Besides the northern part of The Strip, its southern part is also beautifully adorned with hotels and casinos of various themes. All these that make Vegas so lively and worthwhile exploring. For me, it was like a fantasy city and 24 hours in a day just wasn’t enough to see and explore everything. I will walk you along The Strip from the City Centre (Aria, Crystals, Mandarin Oriental and Vdara) down south.
Monte Carlo (Genting Highlands also has a casino with a similar name), is of course famous for its casino and BLVD Plaza, which has an array of shops, restaurants, cafe and stripside (not the indecent strip, but referring to The Strip). Adjacent to it would be New York-New York, as the name suggests is themed after Manhattan, New York. What I felt unique about the layout of the shops within it was that they appeared like a city within a city, almost as if I was in Manhattan – nah, that was a bit too far-fetched!
Up next would be a fairytale, King Arthur style hotel and casino, Excalibur. We were so attracted to this place that we ended up staying here for a night and it didn’t cost us that much. It was in fact, relatively cheap for a night’s stay in Vegas – US$24 (RM96.12) inclusive of tax, booking via Expedia. However, I must confess that our room was no where near The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas in class and luxury. As it was near Christmas, there was an acapella quartet singing Christmas carols at the lobby and the feeling was so heavenly especially in such a soothing ambience.
Now here’s a tip I’m going to share with all readers, on how to get a free show and dinner – Tournament of Kings. The price of a ticket to this show was US$69.27 (RM269) inclusive of tax. Yes, I’m talking about getting this ticket all for free. There was a counter next to the concierge which had a couple of very proactive sales executives who offered us 2 free tickets to this show on one condition, that was to attend a briefing on a timeshare for 2-3 hours. They even arranged for a minibus to send us to and fro to the timeshare, gave us free lunch and took us for a tour around the property. All that was supposed to end with a deal to purchase that timeshare, which wasn’t cheap I must tell you, but we didn’t fall for the “trap”. But hey, we kept our end of the bargain – attending the briefing. So, that’s the tip…
We had to watch another show before we left Vegas and that show was none other than Michael Jackson ONE (produced by Cirque du Soleil – only in the MGM group of hotels) at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino (apparently where the Las Vegas TV series was filmed), which was priced at US$89 (RM346) per ticket inclusive of tax. Pricey but totally worth it. If you are an MJ fan, this is probably gonna be the only show you need to watch. Music, dance, choreography – I can only sum it up in one word – perfect!
There was however, a glitch on the day of our show and everyone had to wait for almost 2 hours from the showtime, only to be told that there were some problems with the stage. We were given the option of full refund or to change to the next day. Of course, we changed our tickets to the next day. How could we afford to miss this show?
Now, you’d be wondering how we traveled 4-5 miles along The Strip several times everyday we were there. Well, interestingly there was a monorail, which ran from MGM Grand to SLS Las Vegas and the 24-hour pass was US$12, but we managed to get it at US$10 (RM42) via Expedia (deals were much cheaper).
Besides the monorail, there were also trams which connected the hotels and casinos that belonged to MGM (click here for tram map). The best part of it was, the trams were all free of charge. The stations were kinda hidden in most hotels (except for Excalibur), but we just needed to ask around to find them.
Oh, before i forget, Titanic fans would love this Egyptian-looking place – Luxor Hotel and Casino, which hosted the Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition. We didn’t go for it as we had to stretch our dollars on other stuffs (USD/MYR = 4.20).
All these while, I only thought big cities like LA or Frisco had Chinatown. Little did I know that Vegas also had its own Chinatown, which was quite huge. Being Asians, we had to at least savour a meal there, so we went for lunch at China Mama Restaurant. Each of us spent US$ (RM42) for our meals. This was the part that I hated most – tipping. Most countries don’t adopt this culture, but somehow it’s prevalent in the US. It was just so confusing for us to figure out the quantum of the tip, as we didn’t want to overtip and at the same time offend the waitress for undertipping.
So, I gave slightly more than what was on the bill (or check as the Americans call it) and told the waitress to keep the change (thought she understood it was meant for her tip), but she returned with the change on the platter. That confused us even more – she didn’t want the tip or what? So I gladly pocketed the change and got ready to leave. To my astonishment, she had the audacity to tell me that I didn’t leave her with enough tip and demanded for more. Whether because she was Asian or it was just an American culture, I don’t know. What I do know is that I hate this culture! If you are with me on this, I’d recommend Panda Express, where one need not worry about tipping and it’s reasonably priced as well.
Now that we were already in Vegas, we wouldn’t want to miss seeing the world-famous Grand Canyon and Vegas happened to be one of the cities nearest to it. I booked our tickets through Ceetiz, another superb website for activities (second only to Expedia). The price for a 14-hour day tour from Vegas with free-flow lunch was US$69.98 (RM271.73) per person inclusive of tax. This was by far the cheapest deal I managed to find. The company involved was Grand Canyon Tour and Travel. More on Grand Canyon in my next post.
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