Places 04 Jul 2024 8 MIN

Diipa Büller-Khosla’s Amsterdam goes beyond sex, drugs, and parties

From a local afterwork ritual to a secret destination, the multi-hyphenate plays guide by sharing her personal favourites from the Dutch capital

When Diipa Büller-Khosla first moved to Amsterdam at age 17, to study law and psychology at the University College Utrecht, she had a hard time settling in. Today, the global fashion and beauty influencer, who runs the multinational Ayurvedic beauty brand indē wild, while also campaigning for gender equality through her NGO, Post For Change, can call the Dutch capital her domicile. 
Amsterdam is where she met her husband, Oleg Büller, then a third-year student of international law and history at the same uni. It is also where their daughter, Dua, was born. Over the years, as the family explored the city together, the transition got easier and life as a local, more interesting. “I love how nature-driven and open-minded the locals are,” shares Büller-Khosla, now in retrospect. “Ever heard the funny saying ‘Doe Normaal’ in Amsterdam? It means ‘be normal’ but really it’s just Dutch for ‘chill out and be cool’. 
For the most part, Amsterdam sounds like the complete opposite of her second base, Mumbai. “Cars are just not a thing [in Amsterdam],” she explains, “Even public transport takes a backseat. People bike everywhere—to work, to the grocery shop, and even while moving houses.”   
She channels her insider knowledge to curate an itinerary for The Nod that bypasses the guidebook staples like Anne Frank Huis and the Rijksmuseum, as well as the tourist traps by the canal. From a local work ritual that beats corporate Fun Fridays to a secret vintage store where Gucci and Dior can be had at unbelievable prices, Khosla’s Amsterdam guide goes beyond its party image, to uncover a side of the city you’d never see otherwise.

A vintage store to get your hands on the best fashion brands

For luxury brands, I’d recommend L’Étoile. From the classic Gucci horse-head buckle belt to the iconic Lady Dior bags, you’ll find many thrifty yet classic high-end brands here. True vintage lovers would love IJ-Hallen as well—it’s a market that happens once a month at the Amsterdam port. You can spend the whole day shopping for some incredible finds in clothing, jewellery, and homeware.

The best thing to bring home from an Amsterdam supermarket

Every cheese possible, and stroopwafels.

A secret spot that no guidebook will recommend

A bridge called the Blauwbrug. If you are feeling adventurous, you can climb over it, hang out, and watch the boats.

A music store to spend time in

ZAP Records. It’s in a bustling tourist area [Paleisstraat 137] but once you enter, you can drown out the noise, immerse yourself in vinyl culture, and just be one with music.

The best place to get Amsterdam fries

Vlaams Friteshuis Vlemnickx. A hole-in-the-wall, no-place-to-sit sort of vibe, but they offer a wide variety of fries through a window. Established in 1957, they’ve won several awards.

A bar where locals hang out

Eye Bar and Restaurant—I love this place not only for its beer, but also its iconic location in an old brewery with windmills chiming. It also happens to be located in the heart of Amsterdam, making it easily accessible. And Cafe Twee Prinsen, with stools right near the canals, is another fantastic place for wine and people watching.

The one place to take your child to

Vondelpark. It is the biggest park in Amsterdam, loved by everyone. On a sunny day, people set up picnics, bring their food and wine, kids are running around, people are biking everywhere…I love it!

A lesser-known space to add to your itinerary 

Amsterdam-Noord. Even locals don’t frequent it because it is so out of the way. Sort of like the Shoreditch of Amsterdam, it has a factory-like setting but there are very cool art spaces and underground raves in addition to the vintage market I mentioned. Catch a free ferry ride to get there from behind Centraal Station. 

A museum to check out beyond Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh

Two actually. Foam Museum, an artsy photography museum, has a talent call every year where artworks of local artists are showcased. And Tropenmuseum is another favourite, where they spotlight a new culture every month. I particularly enjoyed its K-pop exhibits.

An Amsterdam ritual you wish other cultures could follow

Borrel, an informal social gathering that normally takes place after office hours on Thursdays. They usually have snacks like fries, borrelnootjes [nuts with a crispy coating], kaasstengels [cheese sticks], bitterballen [meatballs] among others, and drink spirits. It’s like having chaat with your colleagues post work.



A local festival to plan your trip around

In the summer, you can attend a different festival every day. The Netherlands is not that big, so you can get anywhere by train in less than two hours. For techno lovers, I’d recommend Awakenings, which happens in July. Then there’s Amsterdam Open Air, which happens at the beginning of June. If you go around the king’s birthday in April, the whole city turns into a big festival, and during Pride month in August, the canals come alive with the parades and people dancing everywhere.

The most confusing place in Amsterdam

The red-light district. It’s not just the oldest area, but also an upmarket neighbourhood with very expensive real estate. The ladies of the night are usually hidden, but some notable finds here include China Town for great Asian food, cool streetwear brands, scammy tourist shops, fancy apartments, strip clubs, and even a university campus.