The Red Light District (De Wallen) or as the locals say ‘The Rossebuurt‘, in Amsterdam is one the biggest tourist attractions in the World, for many reasons. You have open access to all vices possible: alcohol, drugs, brothels, and of course, the infamous coffee shops – and we’re not talking about Starbucks.
The Red Light District in a nutshell? It leaves a bit of nothing to the imagination. A longer description? A lot of tourists, groups of women giggling, couples, and groups of men, both young and old standing in front of red-neon-lit windows while beautiful women of diverse nationalities entice them to come in for their ‘services‘. Did you know that since the millennium, prostitutes have been allowed to legally practice and showcase their trade and is considered as a legal profession? Yes, prostitutes in the Netherlands are also taxpayers, too.
Despite what you’ve heard about the RLD, like many things, it’s recommended that you go and experience it for yourself and come to your own conclusion. If you’re thinking about visiting or on your way right now, here are five things you should absolutely not do when you visit The Red Light District:
- Don’t be timid, a prude or judgemental. Dorthy, you’re not in Kansas anymore. Welcome to the Netherlands, where ‘anything goes‘ from the typical American perspective. The taboo activities that are banned or can get you thrown in jail in the States are the norm in Holland, so leave your inhibitions, judgments and beliefs at the airport – or don’t visit at all. It’s common that many who visit the RLD, will experience culture shock, be prepared and be open-minded. In addition, if it’s your first time in Amsterdam, do not visit the RLD first. It will ruin your perspective of the amazing city of Amsterdam – there are other great things to see and do!
- Don’t be irresponsible. The things you wouldn’t do in your hometown, are pretty similar to the things you shouldn’t do in the RLD. Don’t carry a lot of bags, don’t accept things from strangers, don’t wear a lot of expensive jewelry or carry a lot of cash and don’t be unaware. The area is known for the pickpocketers and dealers, so be aware of your surroundings.
- Don’t go during the day. While you may be eager to head to the RLD, keep in mind that most of the action begin at 11PM. If you want to catch the scene at its ultimate peak, go around midnight or between 1AM-2AM.
- Don’t go alone. Despite what you’ve heard, the RLD is heavily guarded and patrolled by police – it’s a safe area. Keep in mind, many people live in the area, as well. Experience-wise, it’s recommended that you don’t go alone. It’s a far better experience to go with a friend or in a group. If you do happen to go alone, refer to #1, #2 and you’ll have a blast. If you’re a solo traveler and don’t want to go alone, not to worry, since there are plenty of tours offered under $30.
- Don’t take pictures or film. You’ve been warned. That selfie, snap chat story or vine is just not worth it while roaming the RLD – and don’t even think about trying to sneak and do it, you’ll be caught in seconds! Taking pictures or filming anywhere near occupied windows is strictly prohibited. If you decide to, do at your own risk and know that things can and will get ugly.
In conclusion, the RLD is safe and there’s even more to it than what meets the eye. For more information on the Red Light District or your next visit to Amsterdam, go to iamsterdam.com.