Travel: Holland (Netherlands), Europe
Posted June 6, 2011on:
I just came back from Netherlands (NL) last month with my SO. As I was the one who planned the itinerary, I thought to share the trip here. Besides noting down the wonderful trip with my limited vocabulary, hopefully this will give others who wanted to travel to NL a little bit brief info.
To plan an itinerary for a country that we never been to, I did read a lot of online material and gratefully almost all NL tourism website had provided useful information for first time visitor like us, I even took a reference from some compact Europe tour itineraries of Asia Tour companies. Unfortunately most Europe tours from Asia merely spend a night or half day in Netherlands and the tourist spot was always either the spectacular Tulips garden (in Spring) or iconic windmills or popular Dam Square. Well, Netherlands was certainly more than tulips and windmills to offer!
I would be sharing those places and activities in this week, so I only talk about some tips and trivia in this article.
── ∞ Flight ∞ ──
Early bird catches the worm. We were lucky to grasp an unbeatable offer from KLM (Dutch Airways) two months before the departure, it was among the cheapest fare available and offered direct flight from Bangkok to Amsterdam. What a steal!
── ∞ Accommodation ∞ ──
Finding €100-€115 per double room per night with private bathroom and nice environment (Was I too picky?) in Amsterdam was almost an impossible task in high season, not to say I already tried to search and book a good value accommodation at least one and a half month before the trip, yet all the good reviewed hotels which we favored were fully booked for our date, including B&B and apartment. Thanks to reviewers of Tripadvisor, instead of staying in Amsterdam, I finally made up my mind and convinced my SO to stay in Rotterdam (second largest city of Holland) for first four days. We spent 4 nights in Rotterdam and 4 nights in Amsterdam.
── ∞ Packing ∞ ──
Besides the mild weather in spring, I was glad I packed less because all the amenities provided by 4-star hotel. Other packing like getting a spare camera battery, few scent pouches inside the baggage because I know some of the clothes I would be wearing for few days, a photocopy of passport and print out of hotel booking just in case, inform your bank to unblock your credit card during the period, buy a travel insurance … etc. Get some tips here.
── ∞ Visa Requirement ∞ ──
My nationality/ passport does not require visa to enter NL, however, Thai national does required a visa to NL. Check the link if you are not sure do you need visa to NL and allow some buffer time to apply visa.
░ Useful link ░
── ∞ Tax Refund ∞ ──
VAT (Value Added Tax) in Netherlands is 19%. Look for any Global Blue affiliate retailer. If you purchase minimum €50 in a store in a day in NL and not a EU resident, you are entitled to the tax refund. There are 3 steps to get your VAT refund : Get it –> Stamp it –> Cash it. Nevertheless, for refund percentage was based on different product division. For instance, I got 9 to 10% refund for cosmetics, fashion and small leather goods. A staff in Coster Diamond told me 14.5% VAT refund for jewelry. The minimum refund amount is €25 and up to maximum €200. I was rather enjoyed the queue-free by credit the refund to my credit card, if you want refund in cash (€), do expect a long queue. This article gives more general details about the VAT refund in Europe.
░ Useful link ░
Always ask when not sure of anything, everyone in Netherlands can speak English. Last but not least, we were blessed and truly grateful our journey was not being affected by the ash of Icelandic volcano eruption during the period.
░ Itinerary ░