Posted on: December 1, 2017
Before visiting Amsterdam it is important that you are informed about the Red Light District Etiquette and local laws that play an important role in this area, that is locally known as De Wallen.
A really important Red Light District etiquette is to not take pictures of the sex workers. They value their privacy and sometimes come after you if they see you taking a picture. Most sex workers lead a double life. Their family and friends do usually not know that they do this. Respect their privacy and safety.
It is okay to take pictures of buildings, streets or (empty) window brothels though.
Always show respect for the women and transgenders standing in the window brothels. Laughing at them or making jokes is really frowned upon in Amsterdam. Treat the prostitutes as you would like to be treated yourself.
Try to walk on the sidewalk as much as possible, or on the right side of the street. This is how traffic operates in Amsterdam and it prevents you from crashing into cyclists. Most of area of is car-free, so you don’t really need to worry about that. Just walk on the right side, make space for others if necessary and avoid cyclists.
When you make eye-contact with someone outside for more than a few seconds, a friendly smile in response is considered normal in the Netherlands.
The same goes for sex-workers when making eye-contact. Give them a friendly smile and nod.
Don’t shout whilst walking the streets. The Red Light District in Amsterdam is a normal neighbourhood like any other part of town where regular people live, work and sleep.
Sex workers generally do not accept credit cards or other forms of digital payment. Most banks and transaction-companies do not want to be active in the sex-industries, which frustrates the sex workers in the Red Light District. If you want to visit a prostitute in Amsterdam, make sure to bring enough cash money (euros). Cash is king!
Another Red Light District etiquette is that you don’t start a negotiation with a sex worker with a too low price offer. This can be taken as an insult. The starting price for any serious negotiation is 40 or 50,- euros.
Cyclists in Amsterdam tend to go fast in Amsterdam, even in some streets of the Red Light District! Keep this in mind whilst walking the streets and always give way to bicyclists. Tip: Worry less about the local cyclists. They’ve seen you far before you’ve seen them. If you just keep walking on the right side (of the pavement), then you’re doing it correctly.
When you have a rental bike make sure that both your head- and tail light work! This is required by Dutch law and the police can give you a ticket of 55,- euros for it.
11 | Cycle On Cycle Paths
If you rent a bicycle in Amsterdam, make sure that you only cycle on the designated bicycle lane, not on sidewalk. It’s unsafe and frowned upon to cycle on sidewalks. Also check these free tips on How To Cycle in Amsterdam.
Everybody in the Netherlands is required by law to have their ID’s on them. If you can’t identify yourself, you can be fined.
Drinking alcohol in the Netherlands is legal from the age of 18.
Most Amsterdammers enjoy helping tourists or making small talk with them. Especially those who respect the Red Light District etiquette and Dutch laws. Almost all people in Amsterdam speak proper English. Amsterdammers generally don’t speak French, Spanish, Italian or any other foreign language. Do not try to ask anything in a language other than English (or Dutch). The Dutch will look at you strange and wonder why you do not speak English.
It’s common practice and appreciated to make a reservation for restaurants in Amsterdam and in the Red Light District.
Don’t argue or fight with bouncers. It’s a waste of time and when push comes to shove; they’ll kick your ass.
It is forbidden by law to drink alcohol on the streets of Amsterdam’s Red Light District. The fine is 95 euro. Moreover, most residents do not appreciate it when people drink alcohol publicly or at the canal-sides.
You can not enter a (cannabis) coffeeshop when you are under the age of 18. Also know that coffeeshop owners have to close their doors as soon as the police notice if minors are present.
Do not buy any drugs from dealers standing in the streets. This is illegal and they mostly sell fake drugs anyway.
If you don’t have any experience in smoking cannabis, but want to try it whilst visiting the Red Light District, make sure that you have a filled stomach before you start. Whilst smoking weed have some sugary drink (cola) on hand for when you might feel dizzy. Also check 10 Tips For Using Drugs in Amsterdam.
It’s recommended to follow these 20 customs that are part of the Amsterdam Red Light District. You can of course always ask our local guides for further tips when visiting Amsterdam. They have all the info you need on nice restaurants, bars, museums, coffeeshops, Dutch culture, and whatnot.
During our Red Light District Tours we’ll teach you everything about Amsterdam’s most fascinating area. For example: Did you know that it’s not mandatory for sex workers in the Netherlands to be tested on STD’s? Learn more during tours in Amsterdam.BOOK A TOUR >