The Frugal Traveler: Sin City for a song

For affordable site-to-site transport without all of the stops and starts that come along with bus travel, consider the Las Vegas Monorail. (Tom Burton, Orlando Sentinel File)

Known for its glitz, glamour and cha-ching price tag, Las Vegas tempts many a traveler to its world-famous collection of dinner shows, spas, restaurants and shopping venues. Hoping to experience Sin City on the cheap? Try these tips.

Food: Happy hour deals offer a source of cheap eats for Vegas visitors. Wolfgang Puck Pizzeria and Cucina features several $7 bite-sized bar food items in a happy hour menu that lasts all day long. Snacks of note include baked polenta with sausage and peppers, grilled pork belly and a chilled mushroom antipasto plate. Matt Reider of Canuck Abroad, a Canadian travel website, favors late night dining for the best deals. Many restaurants and buffets offer steep discounts between the hours of 11 p.m. and 6 a.m., advises Reider, providing penny-pinching meal opportunities for night owls and early birds alike.

Transportation: If your desired destination is a little too far away to find your way to on foot, Reider also recommends the Deuce — a popular double-decker bus — to travelers looking to save money. This bus services the Vegas strip around the clock, with 24-hour passes ringing in an only $7. For affordable site-to-site transport without all of the stops and starts that come along with bus travel, consider the Las Vegas Monorail. The $12 one-day pass allows unlimited transportation between all of the major stations along the strip, with climate-controlled cars that are clean and comfortable.

Accommodation: Room rates in Vegas are frequently priced to entice. for example, currently lists accommodation options for less than $100! While costs fluctuate with availability, the site provides real-time pricing options for vacationers in search of the ultimate Vegas deal. Condo rentals also offer significant savings. This was recently evidenced on a site called Flip Key, where I found a two-bedroom, two-bath condo listed for $149 per night which was connected to the MGM Grand by a moving walkway.

Experiences: To get a sense of Las Vegas on foot, try a downloadable walking tour and scavenger hunt you can participate in from your cell phone. has family-friendly options available for as little as $9 per person, providing an interactive tourism experience. Prefer something a bit more posh? Book any treatment at The Spa at Mandarin Oriental, Las Vegas and receive complimentary same-day access to common-area amenities, including heated relaxation chairs, vitality pools and personal experience showers. With face and foot treatments priced below $100, this can be an affordable way to spend the day in decadence.


Theriault is the best-selling co-author of the book "10,001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget," and founder of, a website for independent travelers. She also founded, a website for teachers.