The full collection of Las Vegas trip report can be found here.
Hotels – where did we stay?
Our May 2019 trip was our 9th visit to Las Vegas so we were quite familiar with the city and had an idea of what we wanted to do. However, this was our first time staying at both of these hotels: Encore at Wynn Las Vegas and Park MGM. Encore, a 5-star luxury hotel on the north end of the strip, was right across the street from the Fashion Show Mall. Park MGM, the newest addition to MGM Resorts, replaced the old Monte Carlo/Hotel 32. Location-wise, Park MGM arguably had a way more central location on the strip with more diverse dining options for every budget while the Encore/Wynn complex had mostly medium to high-end dining.
Flights – why fly out of Bellingham instead of Vancouver?
We have only ever flown with Allegiant Air out of Bellingham International Airport (BLI) into McCarran International Airport (LAS) before. This time was no exception. Allegiant Air was a budget airline based in Nevada and all of my 9 trips with them have been nothing but exceptional – on-time and smooth rides. Granted, similar to many other budget airlines, they charge for everything including water (only bottled water available), boarding pass printing and seat assignment. For a short flight like this one though (~2.5 hours), the lack of amenities did not bother me.
I have not been able to justify the higher ticket price (usually 2 to 2.5x) to fly out of Vancouver (YVR). To illustrate, I ran a Google Flight search for Oct 6 to 9, 2019 (random dates) for a round-trip departing from YVR and BLI respectively and the price difference per person was $183 CAD. Note, Allegiant Air’s price only included one free personal item and each carry-on would cost $40 USD (~$53 CAD) for the round-trip. Therefore, when you compare prices, it will be important to take into account all of the following:
- ticket cost
- carry-on bag and/or checked bag
- parking/public transit
- extra costs including seat assignment, beverages and snacks, boarding pass
Getting Around – ride share, public transit & free shuttles
The free shuttles I used this trip like most of my other trips were the following:
- Park MGM > The Shop at Crystals (Aria) > Bellagio (loop)
- Luxor / Excalibur / Mandalay Bay (note you cannot go from Luxor to Excalibur directly)
Even though I did not use it this trip, Boyd Gaming also offered a free shuttle bus connecting you with their 2 off-strip casinos: Gold Coast and The Orleans, The route was Strip > Gold Coast > The Orleans > Strip. I would recommend checking their official website here to find out where their pick up spot was on the strip before your trip as it changed a number of times,.
For ride shares, I normally would go with either Lyft or Uber by choosing whichever one was showing up with the cheapest rate on Google Map at the time. This time though, I had trouble with the Uber app so I ended up using Lyft exclusively. So far, I have never had a bad ride with any of the ride share companies and this time was no exception.
Finding the designated ride share pick up spots were relatively easy at the airport and at the hotels on the strip. Most hotels had clear signage for you to find them. Initially, I had minor trouble finding the pick up spot at the airport but once I was connected to the airport’s Wifi, I just followed the “dot” on the app and kept walking. Vegas4Locals had a well-written guide on how to get there so check it out by clicking here.
Side note, as I was writing this, the BC Government announced that they will begin accepting applications from ride share companies in Sept 2019 so ride share will be available in BC soon!
We have visited downtown Vegas for a day every trip (except for our first time when we stayed downtown for a night) and we did the same this trip as well. We took the SDX (express) bus from the strip all the way to downtown. Both the SDX and the Deuce (double-decker) would bring you to Fremont Street but the SDX would also bring you to the North Premium Outlets (which I prefer over the indoor South Premium Outlets. But boy…. was the Deuce slow. However, if you were a first-timer, I would recommend taking the Deuce at least once as you can take in the view longer. I always get the 24-hour pass for $8 USD as this would be enough for my day trip to downtown and also one or two trips up and down the strip for when you are too tired. Two-hour pass and 3-day pass are also available and you can find out more about the pricing here,
Day-by-Day itinerary to follow.. but let me know if you have any questions!