Amsterdam is everything Singapore is not—environmentally friendly, laid back and liberal. Which could be why more and more young Singaporeans are opting to spending their holidays there.
Whether you’re into museums or partying hard, it’s a great destination so long as you’re prepared for the high prices. Here’s how to do Amsterdam on a budget.
If you’re a seasoned traveller, you already know to avoid the school holidays in June and December, and to check Kayak or Skyscanner religiously in the lead up to your trip.
At most times of the year it should be easy to get flights for about 1,000 SGD. But if you have some flexibility with your dates and actually bother doing your homework, you should be able to get flights around 900+ SGD. At the moment, there are flights departing in May that are going for about 850 SGD.
Cost: 1,000 SGD
This is going to be your biggest cost. There are no ways around it—accommodation in Amsterdam is expensive. Avoid travelling in the summer months from June to August, when hotels are fully booked and prices rise. You’re generally looking at at least 100 euro (153.15 SGD) for a hotel room, and even a bed in a hostel dorm will cost you at least 20 euro (30.63 SGD SGD).
This means Airbnb is pretty much indispensable here, especially if you’re travelling in a group of two or three. You should be able to get a room or even an entire apartment in the city centre for under 100 SGD.
For instance, you get to stay on a houseboat (!) for 97 SGD a night (accommodates up to two people). If you prefer to stay on land there’s this entire studio apartment which accommodates two close to Westerpark going for 98 SGD. For those on a tighter budget, this room for two close to the city centre costs 57 SGD for one person and 73 SGD for two, while this one costs 55 SGD for one person and 79 SGD for two.
Pick a cheaper place on Airbnb and travel with a friend, and keeping your accommodation costs to less than 40 SGD a night is doable.
If you’re really on a budget, you and your travel companion can opt for a private room in a hostel, which can be as cheap as 20 euro (30.63 SGD) to 40 euro (61.26 SGD), but don’t expect to get your own bathroom.
Cost: 40 SGD per night / 240 SGD for a week
There are two main ways to get around Amsterdam—bicycle or tram. The tram is fairly expensive at 2.90 euro (4.44 SGD) for a one hour ticket, even if you’re only taking it for one pathetic stop.
There are also GVP day passes for 7.50 euro (11.49 SGD) / 2 days for 12.50 euro (19.41 SGD) / 3 days for 17 euro (26.04 SGD) / 4 days for 21.50 euro (32.93 SGD) / 5 days for 26.50 euro (40.59 SGD) / 6 days for 30 euro (45.95 SGD). These passes give you unlimited rides on all available modes of transport—bus, tram and metro.
But the best way to get around is by bicycle. This is the best country in the world for cycling as the land is totally flat and there are dedicated bike paths for all roads. While you should obviously keep your wits about you, cycling in Amsterdam is not the near-death experience it is in Singapore. You can find bike rental kiosks all over the city and can expect to pay about 8 euro (12.25 SGD) to 10 euro (15.32 SGD) per day.
The city is actually quite walkable and not very big, so if you have strong legs you can actually see a great deal on foot.
Cost: 30 euro (45.95 SGD)
While most people under the age of 21 think of Amsterdam as a place filled with “coffee shops” and home to a famous red light district, it’s also one of the world’s best destinations for museums. Admittedly, sightseeing in Amsterdam is going to cost a lot as admission to museums isn’t cheap, but here are some places you shouldn’t miss.
- Ann Frank House: 9 euro (13.78 SGD) / 4.50 euro (6.89 SGD) for kids aged 10-17 / free for kids aged 0-9 (remember to book in advance online as places are limited)
- Rijksmuseum: 17.50 euro (28.60 SGD) / free for those aged 18 and below
- Van Gogh Museum: 17 euro (26.04 SGD) / free for those under 18
- Rembrandt House: 13 euro (19.91 SGD) / 4 euro (6.13 SGD) for kids aged 6 to 17 / free for kids under 6 / 10 euro (15.32 SGD) for students with ISIC card
- Sex Museum: 4 euro (6.13 euro)
- Waterlooplein Market: free
- Vondelpark: free
You might be tempted to get the iamsterdam City Card, which gives you free public transport as well as free entry to certain museums and other discounts. However many of the above museums are not on the list or are eligible for only a 25% discount.
So you’ll have to check the list and see if it’s a good deal for you based on the places you want to see. A 24 hour pass costs 55 euro (84.32 SGD) / 48 hours for 65 euro (99.55 SGD) / 72 hours for 75 euro (114.86 SGD) / 96 hours for 85 euro (130.18 SGD).
Cost: 100 euro / 153.15 SGD
If you’re feeling broke after blowing your budget on museums and accommodation, well, at least the food isn’t anything to shout about. This gives you more incentive to book Airbnb accommodation with a kitchen you can use, since you’ll save quite a bit making one meal a day on your own.
Once you hit the city centre you’ll notice tons of falafel / shawarma shops. These are often open till late and are the city’s cheapest food options. A meal at one of these joints will cost you 5 euro (7.66 SGD) to 9 euro (13.78 SGD). There are also some pizza or sandwich joints where you can expect to spend about 7 euro (10.72 SGD) to 12 euro (18.38 SGD). Look out for the guys with the pushcarts selling Dutch herring—it’s tasty (unless you don’t like raw fish) and relatively inexpensive.
A nice sit-down meal at a mid-range restaurant, on the other hand, is going to set you back 20 euro (30.63 SGD) to 30 euro (45.95 SGD), and is not really recommended if you’re on a budget.
Hey, at least the beer is cheap—a draught beer at a bar costs about 2.80 euro (4.29 SGD).
Cost: 20 euro (30.63 SGD) per day / 214.41 SGD for a week
Total cost of a week-long trip to Amsterdam: 1,653.51 SGD
You can do this trip for a few hundred dollars less if you are willing to stay in private rooms in hostels, cook some meals at your accommodation and manage to get one of those sub-$1,000 flights.
Have you ever been to Amsterdam? Share your experiences in the comments!