Do’s And Don’ts While Travelling In Amsterdam

Posted on: 24th September 2014

Travelling In AmsterdamCustoms

The Dutch society is modern and individualistic. Although they are basically very welcoming and nonchalant, the Dutch are also very direct and open, and do not hesitate from voicing their thoughts. They say what they feel, and are not afraid of it. However, it must be kept in mind that they express themselves just because they are honest, and not because they intend to offend. Colin White, the author of The UnDutchables, writes in his book, ‘Their directness gives many the impression that they are rude and crude – attributes they prefer to call openness.’ The Dutch consider themselves independent, modest and self-reliant. Most of the people in Amsterdam are proud multi-linguals.

Dutch greetings and phrases

Although most of the people in Amsterdam are able to speak English, and English-speaking travellers need not learn Dutch to be able to communicate in the host country, it is courteous to learn a few phrases or words of greetings to show your appreciation of the Dutch culture and the ability of the people to speak your language.

Normally, you should shake hands with people when greeting them and introduce yourself first. Family and close friends of the opposite sex are greeted with three kisses on the cheek.

Here are some common phrases and greeting to help you out. Hallo (hello) is the easiest one to learn and is appropriate to be used almost anywhere, anytime. Hoi (hi) is casual and mostly said to people you know. Goedemorgen (good morning), goededag (good day), goedemiddag (good afternoon), and goedenavond (good evening) are more formal and are normally used in public places such as shops, museums and restaurants. Dag (bye) is appropriate for using with almost everyone. Dank u wel (thank you) and graagt (please) are some of the polite words you can use. Sorry and pardon are said just the way in English, but with a little difference in pronunciation.

What to wear

You should avoid wearing exposing clothes, such as shorts, while visiting a church service. Women are advised to wear pants or a long skirt, shirt with long sleeves and a scarf to cover their head while visiting a mosque.

Dining with the Dutch

If you are invited to a Dutch’s home, it is preferable to take a bottle of wine or a bouquet of flowers as a gift. Arriving about ten minutes late is considered polite, because it allows your Dutch host a little time to make the last minute preparations.

It is a normal practice to offer coffee to their guests before any alcoholic beverages. Try to keep both your hands on the table during the meal.

Doing business with the Dutch

When meeting business associates, be very punctual. Greet them with their family names and shake hands.

The Dutch are not in a hurry like the Americans, and the pace of the meetings is calm. Do not rush into business discussions, rather spend a little time chatting about general topics such as the weather. If you are acquainted with your business associate’s family, ask about them. Expect negotiations and discussions to drag on if there are several Dutch attending the meeting.

Everyone is given a chance to speak their mind in a Dutch business, even if it is the discussion of petty issues ad nauseam. Although giving everyone a chance to voice their opinion is fair, the process can become very long and frustrating, especially if you are used to having decisions made quickly,

The people of Holland tend to have a light breakfast, which is why morning meetings are not popular there. Afternoon meetings involving lunch are more popular. It is normal for the Dutch people to have milk with their lunch – do not let it surprise you!

Language of the Netherlands

You must aim to learn a bit of their language. You do not need to struggle to get the same fluency as the locals but just being able to speak a few of the phrases is sure to feel rewarding.

The Netherlands has two official languages. One is Dutch which is used across the entire country and the other is Friese which is spoken in the North only. English is widely spoken in Amsterdam and other towns and cities.

English is taught in the state schools to children aged eight. English is their second language. Not only are the Dutch proficient at speaking it, but they are also very happy to help their English-speaking guests, so much that they would answer you in English for questions that you ask in Dutch. Most of the sign boards and notices also contain information in English. You can find people speaking English even in villages.

Share this feature

Tomorro Email Newsletter
Subscribe to hear about future competitions and how your entries are making a difference