Amsterdam is one of Europe's most popular city break destinations for good reason. Infamous for it "Drugs, Sex and Rock n' Roll" reputation, there is far more to Amsterdam than it's free-wheeling Red Light districts and Marijuana-Selling coffee shops. As the centre of one of the richest trading empires in history, Amsterdam has accumulated centuries of stunning art and culture and is, today, one of the most advanced, educated and civilised cities in the world.
If planning a stay in Amsterdam, by far the best accommodation website is AmsterdamEscape.com - unlike the huge American sites that dominate online bookings, AmsterdamEscape has actually been based in the city since 2000 and maintain a close eye on all the properties they list and property owners they work with.
Everyone has heard about this world famous area but until you see it for yourself you cannot really imagine what it's really like so we have compiled the ultimate guide to the area covering the entire area and whats on offer to its visitors which will give you a true idea on what to expect when you do finally get around to visiting for yourself.
Amsterdam is different to almost every other city on the planet and the Dutch people and government are different also. If there is a problem like drugs, prostitution or anything else, the Dutch go out to solve the problem and not brush it under the carpet like most governments around the world.
With every problem they take a sensible attitude to it and the red-light district is a typical example.
The main Red Light District covers mainly one canal but there are pockets of Red-light's in several areas spread over the old part of the city and has been servicing the personal needs for 100's of years. There are really two different red-light districts daytime and night time as the area turns from a business area into a brothel. Many people work in offices and in shops in the red-light area. You will find a hardware shop next to several prostitutes or an off licence next to more windows.
But as dark approaches the area obtains a certain charm thanks to the old buildings and huge trees lining the canals and the general hustle and bustle about the place with many visitors and tour groups walking up and down either side of the canals.
Recently redone paths and streets (redone every few years as they tend to sink), many revamped facades of buildings is transforming the area which was once dirty and dingy into one of the most attractive parts of town! Now there are more reasons then ever to visit the Red Light district, and experience this very special area.
After 3- 4am it again turns into quite a scary place as all the tourists have gone and there are only junkies and bums left out and the area can become a bit dangerous as this time of night but there are plenty of police cameras all over the area so it may feel a bit scary but it's unlikely anything will happen to you unless your acting and looking like a real tourist.
Off the main canals run many narrow alleyways some more so than others and one which is just wide enough for 1.5 people to get by each other so on meeting someone (Normal size) you have to turn sideways to get by while the girls look out from behind the windows at the passing parade of possible clients. Up close and personal to say the least.
A word of Warning " Hold on to your wallet"
Walking around the area in the evening before midnight is even more lovely as the Red-light's themselves reflect in the canals which gives the area an even more inviting feel about it with the buzz of excitement in the air all over the place.
During the day the mix of people is just like any other shopping or business area but come dark the area becomes a male dominated place with few women and the later it gets even less women are to be seen walking about but thousands of horny men eyeing up nearly naked females and hoping for a possible fuck are of course the main attraction.
The women behind the windows range from "very beautiful" to " I wouldn't touch her with a barge pole" (I.E revolting) and many different nationalities can be found including Asian, Black, Latin and some European. Recently the government licensed the prostitutes and now they pay tax just like anyone else. But this has had a bad impact on the number of prostitutes now selling their wares in the area as now only "Legal" citizens can work which has ruled out all the east European countries and Russian also. In fact there are now more windows to let that there are occupied and all the women who did work in the windows have had to go back underground, into the clubs and escort agencies. This was not a good idea.
As all the prostitutes are now licensed and completely legal this has ensured that they have access to medical care.There is even a union for the prostitutes to help lobby the government when needed.
For more info about prostitution, we recommend you pay a visit to PIC, the Prostitution Information Center located in the red light area.
The area of the Red Light district is busy all day long. In the evening hours business is so brisk you might have to wait and the very attractive ones have many men hanging around outside.
Taking photo's of the women is not permitted and you will be in trouble if you get caught. Do it from a distance. No close up shots unless you are very brave or have no flash on your camera/phone.
Along the canals are some of the big sex clubs like The Banana bar (Use your imagination) as well as live sex shows, peep shows, 1000's of video booths with several 100 different channels showing every (and I mean every) type of sex you can possibly imagine. The two most famous (Same owner) are The Casa Rosso and The Banana Bar and both have large queues of tourists outside every night. The price varies depending on what time you go and you can bargain them down if your brave.
Besides the Relight district there are a number of other brothels and sex clubs that cater to a more discerning clientele. Some of these brothels have been around for years and are located in some of the real classy canal houses easy to mistake for a residence. A few specialise in S&M and other kinky fun. And then there are escort services that can send you a suitable playmate during your stay. All the clubs are listed in the Amsterdam golden pages (called Gouden Gids) pages and pages of them and all full pages.
Amsterdam is also famous for it's pornography industry. There are 100's of sex shops all over the place and not just in the red light district, but along other shopping streets. Some of the shops are supermarket size and carry a huge range of every sex aid and toy you could ever want. Full size electric blow up dolls (boys and girls) along with the usual assortment of videos, DVD's and, magazines.
Unlike similar shops in the U.S. and elsewhere, the Dutch shops don't usually draw the line at straight or even gay sex you have sections for all types of animal sex, fetish, bondage and of course gay and lesbian
Most of the places have private viewing cabins so you can watch a bit before you buy.
The Red Light District is also home to Amsterdam's china town where you are guaranteed to get some good real Chinese food along with some other interesting Chinese businesses such as supermarkets selling tons tat imported from the motherland.
A special notice: although this guide will bring the Red Light District to life for you like no other, we would urge you to visit for yourself as soon as possible. The reason we do this could not be more tragic: this district that has been a unique part of the Dutch reputation around the world for centuries, is now being systematically dismembered by a combination of religious zealots and politicians anxious to push populist buttons rather than deal with the country’s many real problems.
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