Amsterdams red light district
If you’re looking for opportunities to indulge in pay-for-play while visiting Amsterdam, you’ll find there’s a myriad of ways to indulge your appetites. All are fully legal, with the exception of street prostitution. You’ll find a variety of flavors of each type. Of all these available venues, the most convenient and private is the escort service — you’ll never have to leave the privacy of your home or hotel room, and an escort service can be among the least expensive of the choices available, some offer very reasonable rates. Besides the escort agencies, there are three red light districts, elaborate sex clubs with bars, saunas, jacuzzi, and dance floors employing twenty or more women, privehuizen (private houses) that are sometimes no larger than private homes where a small number of prostitutes wait for clients, parenclubs (adult clubs), who offer extensive facilities catering to the swinger crowd, and a few establishments which call themselves erotic cafes. There are also, lately, scores of Asian massage parlours scattered around town.
Red Light District – Window Girls
Located in the oldest district of Amsterdam, the main area, known as de Wallen, is quite probably the best known red light district in the world. The Amsterdam red light district is also one of the major tourist attractions in Amsterdam. On most nights of the week, 52 weeks a year, you’ll find milling throngs gawking at the few hundred women who may be working on any given day or night. It can become quite crowded at times.
Picture this: You hit the red light district amidst the adult shops, the crowds, and the smell of hash wafting from the coffee shops and get your first glance at the window girls. You are in awe, and then you are overwhelmed by the sheer volume and diversity on display. Size, age, color, ethnic background, etc. It can be intimidating. You may feel shy about standing on a busy sidewalk negotiating for sex.
The women who choose this type of work, sell their services in €50 allotments (and occasionally €30), for periods of time roughly of 15-20 minutes duration. They’re in the business of providing quickies. She’ll slip a condom on you as quickly as possible, and provide oral sex to get you ready for the final step: sex in one position of your choice. You’ll be headed back out onto the street to the milling crowds in no time at all. Anything more than this basic “suck and fuck” will have a price, so it’s important to discuss anything you want to do before you actually are in the room with her. If you want to have her fully naked, have her massage you, massage her, provide a striptease, or anything else other than the basic act described above, you have to ask to see if she’ll do it, and how much she’ll charge for it, and agree to a price. She may be fully naked, and allow this and that as part of the basic price, but if you have specific things in mind, it’s safe never to assume.
Facilities within the tiny rooms are next to non-existent. Washing up before and after takes place in a sink, the foam mattress is usually just wide enough to be considered a narrow single, and the covering over the mattress, where her days work takes place, is simply a towel which isn’t often changed between customers — in fact, it may still be warm from the previous client. For some though, the strolling about, the window shopping, the nature of the entire transaction is all part of the enjoyment. While the women on display in the windows are quite often lovely, the experience with them can be variable — it can get very busy and this can sometimes take a toll on everyone involved. But make no mistake, these ladies can also provide a fantastic experience, and be quite charming about it. Another great possibility if you are more fond of your privacy is to order one of the beautiful Amsterdam escorts at your hotel.
For the client, if you’re seeking more than 15-20 minutes, be prepared to spend significantly more amounts of money. €200 for an hour with a window girl is more than you’d spend in many clubs, private houses, or even with many escort girls from the better escort services. You may spend that much in half the time, if you have requests for multiple positions, full nudity, etc. There are two other much smaller red light areas in other parts of town, the Singelgebied, a short walk away from de Wallen, and de Ruysdaelkade, located on the other side of town, somewhat near the Rijksmuseum — it’s easily reached by tram.
In 2008, the then mayor of Amsterdam announced that he intended to close half of the cities prostitution windows, along with two of the best known sex theaters and several coffeeshops. This was billed as an attempt to fight the infiltration of, and suspected ownership of the affected establishments by elements of organized crime — though the city has expended vast resources they have repeatedly failed to prove such ownership. The closing of a number of window locations proceeded as announced. The results were that the Dutch owner of a sizable number of windows became much wealthier when his window properties were purchased by the city, and that those windows were remodeled at some additional huge expense by the city into ateliers for students of fashion, or display spaces for established designers — an effort to bring diversity of businesses into the area. These efforts were unequivocally unsuccessful and many of the ateliers soon went empty due to lack of interest. To the world press, television, and even in its entry in Wikipedia, most of them originating in places where prostitution is a criminal offense and otherwise abhorred by the average person whose thinking is conditioned by such sources, the open practice of prostitution in a place like de Wallen can only be presented as negative — victims, victimizers, organized criminals and exploiters. The open contradiction to these negative views that is presented by acquaintance with the neighborhood of de Wallen is ignored. Self-serving local politicians also exploited the recent bout of negative publicity for their own political purposes.
Despite the evening crowds and the sometime raucous atmosphere, de Wallen is a special place in the world, it remains relatively clean and safe. Sure, on occasion something criminal happens, but where doesn’t it? The funny little fact that in de Wallen, such occurrences are very, very, rare is conveniently overlooked. The closest thing to criminal activity you, as a visitor, might experience are pickpockets and an occasional offer of illicit drugs from dealers on the streets — annoyances that you’ll find, and often in much greater numbers, in most other cities in the world.
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Exploring Amsterdam’s Red Light District
As one of the oldest and at the same time most beautiful parts of the Dutch capital Amsterdam, the Red Light District is definitely worth a visit. It is considered one of the main attractions. The locals call it Rossebuurt – the red neighborhood. Here tourists can find almost everything their heart desires, from brothels and sex stores to restaurants and museums. It is often found in travel guides under the name De Wallen or even De Walletjes.
As the center of the city’s nightlife, nightclubs, bars and coffee shops also line up here. The neighborhood is characterized by scantily clad ladies in floor-to-ceiling shop windows and an open, tolerant attitude toward prostitution and pornography. There is a lot to discover – both in daylight and at night when the red lights come on.
Prostitution with a long tradition
The tradition of prostitution in the Dutch capital is long and mostly characterized by tolerance. As early as the 17th century, sailors stopped off in what is now the Red Light District after months of crossing to enjoy themselves. A ban on prostitution, however, ensured that women were only allowed to offer their services in hidden parlors.
These were tolerated, as was prostitution in gambling houses, which from the 18th century provided beds for some ladies and thus increasingly turned into brothels. The ban was lifted in 1811, but obvious prostitution was still not welcome and tended to take place behind closed doors.
In 2000, prostitution was legalized in Amsterdam – one of the first places in the world where this happened. You can also get an insight into the history of the world’s oldest trade at Red Light Secrets, the museum of prostitution, at Oudezijds Achterburgwal 60h. There are even first-hand insights here in English.
Pleasure-seeking tourists flock by the millions to the Dutch capital’s world-famous red light district every year since prostitution was legalized. It runs very close to the central station along the banks of the canals “Oudezijds Voorburgwal” and “Oudezijds Achterburgwal”. On a total area of about 6,500 square meters there is a lot to do and discover:
First of all, it should be mentioned that there is a whole range of guided tours through the entertainment district. These cover the highlights and provide interesting insights from a local’s perspective. Of course, those who prefer to explore on their own can do so just as well.
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Window shopping at the red-light by day
Pleasure-seeking tourists flock by the millions to the world-famous red-light district of the Dutch capital every year since the legalization of prostitution. It runs very close to the central station along the banks of the canals “Oudezijds Voorburgwal” and “Oudezijds Achterburgwal”. On a total area of about 6,500 square meters there is a lot to do and discover:
First of all, it should be mentioned that there is a whole series of guided tours through the entertainment district. These cover the highlights and provide interesting insights from a local’s perspective. Of course, those who prefer to explore on their own can do so just as well.
In daylight, the long narrow cobblestone streets of the district become visible and the 14th century architecture leaves an impression. In the middle of the entertainment district stands the Oude Kerk, in German “old church” – built in Gothic style and recognizable by its ornate tower, which can be spotted from the main train station.
Directly in front of the old church is the Belle Statue, a bronze statue erected in honor of all prostitutes around the globe. It is the world’s first and at the same time only monument of its kind and was designed by the artist Els Rijerse.
Walking along the canals, you will be surprised by the restored facades and the mixture of trendy residents and visitors. The old buildings and winding alleys exude charm. During the summer months, restaurants and live music invite visitors to linger. Café Pacifico, for example, is considered one of the premiere Mexican restaurants in Europe. The scent of marijuana can usually be detected from the numerous coffee shops. In addition to the green drug, coffee, tea and soft drinks can often be consumed comfortably in these – alcohol is prohibited.
A visit to the numerous sex stores is worthwhile in any case, even for those who have no intention of taking souvenirs – here you can find suitable accessories and curiosities for any sexual preference. Probably the most famous of these stores is the Condomerie – whether this is considered more of a souvenir store or a museum is up to each person. Also known as the condom store Het Gulden Vlies, the store offers condoms in all imaginable colors, shapes, flavors and sizes. In addition, there are plenty of books and information about the contraceptive available.
And for lovers of unusual museums, there is much more to discover: The Marijuana Museum provides insights into the world of cannabis – from cultivation to consumption to use for medicinal purposes. Erotic sculptures, literature and drawings are waiting to be admired in the Erotic Museum. It welcomes its visitors with sexy animated films and is divided into different sections – one of which is dedicated to sadomasochism, for example.
Red light district by night
As soon as it gets dark in Amsterdam, the red lights come on. The ladies in the shop windows take their places and offer their services. Prices for 20 minutes of pleasure range from 50 to 100 euros. If you have special preferences, you will find an alley for colored ladies only, in another one almost exclusively overweight prostitutes work and in another one so-called ladyboys. A blue light in the shop windows indicates that there is a transsexual prostitute behind it.
For party-hungry tourists, a pub crawl is an option. Here the night is turned into day – together with other revelers in different clubs of the district. There is something for everyone in terms of music – live music is sometimes played in rocking pubs, nightclubs attract dance fans with hip hop, Guinness is served in Irish pubs and delicious cocktails can be sipped in the numerous bars. By the way, there are special bars and cinemas for homosexuals in Warmoesstraat. The party crowd can usually be found between 11 p.m. and 2-3 a.m. in the red light district.
Within this period, for example, the infamous Casa Rosso and Moulin Rouge theaters host numerous live sex shows that attract plenty of onlookers night after night. Another option is peep shows, where visitors sit in video booths. If you are already in Amsterdam and do an obligatory round in the red light district and then still feel like a show, the erotic theater Casa Rosso is recommended, as already mentioned. In the summer, on weekends and after 9:00 pm, it can get really crowded here and there can be queues. Ticket holders for Casa Rosso have access without queuing.
If you want to enter the red light district as a tourist and feel a bit insecure, you should rather join one of the numerous guided tours or walking tours through the notorious streets. To avoid falling into the wrong hands on site, here are a few booking tips:
- Amsterdam Red Light District
- Red Light District – Tour
2 hours – in German 24,50 €
- Red Light District
Tour through De Wallen 38,50 €
- Guided tour through a
strip club -English 20,00 €
Since the tours are subject to price fluctuations, only the current price of the provider is valid.
For all those who would like to experience firsthand how a prostitute might feel in one of the shop windows, it is worth visiting the PIC. This is the information center about prostitution, which was founded by a former prostitute and has since been a contact point for visitors and prostitutes alike.
A guided tour of the center includes interesting facts about prostitution, background information about the neighborhood, and a visit to a window brothel or sex show on request. A one-hour course takes interested tourists into the world of a prostitute – including a suitable outfit and showing off one’s own body in a shop window.
If you are more in the mood for a bit of history and culture, you can walk to the Jewish Quarter, the Waterlooplein and Nieuwmarkt Square within a short time.
The entertainment district is not only the city’s party hotspot par excellence, but also a residential area. There is also a kindergarten right next to the prostitutes’ shop windows. Access is by iris recognition to ensure maximum security. In order to avoid unwanted incidents between tourists and residents or the prostitutes working here, there are some important basic rules to follow when visiting the district – both during daylight and at night.
Right behavior – avoid trouble
As can obviously be read on numerous signs, rule number one in the entertainment district of the Dutch capital is: photography is prohibited! This applies at least and especially to taking pictures of the ladies in the shop windows. Even just trying to do so can, in the best case, result in the camera ending up in the canal thanks to a bodyguard or the photographed lady herself.
The second rule refers to disturbances – both of the ladies at work and of the residents. It is important not to knock or otherwise disturb when the curtain of a shop window is closed, because then the lady behind it is busy. In addition, unnecessary noise should be urgently refrained from, so as not to deprive the residents of their sleep.
It should also be noted that the ladies work here – they are not available for time-consuming small talk or even interviews. Looking is allowed, but touching is only allowed with permission and of course for money.
Distracted by the many impressions, it happens quickly that one’s own valuables are forgotten. Pickpockets in the neighborhood like to take advantage of this. It is therefore important to carry your handbag and cell phone close to your body at all times. For this reason alone, it is advisable to stroll through the streets in a group at best. This can also prevent dealers from trying to sell their drugs. Possession and consumption is severely punished – a fact that many a visitor underestimates in view of the obvious marijuana consumption.