So we decided a good way to see Las Vegas was via a bus tour. We found the Big Bus Tour of Las Vegas on Groupon, which was $64 for both people, and we had a $10 voucher, bringing it down to around $50 USD. We probably wouldn’t have spent any more than that to be honest, since it’s a bit cheesy, but we went for it anyways.
The pick up was across the road at the Excalibur Casino. This is a big fake castle modelled to look like the castle in a fairy tale rather than an actual castle. Of course to get to the bus stop you have to walk through the casino! Once there we jumped on board the bus at around 11am in the morning and found we were the only two people on the bus. Told you it was a super cheesy bus tour! However, Las Vegas seems like a town where not too much happens in the morning, and everything happens late at night, so I’m not too surprised that it was pretty quiet on the bus.
First stop on the tour was the Las Vegas sign. Doing a bus tour in the middle of the day is hot work, thankfully, the bus gives you a bottle of ice cold water which was nice.
The next stop was the Hawaiian Marketplace. I said to Kathryn one we should move to Hawaii, and she said if we moved to the place where people go on holiday, then where would we go on holiday? Well it turns out that the place Hawaiians go on holiday to is Las Vegas. We were talking to a taxi driver and they said for locals they can have an all included package deal including flights, hotels, transport, and food for $600 for 7 nights. This is of course all a ploy to get you to stay in the hotel of the company that sponsored the charter flight, so you can spend all your money in the casino. However, the taxi driver said that a lot of people take up the deal but then stay in other nicer hotels, or they’ll take the drive to Disneyland for the day etc. Still, a pretty good deal, but only for the locals. Except it turns out that there’s a few Australians who have decided to get themselves a PO Box address in Hawaii at the Post Office, which then allows you to get a state ID, which then makes you a local, and entitles you to the local rate for tourist deals. Pretty sneaky. So it turns out that so many people from Hawaii go to Las Vegas that Las Vegas is known as the ninth island of Hawaii.
The tour then continues down the strip past all the other casinos featuring names you’ve never heard of, such as Bally’s. Bally’s make slot machines with themes like Michael Jackson, Deal or No Deal, and Pawn Stars. Yes, you too can play a slot machine based around a TV show featuring people who can’t afford to live and need to trade their items for cash in Las Vegas! Yeehah!
So doing a bus tour during the day really takes it out of you. While people say it’s a dry heat, it’s still 40 degrees in the shade which is crazy. We switched buses at Circus Circus from The Strip tour to the Downtown tour. While we really enjoyed our first tour guide Susan who was awesome, the second guy was really weird, in fact, we were the only two people on the tour bus, yet he wasn’t talking to us, he was off in the distance saying stuff like “this building is straight on the front, and curved at the back, like my sister-in-law”.
Told ya. We got sick of that guy, so gave him no tip and jumped off at Fremont Street. Fremont Street was our favourite part of Las Vegas. It’s where the locals go to gamble, it’s a little less in your face (a little, it’s still pretty in your face), and the food’s a truckload cheaper.
One of my highlights was having White Castle sliders. Sure, they were microwaved by a person who didn’t really seem to enjoy her job serving little burgers in the middle of the Flamingo Casino, especially when some rude mother told her to watch her mouth, to which an anger I’d never seen erupted from the servers as they told the mother to go do something to herself which shouldn’t really be repeated on a wholesome modest blog, but I digress.
Anyways, once we’d finished eating food we decided it was time to gamble. Obviously! One of the things about the casinos in Fremont Street was that they look like they were the original casinos. As all the newer fancier casinos moved to The Strip, all these casinos had to encourage people to come visit. One of the methods used was to create the Fremont Street Experience. Another method was to change the odds on some of the slot machines. For instance, some of the Ballys gaming machines have a hit rate (i.e. a win on a real) of about 46%. Some of the really old machines in the Flamingo had a hit rate of 88%. Just by switching casinos your odds of losing money are dramatically reduced!
Kathryn ended up winning about $20 USD playing one of these old slot machines. The newer ones print a ticket which gets redeemed at the cashier, but at some of these old casinos the win was in five cent coins, and winning $20 USD in five cent coins equals a big plastic pottle of coins.
After our (her) winnings we then got off at the Las Vegas Premium Outlets North. It’s an outdoor mall, and it’s not particularly cheap. Put it this way, I’m not going to pay $850 USD for a Burberry coat, even if that’s the reduced price. It was a pretty sweet coat though.
So after only buying a couple of things from GAP, we headed back to The Tropicana for a bit of recovery before our night tour.