Red Light District (also known as De Wallen) is probably one of the first things that would come to mind when talking about Amsterdam.
Red Light District consists of a network of alleys containing approximately 300 tiny one-room cabins rented by prostitutes who offer their sexual services from behind a window or glass door, typically illuminated with red lights—hence the name, Red Light District.
Given the fact that it is one of the most visited cities in Europe, Amsterdam is one of my favorite cities in the world as well. You will not be surprised to see a packed crowd of tourists. When I came here last November, I immediately fell love with this city. Not gonna lie, it’s entirely because I have been so fascinated by the Red Light District. Plus, I’m here for the second time, I still love it here. I think I’m loving it here a little more than the last time because it’s summer and warm instead of winter and cold this time.
There is a number of sex shops, sex theaters, peep shows, a sex museum, a cannabis museum, and a number of coffee shops that sell marijuana. It’s so fascinating because the most of cities do not allow it. Sex sells, so that is what attracts all tourists from around the world. It worked on me as a tourist!
When to Go?
Most of the action takes place around 11pm, when the district is swarming with crowds and the red neon lights illuminate the canals.
Therefore, I recommend you all to come down at night when the district really comes to life. During the day, the district is less lively and even less attractive.
However, the area of the Red light district may appear unsafe, but it is certainly not any dangerous place to stay. It is actually quite safe and well controlled part of the city, Amsterdam’s heart of night entertainment.
The Red Light District Bucket List (Seek the World Version)
As you know by now, the Red Light District is actually a popular city in Europe. Fret not! There are still plenty of spots where touristy people will do the things the Internet tells you about Amsterdam.
For me as a second-time guest in Amsterdam, I have three things you gotta do when you’re in the Red Light District!
3. Lighting a Reefer at Amsterdam’s First Coffeeshop
Okay, The Bulldog Coffeeshop claimed to be the original coffeeshop in Amsterdam founded by Henk de Vries . However, it was once a sex theater and the basement was a sex shop, but then Henk’s friends came over to smoke joints often. It later became a small coffeeshop where his friends could secretly buy some weed. Later, it became famous worldwide and tourists came along.
I found this place to be a very nice environment to just kick back and smoke a reefer. Reefer? Yes, a reefer is what they call a marijuana joint in Amsterdam because a joint in Amsterdam would be combined of both cannabis and tobacco.
Well, John and I made our rookie mistake by ordering a joint while we came here for the first time. We didn’t know when we ordered. We just ordered what seemed to be at reasonable price, but as soon as I hit the joint I realized that there was something wrong with it. I didn’t get as high as I thought I would have gone after smoking cannabis in Amsterdam for the first time. I went along with it anyways because I thought that was what it had been in Amsterdam. We found out the hard way through our host that a joint meant a tobacco/marijuana mixed cigarette. — FACEPALM -.-
Be sure to eyeball for the term ‘reefer’ if you want a pure marijuana cigarette.
However, the quality was excellent and there was a huge variety of weed. This was easily one of the best places I visited. The prices were kind of pricey, but good though. I would recommend this place to anyone going to Amsterdam, it was an excellent place to visit.
While you’re at it, be sure to try their house coffee!
The Bulldog The First (nr90)
Address: Oudezijds Voorburgwal 90 1012 GJ Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Operating Hours: Everyday, 8am – 1am
2. Walking through the Alleys of De Wallen
As mentioned earlier, the Red Light district is also known for its other name, De Wallen. It is located near the Amsterdam Central Station where most of the tourists hang out all day and night. It’s a place locals will always try to avoid.
Throughout the alleys, the rows of windows are filled with women awaiting their next customer. Almost all windows have red curtains, and clearly if one or more curtains of the windows are closed, the prostitutes are doing business.
During the day, there are women forever tapping on the windows with the red neon light illuminating on the top of the window, but there will not be that many for you to see comparing to what you will see at nighttime.
When it reaches 11pm, the district lights up with plenty of neon red lights swarming with crowds and the atmosphere pretty much thrives until around 2 or 3am when the crowds die down and businesses close down for the night.
You have no idea how many times I’d walk through the alleys to check out the prostitutes behind the windows. When I check the women out, I always wonder about these women: where they are from, their background. What do they think? What do they feel? — Don’t get me wrong, I don’t judge them but I wonder if they’re happy, I hope that this is something they chose and that they aren’t being forced and objectified by a demanding public.
According to my friend, most of the women behind the windows live in the apartment and they go down to cox new clients to pay their rent. I was told that these women typically pay around €100-150 for an 8-hour block to book the windows, so it would take them at least two clients to pay off the block and start making money to themselves.
Yes, for about €50, clients get about 20 minutes of time with a prostitute. If you extend past the time limit, you would be asked to pay extra before continuing.
Hey! There are some blue florescent tubes instead of red on top of windows, what does that mean?
In this case, they call it Blue Light Special.
Ah, sorry you had to find out this way… That means you will be paying for a transsexual instead of a female prostitute. Transgenders and transvestites have blue lights as opposed to right lights over their windows— hence the name “Blue Light Special”
1. Taking a Peek at One of Sex Shows
I’m not going to lie and this is my favorite part of the Red Light district. If you’re in the area, you have to see one of their sex shows.
The sex industry is popping in the Red Light District, and there about 20 sex shops, a Sex Museum, an Erotic Museum, live sex shows, brothels, and everything else sex-related you could imagine all on just one small street. Imagine!
You can find many sex shows that lasts at least 30-60 minutes for at least 25 Euros in the area, but if you don’t want to watch something that long or pay that much, you can watch a Sex Peep Show instead.
What’s a Sex Peep Show? It’s a sex show where you will be able to watch guy on girl, girl on girl, or solo girl performing sexual activities from a private booth for two minutes. It’s pretty much pay-per-view kind of thing. Just like paying for a telephone call in a booth, but instead you will be paying to get a view of live sex for two whole minutes!
There used to be multiple places that offered sex peep shows, but they all closed down and we’re left to one last place and it is known as the “Sex Palace“. This large venue has a large neon sign flashing “2€=2minutes” and inside this place there are posters and screens showing women in various states of undress and positions.
When I went into the venue, it brought back good memories from the hilarious times I had with John back in November. I vividly remembered coming to this venue at the time when it was scheduled for a guy on girl sex show. When I got in for my first peep show, I only got to see an oral sex performance. John got to see a live sex on the next turn, so I end up paying for a second show to see the sex and I succeed in seeing a live sex show.
Anyways, the circular structure sitting slightly to the left of the entrance with a dozen small doors leading to private booths with viewing windows of the live sex along it’s walls contains the sex show. Once you’re in one of booths and you chuck in your money, the viewing window pops open for 2 minutes and allows you to view the large, slowly-rotating round bed with the sex performers.
The sex peep show was a little bit creepy for me, but I was cracking up laughing the entire time I was in there because I could see across the room into the other booth windows and their viewers. I even got a little wave and smile as the girl slowly revolved past my window.
If you ever get the chance to visit Amsterdam then I actually do highly recommend visiting a peep show. Just make sure that you are always respectful of the women in the shows and the ones on the streets!
Address: Oudezijds Achterburgwal 84, 1012 DR Amsterdam, Netherlands
Price: €2 Euros for 2 minutes
Be sure to stick to these tips closely when you’re in the Red Light District!
Do not take photos of the prostitutes or the windows. This is strictly banned. Big bouncers might appear out of nowhere and smash your camera if you do. Seriously, I cannot stress this enough as this could get real messy for you.
Watch out for pickpockets. Keep your things well-secured to yourself. Don’t let them loose and avoid putting your money in your pockets. Put ’em in your passport fanny pack, if you have one. Otherwise, put it in a secured pocket where it’d be hard for people to slip and steal.
Try not to go alone. Go in a group or at least go in twos to avoid attracting any unwanted attention. I know I have mentioned earlier that it is a safe area, but better safe than sorry.
Do not buy anything from dealers on the streets. It doesn’t matter if it’s going to be just a bike or some drugs, just don’t. Otherwise, you will find yourself on the other side of the law!