both can be reached by riding the Deuce to Downtown terminal, or to the South Strip Terminal), or from any ticket vending machine. Yet another alternative is the three day (72 h) all access pass that costs $20 and lets you ride on all buses including the Deuce and SDX.
It is important to note however, that if you would like to purchase a child or senior fare pass, you will need to do so from the customer service agent at the terminals. These passes are valid for 30 days following the first use and can be used on all routes.
If the buses are crowded, a good way to avoid waiting for the next bus is to walk one block east from the Strip and use route 108 Paradise Road or walk one block west to Industrial Road and use route 105, Martin L King Blvd and Koval, which runs parallel to the Strip route.
One of the easiest ways to get around is by taxi. It is relatively cheap to go from hotel to hotel, but be aware that since traffic is often so congested on the strip, taking a taxi often isn't much faster than walking. Many taxis will cut off the strip to use a parallel road—this is often faster but can double your taxi fare. The taxi driver is required to use the meter and to take the shortest route to your destination. There is a surcharge for rides originating at the airport, but not for extra passengers. Taxi lines (queues) are typically found at the front of hotels.
All taxis require an address for pickup and drop off. It is illegal in Las Vegas for taxis to pick up or drop off passengers on the street, especially on the Strip. It is customary to tip the hotel taxi dispatcher $1 and tip the taxi driver 15% of the meter, and about $1 per piece of luggage.
If you are traveling with a large group, consider hiring a limousine, as you will often forgo a wait and the price per person may even be lower than that using a taxicab. Limousines usually queue in front of the taxicab line and can be approached directly.
Driving Las Vegas Boulevard (the "Strip"), especially on weekends, is an exercise in frustration. Due to extremely severe gridlock, you could easily spend an hour (or more) sitting in traffic on the Strip just to travel a couple of miles. The Strip's most critically congested section is the 1.7-mile-long portion between Spring Mountain Road/Sands Avenue to the north and Tropicana Avenue to the south, which happens to be where almost all of the major hotel-casinos are located.
Do what the locals do and avoid driving long distances on the Strip altogether. Instead take I-15, which parallels the Strip, and get off at the exit nearest your hotel and park there. Frank Sinatra Drive (which dead ends into Industrial Road) lies just west of the Strip, runs behind the casinos, and provides another option. Koval Lane and Paradise Road provide similar access on the eastern side of the Strip. If you need to do an east or west traverse of the northern half of the Strip and I-15, consider using the Desert Inn Road superarterial, which was built specifically to provide a fast grade-separated route for east-west traffic.
Virtually all major casinos on the Strip, and downtown, offer free parking and many also offer valet parking for an additional charge. On Friday and Saturday nights, the self-parking lots fill up fast; consider splurging on the valet to avoid cumbersome delays and endless circling around.
If you mostly plan to hang around one casino and your time in Vegas is short, you might want to forego a rental car altogether and just take taxis. On the other hand, taxi fares add up quickly, and with car rental so cheap, anyone staying a few days or longer would be better suited with the flexibility of a car. Some of the best sights are located just outside of Las Vegas and require that you drive to those destinations. If you need to or might go farther (e.g., out of state), ensure your rental agreement allows it and sharing of driving duties.
The base rental price for a car at McCarran International Airport is quite competitive with other major cities. Unfortunately, agencies at the airport must levy very large fees (e.g., for airport improvements) and taxes on those base prices. These can increase the modest weekly cost of a compact or intermediate size car by nearly 60 percent.
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