What I Saw When I Went To Amsterdam’s Red Light District


Whether you are naughty or nice when in Amsterdam, you definitely want to visit the Red Light District. There are only two kinds of people who visit Amsterdam’s Red Light District; customers and tourists. I figured this out on my visit to one of the world’s infamous prostitution districts.

My friend Ericka, who has been living in Amsterdam for almost one year now, accompanied me to go there. Surprisingly, she never went there before so it was a new experience for both of us. We walked to the district on Saturday, August 11 around 9 pm.

Weekend means a lot more people visit the district than any other days in the weekdays. And gosh there were at least hundreds, if not a thousand or two, of curious people turning heads here and there.

They were observing many types of girls at the window displays as if those girls were mannequins at a department store.

Imagine having people staring at you like this? Creepy!


You can see, but you can’t touch

Unless you are ready to pay for it. See all the girls on the windows, but no photos or videos. I thought everyone coming there already knew about this.

No pictures or videos was the very first rule that I read on the internet about visiting the red light district. But apparently, some people were clueless, or simply ignorant, and tried to do it anyway.

A girl was being yelled at by one of the bodyguards and her phone was abruptly taken from her. She was forced to delete the pictures of a prostitute that she took discreetly and everybody was booing her. I could see that her face was turned red immediately because she was embarrassed.

I understood that everybody would want to tell this story to friends back home. It would be cool to begin the conversation by saying, “So, I visited the Red Light District and this was one of the girls I saw there.”

But rules are rules. And regardless of what you think about their professional choices, they are still human beings. They don’t wish to see their faces on a random blog, or worse, their family members to see them go viral on the internet. Nobody is proud to be a prostitute working at the most well-known comforting place in the world.

Visiting Museum of Prostitution – Red Light Secrets

This small museum is located in the Red Light District and it is one of the sex-related museums that draw tourists in the city. The original entrance ticket is EUR 12.50 but since Ericka and I bought the tickets in one of the booths that sell discounted museum tickets, we just paid for EUR 10.50 each person.

If you want to get discounted tickets, you can purchase it online on the museum’s website (click here).

The museum aims to tell stories from the prostitutes’ point of views. I find it a bit awkward and bizarre when I read some Q&A posted on the walls, but at the same time, it feels honest and eye-opening.

Got questions about the prostitutes’ lives? The answers are here!

Everyone has desires in private. But if you are a public figure, yours might be made public.

This photo booth is located at the end, near the exit door. You can wear sexy masks and have silly pictures taken here with your friend.


There are some testimonies on the wall from real prostitutes that said they got involved in this profession because they needed money to pay for their school tuition fee.

Some others were caught in the vicious human trafficking circle, they were once travelers exploring Europe and suddenly before they knew it, they were being kidnapped and sold to a pimp or brothel. This is scary indeed.

Another bizarre testimony shown on a video is a man saying that he loves his girlfriend so much and supports her career choice. I just didn’t get it. I mean, how could he let the woman that he loves doing that? And if they’re making love, is it transactional or what? There were a million questions in my head as I watched the video. Crazy world we live in.

Bondage is sexual practice that involves the tying up, binding or restraining of one’s partner. I guess this is needed when one wants to be caught by a sexy police officer :p

After transaction, customers often forget their belongings. Someone went home toothless! 😀

Not only was life hard for them, they might know something that they shouldn’t and had to pay for the price. This corner was full of the names of Red Light District’s prostitutes who were murdered. I saw one Indonesian woman’s name on the list.


Understanding life from the sex workers’ point of view

There are some memorabilia collected from the sex workers. Bondage starter kit and worn lingerie are some of them. There was even a room that is styled in a way to portray a worker’s life.

A small bed next to the dressing table with makeup, body lotion, and bottles of perfume on top. By the bedside, there was a charged iphone with mock up incoming messages from different people. Some texts sound really normal just like ones any girl would get, but some others were disturbing.

When are you coming back home?

You didn’t reach the target again this month!
Do you want me to throw you to the street?!

Who is this?
Hi, can we meet for a cup of coffee?
I just want to talk
I really like you

Anyone visiting this museum will think how it feels like to be at their shoes. Most of them don’t choose to work as a prostitute, but nobody knows their stories and passers-by judge them anyway.

In another room, there was a screen playing the following video. It shows us how it feels like to stand behind the window display as a prostitute and being judged day in day out.

Visiting the museum was eye-opening to me. I learned a lot and was reminded that sex workers are human beings just like me. The visit gives me a better understanding towards their lives and it helped me to look at them as humane as possible.

I suggest anyone interested to visit the Red Light District to visit this museum first before walking through the window displays. Just to prepare your heart and mind to what you’re about to see later. Insulting look and remarks are the last thing the workers hope to get from you or anyone else.

Whatever their life choices are, be respectful and remember that they have feelings, too.

Museum of Prostitution – Red Light Secrets
Oudezijds Achterburgwal 60h,
1012 DP Amsterdam, Netherlands

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Written by dearmarintan

An Indonesian who enjoys coffee, books, and meaningful conversations. Currently interested in body language, communication, and human behavior.

Website: http://dearmarintan.com/

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