The Essentials - A First Timer's Guide To Visiting Amsterdam

Things to bring in Amsterdam

And here I am once again, creating another list post of travel essentials from Dubai to Amsterdam. This is the second time I flew out of the UAE and hopefully travel again soon - for work. :) 

'Choose a job that you love and you'll never have to work for the rest of your life.' 

How I got to Amsterdam is a quite a nice story to tell but I'd leave it off the records. The bottom line is I got invited to an exclusive event which I think you'll figure out after going through this post.

Traveling to The Netherlands From Dubai

The first and most important thing that you need to secure when you plan to go to Amsterdam is your Schengen Visa (pronounced as 'sheng-gen'). It's a visa for European countries excluding United Kingdom. If you're living in Dubai, you can apply for it  at VFS Global. Find Me A Break's post about applying for a Schengen visa helped me a lot in getting this done.

visa requirements Amsterdam

There's another story behind my Schengen Visa: I only received it 3 days before my actual travel date! Crazy right?!

This is because I wasn't really sure if I will proceed to travel. A tourist visa is different from a business visa and the thing with traveling for business is that there are a couple of documents that you need to present to the embassy which may possibly cause the delay so better get everything ready so that you can avoid the stress I faced when I applied for mine, ha!

Checklist For A Stress-Free Business Visa Application To The Netherlands

  • FIRST AND MOST IMPORTANTLY: Secure an appointment date a month before your travel date. I travelled from May 29 until June 2 and I secured my appointment date (May 22) only 2 weeks before that, something I should've done in late April when I heard about the conference. Getting all the documents ready is quite tricky so if you see something coming and you think you have the shot to get in, hit the schedule an appointment button right away. Click this link to schedule an appointment for Netherlands Visa Application. Note that from the time I applied for an appointment, it is required to pay AED 112 via a credit/debit card for the appointment letter and receipt. Also, my travel period is a peak season so most schedules are tight unless you take the premium application.
    1. A completed and signed Schengen visa application form.
    2. A passport or other travel document - must be valid for at least 3 months from the date on which you leave the Schengen area, must have at least 2 empty visa pages AND cannot have been issued more than 10 years ago.
    3. A copy of an identity document bearing your signature - your Emirates ID and Labor Card or DMCC ID.
    4. Evidence of legal residence in the country you are applying from, e.g. a passport, visa or residence permit and a copy. Residence permit should be valid for at least 3 months after departure from Schengen.
    5. A passport photo that meets Dutch passport requirements. This photo should not be more than 6 months old. 
    6. Travel itinerary - travel reservations in your name, and not a ticket. This includes both airline and hotel reservations which you can cancel.
    7. Health and travel insurance - I have my company health insurance and a travel insurance that I purchased from DNATA.
    8. Documents proving that you will return to your own country after your trip - an NOC from your employer. If you are working from a free zone like DMCC, this needs to be authenticated by the free zone consultative body.
    9. Documents proving your visit relates to business or a cultural or sporting event - in my case, I got an invitation from the company or event I intend to visit in Amsterdam. It is clearly stated in the invitation that I am paying for my travel and expenses. I also provided a document from my employer stating my job, salary and the purpose of my visit. 
    10. 6 months bank statement - to prove that you are earning in the UAE. 
    11. Visa fee - Payment for visa fee must be made in cash, I paid AED 500 in total (AED250 for the Schengen Visa and additional AED250 for premium service to get it in less than a week)
  • ATTEND TO YOUR APPOINTMENT ON TIME. You will not be allowed to come in if you do not have an appointment so like I mentioned, you need to secure your appointment schedule. VFS Global's appointment office is located at the 2nd level of Wafi Mall and a few minutes walk from Dubai Healthcare City Metro Station (Green Line). 
  • KEEP CALM AND PREPARE YOUR LUGGAGE WHILE YOU WAIT FOR YOUR VISA. Once you have already completed the submission and showed up for the appointment, they will be getting your mobile number to update the status of your application. My appointment was at 12:00nn and when I went to the biometrics section, I noticed that all off my documents were placed in a red envelope with orange and red stickers (this means your application is on top priority). After 3 days of impatiently waiting, I got an SMS saying my passport is ready for collection and so I went back to VFS Global to pick it up and viola, APPROVED! Multiple entry valid for one month!

Flying To Amsterdam From Dubai - Connecting Flights Are The Cheapest!

Qatar Airways Economy seat

I used to work as a travel agent for 10months and most of my bookings were done by my colleagues in the travel industry however I check the rates via travel apps like Sky Scanner and Clear Trip. I have no idea how connecting flights work but as I scanned on both apps, there were only two airlines that are competing with a price that fits the budget - Pegasus and Qatar Airways. Knowing QR's reputation as a fancy first class airline, I booked it right away. 

The sad part: the connecting flight has a crazy rapid transfer. This means you only have 1hour to make the transfer to another plane, even less. Situations like flight delays happen (boarding, long lines, queueing at the security x-ray check etc.) and so if you're on a rapid transfer you literally have to run for your life to catch your next flight. And the connecting flight is in Doha for all airports, my jizaz. I was able to reach the other flight in 5mins of running from platform A to C! I sincerely hope Qatar Airways can do something about it. 

The experience on the plane when you get to your seat however is a relief. An economy seat feels like a business class from Philippine Airlines or Cebu Pacific (sorry guys). Food is great, facilities are clean, all the best you can ever think of. You can even watch a movie, play some music or games while flying or just watch from your screen your current location. An hour flight to Doha and 6 hours from Doha to Amsterdam, I arrived at Schiphol International Airport safe and sound. :)

Schiphol's Airport And The Train Station Is A Totally Different World

Amsterdam Airport

A warm and sincere 'Hello, welcome to Amsterdam!' - that's how the Dutch Immigration officer greeted me as I handed him my travel documents. Asked me how long I will be staying, when will I leave, etc. looking so chill then off I go. Since most people speaks English, communicating with everyone I bumped into was easy.

Schiphol airport is not as huge as Hamad Airport in Doha but the feeling of being so small (I'm 5'11) in a city where all people are standing tall (Europeans especially the Dutch people are SOOOOO tall), it was intimidating at first. But then I told myself my elder sister used to step into this airport once, I can survive it too. And was it just me or they just extra kind to mini-Asians like I am?

The I Amsterdam City Card

Amsterdam transportation card

The first thing I searched for at the airport is the Visitor Information Centre and asked about the I Amsterdam City Card. I read about it on Amsterdam's official tourism page and thought it's gonna save me more if I planned on exploring the city, and it did. Read about it here.

Unlimited access to GVB public transport for 96 hours (bus, tram, and metro). I love using the public transportation even in my home country so it really saved me a lot of money when I made the purchase. Aside from that, I was able to get into many museums - for free! And huge discount on some facilities too. And a detailed city map. And I also got an A-Mag. Without the City Card, I may have spent an extra EUR 100 on my travel.

Amsterdam train station

The ticket to the train going to Amsterdam Muiderpoort (the nearest landmark to my hostel) however is not included in the City Card. This should be purchased separately at EUR5. And like a Nol Card in Dubai, you need to tap in and out when you are riding the train.

Don't Book A Room For Yourself,  Share The Amsterdam Experience With Others

room at StayOkay

Like my previous trip to Georgia, I knew beforehand that I won't be staying much inside the hotel so I booked my stay at StayOkay Hostel Zeeburg through The hostel is conveniently located near the train (10minute walk) and several tram and bus stations.

There were 3 bunk beds in the room, I was occupying the 6th bed at the top near the window - a spot that I've always liked and was happy to get when I arrived at the hostel.

I spent 2 nights alone in the room and the other 2 nights were shared with 2 other girls from Canada who were also friendly. The price was reasonable for 4nights at EUR109 including daily buffet breakfast. Hot and cold shower is available, towels and toiletries are chargeable, hairdryer I didn't bother asking, no bidet so you have to learn the tissue trick. 

Hotel staffs were friendly and very polite, they were very helpful in providing information on where to go. I could have booked a hotel somewhere near the conference place but I somewhat like a quiet neighbourhood and StayOkay is one of the best choices I made on this trip.

Power Plugs and Sockets In Amsterdam

power plug type Amsterdam

A lesson learned from my previous travel to Georgia is bringing the right kind of adaptor. The good news is Amsterdam have the same sockets as Tbilisi so I brought with me 3 adaptors of this kind:  type C or F power plug. In Holland they have 230V, so you need to bring a power plug suitable for this voltage. Now I feel like an expert, ha!

Other Useful Things To Bring In Amsterdam

boots in Amsterdam

  • A pair of good quality boots - mine's from Naturalizer. I also have with me a pair of rubber shoes and flats that are good for long walks and wet roads.
  • An umbrella, a sturdy umbrella - it rained most of the time when I was in Amsterdam and it helped that I have my Ikea foldable umbrella with me when I travelled
  • A raincoat
  • Wet Tissue - there's no bidet in most toilets of Amsterdam and the best way to keep your hygiene and keep yourself clean is to carry with you wet tissues all the time.
  • A map - this will be useful for directions. When I was in Amsterdam, I used it most of the time especially my Google Street View App and Google Maps.  
  • Power bank for your mobile and extra battery for your camera because all corners of the streets are worth the snap

I never meant to write this lengthy post so I'm parking my keyboard for now. The next post is something to watch out for because I will once again share my travel photos of my 96hours stay in beautiful Amsterdam. Hope this helped at all! 

Follow my #seeinsideamsterdam feed on Instagram for more photos of my travel.

*  *  *  *  *

I travelled to Amsterdam solo from May 29 to June 2, 2016 for a conference. This post is not sponsored in any way, opinion and photos are my own.


  1. Awesome stuff!!

  2. I read every word! I wanna go to amsterdam too! Can't wait for your photos! xx

    1. You'll love it there. :) I read you Slovenia posts as well, putting this up on the bucket list too. :)

  3. Hi Joy! I just wanted to ask how much would be the enough budget in traveling to Amsterdam for 3 days i.e local experience, good food and all that? thanks xx Krisitne

    1. Hi Kristine! When I was there, I used up only approximately EUR600 for 4 days so 500 for 3 days should be ok. But it will still depend on what activities you'd like to do when you are in Amsterdam. :)

  4. Hi Joy!
    I just want to ask if you have any idea what are the Documents proving your visit relates to tourist purposes only.
    And in your number 6. Travel itinerary - travel reservations in your name, and not a ticket. This includes both airline and hotel reservations which you can cancel.. will this be a confirmed tickets? thanks for your help.

    1. Hi Michelle. I applied for BUSINESS VISA, not a tourist visa. Both have different requirements as my itinerary here is confirmed and I attended for a conference. Perhaps try to read this helpful post instead?

  5. Hi Joy,
    hope you are doing fine.. tanong lng sana ako regarding sa documents proving your visit relates to tourist purposes kung my idea ka kung ano pwedeng iprovide.