Historic Central Amsterdam
Health and safety
Biking around is one of the things that will make you blend in with the Amsterdammers and will help you stay in shape! And more tips on sports and safety aspects of your stay.
The closest hospital is the OLVG, but consider going to the AMC, Meibergdreef 9, tel. 0205669111, which is farther away but less crowded, you can take the subway to Gein, metro stop Holendrecht.
Medical Doctor Dr. de Bruyne
The closest medical doctor is Dr. Cor de Bruyne.
The closest pharmacies for prescription drugs are Van der Meulen at Geldersekade 84a or Dam at Damstraat 2 on the corner with Dam Square.
In general Amsterdam is safe. Beware of pickpockets though, especially when it is crowded as it is in subways, trams and on markets. The train ride to and from the airport, and the tram lines between the city and the museums are notorious (line 1, 2 and 5).
But if you take the normal precautions (no open backpacks, no obvious wallets in your back pocket) you will be fine. There are no real no-go areas in the city center, and you can walk or bike around at any time of day and night.
The Red Light District
The “Wallen”, the (in)famous red light district, is very safe although it may not feel like it at first glance. But the pimps want it to be safe for the sake of their business. Please observe that staring at the prostitutes and photographing them is not appreciated.
The Dutch and Drugs
The Dutch make a clear distinction between hard drugs (drugs with unacceptable risks involved) and soft drugs (drugs with limited risks). Hard drugs are illegal and sentences run up to 12 years imprisonment. Strictly speaking the sale and use of soft drugs is illegal too, but use and possession for personal use up to 30 grams is ’condoned ’ and is not being prosecuted (be warned: import and export is!). By keeping soft drugs out in the open makes it possible to control it more, is the idea behind this. And hopefully keeping people using soft drugs out of the crime scene and related risks of getting into hard drugs.
Does it work? (Source: Ministry of Health, April 2003)
- As far as cannabis use is concerned, the Netherlands occupies a middle position in the EU.
- If we look at the number of problematic drug users, the Netherlands has the lowest rate per thousand inhabitants. Despite the fact that recent cocaine and XTC use in our country have been above the average for Europe, the Netherlands have just 2.6 problematic drug users per thousand inhabitants.
- The incidence of AIDS as a result of injecting drugs is far below the European average in the Netherlands.
- The Netherlands has the second lowest acute mortality rate due to drug use in the EU.
They are illegal since the end of 2008. There have been a number of deadly incidents in 2007 and 2008 with tourists that freaked out, jumped of a bridge or fell out of a hotel room window. And these were not people with a ‘drug history’, but just average visitors to Amsterdam trying something out. I have zero tolerance towards using illegal drugs in the apartment.
Another strong advice to stay away from hard drugs altogether, even though it may be offered to you in all kinds of places. They are illegal in Holland and particularly as a stranger you run serious health risks not knowing what you are taking. There have been a number of drug busts by the police in local clubs recently, focusing on hard drugs and any form of drug dealing.
The use of any kind of hard drug in the apartment will not be tolerated.
In the centre of Amsterdam you will see a lot of coffee shops, a strange word to describe places where you can buy soft drugs.
Coffee shops are to stick to a number of strict rules:
- no active promotion
- no selling of hard drugs
- everyone inside should be at least 18 years of age
- selling limited to 5 grams per transaction
- a maximum of 500 grams in stock
- no serving of alcoholic beverages
(There are plans to make the purchase of soft drug exclusively for Dutch residents. However, so far no legislation is in place, and so far things work like they have for many years.)
Hasj and Marihuana
If you want to enjoy the pleasure of soft drugs be warned at the same time: Dutch quality can be dangerous; even if you think you can handle it. Start low and go slow.
Many people expect the same quality and strength as at home and use the same quantities as they are used to. You will not be the first one to end up in hospital. Never use hash cake or hash tea as you can not control the quantities of cannabis. Hash cake or tea works extremely slow but when it does hit, it is too late to do anything about it. It can send you straight to the OLVG hospital, where they will laugh about you (you will probably be nr. 10 that day with this problem). For you it may become a very unpleasant and even frightening experience.
Do not smoke in public places or bars, unless it is a hasj coffee shop. The Dutch condone smoking cannabis, but they prefer not to be bothered by it. Check the shopping section for some infamous ‘coffee shops.’