The first time I went here was in March 2018 and I only had 3 days to explore Amsterdam and its surroundings. My verdict: LOVED ITTTTT!! I should have stayed longer and explored more. The people were so far friendly and everything was well-preserved with old buildings everywhere (my kind of thing!).
Cash payment is not acceptable on public transportation in Amsterdam (trains, metro, trams and buses). You can still buy single-journey tickets on the trams and buses with a debit or credit card but it is rather expensive. In other cities in the Netherlands it is still possible to buy tickets with cash on the buses and trams, again at a higher price. So the available (and better) options are:
- ov-chipkaart – a smart card used for all modes of public transportation in the Netherlands. It is convenient if you actually will be here for some time, but if you are going for only for a few days only and don’t use public transport frequently, it can be quite a hassle. For example, you must top up the card at least €20 for trains (NS) or €4 for trams or buses before boarding (or going past the gate in the train station for that matter since you have to use the card to open the gate). The actual fare will be adjusted later once you check-out (tap your card on the scanner after you get off the train or before you get off the tram/bus) and the remaining balance can be refunded (that’s another extra no tourist loves to do!). By using this card, you will definitely pay much lower than when you buy single tickets onboard!
- Day and multi-day tickets or travel passes (Amsterdam, regional or nationwide) with different validity days. Check GVB official site or here.
- Tripkey card – actually works exactly like ov-chipkaart, but it is linked to our credit card. I registered online on their website, chose where I wanted to pick up the card (at Schiphol airport) then proceeded to taking the NS train to Amsterdam Centraal. Very convenient! No need to do a top-up in advance, calculate how much to reload/to refund or to stop by the machine to buy a ticket. I also used it downtown for the trams in Amsterdam and for the trains when I went to Haarlem. Just don’t forget to check-in and check-out every time. Oh, and pay attention to the scanner on the tram/bus, ensure that your card is cleared (Goede reis), otherwise they would charge the maximum amount. I think I tapped my card twice on the scanner before I got off a tram, and it recorded me as having had a check-out, then check-in again without having the next check-out, resulting in extra €4 charge in my billing statement.
Note: there is also a waterbus company that operates in South Holland province. Check their schedule and fare here.
- The official language is Dutch, but (almost) everyone speaks English here. So no need to worry if you don’t understand Dutch at all (like me!)
- Buy a SIM Card – if possible, it would be better to buy one outside Schiphol airport because I didn’t see many options other than Lebara Mobile there. I ended up getting a Lebara SIM Card at €30 for only 2GB data and 500 mins call in Netherlands (who needs that?! 😂) simply because I needed to have an Internet access downtown and didn’t want to rely on free public wi-fi.
Cash or Cards?
- ATMs are available everywhere.
- Visa and Mastercard are accepted in most places based on my experience, but I did read that it may not be that easy in smaller towns. So be sure to also prepare some cash and a debit card (Maestro/Cirrus/Plus).
For an Indonesian like me, a Schengen Visa is required. Check the complete requirements and apply here.