Posted on: december 1, 2017
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Before visiting Amsterdam it’s important that you are informed about the Red Light District etiquette rules that play an important role in De Wallen. Do you not want to come across as an annoying visitor, but as a decent guest? Then follow these 20 simple Red Light District etiquette rules.
(Last updated: 25 April 2021)
A really important Red Light District etiquette rule is to not take pictures of 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’s 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 is really frowned upon in Amsterdam! So also in the Red Light District. Treat the prostitutes as you would like to be treated yourself. Be kind!
Despite the high price of a pack of cigarettes and the damage to health, people still smoke. Do you know what’s really not cool and bad for the environment? Tossing your leftovers on the sidewalks.
Did you know that the cellulose acetate of a cigarette filter is difficult to degrade? It takes at least 10 years! Do not let someone else clean your mess but clean it up yourself and throw it in an ashtray.
When you make eye-contact with someone outside for more than a few seconds, a friendly smile in response is appreciated 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 do not start a negotiation with a sex worker with an a price offer that is too low. This can be taken as an insult. The starting price for any serious negotiation is 50 euro. TIP: Let the sex worker start the negotiation. This avoids inconveniences.
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.
The Oudekennissteeg in the Red Light District.
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 Dutch people enjoy helping tourists or making small talk with them. Especially those who respect the Amsterdam 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). It’s not appreciated to just ask anything in French to a Dutchman – assuming that he or she also speaks French. The Dutch will look at you strange and wonder why you do not speak English.
The Oudezijds Voorburgwal next to De Oude Kerk.
It’s common practice and appreciated to make a reservation at 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. Bouncers will kick your ass. If you don’t like their house rules, just go elsewhere (and write a negative review online).
The Oudezijds Achterburgwal.
It is forbidden by law to drink alcohol on the streets of Amsterdam 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 street dealers. 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.