Holland is about as safe as countries get. Sure, walking through the red light districts of the bigger cities at 3 in the morning might up your chances of finding trouble but for the most part you’ll either be very unlucky or very confrontational to find much in the way of violence here.
Amsterdam, Den Haag and Rotterdam have their bad neighborhoods but in no way do they compare to American ghettoes, to peripheral neighborhoods in Paris or to Brixton in London. Overall, one must be very provocative to get in a fight in Holland and very unlucky and lost to get mugged.
For many travelers, heading to Holland means getting more stoned than they’ve ever been in their lives. Legally. Go ahead, light up and have a lot of fun but remember that marijuana is only a means to an end and there’s no obligation to smoke until you can’t remember your name.
That especially goes if you plan to smoke and ride a bicycle in Holland. With the cars going one way, the bike lanes another and the trams – known as the ‘silent killers’ – coming on another circuit, it’s not too hard to wipe yourself out in traffic here if you’re not feeling too alert.
The trams can maim you even when they’re not running though. If you manage to get your front wheel caught in these evil, inconspicuous tracks then you’re done for. At least if you’re drunk then you’re likely to fall more lightly and not feel quite as foolish. Don’t worry though – even the Dutch, who seem to be born on bikes, make the occasional mistake and the result can be dramatic.
One way to compensate for limited bike riding skills is to rent very flashy bikes with showy rental logos. That way the taxi drivers will know you’re a tourist and give you a couple more centimeters distance when they overtake you at top speed. Also, and this is an important point, bike thieves – a highly common breed in city centers – are reluctant to steal flashy personalized bikes. They’re too recognizable.
Although the redlight district can feel quite sleazy with groups of junkies slouching around, trying to sell you hard drugs. Don’t forget that every square centimeter of the redlight districts are under constant camera surveillance and there are undercover cops around all the time.
And just in case you were tempted by a dip in the canals found in so many cities in Holland, just remember that they’re the final resting place for bikes, washing machines and other household appliances that can be found rusting away in the bottom of these canals. Also, don’t forget that those picturesque houseboats aren’t hooked up to any sewage system so they simply flush straight into the canals…