Written addresses follow the standard US format. The room and/or suite number usually appears after the street address (where applicable), followed by the city name and the zip code. Note that Las Vegas Boulevard South is the official name of the Strip.
Las Vegas is a carefree city of hedonism and wild abandon, but only if you’re old enough.
Admission to nude clubs: 18 (except Palomino)
Admission to topless clubs: 21
Buying/drinking alcohol: 21
Marriage: 16 (with parental consent) or 18 (without)
Sex: 16 (heterosexual) or 18 (homosexual)
As a tourist city, Vegas is as formal or informal as you want it to be. During the warmer months, shorts and T-shirts are accepted wear along the Strip as well as on the gaming floors of most casinos, though dressing up to a minimum of smart-casual has become the norm. Some lounges and nightclubs have dress codes (sports shoes, T-shirts and jeans may be prohibited), and dining in some high-end restaurants can be formal.
The climate and favourable tax structure have helped Nevada attract hundreds of companies to the city. But a stronger input into the Vegas economy comes from the six million business travellers who come to town each year for one of roughly 24,000 conventions. As a result, most major resorts offer excellent business services: faxing, copying and shipping services are standard; phone and computer hire is common, as are the presence of conference rooms; and in-room high-speed internet access is growing in popularity.
Conventions & conferences
Vegas is the convention capital of the US. Most conventions and trade fairs are held at the Las Vegas Convention Center, the Sands Expo and the convention centre at Mandalay Bay, with smaller shows held at other resorts and the Cashman Center near Downtown.
Las Vegas Convention Center
3150 Paradise Road, at Convention Center Drive, East of Strip (892 0711/www.lvcva.com). Bus 108, 213.
The largest convention facility in the US now contains 3.2 million sq ft (300,000sq m) of meeting and exhibition space, and it’s soon to be expanded still further. Parking is pretty limited: if possible, either walk, take the Las Vegas Monorail or use shuttle buses.
Sands Expo & Convention Center
210 Sands Avenue, at Koval Lane, East of Strip (733 5556/www.sandsexpo.com). Bus 203, 213.
Second in size to the LVCC and connected to the Venetian, this facility offers the same excellent amenities, with even worse parking.
The LVCVA website (www.visitlasvegas.com) has a search engine listing the city’s conventions. We’ve listed the town’s most sizeable conventions and their approximate dates; check online for precise dates. Hotel rooms may well be hard to find during these periods, so book ahead.
Consumer Electronics Show (CES): (150,000 delegates) 4 days, early Jan
World of Concrete: (85,000 delegates) 4 days, mid-late Jan
Nightclub & Bar Convention: (40,000 delegates) 3 days, late Feb/early Mar
National Association of Broadcasters: (140,000 delegates) 4 days, mid Apr
World Shoe Association: (35,000 delegates) 4 days, mid Feb & late July/early Aug
Associated Surplus Dealers/Associated Merchandise Dealers (ASD/AMD): (60,000 delegates) 5 days, mid Mar & mid Aug
Automotive Aftermarket Products Expo (AAPEX): (130,000 delegates) 3 days, late Oct/early Nov
Specialty Equipment Marketing Association (SEMA): (130,000 delegates) 3 days, late Oct/early Nov
Bit by Bit
221 2255/www.bit-by-bit.com. Credit AmEx, MC, V.
Bit by Bit rents laptops, desktop computers and other technological accoutrements. Call ahead to arrange delivery.
395 Hughes Center Drive, at Paradise Road, East of Strip (951 2400/http://fedex.kinkos.com). Bus 108, 213. Open 24hrs daily. Credit AmEx, Disc, MC, V.
The prominent chain of copy shops has five branches in the Las Vegas area; this is one of two that are open 24hrs. Services include printing, shipping and internet access.
Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce
Hughes Center, 3720 Howard Hughes Parkway, between Sands Avenue & E Flamingo Road, East of Strip, Las Vegas, NV 89109 (735 1616/www.lvchamber.com). Bus 108, 203. Open 8am-5pm Mon-Fri.
Advice, brochures, maps and a few coupons are available if you visit in person; there’s also a good phone information service, and you can write in advance for a visitor pack.
Many hotels have business centres with courier services.
DHL: 1-800 225 5345/www.dhl.com
FedEx: 1-800 463 3339/www.fedex.com
UPS: 1-800 742 5877/www.ups.com
For complaints about casinos, contact the Gaming Control Board (4862000, http://gaming.nv.gov). For general enquiries and complaints, contact the privately operated BetterBusiness Bureau (320 4500, www.vegasbbb.org), which receives and investigates complaints, or the Consumer Affairs Division of the Nevada Department of Business & Industry (486 7355, www.fyiconsumer.org).
Travellers arriving in Vegas on an indirect international flight will go through customs and immigration at the airport in which they change planes. This involves reclaiming baggage at the transfer airport, taking it through customs and then checking it in again. Connection times should take account of this process.
On US flights, non-US citizens are given two forms – one for immigration, one for customs – which must be filled in and handed in at the appropriate desk on landing. Foreign visitors can import the following items duty-free:
200 cigarettes or 50 cigars (not Cuban; over-18s only) or 2kg of smoking tobacco.
One litre of wine or spirits (over-21s only).
Up to $100 in gifts ($800 for returning Americans).
You must declare and maybe forfeit plants and foodstuffs. Check www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/travel before travelling.
UK Customs & Excise allows returning travellers to bring in £145 of goods bought abroad. Citizens of other countries should check the rules in their country.
Vegas is a disabled-friendly city. Strip resorts are fully wheelchair-accessible, from pools, spas and restrooms to gambling facilities; things are a little harder in the older Downtown properties. A few casinos offer games for sight- and hearing-impaired players. Disabled parking is found almost everywhere; buses and many taxis are adapted to take wheelchairs (though be sure to ask when you book).
The Southern Nevada Center for Independent Living
This organisation offers advice, information, transport and equipment loans (including wheelchairs).
The Society of Accessible Travel and Hospitality
1-212 447 7284/www.sath.org.
The society can provide advice for disabled people planning trips to all corners of the US.
The use of illegal drugs, including clubbing drugs such as ecstasy, is quite prevalent in Sin City. Dealers will approach you all over town, but take care. And always watch your drinks: illicit, hard-to-trace drugs are sometimes slipped into unattended glasses.
The local authorities have a strict zero-tolerance policy on drug use and trafficking. If you’re implicated in a drug sale or purchase, you will be arrested and subject to trial, and if convicted could receive a maximum sentence of five to ten years in prison.
The US uses a 110-120V, 60-cycle AC voltage. Except for dual-voltage flat-pin shavers, most foreign visitors will need to run appliances through an adaptor. Most US TVs and DVDs use a different frequency from those in Europe.
The nearest foreign embassies and consulates to Las Vegas are in Los Angeles.
Australia: 1-310 229 4800/www.dfat.gov.au
Canada: 1-213 346 2700/http://geo.international.gc.ca
New Zealand: 1-310 566 6555/www.nzcgla.com
Republic of Ireland: 1-415 392 4214/www.irelandemb.org
South Africa: 1-323 651 0902/www.saembassy.org
United Kingdom: 1-310 481 0031/24hremergencies 1-877 514 1233
See also Health.
In an emergency, dial 911 (free from public phones) and state the nature of the problem.
Q-Vegas (www.qvegas.com) is the leading media resource for the GLBT community. You can pick up the monthly magazine at, among others, Get Booked, or download it from its website.
Commercial Center, 953 E Sahara Avenue, between S 6th Street & S Maryland Parkway, East of Strip (733 9800/www.thecenter-lasvegas.com). Bus 109, 204. Open 10am-7pm Mon-Fri; 10am-3pm Sat.
A support organisation for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities, the Center organises a wild variety of social events, from miniature golf tournaments to leather nights, and is a meeting place for a variety of groups; check its website for a full calendar of events.
Doctors are available around the clock in emergency rooms and at some UMC Quick Care locations, and by appointment during regular hours. Take the prescription to a licensed pharmacist, who’ll usually be able to provide the medication within minutes.
Most hospitals accept major insurance plans, but – unless it’s an emergency – you should call ahead to check. Large hotels have access to on-call doctors, at a cost.
Accident & emergency
All the hospitals listed below have a 24-hour ER, although only Sunrise and UMC have out-and-out trauma centres. The UMC on Charleston is the only hospital that by law must treat all applicants. The ER entrance is on the corner of Hasting and Rose Streets.
Desert Springs Hospital
2075 E Flamingo Road, at Burnham Street, East Las Vegas (733 8800/www.desertspringshospital.net). Bus 202.
North Vista Hospital
1409 E Lake Mead Boulevard, between Las Vegas Boulevard North & N Eastern Avenue, North Las Vegas (649 7711/www.northvistahospital.com). Bus 113, 210.
St Rose Dominican Hospital
102 E Lake Mead Drive, at Boulder Highway, Henderson (564 2622/www.strosecares.com). Bus 107, 212.
Summerlin Hospital Medical Center
657 N Town Center Drive, at Hualapai Way, North-west Las Vegas (233 7000/www.summerlinhospital.org). No bus.
Sunrise Hospital & Medical Center
3186 S Maryland Parkway, between E Sahara Avenue & E Desert Inn Road, East Las Vegas (731 8000/www.sunrisehospital.com). Bus 109.
University Medical Center
1800 W Charleston Boulevard, at Shadow Lane, West Las Vegas (383 2000/www.umc-cares.org). Bus 206.
Valley Hospital Medical Center
620 Shadow Lane, off W Charleston Boulevard, West Las Vegas (388 4000/www.valleyhospmedcenter.com). Bus 206.
The city’s few practitioners of complementary medicine enjoy a healthy business, as do aromatherapists and herbal healers. All of the major hotel spas include some form of aromatherapy.
Contraception & abortion
3220 W Charleston Boulevard, between S Rancho Drive & S Valley View Boulevard, West Las Vegas (878 7776/www.pprm.org). Bus 206. Open (appointment only) 9am-5pm Mon, Tue, Thur; 11am-7pm Wed; 9am-4pm Fri; 9am-2pm Sat. Other location Suite 54, 3320 E Flamingo Road (547 9888).
This non-profit organisation can supply contraception (including the morning-after pill), treat STDs, perform abortions and test for AIDS (results take a week).
The Nevada Dental Association (255 4211, www.nvda.org) will make referrals to registered local dentists, including Medicaid and Medicare practitioners.
Both over-the-counter and prescription drugs are readily available all over town. Late-opening and 24-hour pharmacies include:
3765 Las Vegas Boulevard South (739 9645/www.walgreens.com). Open 24hrs
495 E Fremont Street, at S 5th Street (385 1284/www.walgreens.com). Open 9am-7pm Mon-Fri; 9am-6pm Sat; 10am-6pm Sun.
STDs, HIV & AIDS
For specific information on HIV/AIDS, local resources, various support groups and free, confidential tests, contact Aid for AIDS of Nevada. For treatment of STDs and free AIDS tests, visit Planned Parenthood.
Aid for AIDS of Nevada (AFAN)
Suite 211, Sahara Rancho Medical Center, 2300 S Rancho Drive, between W Sahara Avenue & W Oakey Boulevard, West of Strip (382 2326/hotline 842 2437/www.insideafan.org). Bus 106. Open 7am-5pm Mon-Fri.
For information on what to do in an emergency, see Emergencies.
AIDS Information Line: 759 0743
Alcoholics Anonymous: 598 1888
Gamblers Anonymous: 385 7732
Narcotics Anonymous: 369 3362
Poison Control Center: 732 4989
Rape Crisis: 366 1640
Suicide Prevention: 731 2990
You’ll need to prove your age with a photo ID (passport, driver’s licence or state ID card) when buying tobacco and alcohol, gambling, and entering strip clubs and nightclubs.
Non-nationals should arrange comprehensive baggage, trip-cancellation and medical insurance before departure; US citizens should consider doing the same. Medical centres will ask for details of your insurance company and your policy number; keep them with you at all times.
Most hotels have high-speed connections wired into every room (around $10 per day); some have wireless access. Savvy laptoppers can link to free Wi-Fi at 12 branches of the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, among them in the Miracle Mile Shops (696 0564), at the Venetian (650 0734) and in the University District (4550 S Maryland Parkway, between E Flamingo Road & E Tropicana Avenue (944 5029). There’s also free wireless in the Fashion Show Mall near the Apple Store, and in the city’s libraries (see Libraries).
For those without a laptop, the pickings are slimmer. A few convenience stores have terminals, but prices are high. Public libraries (see below) offer free, time-limited access; FedEx Kinko’s (see above) has paid-for access; and the display computers in the Apple Store serve as an unofficial internet café.
Hotel bell desks are happy to look after bags for up to 12 hours. Lockers are available in McCarran Airport; expect to pay $2-$3/hr or $8-$12/day.
If you’re arrested, call your insurance firm, your consulate or the Lawyer Referral Service on 382 0504. If you do not have a lawyer, the court will appoint one for you.
Las Vegas–Clark County Library District www.lvccld.org. Libraries open 9am-9pm Mon-Thur; 10am-6pm Fri-Sun.
Clark County Library
1401 E Flamingo Road, at S Maryland Parkway, University District (507 3400). Bus 109, 202.
25 E Shelbourne Avenue, at Las Vegas Boulevard South, South Las Vegas (507 3760). Bus 117.
Green Valley Library
2797 N Green Valley Parkway, at E Sunset Road, Henderson (507 3790). Bus 114, 212.
Las Vegas Library
833 Las Vegas Boulevard North, between E Bonanza Road & E Washington Avenue, North of Strip (507 3500). Bus 113.
3150 N Buffalo Drive, at W Cheyenne Avenue, North Las Vegas (507 3710). Bus 211, 218.
Sahara West Library
9600 W Sahara Avenue, between S Hualapai Way & S Fort Apache Road, West Las Vegas (507 3630). Bus 204.
Spring Valley Library
4280 S Jones Boulevard, at W Flamingo Road, South-west Las Vegas (507 3820). Bus 102, 202.
1771 Inner Circle Drive, Summerlin (507 3860). Bus 210.
West Charleston Library 6301 W Charleston Boulevard, between S Jones & S Rainbow Boulevards, West Las Vegas (507 3940). Bus 206.
West Las Vegas Library
951 W Lake Mead Boulevard, at N Martin Luther King Boulevard, West Las Vegas 507 3980. Bus 105, 210.
Whitney Library & Recital Hall
5175 E Tropicana Avenue, at S Nellis Boulevard, East Las Vegas (507 4010). Bus 201.
4505 S Maryland Parkway, between E Flamingo Road & E Tropicana Avenue, University District (895 3531/www.library.nevada.edu). Bus 109. Open 7.30am-midnight Mon-Thur; 7.30am-7pm Fri; 9am-6pm Sat; 11am-midnight Sun.
This $40-million facility houses 1.8 million volumes.
Casinos all have lost and found departments. If you lose an item in a cab, call the taxi firm.
McCarran International Airport
Terminal 1 (261 5134). Open 6.30am-1am daily.
South Strip Transfer Terminal
6675 S Gillespie Street, at I-215 (1-800 228 3911/228 7433). Bus Deuce, 105, 109, 212. Open 7am-5.30pm Mon-Fri.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal
50¢, or $1 in casinos; $2.50 on Sunday; www.lvrj.com.
Toothless but serviceable coverage of local and national stories. John L Smith is the must-read columnist for local politicos, a useful counterpoint to the entertainingly awful weekly columns of publisher Sherman Frederick; Norm Clarke covers gossip with tireless enthusiasm; and Mike Weatherford writes astutely about the local entertainment scene. ‘Neon’, the R-J’s pull-out entertainment guide issued each Friday, has listings for films, shows and restaurants.
The Las Vegas Sun
Once offered a populist, left-leaning alternative to the conservative R-J, but it’s now an eight-page shadow of its former self, folded into the R-J each morning; however, despite this curious arrangement, the papers are run separately. The Sun’s news reporting has considerably more bite than the R-J, with Jon Ralston’s column a real draw. As well as the city’s two daily papers, the Los Angeles Times (50¢) is widely available, and most Strip hotels will also carry the Wall Street Journal (75¢) and the New York Times ($1). International media is harder to find, though the branches of Borders keep a pretty good stock of magazines and newspapers from abroad.
Established in 1992 as Scope and purchased in 1998 by the Greenspun family, the Las Vegas Weekly (free, www.lasvegasweekly.com) has gone through various editorial phases, but is now very much focused on entertainment. Ironically, then, it’s at its best when it looks at the broader picture of Las Vegas life, with skilled reporter Joshua Longobardy and roving columnist Liz Armstrong among the writers who are always well worth a read.
It’s debatable whether Las Vegas really needs two alt-weeklies. Even so, until Las Vegas CityLife (www.lasvegascitylife.com) absorbed the Las Vegas Mercury into its pages in 2005, the city actually had three of ’em. A good deal less glossy and a touch more political than the Weekly, the relatively low-key CityLife retains a fanbase. The writing is solid and often excellent, but the design is right out of 1985.
Numerous freebie mags, such as Today in Las Vegas, What’s On and Las Vegas Magazine, are distributed for free at hotels and other tourist spots. They’re useful for show listings and discount coupons, but the editorial is little more than regurgitated press releases; don’t stop here if you’re after recommendations.
A couple of free magazines launched in 2006 and 2007, each with a different focus. The calm, cultured Vurb (www.vurbmagazine.com) has its eye trained firmly on Downtown, while the more raucous Racket (www.racketonline.com) is more interested in the city’s nightlife. It’s the sister mag to 944 (www.944.com), which is just as shiny andceleb-oriented as long-running glossy Vegas.
For gaming news, check out the monthly Las Vegas Advisor, focused on the city, or the weekly Gaming Today, which has a wider remit. Other business news is covered in the monthly Nevada Business Journal, and two weeklies, In Business Las Vegas and the Las Vegas Business Press. And last but not least, keep an eye out for Las Vegas Life, a better-than-average monthly glossy that costs $3.99 on newsstands but is often found for free in hotel rooms.
FM radio in Vegas is a bland parade of hackneyed playlists and punchable DJs suitable only for splicing together ads for car sales and topless joints. The best station in town is KNPR, one of two National Public Radio affiliates.
On AM, news and sports dominate. All the big national shows are syndicated here, with KXNT 840AM bringing a particularly pungent triple-threat in the forms of fearsome conservative Rush Limbaugh (9am-noon), agony aunt Laura Schlessinger (noon-3pm) and serial controversialist Sean Hannity (3-6pm).
KCEP: Urban contemporary tunes (88.1 FM/www.power88lv.com)
KNPR: News, talk and commentary from this National Public Radio affiliate (88.9 FM/www.knpr.org)
KCNV: Classical music; another NPR station (89.7 FM/www.classical897.org)
KUNV: Mostly jazz, but pretty eclectic (91.5 FM/http://kunv.unlv.edu)
KOMP: Mainstream rock (92.3 FM/www.komp.com)
KMXB: Adult alternative and 1980s hits (94.1 FM/www.mix941.fm)
KWNR: Country and western (95.5 FM/www.kwnr.com)
KKLZ: Classic rock (96.3 FM/www.963kklz.com)
KXPT: More classic rock (97.1/www.point97.com)
KLUC: Mainstream pop (98.5 FM/www.kluc.com)
KWID: Hip hop (101.9 FM/www.wild102.com)
KJUL: Your (grand)parents’ favourite tunes (104.7 FM//www.kjul1047.com)
KSNE: Light rock and pop (106.5 FM/www.ksne.com)
KVGS: Mainstream alternative (107.9 FM/www.area108.com)
The Las Vegas affiliates of the four major American networks are KVBC 3 (NBC), KVVU 5 (Fox), KLAS 8 (CBS) and KTNV 13 (ABC). The city’s public broadcasting affiliate is KLVX 10. Every hotel TV will get these stations and plenty of others; among them is Las Vegas One, co-run by KLAS. Most hotels will also offer subscription-based cable networks such as CNN (news), ESPN (sport) and HBO (movies). Daily TV listings can be found in the R-J and TV Guide.
The US dollar ($) is split into 100 cents (¢). Coins run from the copper penny (1¢) to the silver nickel (5¢), dime (10¢), quarter (25¢), the less common half-dollar (50¢) and the rarely seen dollar (silver and gold). Notes (‘bills’) are all the same green colour and size, but come in denominations of $1, $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100.
Credit cards are accepted in almost every hotel, shop and restaurant, but do keep cash on hand just in case (and, of course, for tips).
Banks & ATMs
ATMs are ubiquitous in Las Vegas: you’ll find them in stores, bars, casinos and even strip clubs. ATMs accept most major credit and debit cards, but almost all will charge a usage fee. You can withdraw cash on a card without a PIN at most casinos, though you’ll be charged a premium. It’s cheaper to visit one of the banks scattered all over town; ask staff at your hotel for details of your nearest.
Bureaux de change
Some casinos have their own bank or bureau de change; all have a 24-7 cashier’s cage where you can cash most US bank and travellers’ cheques, and exchange most major currencies. Indeed, the casinos tend to offer better rates on currency than American Express. At non-casino hotels, you should be able to cash travellers’ cheques at the front desk with photo ID.
Fashion Show Mall, 3200 Las Vegas Boulevard South, at Spring Mountain Road (739 8474/www.americanexpress.com). Bus Deuce, 205, 203. Open 9am-9pm Mon-Fri; 10am-8pm Sat; 11am-6pm Sun.
Lost/stolen credit cards
American Express: 1-800 992 3404/travellers’ cheques/1-8002217282/www.americanexpress.com
Diners Club: 1-800 234 6377/www.dinersclub.com
Discover: 1-800 347 2683/www.discovercard.com
MasterCard: 1-800 622 7747/www.mastercard.com
Visa: 1-800 847 2911/www.visa.com
Sales tax is 7.75%; food (groceries) purchased in stores are exempt. Room tax is 9%, or 11% for Downtown properties.
The most obvious hazards are the heat and the sun, but summer visitors should be prepared for other severe weather: flash floods are not uncommon in July and August.
The casinos, their bars and at least one of their restaurants or coffeeshops are open all day, every day. Many grocery stores, dry-cleaners and gas stations are also open 24-7.
On a local level, however, Las Vegas keeps small-town hours. Many restaurants and cafés close at 10pm; non-chain shops may shut at 6pm and won’t open on Sundays. Office hours are 9am to 5pm or thereabouts.
See also Emergencies
For non-emergencies, there’s a police station at 400 E Stewart Avenue, just off Las Vegas Boulevard in Downtown (795 3111).
US mailboxes are red, white and blue. Packages weighing more than 16 ounces (450g) must be taken to a post office (see below). For couriers and shippers, see above. Stamps are sold in shops and from machines. For most transactions, contract stations in Albertsons stores should suffice. For your nearest post office, call 1-800 275 8777 and quote the zip code.
Main post office
1001 E Sunset Road, at Paradise Road, East of Strip (1-800 275 8777). Bus 212. Open 8am-9pm Mon-Fri; 8am-4pm Sat.
201 Las Vegas Boulevard South, between E Fremont Street & E Bonneville Avenue (1-800 275 8777). Bus Deuce & all DTC-bound buses. Open 8.30am-5pm Mon-Fri.
3100 Industrial Road, at Stardust Way, West of Strip (1-800 275 8777). Bus Deuce, 105. Open 8.30am-5pm Mon-Fri.
General delivery mail (poste restante) can be collected from the Downtown station (to: General Delivery, Las Vegas, NV 89101). You’ll need to show photo ID when you collect it.
For your nearest Episcopal church, call 737 9190; and for Methodist, 369 7055. For others, consult the phone book.
Congregation Ner Tamid
55 Valley Verde Drive, Henderson (733 6292). Bus 112.
First Baptist Church
4400 W Oakey Boulevard, West Las Vegas (821 1234). Bus 104.
First Presbyterian Church
1515 W Charleston Boulevard, West of Strip (384 4554). Bus 206.
Guardian Angel Cathedral
302 Cathedral Way, at E Desert Inn Road (735 5241). Bus Deuce.
The Catholic diocese of Reno-Las Vegas.
Islamic Center of Las Vegas
3799 Edwards Avenue, North-west Las Vegas (395 7013). Bus 106.
Latter-Day Saints Las Vegas Temple
827 N Temple View Drive, East Las Vegas (452 5011). Bus 208.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) only.
Temple Beth Sholom
10700 Havenwood Lane, Las Vegas (804 1333). Bus 211.
The city’s oldest Jewish congregation.
There’s less crime than you might expect in Las Vegas. Casinos have such elaborate security systems that few serious offences take place within them, and those that do occur are hurriedly swept under the carpet. However, on the streets, pickpockets and muggers strike more often than the city would like. Be careful, especially in the seedier areas ofDowntown, and follow a few simple precautions.
Only take out what you need: leave the bulk of your money in a room safe or in a safety deposit box at the hotel.
Keep a note of the numbers and details of your passport, driving licence, travellers’ cheques, cards and insurance policies, along with the phone numbers you’ll need to report their loss (see above).
Take the usual precautions with your wallet or handbag, especially on buses.
If you’re threatened with a weapon, give your assailants what they want. Then find a phone and call the police (911) immediately.
In 2007, smoking was banned in most establishments that serve prepared food (casinos and strip clubs were exempt). However, many businesses flouted the law, and it remains a matter for debate whether continued enforcement is possible. Smoking is ubiquitous on casino floors, though a couple have non-smoking areas. A few hotels (such as the Four Seasons) are entirely smoke-free; most others offer non-smoking rooms.
Many local colleges feed the service and gaming industry. Those looking to learn how to become a dealer or croupier must attend one of the city’s specialist dealer schools.
PCI Dealers School
920 S Valley View Boulevard, Las Vegas, NV 89102 (877 4724/www.pcidealerschool.com).
Dialling & codes
There are two area codes for Nevada: 702 for Clark County (including Las Vegas) and 775 for the rest of the state. Within Vegas, there’s no need to use 702: just dial the seven-digit number. Outside the city, calls are long distance: dial 1, then the area code, then the number. The 1-800, 1-866, 1-877 and 1-888 codes denote toll-free numbers; many are accessible from outside the US, but you’ll be charged for your call. Calls to 1-900 numbers will be charged at premium rates.
Most hotels charge a flat fee of between 50¢ and $1 for calls to local and toll-free numbers.
You can get around this at some hotels by using a house phone and asking the operator to connect you. Long-distance and international calls can be pricey if direct-dialled from a hotel. You’re better off using a US phonecard, whether tied to a domestic account or bought as a one-off. Drugstores and convenience stores sell them in various denominations.
Vegas operates on the 1900 GSM frequency. European travellers with tri-band phones will be fine; all others will need to rent a handset.
Collect calls: (reverse-charge) 0
Local directory enquiries: 411
National directory enquiries: 1 + [area code] + 555 1212 (if you don’t know the area code, dial 0 for the operator)
International calls: 011 + [country code] + [area code] + [number]
International country codes: UK 44; New Zealand 64; Australia 61; Germany 49; Japan 81
Payphones are harder to find these days, though casinos still have them. To use one, check for a tone and then put in your change (35¢ for a local call; await an operator forlong-distance calls). Operator and emergency calls are free. Some payphones accept credit cards.
Nevada operates on Pacific Standard Time, eight hours behind GMT (London). Clocks go forward by an hour in late April, and back in late October. (Note: neighbouring Arizona has no daylight saving time.)
Limo drivers ($10-$25 per ride), valet parking attendants ($2-$5), cocktail waitresses ($1-$2), housekeepers ($2-$4 a night) and even desk clerks ($10-$20 if you’re looking for a better room) all ride the tip gravy train.
There are many self-styled tourist offices on the Strip, but only those listed below are official.
Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority
3150 Paradise Road, opposite Convention Center Drive, East of Strip, Las Vegas, NV 89109 (892 0711/www.visitlasvegas.com). Bus 108, 213. Open 8am-5pm Mon-Fri.
Write to the very excellent LVCVA for a visitor pack that includes lists of hotels, a brochure, a map and the regularly updated Showguide. In the UK, contact Cellet Travel Services for details on Vegas (01564 794999, www.visitlasvegas.co.uk).
Under the Visa Waiver Program, citizens of 27 countries, including the UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand, do not need a visa for stays in the US of less than 90 days (business or pleasure) if they have a passport valid for six months beyond the return date and a return (or open standby) ticket. Canadians and Mexicans do not need visas. All other travellers must have visas.
People of all ages (children included) who enter the US on the Visa Waiver Program are now required to carry their own machine-readable passport, or MRP. MRPs are recognisable by the double row of characters along the foot of the data page. All burgundy EU and EU-lookalike passports issued in the UK since 1991 (and still valid) should bemachine-readable. However, some of those issued outside the country may not be; in this case, holders should apply for a replacement even if the passport has not expired. Check at your local passport-issuing post office if in any doubt at all.
The US’s requirement for passports to contain a ‘biometric’ chip applies only to those issued from 26 October 2006. All new and replacement UK passports should be compliant, following a gradual phase-in. The biometric chip contains a facial scan and biographical data.
Though it is being considered, there is no current requirement for UK passports to contain fingerprint or iris data. The application process remains as it was, except for new guidelines that ensure the photograph you submit can be used to generate the facial scan in the chip.
Further information for UK citizens is available at www.passport.gov.uk or 0870 521 0410. Nationals of other countries should check well in advance of their trip whether their passport meets the requirements for the time of their trip, at http://travel.state.gov/visa and with the issuing authorities of their home country.
See also below Work.
Visa application forms can be obtained from your nearest US embassy or consulate. UK travellers should check the US Embassy’s website at www.usembassy.org.uk, or call its helpline on 09042 450100 (£1.20 a minute).
Las Vegas is an interesting contradiction in feminist politics. On the one hand, women are objectified in the entertainment industry; on the other, they fare well in the job market. There’s no women’s centre; the UNLV Women’s Studies Office (895 0837) is a good first contact.
To work, non-nationals must be sponsored by a US company and get an H-1 visa. They also have to convince immigration that no American is qualified to do the job. Contact your US embassy for details.