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Telephones

The country code for the Netherlands is 31. When calling Holland from abroad, you do not use the initial 0 in the area code. For example, if you're calling an Amsterdam number (area code 020) from outside Holland, you dial the international access code (which is 011 when calling from North America, and 00 from elsewhere in Europe) and then 31-20, followed by the subscriber number. You only dial the initial 0 of the area code if you're calling within Holland.

When making local calls in Holland, you won't need to use the area codes shown here. You do need to use an area code between towns and cities. The two main formats for Dutch phone numbers are: for cities and large towns, a three-digit area code followed by a seven-digit number; and for small towns and villages, a four-digit area code followed by a six-digit number.

For operator assistance, call tel. 0800/0410. For information inside Holland, dial tel. 0900/8008; for international information, dial tel. 0900/8418 for multiple numbers, and 118 for a maximum one number per call. Numbers beginning with 0800 within Holland are toll-free, but calling a 1-800 number in the United States from Holland is not toll-free. In fact, it costs the same as an overseas call. Watch out for the special Dutch numbers that begin with 0900. Calls to these are charged at a higher rate than ordinary local calls. Depending who you call, they can cost up to 1€ ($1.60) a minute.

To make international calls from the Netherlands, first dial 00 and then the country code. To call the United States or Canada, dial 00 (the international access code) + 1 (the country code) + the area code + the number. For example, if you want to call the British Embassy in Washington, D.C., you dial 00-1-202-588-7800. Other country codes are: United Kingdom, 44; Ireland, 353; Australia, 61; New Zealand, 64. International calls, per minute, cost: U.S. and Canada: 0.30€ (50¢); U.K. and Ireland: 0.35€ (55¢); Australia and New Zealand: 0.40€ (65¢).

You can use pay phones with either a KPN or a Telfort telekaart (phone card) -- but note that neither company's card works with the other company's phones. KPN cards are 5€ ($8), 10€ ($16), 20€ ($32), and 50€ ($80), from post offices, train ticket counters, VVV tourist information offices, GWK Travelex currency-exchange offices, and some tobacconists and newsstands. Telfort cards sell for 8€ ($13) and you get an additional 2€ ($3.20) worth of time free. Some pay phones take credit cards. A few take coins of 0.10€, 0.20€, 0.50€, 1€, and 2€. Use smaller coins whenever possible, at least until you are connected with the right person, as no change is given from an individual coin, and once the call has begun, excess coins will not be returned when you hang up. Both local and long-distance calls from a pay phone are 0.30€ (50¢) a minute.

There's a sustained dial tone, and a beep-beep sound for a busy signal. Should there be no answer, hang up and the coin comes back to you. On card and coin phones, a digital reading tracks your decreasing deposit so you know when to add another card or more coins. To make additional calls when you still have a coin or card inserted, briefly break the connection, and you will get a new dial tone for another call.

To charge a call to your calling card, call AT&T (tel. 0800/022-9111), MCI (tel. 0800/022-9122), Sprint (tel. 0800/022-9119), Canada Direct (tel. 0800/022-9116), British Telecom (tel. 0800/022-9944), Australia Direct (tel. 0800/022-0061), or Telecom New Zealand (tel. 0800/022-4295).

Cellphones

If your phone has GSM (Global System for Mobiles) capability and you have a world-compatible phone, you should be able to make and receive calls from the Benelux countries. Only certain phones have this capability, though, and you should check with your service operator first. Call charges can be high. Alternatively, you can rent a phone through Cellhire (www.cellhire.com, www.cellhire.co.uk, or www.cellhire.com.au). After a simple online registration, they will ship a phone (usually with a U.K. number) to your home or office. Usage charges can be astronomical, so read the fine print.

U.K. mobiles work in the Benelux countries; call your service provider before departing your home country to ensure that the international call bar has been switched off and to check call charges, which can be extremely high. Also remember that you are charged for calls you receive on a U.K. mobile used abroad.

In Holland, go to Telecom Rentcenter (tel. 020/653-0999; www.rentcenter.nl), in the Arrivals hall at Schiphol Airport.

Voice-Over Internet Protocol (VOIP)

If you have Web access while traveling, consider a broadband-based telephone service (in technical terms, Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP) such as Skype (www.skype.com) or Vonage (www.vonage.com), which allow you to make free international calls from your laptop or in a cybercafe. Neither service requires the people you're calling to also have that service (though there are fees if they do not). Check the websites for details.

Internet & E-Mail

With Your Own Computer -- More and more hotels, hostels, bars, coffeehouses, and cafes have terminals and/or Wi-Fi hotspots with Internet access. To find public Wi-Fi hotspots in the Benelux lands, go to www.jiwire.com; its Hotspot Finder holds the world's largest directory of public wireless hotspots.

Without Your Own Computer -- The number of dedicated Internet cafes is declining in all three Benelux lands. You'll still find them, just not so many, due to the fact that many hotels, hostels, bars, coffeehouses, and cafes have terminals and/or Wi-Fi hotspots with Internet access.

Online Traveler's Toolbox

Veteran travelers usually carry some essential items to make their trips easier. Following is a selection of handy online tools to bookmark and use.

  • Airplane Food (www.airlinemeals.net)
  • Airplane Seating (www.seatguru.com and www.airlinequality.com)
  • Foreign Languages for Travelers (www.travlang.com)
  • Maps (www.mapquest.com)
  • Subway Navigator (www.subwaynavigator.com)
  • Time and Date (www.timeanddate.com)
  • Travel Warnings (http://travel.state.gov, www.fco.gov.uk/travel, www.voyage.gc.ca, and www.smartraveller.gov.au)
  • Universal Currency Converter (www.oanda.com)
  • Weather (www.intellicast.com and www.weather.com)
  • Holland Tourist Information (www.visitholland.com and www.amsterdamtourist.nl)
  • Virtual Tour of Amsterdam (www.channels.nl)
  • Museums in Holland (www.hollandmuseums.nl)
  • Reserve an Amsterdam Hotel Online (www.go-amsterdam.org)
  • Public Transportation (www.9292ov.nl)
  • Dining Out in Holland (www.iens.nl, and www.specialbite.nl)
  • Hip Happenings (www.amsterdamhotspots.nl)

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.