Perhaps one of the most popular tourist spots in Amsterdam is the Red Light District with its beautiful canals. However, it is not the canals that make this place famous, but the red lights that cover the square at night, and in each of these red lights, prostitutes are waiting for visitors.
- What is Red Light District?
- What are the prices in Red Light District?
- Is the Red Light District safe?
- Story of Red Light District
- What are the things to be careful of in the Red Light District?
- Weed Use in Amsterdam & Bulldog
- Alternatives to the Red Light District
- Best Places to See in Red Light District
What is Red Light District?
In the Red Light District, women appear during the day and often at night, displaying themselves half-naked in large, red-lit, 2-square-meter glass rooms on the lower floors of buildings. Although the area with about 300 storefronts is a center of prostitution, it is also a popular tourist attraction and quite safe.
It’s a different culture, so people are curious, trying to figure out what’s what. Women sipping drinks and filing their nails may tap on the windows to call people in if they are traveling alone, but they are not interested in couples. The area is also full of sex shops and many businesses related to the sex industry.
What are the prices in Red Light District?
The sex workers here are their own bosses. They pay an hourly or monthly fee to be here and can get 50€ for 15 to 20 minutes together. However, this can vary from person to person, service, woman, appearance and demand. For example, if you exceed the set number of minutes, you may have to pay extra. Since they are not tied to any particular place, they can also refuse to have sex with someone they don’t want, or even throw someone they let in out of the room.
Is the Red Light District safe?
Don’t imagine a bad place. Imagine a popular and vibrant neighborhood in Europe where anything goes. Imagine prostitutes entering the buildings of this neighborhood legally, wrapping their rooms with red lights. A place where weed and sex work and prostitution are free, but no one interferes with anyone.
It is also possible to find many sex shops in the neighborhood. Nevertheless, especially at night, the cafes, bars and restaurants on the streets make it easy to go for a stroll or a meal. You may come across some of the glass rooms glowing blue. Know that the blue neon lights in the area called Blue Light Special belong to transsexuals.
Story of Red Light District
The original name of the neighborhood where the Red Light District is located is De Wallen. The emergence of this district dates back centuries. It emerged when sailors and merchants coming to the Netherlands, a favorite port city, gathered in one area to meet their needs and to reduce the crime rate. The state legalized prostitution in 1810 and brothels in 2000 in order to minimize the bad incidents and take control.
With the Project 1012 project based on the postal code of the Red Light district, fashion shops, art galleries and cafes were established in the area, the minimum age for female workers was lowered to 21 in 2013, and the red lights were closed between 06:00 and 08:00 every morning. You can go at any time of the day to see the canals, houses and bridges, but if you want to explore the nightlife, the best time to go is after 23:00.
What are the things to be careful of in the Red Light District?
Although it is safe, there are of course things you need to be aware of as a tourist.
- Be aware of your surroundings and who you’re talking to. There may be many scammers and pickpockets in the area, so it’s important to be cautious.
- The Red Light District is known for its prostitutes and sex shows, but there is also a lot of drug use and other illegal activities going on. If you are not comfortable with this, it is best to avoid the area altogether.
- Be respectful to women working in shop windows. They are there to make a living and deserve to be treated with respect. If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to ask one of the many employees or security guards in the area, they are there to keep everyone safe!
- Photography is strictly forbidden in the Red Light District. Especially in the evenings, if you want to take photos of women, you cannot imagine what you might encounter. As soon as you are noticed, they may start banging on the windows or even chase you. Let’s put it all aside, it is also possible to encounter a policeman as soon as you take a photo in this specially monitored neighborhood.
Weed Use in Amsterdam & Bulldog
Weed use in Amsterdam is tolerated under Dutch law, and there are many “coffeeshops” throughout the city where you can purchase and consume marijuana. Once you use it, you can instantly recognize the smell of weed in the surroundings. In Amsterdam, the city of freedom, using recreational substances and smoking weed is an activity that many tourists try.
Coffeeshops are places where the sale of soft drugs is allowed. It is forbidden to smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol in these shops as the interaction has negative consequences, you can only use weed inside. When entering the coffeeshops, you have to pass an identity check, you can show your passport if you want to enter. You must be over the age of 18. Your bags are also searched. As soon as you step inside you are exposed to smoke, but it is not cigarette smoke, it is the smoke of the recreational product used. In addition to cannabis, you can also find space cake, also known as cannabis cookies, and magic mushrooms, which can cause hallucinations.
In the shops, you’ll usually see one kind that is fun, uplifting, laugh-out-loud funny, and another kind that is more depressing. Depending on the strain, the heavier ones can cause hallucinations. You can easily ask the staff about the type you want and they will help you in detail. Anything you can legally buy in a coffeeshop can be enjoyed in the streets of Vondelpark, Rembrandtplein or the Red Light District, and chocolate and sugary foods can help to reduce the effects if they are too strong.
Drugs are also legal in Amsterdam and one of the places that sells this type of weed is Bulldog. The Bulldog Coffeeshop is the most popular and original shop in Amsterdam. Originally used as a sex theater and sex shop, it became a small coffeeshop when the founder Henk and his friends started to smoke and buy weed here frequently. Later it became a big shop that became the center of attention of the world and tourists. It is open from 08:00 in the morning until 01:00 at midnight. The address is Oudezijds Voorburgwal 90.
Alternatives to the Red Light District
If you’re not interested in visiting the Red Light District, there are plenty of other things to do in Amsterdam. The city is home to many museums, parks, and historic landmarks. You can also take a canal cruise, go on a bike tour, or simply wander the streets and enjoy the architecture and atmosphere. There are also plenty of bars and clubs to keep you entertained throughout the night.
Best Places to See in Red Light District
Located in the middle of the Red Light District and built around 1250, the church is the oldest building in Amsterdam. Part of the floor of the church is used as a tomb. Moreover, the grave of Rembrandt‘s wife is also here. It can be visited free of charge with the Amsterdam City Card between 10:00 – 18:00 every day. It is also possible to climb the tower, which is 67 meters high and there is no elevator, you have to climb the stairs. This tower is one of the 3 towers in Amsterdam, the others are Westerkerk and Zuiderkerk.
Museum of Prostitution
When you pass through the Red Light District, have you ever wondered what the people who wait for customers among the red neon lights, who market themselves to make money, go through, what they feel? In the heart of the De Wallen district, there is a museum dedicated to this.
The main goal of the Sex Workers Museum is to understand the lives of prostitutes in Amsterdam. Visitors to the museum are expected to see the conditions under which the workers work in order to gain more respect for them.
The founder of this museum is Ilona Stakelborough, who used to be a sex worker for many years. The museum exhibits a symbolic room of a worker, documentary-like video shows and materials used by the workers.
You can also experience a little bit of what sex workers go through from the window facing the street. It will be uncomfortable if people are looking at you for a different purpose. You can visit the museum every day between 11:00 – 00:00. It can be visited at Oudezijds Achterburgwal 60 near the old church.
Casa Rosso Theatre
Casa Rosso, which means red house in Italian, is a venue where you can watch live sex shows in the Red Light District in Amsterdam. It is a 200-seat hall where you can watch two people having sex live. Although visitors do not have the time to stay inside, the shows rotate and repeat every hour.
The shows are open from 19:00 to 02:00 (until 03:00 on Saturdays). Another show called The Sex Palace Peep Show used to allow you to watch the performers in the other booth for two minutes for a small fee, but I think the Sex Palace where this show was performed has closed.