Warnings and Dangers in Amsterdam: Red Light District
Known for its legal brothels, “coffee shops,” and canals, Amsterdam is popular among foodies and partygoers alike. While most vacations here are safe, visitors must use caution, especially in the Red Light District.
Despite what many people think, marijuana and other drugs are illegal in Amsterdam. The local police look the other way when it comes to cannabis, and for years have allowed “coffee shops” to operate without fear of prosecution. Locals and tourists are free to smoke in “coffee shops,” but outside these areas, it’s frowned upon and could get you arrested. In the Red Light District, drug dealers sell cocaine, heroin, and other illegal substances.You’ll face possible jail time if you’re arrested with these drugs, so don’t take the risk.
Amsterdam is a densely populated city and there are dangerous neighborhoods. The Red Light District is definitely one of them. If you’re out at night, make sure your important belongings, like your passport, are tucked in a bag or locked away in a safe in your hotel room. You’ll be protected on most of the main streets as long as you don’t call attention to yourself. You’re more likely to be attacked or mugged in a less populated area, so don’t venture down alleyways or side streets at night. Even in the daytime, pickpockets are prevalent, so keep your purse and wallet close to your body at all times.
Don’t take photos
Businesses in the Red Light District don’t tolerate photos, so leave your camera at the hotel. If you’re caught taking pictures in the Red Light District, especially near a brothel, most likely you’ll have your camera confiscated, you’ll be beaten, or both. This includes photos taken on your phone. Be responsible and don’t take any chances while in the Red Light District.
Trams, Bikes, and Traffic
Amsterdam is swarming with bicycles. The locals and tourists ride bikes across town, so keep your eyes open for cyclists. Amsterdam also has a tram system that cuts through the Red Light District. Pay attention to your surroundings and you should be fine. Above the tram lines sit live high-voltage wires. Although they’re more than three meters off the ground, they’re a serious hazard if you’re on a double-decker bus. As in any city with congested traffic, be on alert and don’t take any chances. If you’re driving in this area, look out for pedestrians. Be especially wary of intoxicated men and women, who may not be conscious of the dangers around them. Local cab drivers know the area well, so use them to navigate the city, if possible.
Editor’s Note: The information contained on this page was compiled using real traveler reviews about the warnings and dangers in Amsterdam’s Red Light District.