If you are planning tours in Amsterdam, it is much likely that you have heard about the Red Light District. The things that you might have heard about the place are probably true. From brothels to sex museums and sex shops, the place leaves nothing to the imagination of the tourist. However, to put all the rumors to rest, you need to check it out for yourself.
Contrary to the common belief, the Red Light District in Amsterdam has a friendly and welcoming atmosphere. Amsterdam, the capital of Netherlands, prides itself on its tolerant and liberal attitude. Instead of criminalizing things, the residents of Amsterdam enjoy the good side and honesty of everything. It will be an interesting thing to take a stroll through the Red Light District, which the Dutch call ‘De Wallen’.
Back in the 1930’s, street prostitution was not legal in Amsterdam, neither were the girls allowed to attract customers from the doorway. However, it was okay for them to sit behind curtained window glass and look outside to communicate with customers. This is how window prostitution became popular in Amsterdam and gained reputation for the place. Today, window prostitution is legal in the Red Light District.
In fact, the name ‘Red Light District’ comes from the red lights that highlight the windows where the girls are working. Interestingly, there are three different Red Light Districts in Amsterdam; however, the most attractive one is in the city center.
Since 2000, prostitution has grown into a big business in Amsterdam and many of the businesses are now taxpayers. The government monitors and regulates the working standards and practices of this legal profession, and with all these efforts, the Red Light District has grown into one of the safest areas in Amsterdam.
How to Behave
You should never capture images of women behind windows as it is strictly forbidden in the Red Light District. You can see signs on every window reminding you not to take pictures. Women can become much aggressive if you try to take photographs and the same rule is applicable to places like sex theaters or strip clubs. The best thing to avoid being kicked out is to keep your camera or phone in your pocket.
The Red Light District is less lively at the daytime and the place comes to life at night. So if you are planning to enjoy the actions in the Red Light District during your tours in Amsterdam, you need to visit the place at night, when the place starts swarming with people. The area will be less busy around 2 or 3 am when the crowds die down.
Clubs and Pubs in Red Light District
The Red Light District in Amsterdam is not just about coffee shops and prostitution. You will be able to find many strip clubs, sex shops, and typical Dutch brown cafes in the neighborhood. In addition, you can find some interesting museums like the Erotic Museum, the Hash, Marihuana & Hemp Museum, and the Museum of Prostitution in the Red Light District.
Whether you are actually looking to buy something or are window-shopping in Amsterdam, you can find many windows that cater to your needs. If you are not among those who do not get offended easily, you can visit the some of the live sex shows happening in the place. For instance, the Moulin Rouge is very famous for its shows. If you are just curious, you can check out the many peep shows, and for the more adventurous ones, there are interactive shows that are worth exploring.
The Red Light District in Amsterdam is also home to many cinemas and gay bars and you can find a number of them at the busy Warmoesstraat. If you feel that the red light alleyways do not interest you, you can find many private houses and brothels offering their services in a traditional way.
Red Light District Tips
To ensure that you get the best out of your tours in Amsterdam, you need to stick to the below tips.
- Never try to take photos of occupied windows. As said earlier, capturing images of occupied windows is prohibited and any such attempt could lead to serious consequences.
- Try to visit the place in a group as that would help you avoid attracting unwanted attention.
- Watch out for pickpockets, as the place is extremely overcrowded.
- Never buy anything from dealers – whether it is bikes or drugs. Always buy from licensed and certified shops.
Even though the Red Light District area might look dodgy to visitors, it is not at all a dangerous place to visit or stay. In reality, it is a safe and controlled part of the Amsterdam city and can be called the heart of night entertainment of the city.