The Netherlands is generally considered a very safe country (regarding rape or murder rates), however, small mischiefs are present on daily basis, mostly on streets of larger and more busy cities. In today’s article I’ll try to explain you exactly what to look out for during your trip in the Netherlands, I hope you’ll find it helpful!
There are numerous stoners hanging around parks and smaller streets, looking for a curious tourist to scam. They are very dangerous for various reasons, as:
- selling fake drugs (just some kind of dust or whatever),
- selling drugs that are not what they are advertised to be and the consequences might well be fatal,
- asking quadruple the price you’d be asked to pay in coffee shops,
- moreover, you can get in some real trouble with law since this kind of dealing is strictly prohibited.
My best advise is to avoid drugs at all, but if you really want them, head to certified coffeeshops which you’ll find pretty much in every town in the Netherlands.
Pickpockets are a very common sight in the Netherlands, especially in Amsterdam. Usually they work in gangs, and they can be very dangerous as well. You can find signs saying “bewaar de zakkenrollen” at every more busy place, but I’d recommend you to be cautious all the time – you never know. Notably in the trams occur the most pickpockets cases (the famous Tram 5 running between Amstelveen and Amsterdam Centraal is known for being the most dangerous to step in – it’s estimated that about 40% of pickpockets cases happen in there!).
In this point, I’d advise you not to make yourself look like a target – do not wear spacious backpacks, carry all your needs within the hand’s reach or in a secret place, carry a photocopy of your papers instead of the real ones, and always get a good travel insurance.
- Spilled liquid scam
Maybe you’ve already heard of it, maybe not, but this is one of the most common scams all over the work. The person, usually the “begger” spills some kind of liquid over you to distract you, while his companions, pretending they want to help you, steal your belongings.
I advise you to do the same as in the previous point, however, since these scams usually occur on less busy streets (and bridges), I’d like to point out this: keep an eye out for anyone trying to get too close to you and accelerate if you see someone suspicious approaching you!
- May I help you?
This is a very popular way of scamming tourists since let’s be real, Dutch signs are absolutely unreadable for anyone foreign, and you might get lost very fast. Such scammers are looking for “desperate faces”, so they can offer help and subsequently rob you.
My tip is to get an offline translator or study a map properly before heading out, and ignore such people. Some may have clear intentions, but you never know.
- Spiked cookies/drinks
Random people offering things for free aren’t anything new, just remember to never accept anything and you’ll be pretty much fine. Not even from elderly looking ladies, such scammers usually work in gangs and might even use elder people as distraction!
- Food “museum”
Such a common sights in the streets of Amsterdam: food shops with “museum” attached behind their name, charging an entrance fee to everyone who steps in.
I advise you to do a research before heading out to streets, such “museums” are usually pretty expensive!
- Fake police
Since Amsterdam is well known for its acquiescent attitude towards possessing soft drugs, some youngsters have decided to make something out of it and dressed up as police, they randomly ask people on the street about their possession of drugs. If they won’t find anything, it’s OK, but if they do, you’ll be asked to pay pricy fine. Watch out for it!
- Expensive taxis
I´ve already talked about this before (How to save on public transport in the Netherlands?), but taxis are very expensive around the Netherlands, and flagging down the taxi is prohibited.
Therefore I’d like to recommend you alternate ways of travelling: trams, metro, buses or Uber and Taxify.
- Fake taxis
Even worse than pricey taxis are fake taxis: they’re usually waiting by the “standplaats taxis” sign by the Schiphol airport, waiting for tourists to scam: once inside, they either rob you immediately and kick you off, or drive you far away and force you to pay a ransom for yourself.
Licenses of fake taxi drivers look very real, watch out for it! However, there is one huge difference: 99% of real taxis are very sumptuous: you’ll never spot any other brand than Mercedes, BMW or Audi, while these fake taxi drivers use older and less luxury cars.
All in all, there are many occasions for anyone to get scammed, however, if you take thorough precautions, you should survive your visit in the Netherlands totally fine. Just keep your eyes open and be cautious!
Enjoy your trip and have a great day!
My main source for this article had been the Travel Scams page, however, all the descriptions and opinions are mine.