A visit to Amsterdam's famed - and infamous - Red Light District is on most people's "to do" list when traveling to Holland. Here are a some pointers on how to visit the Amsterdam Red Light District safely and pleasurably.
It would serve you well to visit other areas of the city before you visit the Red Light District. With its high tourist density and the unique things it has to offer, the Rossebuurt (meaning "red neighborhood") is not the best signifier for everything Amsterdam has to offer as a whole.
So, when should you go? While the Red Light District is open during the day, the best time to really experience it is between 11pm and 3am. This is when the customers, diners, drinkers and tourists come out to visit the renowned ladies in the windows.
The Red Light District's narrow streets get crowded and pickpocketing definitely occurs, so it's a good idea to leave your valuables at your hotel. Don't bother bringing a camera; upon their request, it is against the law to take pictures of the girls in the windows. Just bring some money, a few friends and a sense of adventure.
Yes, prostitution is legal in Holland but other things found on your visit to the Amsterdam Red Light District are not. There are drug dealers at every corner offering cocaine, acid, heroin, and many other illicit substances. Some are pushier than others and a number of them work in packs, so it is best to walk by and avoid eye contact. Don't worry; there will be plenty of other things for you to see!
Lining the streets of the Red Light District are sex shops, bars, brothels, sex shows - ranging from raunchy humor to shows with audience participation - and, of course, the red-lit windows. From gorgeous and young to rotund and beyond, the ladies stand behind their windows in panties waiting for a customer. Be sure not to proposition anyone you may think is a prostitute while on the street. If they are not in a window, then you're barking up the wrong tree.
While it is very easy to get distracted by the red lights, don't miss out on the beauty the Red Light District has to offer. Don't forget, it's still Amsterdam and the usual tree-lined canals, 14th century architecture and narrow streets at interesting angles are there, just like anywhere else in Holland. In fact, the juxtaposition between the old world charm and new world revelry is part of the experience.