Upon arrival in Las Vegas, visitors have many public transportation options. For solo travelers, public transportation can be a great way to meet other travelers. Whether or not it is cheaper than renting a car depends on current rental car rates and what your planned activities are. If you plan to spend all your time on the Strip, public transportation can be most economical. This is also a great option for those who get nervous driving in strange places.
Most resorts do not offer free shuttle service from the airport (though some, like the M Resort and South Point Hotel, do). There are a few companies offering airport shuttle service for a modest fee. You can find a listing of airport shuttles at McCarran International Airport’s website. Shuttles are less expensive than cabs (about $6 to get to the Strip and $8 to go Downtown), but you often have to wait longer for them and they drop off at several hotels. Yours won’t necessarily be the first one. Again, weigh the importance of time versus money to you. It could take you an hour or more from when you get your luggage to when you get to your hotel.
Bus routes and schedules can be found at the Regional Transportation Commission’s website. Unless you are eligible for a reduced rate (senior citizens and children), all buses except the Deuce and Ace cost $2 one way (exact change). You can also purchase a 24 hour bus pass for $7 or a 3-day pass for $15. Ask for it when you board the bus, or order it online well in advance of your trip (they are mailed to you via USPS). If you’re staying on the Strip, the bus routes you’re most likely to use are:
The Deuce – This is a double decker bus that runs up the Strip and to Downtown. It stops at every casino up and down the Strip and at the Fremont Street Experience. The exact route can be found here. Cost of the Deuce: $3 one way. It’s got a large number of stops, so I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re in a hurry. Also, it can be quite crowded.
The Strip/Downtown Express: The Express line runs between the South Strip Transfer Terminal and the Government Center, with stops along the Strip and Fremont Street. The exact route can be found here. Cost: $3. The Strip/Downtown Express is quicker than the Deuce, as it has fewer stops along the Strip.
The Strip Monorail
The Strip Monorail runs behind the resorts on the East side of the Strip. Stops are: MGM Grand, Ballys, Flamingo, Harrahs/Imperial Palace, the Convention Center, and the Las Vegas Hilton. The Monorail can be a good way to get around for less money than a cab, but not always. It depends on your starting point and destination. The monorail stations are at the back of the resorts that are along the Strip, and this can be a long walk for hotels like Ballys and MGM Grand. If you’re going from a West side hotel to a West side hotel, it’s less trouble to take a cab.
Current rates are $5 for a single ride ticket, $14 for a 1 day pass, or $30 for a 3 day pass. The monorail runs every 4 minutes between 8am and midnight. For more information, go to the LV Monorail website. The Monorail filed for bankruptcy in 2010, but still seems to be operating.
Mirage-Treasure Island Tram
This free tram runs from the front of the Mirage (to the left of the valet area as you exit the hotel), to the back of Treasure Island. At TI, you enter and exit indoors and take an escalator down to the casino level. The tram runs 9am-1am, Sunday through Thursday and 9am-3am, Friday and Saturday. Frequency is about every 10 minutes or so, and the ride lasts a couple of minutes.
Mandalay Bay-Luxor-Excalibur Tram
This free tram runs between Mandalay Bay, the Luxor and Excalibur. There are stops at all three hotels, but Luxor gets the short end of the stick here. When the tram goes south, it goes from Excalibur straight to Mandalay Bay, bypassing the Luxor. On the way north, it stops at all three hotels. If you’re going from Luxor to Mandalay Bay, it might be easier to walk between them through Mandalay Place. This one runs from 9am-10:30pm and arrives every few minutes.
Monte Carlo-Crystals-Bellagio Tram
This free tram was closed during the construction of CityCenter, but has recently reopened. Stops are (South to North): Monte Carlo (off the Street of Dreams shopping area), Crystals (near the entrance to Aria), and the Bellagio (Spa Tower). Guests staying at Vdara (CityCenter) would use the Bellagio stop and access it via a walkway between Vdara and Bellagio. It runs daily 8am-4am, with trams arriving every 15 minutes.
I have used all of the above trams and monorails and have never known them to be anything but clean and safe for me as a solo female traveler.
Free Hotel Shuttles
There are a number of off-Strip hotels that run free shuttles to and from the Strip. The benefit is obvious (it’s free); the downside is that sometimes it can take a long time to get where you’re going if many other people are also waiting for the shuttle. You might not get on the first shuttle that comes along. Plan accordingly and give yourself more than an hour to get where you need to go. Below are a handful of the ones I know about. If a hotel is not listed here, contact them directly to find out if they have a free shuttle to the Strip.
The Orleans Shuttle: This shuttle runs seven days a week between the Orleans Hotel, Gold Coast Hotel (also off-Strip) and Bill’s Gambling Hall (center Strip). For schedule, see the Orleans website.
There is a free shuttle between the M Resort on the South Strip and the Fashion Show Mall. Times are listed in this pdf document.
Rio (off-Strip): This free shuttle runs between the Rio and Harrahs Strip properties, Harrahs, Caesars Palace, Ballys, and Paris. Information on schedule can be found at Harrahs website.
Sam’sTown (off-Strip): There is a free shuttle that runs between Sam’s Town and the Strip (stops at Riviera and Harrahs) and one that runs between Sam’s Town and Fremont Street (with stops at California/Fremont and Main Street Station). The schedule is located on their website.
You will come across people movers (moving walkways) at the entrance and exit to some Strip hotels. After a few days of walking up and down the Strip, you will probably welcome them. People Mover etiquette is that if you plan to stand still while the walkway moves you, stand to the right, so people who are in more of a hurry can pass you on the left.
The tourist areas of Las Vegas are very walkable, though you should definitely wear comfortable, broken-in shoes or sandals and be aware that hotels are farther apart than they appear to be and even points within a single hotel can be quite a hike. I prefer walking around Vegas because you never know what you’re going to see. It also allows you to walk off all the buffets you’ve eaten. Always bring a bottle of water with you when walking around Las Vegas. It can get very dry and hot here (it is a desert, after all) and you don’t want to risk dehydration or heat exhaustion.