Young Thais are drawn by the big city lifestyle
Amsterdam is not just marijuana and museums.
Explore the Dutch capital’s streets and waterways with this helpful guide and you will not only avoid the tourist traps but uncover great markets, lesser-known museums and charming bars, cafes and restaurants.
Where to sleep
Budget: Each of the eight simply furnished rooms at Hotel Brouwer, in a house dating back to 1652, has a canal view and is named after a famous Dutch painter - with a print by that same painter inside. Prices start at 60 euros.
Mid-range: Conveniently located close to the Concertgebouw, and with a tram stop outside, Museum Square Hotel is a family-run place with bright modern rooms with large windows. Prices from around 89 euros.
Luxury: Set in an 18th-century mansion, Hotel Roemer has all the extra touches you would want from a boutique hotel - bedrooms with sitting areas, a bar and restaurant, pretty gardens, bikes for hire and a DVD library. Prices start at 155 euros.
What to see
Budget: Enter at the unmarked rear of Amsterdam's Historisch Museum for the Civic Guards Gallery, a street glazed over to house epic group portraits of the militia. Entrance is 10 euros for adults.
Mid-range: Noordermarkt hosts several lively markets a week, including Monday's flea market and Saturday's bird market and farmers' market. Open 8 am to 1 pm Monday, 10 am to 3 pm Saturday.
Luxury: The grand Concertgebouw is considered one of the finest concert halls in the world due to its fantastic acoustics. Its 800-odd shows a year include classical, jazz and world music concerts. Prices vary.
Where to eat
Budget: Walk through the kitchen to reach the dining room at Hein, a simple but stylish sky-lit café open for breakfast and lunch. Expect dishes such as croque monsieur. Mains start from 5 euros.
Mid-range: Indonesian food has always been popular in Amsterdam with rijsttafel (rice with loads of sides) created as a Dutch colonial feast. Tujuh Maret does a good version, plus satay and other authentic dishes. Mains from 13.50 euros.
Luxury: Inside a 17th-century former herb warehouse in the Red Light District, Blauw aan de wal is a rose among thorns. Try the refined Mediterranean-inspired dishes in the garden. A three-course menu costs 55 euros.
Where to drink
Budget: The tasting room of Amsterdam's leading microbrewery, Brouwerij 't IJ, has a down and dirty beer hall feel. Walls are lined with dry hops and bottles from around the world, and the house brew is on tap.
Mid-range: The pretty terrace of Café 't Smalle overlooks the canal while inside there is a distillery, a tasting house dating back to 1786 and porcelain beer pumps.
Luxury: Grab a coffee or glass of champagne, and people watch from the balcony and waterside terraces of Café de Jaren, a soaring, grand cafe.