Red Light District, Amsterdam
Whether you condone it or not, prostitution is legal in Amsterdam and a part of it's liberal culture, if you are walking through the central part of Amsterdam near St. Nicholas church, you may run across some of the windows with the scantily clad ladies beckoning to the tourists even during the daytime hours. The first section we came across must have been the low rent red light district, as the prostitutes were not women that I envision many men fantasizing over. We then came across the high rent district, a couple of the doors had name plaques on them and one even had a credit card sticker affixed to it, I wonder just how that pops up on your credit card statement!!!
Even in broad daylight on a Sunday afternoon, there were many men window shopping in the high rent section, I'm sure business picks up even more during the evening hours. Pictures of the ladies are forbidden and I didn't even try to take one.
The Fo Guang Shan He Hua Temple is the biggest traditional Chinese temple in Europe. Its location right at the Red Light District seems strange, but at the East side of the RLD you can enjoy the Amsterdam Chinese quarter.
The temple is located at: Zeedijk 106--118 - 1012 BB Amsterdam
Tu-Sa: Noon - 5PM
Su: 10AM - 5PM
Like the drugpolicy, the Dutch prostitution policy is rather different from anywhere else in the world. Until short prostitution was officially forbidden, but was tolerated in the righ neighbourhoods. Something that is called the "oldest profession" in the world will not be prohibited by any law, so it is just stupendous to try to restrict it. Better guide it and therefor red light districts are in every Dutch larger city. The most famous one in the capitol. Historical already quite old as Amsterdam was a large international harbour and therefor ... well, do I have to explain?
The red light district is one of the safest places in A'dam. The police is checking it contuously and tourists are everywhere (this for those who are afraid to go here). It is very interesting to go here and surely not only for men! The working girls are always friendly and have a great sense of humor. Some look down on them, but if you dare, talk with them (without obligations) and you will find out that often there's more then meets the eye.
Prostitution is in many countries of the world something where men exploit women. A pimp let's his girls work and gets a larger part of the profit that his employees make. Sometimes even the girls are treaten like slaves, passports are taken away etc. In Amsterdam it is quite different (which doesn't say that the above is not there as well). But many prostitutes here work for themselves. 100% benefit of ther income (it's their body anyway!). The even have an union and are actually quite organised. Interested in this peculiar way of business ... there's a Prostitution Information Centre in the red light district (near the old church).
So you want to, but you don’t want to be seen? Well zip up your jacket, pull a woolly cap down as far over your face as possible – AND ACT NATURALLY! Yep, the 125 tourists with cameras nearby will never suspect that you are visiting a Prostitute. Look at the picture. Fooled me. Yeah right. Someone’s a naughty boy.
Even the liberal city that I live in does not compare to Amsterdam when it comes to drugs and prostitution. In Amsterdam, prostitution is legal. The prostitutes undergo regular medical checkups and pay taxes.
Even if you’re not into this scene, a walk through the Red Light District is a must. The scantily clad ladies rent storefronts where they put themselves on display to attract their customers.
Don't forget much of Amsterdam is also residential areas, with many familes living above shops in many streets, even in some areas of the Red Light District.
I love having a drink and smoke and enjoying the unique atmsposhere the Red Light District offers as much as anyone else and I can understand how easy it is to have the time of your life and get carried away in the moment - but please also remember there are many familes (possibly with young children) close by sleeping, so have enough respect not to disturb the residents as best as you can.
The RLD is a lot to take in at first. Women stand or sit behind glass doors, signaling for men to come in. They are typically wearing just underwear and a bra though some get a little more “elaborate” by wearing tights or a one-piece suit. Commonly, I would pass by a woman behind the door and she would be talking on her cell phone, as if the job she was going to perform that day were "just another thing". I felt pretty awkward. I think it is a “sight” that should at least be seen, to say that you have seen the infamous RLD, but be prepared that it is very forward and can be a lot to take in initially. Also, photography is not allowed and there are stickers posted on every glass door stating so.
A particular one is Excalibur, in the red light district. It's the only one I found in which you can listen heavy metal and hard rock. The last table in the corner has the 'real' Excalibur inside (in the photo).
What can I say about this? I love how the Netherlands promotes this on the tourist board web page:
The Red Light District is quite small.
80% of the girls that work there are smoking hot, model quality. There are a few that are a "little rough around the edges" looking too though...
Pay attention as well, because there is also one street that has several transsexual men, standing in windows, and you may be a bit surprised.
Prices at two places that I INQUIRED in were about $75 US for 30 minutes.
The women are friendly, and WILL try to invite you in if you stop to look! (Disclaimer)
....Oh, and by the way. I NEVER did partake; only asked/looked around a little bit.
It would be nearly impossible to visit Amsterdam without checking out the RLD since so many attractions, museums, etc. are basically in this area. And I can't imagine who would want to visit Amsterdam yet be offended by this area. If you are, don't turn on the TV either since they advertise on there too! What surprised us the most was how beautiful most of the women were! (There was one who looked just like Jessica Simpson.) And I imagine many men who would have never thought of paying for sex, quickly reconsider once they see these women! In fact, I heard one guy say, "It's just novelty sex! I'm in Amsterdam after all!" And for the most part, we felt safe walking in this area at most any time. Just watch out for the men who seem to hang around the "edges" who will come up and whisper "Cocaine?", etc. in your ear. I suggest just ignoring them, and they don't push any further. Surprisingly though, we never saw any policemen in this area.
My wife and I will be visiting Amsterdam in mid October and would love to find an OPEN-MINDED guided tour of the Red Light District and Coffee Shops. We are very open minded and would love to see it all!
ps. we will also visit all the cultural things Amsterdam has to offer, but would love to experience this side too.
I don't know what you (wanna-be) visitors are thinging, but I was shocked to find out that a group of Contiki tourists from the States, Canada and Oz, thought we Dutch went to see a sex shows like you might go to the theater. I was hanging myself laughing and these poor tourists were all of a sudden not too happy that they bought tickets for a live sex show that night. They thought they we're acting the like the locals....poor people.
So: sex shows are for tourists and stag parties mainly, it's not our way of spending a Saturday night!
It's a piece of art; don't follow this example or you end up in an Amsterdam canal.
Location: South of the Old Church at the RLD.
No trip is complete without a tour of the infamous Red Light District. The best time to really appreciate is part of the city is at night. Beware, you may be lured in by one of the lovely ladies.