Las Vegas

The one and only
For obvious reasons, Las Vegas tends to evoke images that are as vivid as they are diverse. This flashy place known as Sin City, gaming capital of the world, is the downfall of some, a place of amusement for others, and a paradise of kitsch and extravagance for still others. However, it is certainly astounding, strange, marvelous, shocking, burlesque and a little crazy for just about everyone who comes here. Combining the grandiose with the dramatic, Las Vegas is a vast puzzle made up of disparate pieces of human history.

Las Vegas is located in the southern part of the state of Nevada. The city is 662 m (2,172 feet) above sea level, and sits in a large, flat basin surrounded by desert and mountains.

Las Vegas has constructed building after building, one next to the other, housing thematic casino-hotels that pay tribute to the most memorable achievements of various civilizations. Painted in bold strokes, these monuments juxtapose the mythical era of the Roman Empire with King Arthur’s Knights of the Round Table, and the no less spectacular stories of Aladin and the Great Pyramids. In Vegas, you can experience the romantic charm of Venice and the cosmopolitan character of cities such as Paris and New York all within the same day.

Las Vegas can only be described in superlatives. Its famous theme-casinos seek to overwhelm with their sumptuously corrupt surroundings and seductive game rooms. There are no visible clocks or windows in the casinos, and for good reason. Although a flashy decor can certainly attract visitors, there is no better way to encourage gambling than to make people forget all about the real world, like children engrossed in a game. The Strip, the main 0.5 km (0.3 mi) stretch of the central thoroughfare, is bustling day and night with crowds of people in search of entertainment. Everything here is carefully orchestrated not only to grab your attention, but also to dazzle you. Millions of neon signs beam out hundreds of watts of light and the aggressive advertising in the street is overwhelming. Innumerable wedding chapels, where the best man always looks like Elvis, and monster hotel-casinos compete for customers. Welcome to Las Vegas in all its variety and extremes, an isolated haven under the strong Nevada sun, a city that never sleeps where people get caught up in the gambling frenzy until they lose it all.

Although it lacks a rich heritage laden with history and tradition, Las Vegas has simply decided to borrow a few chapters of our global history and invent a pseudo-historic “look” for itself. Heavily influenced by popular culture, its artificial scenes and playful interpretations of historic events create a theatrical atmosphere that takes kitsch to new heights – or depths.

Visitors to Vegas can admire the Statue of Liberty, venture into a cavernous Egyptian pyramid, relive feudal times with the valiant knights of King Arthur’s legendary court and even experience Venice’s Grand Canal from a gondola. Or you might prefer to venture to the top of the Eiffel Tower, to the Earth’s stratosphere, explore a tropical paradise, witness a volcano’s eruption or watch pirates raid an English galleon. Whatever you desire, Las Vegas brings all of these fantasies to life and all within a 5 km (0.3 mi) stretch known as The Strip.

With the exception of a few attractions, everything worth seeing in Las Vegas is located within this 5 km (0.3 mi) stretch. The best time to see The Strip is at dusk when the city basks in the sun’s last rays. This is the time when one by one, the casinos switch on their bright neon lights and the street turns into a terrestrial version of the Milky Way. Crowds pour into the streets to experience the magical moment when this eccentric city is at its most magnificent. Tourists slowly circulate in the busy streets, stopping to admire these neon monsters in all their luminescent glory.

Those who will want to escape the noisy commotion of The Strip’s circus-like atmosphere should plan a day trip to the technological wonder that changed the face of the American Southwest: the Hoover Dam. Science fiction aficionados will surely be interested in visiting the strange little town of Rachel in the hopes of catching a glimpse of little green men at the mysterious Area 51. Other excursions include a trip around Lake Mead or to the Grand Canyon, both located nearby. Adventurous types can hike in Death Valley or in Red Rock Canyon; just remember to bring plenty of drinking water to avoid dehydration.

Having somewhat boastfully proclaimed itself “The Entertainment Capital of the World,” Las Vegas clearly has no hang-ups, but it does live up to its nickname. An unmatched adult playground that is at once captivating and disconcerting, Las Vegas unquestionably offers a range of entertainment choices that can satisfy the most diverse and strangest, even craziest, of tastes. In short, the place is an unabashed party town year-round, especially come nightfall. Las Vegas at night appears in a different light with every step. A veritable rainbow of colours and sounds first casts a spell on visitors, then satisfies hedonists’ needs for sensuous pleasure. There’s no doubt that Sin City offers countless entertainment opportunities, mostly concentrated along the Las Vegas Strip.

Though the city’s geographical perimeter extends beyond the sidewalks of The Strip, this thoroughfare is the hub of Las Vegas’s nightlife, enabling this desert oasis to rival the Big Apple as the “city that never sleeps.” Indeed, the vast array of nighttime shows offered here is amazing: Broadway shows, production shows, circus acts, stand-up comedy, dance, music and magic variety shows are but some of the possibilities to fill your wild nights in Las Vegas