Nuts-and-bolts information to plan your trip, plus a checklist of essentials to include when you pack and a list of links to local media

Planning:

Entry Requirements: International travelers from 27 countries may enter the U.S. without a visa via the Visa Waiver Program; however, they must have a machine-readable passport. All other visitors must obtain a visa from a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad. For more information, visit travel.state.gov.

Time: Las Vegas is three hours behind U.S. eastern standard time.

Security: As in any metropolitan area, be aware of your surroundings in Las Vegas; keep your wallet and bags close; and don’t leave valuables in your car. Walking downtown requires extra caution, especially at night. For safety, avoid the New Year’s Eve mayhem on the Strip.

Money: The currency is the U.S. dollar. For current conversion rates go to OANDA Currency Converter. www.oanda.com/convert/classic

Phone Calls: The area code for Las Vegas is 702. To make a long-distance call outside southern Nevada, dial 1 area code seven-digit local number. To make an international call, dial 011 country code area code local phone number. To call Las Vegas from abroad, dial your country’s international access code 1 702 seven-digit local number.

When to Go: The best time to visit Las Vegas is during spring or fall. In summer, daytime temperatures exceed 100°F (38°C). Winter lows average close to freezing overnight. The rainiest months are January–March.

Getting There: Southeast of the Strip, McCarran International Airport is the sixth-busiest airport in the U.S., with direct domestic flights and connections to international gateways. Hopping in a taxi to the Strip is faster than taking hotel airport shuttles or public buses.

Getting Around: Most casino hotels offer free self-parking, valet parking, and taxi stands. Double-decker public buses cruise the Strip and head downtown. The private monorail system runs along the Strip and to the city convention center. Free trams shuttle between a few Strip casino hotels.

Checklist:

Tips: “Pack patience, a sense of humor, and a healthy dose of suspension of disbelief. Airborne effervescents guard against secondhand smoke malaise.”—Andrew Dean Nystrom, senior editor/producer, Travel, Los Angeles Times (travel.latimes.com).

Jacket: “Since most of the Las Vegas Valley is at an elevation over 2,000 feet, the winter months can be more chilly than you might think, particularly in the evenings. Long pants, a sweater and/or a jacket are recommended if visiting between late October and early April.”—Erika Pope, spokeswoman, Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.

Passport/Visa: Keep copies of your passport and visa in a secure place (e.g., a money pouch strapped around your waist).

Money: Casino ATMs charge exorbitant transaction fees. Hotel front desks and casino cashier cages will exchange traveler’s checks in U.S. dollars and, on occasion, foreign currency, usually at less favorable rates than banks. Carry small bills to tip cocktail servers ($1–2 per drink), baggage handlers ($1–2 per piece), housekeepers ($2–3 per day), and parking valet attendants ($2–5). “When it comes to money, only bring what you’re prepared to lose. Put an alert on your credit card limits. Respect the statistical inevitability of the house advantage.”—Andrew Dean Nystrom.

Walking Shoes: You’ll need sturdy shoes to keep you going all day long, even if you’re only exploring the Strip.

Sunscreen, Sunglasses, and a Hat: All are essential protection in a city that gets 320 days of sunshine a year. “You are in a desert, and your body will need fluids, especially in the summer months. Carry a bottle of water, too.”—Erika Pope.

Swimwear: Don’t miss out on Las Vegas’s over-the-top pool party scene by forgetting to pack a bathing suit or swim trunks.

Evening Wear: In Las Vegas, most people no longer dress up just to gamble or have supper. Top-tier restaurants and a few nightclubs do have dress codes, however, which are stricter for men. Pack a dressy outfit (for women); slacks, a nice shirt, and perhaps a jacket (for men); and non-athletic shoes.

Workout Attire: To work off those gluttonous buffet meals, a T-shirt, shorts, and gym shoes are required to use fitness rooms at hotels and spa workout facilities.

Ear Plugs: Bring along a pair of noise-stoppers for thin-walled hotel rooms.

Waiting For the Flight Home: “Before you head for the airport, put a bottle of water and a magazine in your carry-on bag. That way, if your flight is delayed, you won’t play the airport’s slot machines, which are not only tight, they don't give out comps. For laptop users, the airport’s Wi-Fi is very good.”—Jeffrey Compton, gaming consultant and Las Vegas Review Journal columnist.

Web Links:

Anthony Curtis’ Las Vegas Advisor

Detailed information and user reviews of hotels, restaurants, gaming, nightlife, and attractions; travel tips and FAQs. www.lasvegasadvisor.com

Brett’s Vegas View

Weekly column for practical news about entertainment, events, and dining. www.lasvegas-nv.com/brett

Cheapo Vegas

Hilarious, cheeky guide for low rollers to the “Sensational Strip" and "Dingy Old Downtown.” www.cheapovegas.com

Las Vegas Casino Death Watch

Tracks upcoming demolitions and implosions of historic casino hotels. http://www.lvrevealed.com/deathwatch/

Las Vegas Logue

Updated daily with listings of events, entertainment, celebrity spotting, and gossip around town. www.lasvegaslogue.com

Official Las Vegas Tourism Site

All-around resource for events, shows, dining, casinos, golf, hotel reservations, and more. www.visitlasvegas.com

Raw Vegas

A 24/7 online TV channel that posts new video content daily, including vlogs. www.rawvegas.tv

Vegas4Visitors.com

Weekly column features news, updates, and reviews by Moon Handbooks’ Las Vegas author Rick Garman. www.vegas4visitors.com/index.htm

VEGAS.com

Advertorial, but a comprehensive, fact-filled guide to casino hotels, restaurants, attractions, spas, nightlife, and even wedding chapels. www.vegas.com

Vegas Talk Radio

Online radio show interviews celebrities, entertainers, and local insiders every Thursday. www.vegastalkradio.com

Local Media:

Area 108

Las Vegas’s alternative radio station (107.9 FM) for the lowdown on the local music scene.

KNPR

Nevada Public Radio (88.9 FM) broadcasts syndicated programming. Listen for “State of Nevada” at 7 p.m. Monday–Friday and celebrity chef interviews on weekends. www.knpr.org

Las Vegas CityLife

Liberal-minded alternative weekly covers local politics and news with offbeat, outspoken opinions. Events calendar lists top picks for live music, clubbing, film, theatre, and art. www.lasvegascitylife.com

Las Vegas Life

Aimed at residents, this monthly lifestyle magazine offers an upscale look at arts and culture, dining, entertainment, and shopping. www.lvlife.com

Las Vegas Review-Journal

Nevada's largest daily newspaper covers local, state, national, and international news, with editorials, business, lifestyle, and sports. Friday’s “Neon” section features arts and entertainment, restaurants, special events, and recreation. www.lvrj.com

Las Vegas Magazine Showbiz Weekly

Advertorial tourist weekly contains coupons for attractions and entertainment; available free in most hotel rooms. www.lasvegasmagazine.com

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