If you're based on the Strip (Las Vegas Boulevard South) a mix of buses, taxis, monorail and feet will get you to most places. Buses remain the swiftest and most efficient way of getting around the city. More expensive than the buses, the Las Vegas Monorail is primarily a novelty for visitors. Car hire is affordable, but, oh, that Strip traffic. Note that cyclists take their life in their hands in the three-and-four-lane roads and walkers are rarely seen off the Strip in Vegas.
Automobile rental is affordable in Vegas; a car is recommended if you’re staying away from the Strip or are keen to visit off-Strip attractions, and essential if you’re planning to visit any out-of-town destinations.
American Automobile Association: 870 9171AAA/www.aaa.com
The association provides maps, guidebooks and other useful information. They’re free if you’re a member or belong to an affiliated organisation, such as the British AA.
The highway code
In Nevada, you can be arrested for driving under the influence if your blood alcohol level is 0.08 or higher (or 0.02 for under-21s). If you’re pulled over, the police can give you a drink-driving test on the spot. If you refuse, you’ll be taken to jail for a blood test, which will be taken by force if necessary.
Avoid the rush hour. The Las Vegas streets get very congested in the morning and evening rush hours (7-9am, 4-6pm), as well as at weekends, when traffic is horrific in tourist areas after 4pm. The Strip is slow-going most of the time and turns into a virtual car park when the town is busy.
Speed limits vary in Nevada. In general, the speed limit on freeways is 65mph; on the highway, it’s either 65mph or 70mph. Limits on main urban thoroughfares (such as Tropicana Avenue) are 45mph; elsewhere, limits are 25mph, 30mph or 35mph. Look for signs in construction zones and near schools, which often enforce a reduced limit.
Red lights and u-turns
Unless otherwise specified, you can turn right on a red light, after stopping, if the street is clear. U-turns are not only legal (unless specified) but often a positive necessity given the length of the blocks.
In case of a car accident, call 911; do not move the cars involved in the accident until the police ask you to do so.
Gas is cheaper than in Europe, but pricey for the US. There are gas stations by Circus Circus and across from Mandalay Bay; stations abound on (among others) Paradise Road, Maryland Parkway, Tropicana Avenue and Flamingo Road.
Most hotel-casinos have valet parking, which is convenient, safe and free (apart from the $2-$5 tip on your way out). If you see a sign saying the valet car park is full and you’re in a luxury car, stay put: chances are the valets will find a spot for you. Hotel guests also get preferential treatment; when the attendant asks to see your room key, $5-$10 will often substitute. Self-parking is free at every Vegas resort (Downtown casinos require a validation stamp), but the convenience of lots is variable.
Most car-hire agencies are at or near the airport. Call around for the best rate, booking well in advance if you’re planning to visit over a holiday weekend or for a major convention. When business renters are scarce, though, you should get a good rate, and maybe – if you ask nicely – an upgrade.
Almost every firm requires a credit card and matching driver’s licence; few will rent to under-25s. Prices won’t include tax, liability insurance or collision damage waiver (CDW); US residents may be covered on their home policy, but foreign residents will need to buy extra insurance. UK travellers should note that while rental deals struck with the UK offices of the major firms include insurance, it’s often cheaper to rent the car from the US office and rely for insurance on the good-value, year-long policy available from www.insurance4carhire.com.
Alamo US: 1-800 462 5266/263 8411/www.alamo.com
Avis US: 1-800 331 1212/261 5595/www.avis.com
Budget US: 1-800 527 0700/736 1212/www.budget.com
Dollar US: 1-800 800 3665/www.dollar.com
Enterprise US: 1-800 261 7331/365 6662/www.enterprise.com
Hertz US: 1-800 654 3131/220 9700/www.hertz.com
National US: 1-800 227 7368/261 5391/www.nationalcar.com
Thrifty US: 1-800 847 4389/896 7600/www.thrifty.com
Eaglerider: 876 8687/www.eaglerider.com
Harley-Davidson of Southern Nevada: 431 8500/www.lvhd.com
The Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada (RTC, www.rtcsouthernnevada.com), which runs the bus network, is currently working on building a rapid transit system, ACE, that will connect downtown Las Vegas, the Las Vegas Convention Center, the Strip, Henderson and North Las Vegas.
Downtown Transportation Center (DTC): 228 7433/www.rtcsouthernnevada.com
The Downtown Transportation Center (DTC) is the transfer point for many routes. Many bus routes, among them the Deuce, 105, 107, 108, 109, 113 and 207, stop at the DTC.
This is the most useful bus for tourists. A double-decker bus, it travels the length of Las Vegas Boulevard from the DTC in the north to just by I-215 in the south, stopping in front of all major casinos. Deuces are often busy, especially at night.
Bus fares & tickets
Most bus routes cost $1.25, or 60¢ for over-62s, 6-17s and the disabled. The exception is the Deuce route along the Strip, which costs $2 or $5 for a 24-hour pass. Use exact change; you must have a photocard (available from the DTC) to get a concessionary fare. Transfers are free, if you ask for one when you pay. A 30-day system pass costs $40.
Buses run 24-7 on the Deuce route along Las Vegas Boulevard, and roughly 5.30am-1.30am elsewhere. The buses are safe and relatively comprehensive in their coverage of the city. Bus stops are marked by white, green and purple signs; most have shelters.
Most bus routes run along the length of a single street, some with a quick turnaround at either end of the route. Buses with a route number beginning in ‘1’ generally run north–south; those starting ‘2’ run east–west.
After teething problems, the Las Vegas Monorail is now running a reliable service along Paradise Road and then behind the Strip. However, it hasn’t displaced the numerous hotel buses and monorails.
Las Vegas Monorail: 699 8200/www.lvmonorail.com
The pricey and not wholly convenient Las Vegas Monorail runs from the Sahara to the MGM Grand, stopping at the Las Vegas Hilton, the Las Vegas Convention Center, Harrah's, the Flamingo and Bally’s. The service runs 7am-2pm Mon-Thur, and 7am-3am Fri-Sun. The journey time from end to end is usually around 15 minutes. Single-ride tickets cost $5 and two-ride tickets go for $9, though the ten-ride package ($35) and day pass ($15) offer marginally better value.
Free, 24hr monorails, separate to the Las Vegas Monorail, link the Mirage and TI; and Excalibur, the Luxor and Mandalay Bay. For all of them, it’s often quicker to walk.
A shuttle bus connects the Rio with Harrah’s on the Strip. Nearby, the Palms lays on a shuttle to and from the Fashion Show Mall and the Forum Shops. The Hard Rock runs a shuttle that loops around from the hotel to the Forum Shops, Planet Hollywood and the MGM Grand. Shuttle buses link Sam’s Town to Downtown and the Strip, and the South Point and the Strip. And there are free shuttle buses linking Green Valley Ranch, Red Rock, Palace Station and Sunset Station to both the Strip and McCarran Airport.
There are taxi ranks outside most hotels; restaurants and bars will be happy to call a cab for you. Technically, you’re not allowed to hail a taxi from the street and most won’t stop if you try, but it’s usually OK to approach an empty cab with its light on if it has stopped in traffic. Meters start at $3.20, and increase by $2 per mile.
Yellow-Checker-Star: (YCS) 873 2000/www.ycstrans.com
Desert: 386 9102
Whittlesea: 384 6111
Nevada Taxicab Authority: 486 6532/www.taxi.state.nv.us
If you have a complaint, note the cab number and call these guys.
Limousines are a flash and popular way of getting around. The rides vary from the basic black stretch ($40/hr) to huge SUVs with hot tubs, disco balls and the like ($100/hr). Many limos are available for hire outside hotels and the airport. Limo drivers are not allowed to solicit passengers, but you are perfectly at liberty to approach them for a ride.
Bell Trans: 385 5466/www.bell-trans.com
Las Vegas Limo: 736 1419/www.lasvegaslimo.com
Presidential: 731 5577/www.presidentiallimolv.com
While every effort and care has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this guide, the publisher cannot accept responsibility for any errors it may contain. Before you go out of your way, we strongly advise you to phone ahead and check the particulars.