Las Vegas might be the most-hacked city in the country. If you google for tourist tips, you’ll get handed a free well whisky and twenty bucks for the slots by the time you click “I’m feeling lucky.” Well now the internet has one more guide to a town nicknamed after the concept of sin. This week on Hack Your City, we asked for Vegas hacks from Lifehacker readers. Here are the greatest hits.
Where to Go
For starters, get off the Strip before you eat:
Head out to Chinatown to eat. Raku is worth all the write-up it deserves. Make a reservation a week before. Also, head to The Golden Tiki before, or after, to get a banging cocktail with some Dole whip.
Reader apocryphal adds more Chinatown eats: Chada Thai, Sweets Raku, and Monta Noodle House. “Also Forte, for Russian and Eastern European tapas, especially the stroganoff. Drink the Gypsy Juice with care…”
And here Alex, some free advertising for your sister’s gelato place:
If you end up in Chinatown, there’s a great little gelato (yes gelato in Chinatown) place on Spring Mountain and like Arville. Very reasonably priced. Shameless plug—my sister in law owns it. Take an Uber, though. Parking is ridiculous and there’s an 80% chance you will be involved in a 1.5 mph collision with a Civic.
Or stay on the Strip:
Mixeddrinks chimes in: “Bouchon in Venetian is the stand out for me. Their Foie Gras is well worth the price, the portion might be small, but you don’t need to get full on it, plenty of other eateries to get full later at. Try the items on their Et de plus and go fill up in any of the other great eats that are even cheaper but as good.”
Suzapalooza has a steak tip: “It used to be on their ‘secret’ menu, but they finally just put it out there: the steak special at Ellis Island on Koval. Very cheap and I suspect, possibly horsemeat, but hey, where else can you get one for just $7.95? Dig in!”
More restaurants via BoxingNerd:
Vegas has a really large Pacific islander community, so get some great Hawaiian grub. Ross J’s in Henderson is my favorite Hawaiian spot. Late night eats, go to California hotel for some Oxtail soup (really popular place to sober up). I can’t recommend enough to try Bachi Burger.
It’s not really Evil Week any more at Lifehacker, but you could still try this evil reservation hack:
If you feel bad, you could always call and cancel all your unused reservations.
You can do a lot of your drinking for free by playing slots or gambling at the casino bar. But Suzapalooza suggests some real drinking establishments: “Best bars off the Strip: Frankie’s Tiki Room on Charleston, next to UMC, and Herbs and Rye, on Sahara. Also fun- Atomic Liquors off of Fremont St.”
Split the difference with cheap beer:
And if you’re over 30 but you still want to club:
You can gamble in Vegas before you’ve even left the airport. But we still have a couple tips.
To max out your odds, several readers recommend you get off the Strip, where regulations actually enforce looser slots. Just move over to Fremont Street and your money will last longer.
Learn craps at Sam’s Town, says That’s a porcupine, not a poop. It’s like swing dance lessons for your money:
Sam’s Town, way off-strip, a little bit redneck, has a one hour craps lesson they offer twice a day on Fridays (maybe other days too?). The dealer there flat out tells you which bets make sense and which are a waste of money, and at the end, you get $40 of match play. Not too shabby.
You don’t have to hang out at casinos to have fun. You could ride the Ferris wheel:
Drink and watch people bungee jump at the Stratosphere:
Check out the grisly Mob Museum:
Or just admire the casinos from the outside:
We got some good references to the video game Fallout: New Vegas, but That’s a porcupine, not a poop has a sincere tip: “Travel to some of the sites in Fallout: New Vegas. It’s amazing how many are real-world locations.”
I’m in love with the wholesome itinerary from reader Sprzout. I’d watch this low-key version of Honeymoon in Vegas:
How to Get Around
Multiple readers suggest Uber and Lyft over the local cabs. Others suggest public transportation:
If you do pick the Monorail, here’s a map:
Reader robhoitt says that limos work great (and cheaply) for groups:
If you do Vegas for a conference or group, give a limo a try. Limos are regulated to $80/hr for standard limos, and can hold up to 8. So if 8 folks split a limo you’ll pay $10 each, and the driver will give you an hour’s worth of tour. We did this a couple times while I conferenced there, and our driver took us to a bunch of cool off- the-beaten-path places. Including the Pawn Stars shop. The drive-thru wedding chapel and even managed to do a drive-by as the volcano was going off at the Mirage! Now that was an awesome $10 to spend!
The travel hacking starts as soon as you book your ticket into town. If you’re coming from the east coast, damnthisburnershitsux recommends taking the last flight in, especially the night before a conference (a common reason for visiting Vegas). They like to arrive at 10:30, try to score a room upgrade by refusing a smoking room, grab some late eats, and go to bed around 1, which will feel like 4 AM, to prevent jet lag from waking them up at the crack of dawn.
Get ready to walk a lot, especially inside the casino, says damnthisburnershitsux:
Bring sneakers, it may be a block from where you are to where you are going but it’s going to be a mile through a casino. I generally hit 20,000 steps per day at conferences, I’ve learned to just wear sneakers the whole time.
Freebies and Discounts
You can score upgrades, comps, and discounts everywhere in Vegas, where normal laws of vacation supply and demand are upended by the prospect that you’ll gamble all your money back into the city.
Many commenters recommended tipping the hotel staff for a room upgrade:
The best time for your tip, say many commenters, is when you’re handing over your ID and credit card. Just slip the twenty into the same handful.
The old $20 tip also works for upgrading seats at live shows:
KorBri says to buy your Cirque tickets online. “ALWAYS go on MGM or Cirque website. They always have online deals, usually 2 for 1.”
“Also, tip the dealers,” says John Miller’s Right Testicle (Jesus, people!). “There’s no rule saying you have to, but it’s considered poor form to not share a portion of your earnings if you hit a huge payoff. At least 5% is considered good form.”
And any time you think you might get a comp, just ask, and grease the wheels:
Same goes for finding things to do and places to eat. Ask your Uber driver, ask your concierge, ask your bartender.
BabylonSlim has a few suggestions for high rollers. For example: “If you’re going to gamble a substantial sum, visit the V.I.P. Customer Service Desk at the hotel to negotiate a discount on your losses.” (If you’re not, says Slim, try the ten-cent roulette at the El Cortez.)
“If you’re gambling,” says Cfer, “sign up for a players card Day 1. (Most seasoned Vegas-goers know this). If you even remotely think you plan on returning to Vegas at a later date this will also pay off in discounted room offers and resort credits.”
“Always, always, always get a player’s card,” agrees John Miller’s Right Testicle (I hate you so much). “That’s how the hotel keeps track of how much you spend, which is how they know that they can offer comps.”
These cards bring some free money too, says KevinNeedsThisForReasons: “If it’s your first time, an easy way to gamble for free is joining a casino’s rewards card, you usually get $10 in slot credits. Or play in the mornings, the table minimums are usually lower when it’s slow – and the dealers can help you learn the games.”
To save money as a group, ditch the hotels for an Airbnb, and make your own breakfast and lunch:
Here’s one risky snack hack for the price-conscious slots player:
And if you’re willing to risk embarrassment, John Miller’s etc. suggests sneaking into the VIP room:
If you know where to find them, the VIP check-in rooms of most hotels offer free food and beverages. Some require a room card to get in, some don’t. In the former case, you’re out of luck, but in the latter, just act like you belong and be ready with an “oh, thanks for letting me know” if you get questioned.
Get Out of the City
“Vegas is a hub in the desert,” says dug deep. “Use it to explore. Red Rock Canyon, Valley of Fire, Hoover Dam, hot springs, and even the Springs Preserve is fun. Next time we’re headed to Vegas we’ll do an overnight trip to the Grand Canyon. Seriously, pick a direction and go.”
KorBri lists some really good holes in the ground: “Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon, RedRock Canyon, Death Valley, Zion and Bryce Canyon.”
Or, says David, get high: “Mt. Charleston – About a 45 minute drive north on Highway 95. Beautiful views, a couple of nice lodges, much cooler than the Valley floor in the summer and a chance to play in the snow in the winter.”
“I go almost yearly for work conferences,” adds damnthisburnershitsux. “This past spring my wife flew out the last day and we rented a car and did 6 days in Southern Utah, Zion is 2.5 hrs, Bryce another hour, Capital Reef a bit more and then we looped back down the same way.”
Try some unique museums, and learn about the beginning of the end of the world:
Check out the original thread for more tips, and leave yours below. Next week we’ll get your advice on a diverse metropolitan area known mostly for its corrupt old white men. That doesn’t narrow it down much, huh.
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