Bulldog Coffee Shops, Amsterdam
Because Amsterdam is now so popular for its narco-tourism, there's been an outbreak of coffeeshops which are happy to exploit this. These are often the places which are highly decorated, in big buildings with neon lights etc. Basically, just avoid them. Although you'll see a lot of tourists going in, there's much better to be had. These places are often around the Red Light District, such as "The Bulldog" chain (said to be the McDonald's of coffeeshops by my local friend) and the two Grasshoppers. And one particularly nasty one called "La Canna" (which I believe translates as "the armpit") near Damrak. In there, they sold me a joint full of tobacco for 4euros, taking me for a tourist who wouldn't know the difference. These places are always overpriced, often sell the same low-quality weed under different names (hence a high price) and are always pushing the most expensive on you. And in the Grasshopper and La Canna you have to pay to use the bathroom!
Unique Suggestions: If you must go to one, just don't buy into everything. Don't buy the most expensive weed (cos it probably won't be any different than the cheapest), don't let them con you and just make sure you don't spend too much. But I honestly just recommend staying away. They're also likely to shortchange you.
Fun Alternatives: Go to the ones which you can imagine locals going into. Personally, I recommend Central coffeeshop (nearby to Centraal station, opposite the metro) which is great weed at a great price, Stix (there's two of these, only been to the one near Nieumarkt) and De Dampkring (purely for its selection of good weeds, but it's very crowded). Anywhere which looks like these should be fine. Also, some really good ones can be found outside of Amsterdam: Haarlem's Willie Wortel chain is renowned for being excellent and is campaigning for the legalization of cannabis in England. Really great atmosphere and good banter with the extremely attractive barmaid.
There are quite a few of the Bulldog Coffee Shop chain in Amsterdam. They are all overpriced and over commercialised. The bright trendy signs might pull in the naive uninformed tourists but they really aren't worth the money at all. Expensive and inferior quality cannabis is sold here as well as drinks at inflated prices. Also, the decor inside is nothing special. Quite dingy and unappealing. Much better to check out www.channels.nl for some great advice on the best coffee shops to go to.
Please note that there is a Bulldog which is more orientated to alcohol and it is loud and brash. The drinks are still overpriced but the decor is much better. More like a loud bar/nightclub. It plays annoying dance music though. Not what I like to hear at the best of times, never mind in a chilled out place such as Amsterdam.
Unique Suggestions: Buy your cannabis elsewhere and use it there. Stay for no more than one drink, then leave and go somewhere decent.
Fun Alternatives: Apart from trying www.channels.nl for an extensive list, the ones I can immediately recommend from first hand experience are De Kuil, Grey Area, The Other Place, Greenhouse Effect, Baba's and Betty Boop's. There are many more though and generally the standard is pretty good.
When in Amsterdam make sure you shop around for coffeeshops, it will definately pay off. Some are double in price compared to others. The ones covered in neon lights are probably best to avoid as they are aimed at tourists and will take the mick money wise. The ones that are off the beaten track are the best. We found weed prices range from 8 euros per gram to 15 euros per gram. One placed we walked into wanted a ridiculous amount of money like 35 euros for 2 grams!! Definately a tourist trap.... We found 2 good ones called, Stix and Abraxas. Do not visit one called 'Smokeys' they're there to rip you off and have boucers on the door which is off putting to say the least. Also I have heard bad reviews about 'Bulldog'.
Unique Suggestions: At the end of the day you don't have to buy anything just because you walked in there, we left empty handed from loads of coffeeshops just because the price was shocking and we knew we could do better.
The Bulldog is the coffeeshop to head to if you are looking for only tourists. Prices are too high (high, get it) and there is no local ambiance.
To me, it is almost as commercial as Burger King.
Unique Suggestions: If you have to go, bring your gear from somewhere else and just order a soda so you can smoke in peace.
If you visit Leidseplein, you'll see the Bulldog next to Burger King. It's a coffeeshop, it's in a convenient place, and you'll want to visit.
Drinks are outrageously priced at 10 EURO for a pint of beer. The herb is terrible and overpriced. Service is never met with a smile. In fact, you'll probably feel joy if you're even acknowledged.
Fun Alternatives: Instead:
Walk a little ways down Leidsestraat, look to your left, and go to a coffeeshop called The Dolphins, a coffeeshop where you're actually welcome.
All Bulldog Coffeeshops are a ripoff on weed. Don't go there to buy weed/hash or to hang out unless you are into the college crowd scene. Mainly young people tend to frequent the place or unsuspecting tourists who does not know any better!
Fun Alternatives: Damkring or the Noon coffeeshops, also De kuil, all great places.
Bulldog Palace is a rip off for tourists!! Beware...
Unique Suggestions: If you really have to go there, then go, no big deal, it's a cool place to people-watch, have a few drinks, surf the web etc... but if you're interested in buying soft drugs, I've heard that it's not the best of places as they'll just rip you off....
Fun Alternatives: Coffeeshops are all over the place, just ask a local and he'll let you know which are the best places to go to...
Coffee-shop The Bulldog...
Every tourist from outside Holland wants to visit this most wellknown coffeeshop in the Dutch capital. I can strongly recommend you not to visit this cafe, and go somewhere else. The prices are way too high, the quality isn't that good, and it is a touristic rip-off ! Buy your stuff somewhere else: it is much more cheaper in cities like Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht. A trainjourney worthwhile !