Since we arrived here in California during the 2nd week of December, most of our friends and relatives were still too busy with work to take us sight seeing. So while waiting for their holidays to start, my dad decided to book a 3-day tour to Vegas and the Grand Canyon. We’ve been to Vegas several times before since my cousin lives there, but we’ve never been to Arizona so I was pretty excited.
(I decided to make two separate entries about the trip instead of having a super long one. This entry will focus on our first day, when we went to Vegas.)
My dad booked the tour online and the confirmation email told us that they would pick us up at a supermarket near my aunt’s house at 7:30am. My aunt had to be at work by 9am so she dropped us off at around 7am. It was really cold that morning and the supermarket was still closed so we decided to grab some breakfast at the nearby McDonalds first.
Hot choco – perfect remedy to chilly weather
At around 7:30am, a van arrived to collect us and take us to Chinatown where the bus was waiting for us. Our tour was organized by Sea Gull Holiday tours, which is a Chinese company (I think). Most of the tourists were Chinese so the guides were required to alternate speaking in English and Mandarin.
Our bus. We had to make sure to remember our bus number because there were 3 other buses travelling with us they all looked exactly the same. (We forgot to look at our bus number in the beginning so my mom ended up getting on the wrong bus after our first pit stop. Luckily she realized her mistake quickly and we found the right bus in the end.)
In front of the bus sign. The sun was really harsh but it felt good because it was freezing that day.
Ezra and I on the bus. We started out having to sit at the very back, but the tour guides rotate our seats everyday so we sat in the middle on the 2nd day and in the front on our 3rd day.
Our bus made two stops on the way to Vegas – one for a bathroom break at a rest stop, and another for lunch at this outlet mall:
Since we finished our lunch in 30 minutes, we spent the rest of our lunch hour checking out the stores inside. My mom bought a few stuff, but all I got were 2 pairs of gloves from Old Navy.
When we reached Vegas, our guide took us to Tropicana Hotel because it had a great view of the surrounding hotels. He gave us about 20 minutes to look around and to take pictures.
MGM Hotel, with its signature Lion in front
New York! New York!
Ezra and I wasted a few minutes here just watching the roller coaster go round and round
(This was where I took my 50th self portrait for 2011)
Casino inside the hotel
After this we headed over to our hotel – The Stratosphere. It has a viewing tower that is 108 stories high. Hotel guests have free access to the top 😀
(Sorry for the dark shot, I took this from inside the bus)
Our guide told us that we could choose to spend the rest of the afternoon resting (since we had to get up early the following day) or join them for a short city tour for only $25. Our relatives have taken us to see the famous hotels many times before, but we’ve never seen them at night so we decided to go.
Our guide first took us to Fremont Street, which is supposedly the “old Vegas” (or “vintage Vegas”). Most people come here to admire all the pretty lights and neon signs:
Quick selca while chasing after our guide
The Plaza Hotel and Casino – one of the more famous hotels in the area
The other thing that people come to see on Fremont Street is the Viva Vision canopy that stretches over the entire street. Our guide told us that that’s the length of about 5 football fields! And they have short light display shows every night. When a show is about to start, they turn off all the signs in the entire street so people can fully appreciate the lights from the canopy.
The canopy screen before the show began
We caught the 6pm light show while we were there:
After this, our guide took us to The Strip, where all the huge and famous hotels are located:
We caught the 7pm volcano show at the Mirage:
Then we crossed the street to the Venetian Hotel
This is actually a woman pretending to be a statue. She moves when you put some money in the basket next to her. They’re pretty common in Vegas but I took a picture because I thought her costume looked amazing. The fabric didn’t look like fabric at all. She could seriously pass for a real statue.
Street entertainer wearing a costume which lights up
Inside the hotel they had people handing out free (*warm*) drinks to the guests. I’m not really sure what it was but it tasted a bit like apple juice but it was more sour.
Mini Christmas tree on the drinks table
Ezra and me with our drinks
The architecture inside the hotel was amazing! As well as the decorations.
And of course it’s not the Venetian without the canal and the gondolas:
After this we went to the Bellagio Hotel
Bellagio’s famous ceiling made of glass flowers : Fiori di Como
Ezra and I had fun going around those revolving doors XD
Since it was the Christmas season, the hotel had some wonderful decorations. They were so extravagant that I felt like I was inside one of those Christmas snow globes.
There were so many people taking pictures that it was hard to squeeze in and get a turn. We even saw some people shooting some sort of documentary(?)/video report(?) there.
We were supposed to watch the famous musical fountain show outside the hotel after this, but unfortunately there was some filming taking place nearby so they had to do the show without music T__T
The water works were amazing but it would have been 10 times better with music I think
After this our guide took us back to our hotel and told us to get some rest because we had to leave at 5am the next day to see the Grand Canyon. We grabbed a quick dinner at the McDonalds inside the hotel, showered and went to bed.