The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide To Visiting Las Vegas

Beginner's Guide To Las Vegas

Fabulous Las Vegas, the city where dreams are made (and broken) every single day.  If it’s your first time visiting Sin City, you’re in for one hell-uv-an adventure in this truly unique place that offers pretty much anything and everything you can imagine.  On this page, you’ll find our beginners guide to navigating everything Las Vegas – from where to stay and what to eat, to how to maximize your budget and where to go to get the best Vegas experience during your visit.

Where Should I Stay & What Does It Cost?

One of the most common questions that people have about Vegas is where they should stay.  The way we see it, the first question to ask yourself is if you want to stay on the strip, off the strip or in Old Las Vegas since this will greatly determine both the amount of money you need to spend and the atmosphere you’ll be in during your stay.  All Vegas hotels are not created equal (see our full list), so you’ll want to plan carefully on which one you choose for the trip.

On The Strip

Staying on the strip is definitely the most popular (and most expensive) option but if you want to experience the full energy of the city it’s definitely the place to be.  The strip is divided into North, Mid and South (checkout our map here) with North and South having cheaper hotels and mid-Strip housing the most expensive places to stay.

If you have the budget, we’d definitely recommend staying right in the middle of everything for the best experience – Flamingo is a good choice for low rates and you can get a room there for as little as $70 per night.  For something more upscale, check out Caesars Palace or the Bellagio which are both great hotels and very centrally located.  For the absolute cheapest rates that still let you stay on the strip, the Tropicana and Ballys are your best bet for hotels.

Off The Strip

For those of you that want to stay off the strip for some more peace and quiet or with a more limited budget, both The Palms and The Rio are good options that allow you to be close to everything but with much cheaper rates in comparison to hotels in the middle of everything.

Old Vegas

Old Vegas is where it all began – literally!  This is where the city of Las Vegas was founded and where you can find all the old school hotels that where the catalyst for what Sin City is today.  There are lots of things to do on Fremont St. which is the main street through Old Vegas and this is a great place for people that like a little older crowd but still love to party and have a great time.  Your best bet for a hotel in Old Vegas is definitely either The Golden Nugget or The D hotel (and quite frankly, we wouldn’t stay anywhere else in Downtown Vegas).

How Much Money Should I Bring To Las Vegas?

Figuring out a trip budget when going to Las Vegas is like the weatherman trying to give the forecast, it’s usually wrong, it’s unpredictable and it always changes based on what you’d planned.  This is a city that eats, sleeps and breaths money, and there probably isn’t anywhere else in the world where so many fortunes and made and squandered every 24 hours.

Even though that’s the case, the good news is that in a town as diverse as Las Vegas there are tons of options for everyone from the low roller to big spender, and increasing competition in the market means there are tons of ways to have an enjoyable trip on a low, medium or high roller budget.

Below we’ve provided an in-depth look into the potential costs associated with a trip to Vegas as well as budgetary recommendations for different types of traveler looking for different experiences.

For a typical weekend stay (Thursday to Sunday) here is what we recommend for budgets:

  • Low Roller – $650 (including hotel) or $350 without hotel
  • Mid Roller – $1,200 (including hotel) or $600 without hotel
  • High Roler – $3,000 (including hotel) or $2,000 without hotel
  • Whale – Over $50,000 for 3 days in Vegas, don’t worry about hotel, it will be comped

Drinking:

If you’re like me this will be a big part of your budget when you come here and you’ll want to ensure you have enough money to keep your belly full and liver working hard.  When it comes to drinking on the Strip you are probably looking at about $7-$11 per mixed drink and around $7 per beer inside the casinos at the bar, while in Old Vegas, this goes down by about $3-5 per drink and is a much more affordable option.  Drinking in nightclubs is ridiculously expensive and you can expect to spend upwards of $15+ per drink, with bottle service ranging anywhere from $1,000 to unlimited (people have spend hundreds of thousands).

If you’re on a really strict budget the best thing we can advise you to do is hit up one of the local liquor stores, make drinks in a to go cup in your room and go out and enjoy all the Vegas has to offer.  You are allowed to carry drinks around all over the strip, so this is a good option if you want to avoid the costly drink prices that you’ll find in the hotels and casinos.  Another option that seems popular with travelers is the Yard Stick drinks from Fat Tuesday, which are basically a Yard long alcoholic slushy that you can walk around with for $17.99.

Eating:

When it comes to dining options the great thing about Las Vegas is there really is something for everyone’s taste and budget.  For breakfast, you can expect to spend around $15 per person for some of the more reasonable options like Planet Dailies inside Planet Hollywood.  For a more upscale experience, definitely check out Mon Ami Gabi inside the Paris Hotel that offers an awesome menu for breakfast, which will run you about $25-$30 per person depending on what you get.

For lunch options, there is a ton of places you can check out with prices ranging from under $20 for Sandwich/Fast Food options to up to $60 or more if you want a fancy lunch.  One of my personal favorites for lunch is Holsteins inside The Cosmopolitan which features a ton of different burger options and has really good milkshakes, it will cost about $25 – $50 per person depending on what you order.

For dinner, the sky is the limit and you can pretty much spend as little or as much as you want, with anything from fast food to five star dining on the menu.  If you are looking for the lower end of things, try checking out one of the bars on the strip that also serves food and will have reasonable prices for dinner.  At these places you can grab a meal for around $20-$25 and can fill up for a fraction of the fancy restaurants.  When it comes to 5 star dining there is no limit of what this city offers, and you’re looking to spend anywhere from $100 per person up to $500 per person at some of the finest establishments.

Shows:

Vegas is a great place to take in a show with some of the best entertainment productions in the world, but it can get a bit pricey.  On the strip there are a bunch of different booths that specialize in selling last minute ticket specials and this is your best bet to get the cheapest price to the many shows on the Strip.  For premium seating to the most popular shows, each ticket is going to run you over $100 per person but using the discount sellers you can usually find decent seats for around $50 to a bunch of different productions.

Gambling Budget:

As for gambling this is a really subjective and tough thing to budget for, it really depends on how much you like to gamble.  If you’re primarily a slots player, you can low roll for about $50 a day if you stick to the lower denomination slots and don’t want to play for much more than an hour or so.  If you want a few hours of play per day I would say around $150 is a decent budget to get some solid play on the slots.

For table game players, on the low end I’d plan on $200 day even if you are only playing the $5 tables as a stroke of bad luck can crush that kind of a bankroll pretty quickly.  For mid-range table game players around $500 per session is more reasonable, again it really all depends on what you personally can afford and want to play.

How To Save Money In Las Vegas:

Now that we’ve covered some of the basic costs that will be associated with your trip let’s look at how to save some money so you can stretch out your budget when you visit Vegas:

  • Use The $20 Dollar Trick to get an upgraded room for a fraction of the cost
  • If you’re going to gamble, sign up for a Las Vegas comps program to earn additional freebies
  • Come in the middle of the week, hotel rates go down as much as 50% during this time
  • Avoid popular weekends with festivals, concerts or major conventions as prices are high
  • Grab the free coupon books in cabs that have a ton of different discount offers for visitors
  • Go to happy hours which are plentiful and Vegas and offer substantial discounts on food and drinks
  • Don’t gamble for free drinks, this will almost always cost you much more than the regular price
  • Do drinks lots of water, this will save you a costly trip to the hospital for dehydration
  • Buy booze in the store and make to go drinks, this will save you tons of money
  • If you want to go on a bender, do it in Old Vegas, it’s entertaining and much cheaper than the Strip