- Cityscape Neon-lit desert fantasy
- City life High-rollers and showgirls
A glowing oasis of artificial lights in Nevada’s Mojave Desert, Las Vegas’ raison d’être is the whole-hearted, full-blooded pursuit of decadence and indulgence; it puts Caligula’s pleasure barge to shame.
The humungous casinos along the original Sin City’s Strip contain so much more than acres of blackjack tables and one-armed bandits: there’s top-notch dining, extravagant entertainment and fantastic shopping – in fact, the city is constantly thinking of bigger, better and more outrageously showy ways to part you from your cash (or help you spend your winnings). Sooner or later, visitors discover that the casino almost always wins, but it it’s great fun finding that out while your perfect your poker face.
Do go/Don’t go
With 300 days of sunshine a year and only six inches of rain, you’d be pretty unlucky to get a bad day in Vegas (this is a desert, after all). In the height of summer, the temperatures can get unbearable, but then you do have climate-controlled casinos that you never have to leave.
- Planes McCarran International Airport (www.mccarran.com) is less than 10 minutes from the southern end of the Strip. All major airlines operate flights. British Airways (www.ba.com) flies from London, and numerous others operate flights from New York, Chicago and elsewhere. Flights from LA take about an hour.
- Trains There are no main train lines connecting Las Vegas to other cities, but Greyhound buses provide links with Amtrak stations. The Las Vegas Monorail (www.lvmonorail.com) connects up the city, running along Paradise Road behind the Strip between the MGM Grand and Bally’s.
- Automobiles If you’re based on the Strip and plan on venturing no further, taxis and public transport will serve your needs. The 270-mile drive from LA across the desert takes around four to five hours.
- Taxis Don’t hail a cab off the Strip; just go to any hotel entrance and the attendants there will summon one up for you. The taxi attendant will need a dollar or two as a tip. Apparently the taxi attendant at the Bellagio earns a six-figure salary from tips alone. The Strip is only about four miles long, so it’s often quicker to walk when the traffic’s bad.