The unit of currency used in Las Vegas is the US dollar and it’s divided into one hundred cents. The bills are in denominations of $1, $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 and each of these is green in colour depicting a different former US president. The coins used in the States are 1c (the penny), 5c (the nickel), 10c (the dime) and 25c (the quarter).
While Las Vegas is in the desert, it is not always hot. It can get quite cold in winter and at night and there is a cold wind that can reach speeds of up to forty miles an hour. So, if you aren’t traveling in the height of summer, you do need to bring something warm. But when it is hot, it is very hot. However it is bearable, as there is almost always a gentle breeze and temperatures usually drop by up to 20°F at night making life a lot easier.
The time zone used in Las Vegas is Pacific Time which is eight hours behind Greenwich Mean Time.
Shops, particularly those in the larger shopping centers, tend to stay open late, usually until about 9.00pm during the week and until 6.00pm at the weekends. Banks are open from Monday to Friday between 9.00am and 3.00pm, some open on Saturday mornings. Offices are open between 9.00am and 5.00pm from Monday to Friday.
The electrical current used in the US is 110 to 115 volts.
Sales tax varies from state to state and in Nevada it is between 6.75 and 7%. This tax, where applicable, is not usually included in the price of an item. It does not apply to groceries.
Since August of last year, visitors to the States from most other countries need a visa of some description – stamp, sticker or insert - in their passport which will inform those checking it as to what exactly what your business in the country is. To obtain such a visa you need to contact the US Embassy in your native country. If you are travelling from Australia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK or Uruguay and are staying for less than ninety days (you will need to be able to prove this), you can waive US visas through the Visa Waiver Pilot Program. If you are staying for more than ninety days, you will need to obtain a visa to allow you to enter the country.
The place you need to go for information is the Las Vegas and Visitor Authority which is located at 3150 Paradise Road (Tel: 892 0711). This place contains information one everything you need to know while you are in the city. It also sells tickets for some of the major events, and if it doesn’t sell them helpful assistants will tell you where you should go to buy them. It’s open daily from 8.00am to 5.00pm.
If you are a member of the Cirrus or Plus network you can use your card at most ATMs in Las Vegas. In the gambling capital of the world, it is hardly surprising that there are more machines than you have ever seen before scattered throughout the city. Bear in mind, however, that you will be paying withdrawal charge each time you get money and the charge is usually higher if you use an ATM in a hotel or a store.
Finally, if you have a credit card, it is useful to know that all the major cards including Visa, MasterCard and American Express are widely accepted and can be used to withdraw cash from ATMs if you have the pin number.
Finally, traveller’s cheques are widely accepted in Las Vegas. Several agencies sell them and refund you if the cheques are lost or stolen so remember to hold on to your receipts. They are also much more economical than making cash withdrawals as you don’t have to pay a fee every time you change one.
To call Las Vegas from abroad you first dial 00, followed by 1, then the area code which is 702 and finally, the local number. If you wish to call abroad from Las Vegas you dial 001, followed by the international calling code for your particular country and then the local number. It is worth noting that you also need to drop the first zero from the local area code for both types of call.
When using public telephones in the US, a calling card is your most convenient and cheapest option. If you do use coins be aware that for long distance and international calls, you will be surprised at how quickly they are used up.
To make calls within the country, prepaid calling cards again are the best method. Phone rates are highest in the morning but they do get lower in the evening and at the weekend. To make the cheapest calls, however, you need to wait until Sunday or late at night, as these times offer the best rates.
The main post office in Las Vegas is located at 1001 E. Sunset Road. For more information telephone 702 361 9200.
Because the income tax on tip earning service staff is based on money they should have received in tips, they may well have to pay tax on a tip that they never actually received. So, even if you never tip, you should feel bad enough about taking money out of people’s pockets, to do so while you are in the States.
As a general rule you should tip waiters and waitresses between fifteen and twenty percent of the bill, bartenders should receive between ten and fifteen percent, hairdressers, barbers and taxi drivers between fifteen and twenty percent. When it comes to luggage you should tip $1 dollar per bag and $2 to $3 if you have a lot of luggage. You should also leave $1 per day in your room for the chambermaids.
It is worth noting what the public holidays are before you travel to a country as the majority of businesses, banks and shops usually shut for the day. In the US they take place on January 1st and 15th, February 19th, May 28th, July 4th, September 3rd, October 8th, November 11th and 29th and December 25th. It is a good idea to check the particular area too as certain towns and cities also shut down during special events.