1. If you are flying from the US, schedule your flight so that you leave in the afternoon and arrive early morning. Sleep on the plane (either because you were up the night before packing/partying, or by prescribed/over-the-counter sleep medication) so that you arrive in Amsterdam fresh for the first morning. Try not to take a nap until it's evening. This will help get your body on schedule. When returning, leave in the morning which will get you back to the US midafternoon. The combination of staying out late the night before and sleeping a bit on the plane might get you back on track to reduce jet lag.
2. Visit the IAmsterdam.com website and consider purchasing an "I Amsterdam" card. The card includes a strippekart (travel on trams, buses and other public transportation) as well as free or discounted admission to several museums and attractions.
3. Familiarize yourself with the tram routes. Everything is walkable, few distances are more than a 15-20 minute walk, though the trams run quickly and efficiently. Most quit running at midnight though.
4. Check the weather and dress appropriately. A raincoat and a sweater are both good things to have on hand. But if you forget, there are lots of great shops and boutiques. Most stores do close at 6pm though.
5. Photocopy your passport to carry with you. Leave your original in your hotel's safe.
6. Don't be afraid to ask for help. The front desk staff at your hotel will help you get anywhere you want to. The locals are very friendly and willing to help in cause you get lost. Just about everyone speaks English as well.
7. Eat where the locals eat. That's how we discovered the Luden Restaurant and Brasserie where we found delicious food and incredible service for a very moderate price. Also check out a Thai or Indonesian restarant while you are there. For a unique cafeteria experience, check out noodle eatery Wagamama.
8. Make sure your phone is compatible with the digital network and verify the cost structure. If not, the Nokia store at the Schiphol airport rents phones and SIM cards. The rates are reasonable but be prepared for a E900 hold on your credit card. I used T-Mobile's international rate which covers all calls internationally for 99 cents/minute. I had really good reception with my Sidekick 3 all over town with quick data transmission as well.
9. See the city - obviously the red light district has to be seen to be believed, but there are museums, art galleries and several historically important places in the city. Check with the front desk of the hotel for more information.
10. Have fun, but be responsible. The coffeehouses do sell marijuana and it is legal for consumption on premises, but remember to stay in control of yourself. The crime rate is extremely low but there is no reason to make yourself an easy target.
11. Before you leave the Schiphol airport, convert enough money to euros to get you from the airport to the hotel and a meal. Using the ATM machines with your debit or credit card will most likely get you a better conversion rate. Be sure to notify your bank/credit card company that you will be traveling internationally.
12. MTV is actually good over there. Sure, the daytime is full of the same reality crap they foist on us over here, but watching it with dutch subtitles makes it more fun. After you come back from the clubs, watch for dance videos. During the week I was there I saw the videos for dance artists like Tiesto (Dance 4 Life - why exactly are the Blue Men Group in the video?), Jekyll and Hyde (Frozen Flame - the lego video), and Pussycat Dolls (Don't Need a Man - wonder if that will be a single in the US) in addition to the hip-hop/rock you would expect. Falling asleep to the TV is quite fun as well - it's Europe, full-frontal nudity on TV is acceptable.
13. If you plan to go shopping, collect VAT Refund checks on all purchases above 50 Euros. The 15.97% Vat will be refunded either at the airport or via mail. For more information, go to www.globalrefund.com website
14. Check out goamsterdam.about.com for more information about visiting Amsterdam.
See tips for attending Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE) next page.