Cellphones (Mobile Phones)
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 Holland. 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; 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 Holland; 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.
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 allows 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
Almost all hotels in Amsterdam have Wi-Fi or Internet access either in the rooms or in the public spaces, or both, and either paid-for or free. The full range of connectivity options is possible, including, of course, none at all.
The whole of Schiphol Airport has Wi-Fi connectivity provided by KPN, and Internet access at KPN Internet Centers and KPN Internet Zones. There's a central help number: tel. 020/653-1852.
Dedicated cybercafes have virtually disappeared from the Amsterdam scene, now that Wi-Fi and Internet connections are available at so many hotels, cafes and coffeehouses, and fast-food restaurants.
Newspapers & Magazines
The main British and Irish daily newspapers, and the International Herald Tribune, The Wall Street Journal Europe, USA Today, Time, Newsweek, U.S. News & World Report, Business Week, Fortune, The Economist, and more are available at the American Book Center, Spui 12 (tel. 020/625-5537; tram: 1, 2, or 5), and Waterstone's, Kalverstraat 152 (tel. 020/638-3821; tram: 4, 9, 14, 16, 24, or 25). Newsstands at Schiphol Airport and Centraal Station also stock a wide range of international publications.
Paper Ploy -- If you are on a very tight budget, or can't pass up a chance to save a buck, go to a top hotel's lobby to read the daily papers for free and in comfort. Many elite hotels have giveaway or lobby-only copies of the International Herald Tribune, The Wall Street Journal Europe, and the Financial Times. On second thought, if you're reading to check the health of your financial instruments, you can likely afford to buy your own paper.
To call Amsterdam from outside the Netherlands:
1. Dial the international access code: 011 in the U.S., and 00 in most other countries.
2. Dial the country code for the Netherlands: 31.
3. Dial the area code 20 and then the number. So the whole number you'd dial would be 011-31-20-000-0000.
Area Codes: The area code for Amsterdam is 020 (use just 20 when you're calling from outside the Netherlands). When making local calls in Amsterdam, you don't need to use this area code. When making local calls within other cities, you don't need to use the city's area code. You do, however, need to use an area code between towns and cities.
There are two main formats for Dutch phone numbers: For cities and large towns, a three-digit area code is followed by a seven-digit number. For smaller towns and villages, a four-digit area code is followed by a six-digit number. In addition to Amsterdam's, some other area codes used in this guide are Haarlem, 023; The Hague and Scheveningen, 070; Rotterdam, 010; Delft, 015; Leiden, 071; and Gouda, 0182.
Operator assistance: Call tel. 0800/0410.
Information: For numbers inside the Netherlands, call tel. 0900/8008; for international numbers, call tel. 0900/8418.
Toll-free numbers: Numbers beginning with 0800 within Holland are toll-free, but calling a 1-800 number in the States from Holland is not toll-free. In fact, it costs the same as an overseas call.
Special numbers: 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 on whom you call, it can be up to .90€ a minute.
International calls: To make international calls from Amsterdam, 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 wanted to call the British Embassy in Washington, D.C., you would dial 00-1-202-588-7800. Other country codes are United Kingdom, 44; Ireland, 353; Australia, 61; New Zealand, 64.
International calls, per minute, are U.S. and Canada: .30€; U.K. and Ireland: .35€; Australia and New Zealand: .40€.
You can use payphones in booths all around town with a KPN, and at some places with a Telfort telefoonkaart (phone card) -- but note that neither provider's cards work with the other company's phones. KPN cards sell for 5€, 10€, 20€, and 50€, 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€, which includes an additional 2€ worth of time free.
There are, however, alternatives to buying the KPN and Telfort cards: Some payphones take credit cards, and a few take coins of .10€, .20€, .50€, 1€, and 2€.
Tip: 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.
A busy signal sounds like a sustained dial tone, then a beep-beep sound. Should there be no answer, hang up and the coin comes back to you. On both card and coin phones, a digital reading tracks your decreasing balance so that 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; you'll get a new dial tone for another call.
Both local and long-distance calls from a payphone cost .30€ a minute. Note that calls placed through your hotel switchboard or dialed direct from your room phone usually cost more than twice the standard rate.
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).
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.