As a woman, I am aware of the fact that there are things to watch out for on the Red Light District streets. Especially during and after my first few working days as a waitress alone I wondered about all the possible things that could happen.
Would strange horny men come in and assault me? Could my little coffee shop get robbed more easily then in other parts of Amsterdam? Do I need to watch out as I cycle home on dark winter evenings?
After a few days I realized my doubts were ungrounded. I actually feel really safe! Not less safe than in any other shop or restaurant I had ever worked at. It might even be safer in some ways!
How Safe Is The Amsterdam Red Ligt District?
Amsterdam is a busy city with a lot of seedy alleys, shadowy sidestreets and dark nooks. Amsterdam also has a high crime rate compared to the rest of The Netherlands. So enough red flags you’d say.
But within the Red Light District area, there are many cameras. Fifty cameras in the area that are monitored 24/7 by the police and many more from shops or private house owners. There’s also lot of local/ social supervision and many private guards are situated in the area (they come with the window you rent as a working lady).
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be aware. As in any large city in the world there are pickpockets, there are drugdealers and there are thieves walking around so: Mind your belongings and do not go into a dark abandoned alley by yourself at 4 a.m.
Safety for Locals and Tourists
A local is much more aware of where he is and he can easily scan anyone who doesn’t look trustworthy within his scope. Locals are more focussed and also never have a lot of cash on them. All they should keep close are smart phones in case a scooter drives by and rips it out of your hand.
Inside my coffee place people mostly pay by card, so there’s not much money to rob. There’s a camera inside the shop and 2 outside cameras facing my front door and the guards from the ladies next door look out into my shop. All I need to do is wave and they come over to check if I am ok. Sounds like a much safer place then that bar in De Pijp, right?
Tourist are an easier prey. Also in the Red Light District. They are distracted, don’t have a clue where they are and tourists generally have a lot of money on them. Also, because to a tourist everything feels new and strange, they won’t notice strange behaviour that easy.
What about pimps? Almost all pimps have left the Red Light District, because since the 1012 project it has stopped being rewarding enough for them to have ladies is the Red Light District. The costs and risks are way too high with all the regulations going on nowadays. This has increased the amount of people visiting the area, the number of handhaving and the quantity of police in the streets. This has reduced crime rates a lot.
My Own Experiences Over The Years – Safety In The Red Light District
The occasional homeless guy comes by, usually there’s no harm there apart from his smell. Whoever visits the ladies, leave other women alone. General rule of thumb.
I did, however, have an encounter with a ‘wisseltruuk’ once, where someone tries to fool a cashier while changing money so many times you get confused and you give him way too much change. But his scam didn’t fool this Red Light Waitress and the fellow left without succes. I had also witnessed one in another restaurant in Amsterdam, so this is not something special for the red Light District.
Once one man walked off without paying for his breakfast. He was quite old, so I’d like to believe it was an honest mistake. We will never know. This also happens ouside De Wallen, so again nothing typical for the area.
Tips To Stay Safe In The red Light District
So what can you do to stay safe while visiting the Red Light District?
- Try to not look too much like a tourist, so leave your travel map out of sight and your hike boots in the hotel. You can even learn some Dutch words to drop casually once in a while.
- Look like you know where you’re going instead of wandering around. Especially in this area.
- Have some keys in sight, as if you live closely and you need to open your bike or front door.
- Try to be aware ‘stereotype people’ who walk too close behind you and seem to have a lot in their pockets, the old woman walking her dog is generally not a threat 😉
- Keep away from the dark and empty side alleys, stay on the main streets especailly after dark.
- Do not get too drunk/high so you are still able to make sensible choices or have someone with you who can do this for you.