Las Vegas welcomed over 42 million visitors in 2017 alone and usually makes the top five most-visited U.S. destinations list every year. Much of the city was designed to keep tourists happy (and spending cash), and it is, indeed, a great place to party, eat, shop, gamble and gawk at the neon lights. But it’s also a sprawling desert metropolis with lots of layers and a few pitfalls to avoid. Before you book your first — or fifth — visit to Las Vegas, read our tips for what not to do in Sin City.
1. Don’t skip the sunscreen.
Even though Las Vegas technically translates to The Meadows in Spanish, the city is most definitely built in the Mojave Desert — a far cry from any images of babbling brooks or green hills that the word meadow might conjure. Summer months bring intensely hot days with temperatures that regularly soar into the triple digits, so sunblock and a hat are required even for short jaunts down the Strip. In fact, the temps can be so unbearable that our iPhone once shut down with a heat advisory by the Venetian Resort Hotel Casino’s pool. Pro tip: Even when it’s scorching outdoors, bring a lightweight sweater for the icy cool casinos and restaurants that use strong air-conditioning to lure customers.
2. Don’t bring a fake ID.
Las Vegas’s pool parties, nightclubs, luxe bars and free-flowing casino booze are sure to lure the not-quite-legal-to-drink age bracket. However, if you haven’t turned 21 yet, don’t even think about showing up with a fake ID. Las Vegas has some of the toughest security checks in the country to ensure anyone who has a sip of alcohol is legal to do so. It’s all too easy for a drinking establishment to lose its coveted liquor license for serving alcohol to minors, so be prepared to have your ID checked and double-checked. The same goes for the casino floor, where all players must be 21 to participate. Faking your way isn’t worth the trouble or the embarrassment of being bounced — come back to Vegas when you’re legal.
3. Don’t forget to tip.
Las Vegas’s tourism industry is key to its economy, and there is an army of hospitality employees who work hard to provide for visitors’ needs. Please don’t forget to tip bellboys, valet drivers, housekeepers, bartenders, and food and cocktail servers. Concierge staff who go above and beyond and casino dealers are commonly tipped out as well. Sure, it’s an extra expense, but it’s vital to the livelihoods of these service workers. Bring a stack of small bills to make tipping easier — just try not to feed them all into a slot machine.
4. Don’t pay for sex.
It’s a common myth that prostitution is legal in Las Vegas, but we’re here to tell you that it most definitely is not. Though you’ll likely see escort cards on the Strip and may even be propositioned at seedier hotels, prostitution is illegal in Clark County. Nevada allows counties with a population below 700,000 to offer brothel prostitution, and there are around 20 legal brothels in the state, but none are in Las Vegas. People convicted of soliciting sex or prostitution can face jail time and/or fines.
5. Don’t depend on ATMs.
If you’re in Las Vegas, you’re likely spending money. And though credit cards are widely accepted, cash is still useful for small purchases and tips. But beware of depending on ATMs in casinos, where fees start at $5 a pop, on top of what your bank charges you. Strip clubs are even worse offenders, charging users $10 to make it rain. Bring the cash you need before your trip, or take out the maximum daily limit to avoid repeat ATM fees.
6. Don’t hail a cab from the street.
You can try to hail a taxi from the street, but none will pull over since it’s completely illegal. All passengers in Las Vegas must be picked up and dropped off in designated taxi zones, usually in front of casinos. There’s a separate queue for ride-sharing services, like Uber and Lyft, but it’s the same idea. Expect long lines for rides, especially after big shows like Cirque du Soleil. If you’re off the Strip and in need of a taxi, smaller hotels and businesses are happy to call one on your behalf.