Does the Amsterdam Red Light District Live Up to It's Reputation?
When I tell people we spent some time in Amsterdam, one of their first questions is, "did you go to the Red Light District?" I answer, of course we did. There are not many places in the world where you can buy marijuana, sex films and toys, or sex so openly, it is hard not to be curious about it and want to check it out.
Now having said that, we did walk through it often to get back to our hotel due to where our hotel was located. But we didn't mind, we love the vibrancy of the area and would have sought it out anyway.
We love watching the tourists gawk and awe at the ladies in the windows lit up with red light (apparently they chose red as it makes the ladies look better). We also like the energy of the area. You have grooms and brides to be on their Stag and/or Doe weekends (or bachelor or hen night parties), military men from many different countries on leave walking around, young people, older people. The energy is light and party like, with now judgment (at least in my experience). It's a real mix of fun, especially as we were there during the World Cup and Holland was in the Quarter and Semi Finals.
We even did a tour of the Red Light District to learn more about the history of the area and to be honest how it all works. Every tourist we talked to wondered the same thing. What we learned was that the prostitutes are paid anywhere from 30 to 50 Euros for 15 minutes of their time. They rent out the "windows" or work areas for 8 hours at a time. Their services are regulated and they must pay taxes on their earnings. There are also rules on how each girl is to dress (must where a bikini of some sort). There are girls of all shapes, sizes, nationalities and age and sexes (blue lights mean that they are actually transvestites). Whatever you do DON"T take a picture of the girls - in my mind out of respect - but also they will get REALLY angry with good reason.
Trying to catch a breeze in his apartment during the heat wave in the Red Light District
This is just like any other neighbourhood really. There are schools and apartments, restaurants, pubs and coffee shops, even art in some windows (the city bought out 1/3 of the windows to try to "clean" up the area and display local artists work).
You will find live sex shows too.... On our visit in 2004 a doorman at a live sex show told us that it would save our marriage if we saw the show - thanks but our marriage is perfectly fine.
Overall the Red Light District is a lot of fun. As the majority of visitors to it are tourists it really feels like a big tourist attraction.
Have you been to the Amsterdam Red Light District? We would love to hear your experience - Please comment below.