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THE WORLD'S 8 BEST RED LIGHT DISTRICTS


PUBLISHED ON 2/28/2014 BY BRANDON COHEN

! @thrillist

FLICKR USER MOYAN BRENN / EDITED BY THRILLIST

Not that you would ever visit a red light district during one of your many globetrots, but
as a matter of sociological research, its still important to be well-informed. When it
comes to society's seedy underbellies, local laws and customs vary by country, and you,
errr, you can never be too safe. In addition to wearing condoms (denitely do that), there's
other stuff... Here's a comprehensive guide to the world's best erotic playgrounds.

FLICKR USER STIGGS13

8. PARIS -- PIGALLE
What to expect: Pariss Pigalle is an epicenter of debauchery with sex shops, peep
shows, strip clubs, cabarets, and many other, unpublishable X-rated adventures. In terms
of seediness, Pigalle, might take the cake. That said, prostitution is actually illegal, so its
more about the strip clubs and live shows. Just be careful; many of Pigalle's
establishments have a rep as places where thugs bully tourists into handing over all the
money.
What itll cost: Itll usually run you about $28 (20) to get into a live sex show, and once
inside, expect $28 (20) drinks, as well. Don't be surprised if the clubs randomly tack
extra charges on to your credit card or if women try to pressure you into buying them
drinks, which can end up running between $41-$138 (30-100) each. Yes, you just bought
that nice lady a $138 Zima.
Be warned: If you cant tell, its easy to get taken advantage of here. Clubs coax you in
with no covers and promises of low-priced shows, but then lure you into buying things
you didnt even realize you were buying. Getting scammed, and possibly fearing for your
life, is the norm.
Did you know? The Pigalle is also home to some classier burlesque shows, most
notably, the Moulin Rouge. It features full dinner service and, thankfully, less
singing/more boobs than the movie musical of the same name.

FLICKR USER RAHIMS

7. JAPAN -- KABUKICHO
What to expect: Kabukicho caters almost exclusively to Japanese locals and their
passion for odd sexual fantasy; it can be a difcult place for tourists. Clubs are often
themed, and lled with sexy secretaries, nurses, maids, dominatrices, you name it -- its
like Halloween year round! There's naked karaoke, rentable sex dolls, and even soap
lands where you'll get soapy clean before you get dirty. Not to mention hostess clubs,
where you pay for companionship. How sweet. While paid sex is illegal in Japan,
everything else is fair game -- just be sure to pay attention to the clock, as the sex clubs
close at midnight.
What itll cost: Prices for host clubs run from about $30-$140 for two hours, depending
on the quality of the joint. A pink salon will set you back about $20, while escort services
-- where the ladies come to your room -- start around $250 an hour.
Be warned: Dont just pop into places to check them out -- bouncers are known to hustle
tourists with exorbitant, non-negotiable entrance fees.
Did you know? Kabukicho is home to a large region of ladyboys, the term for
transgenders who also work the district. Make a note, lest you suffer your own personal
Crying Game.

FLICKR USER RYAN LACKEY

6. THAILAND -- SOI COWBOY


What to expect: Soi Cowboy is not a government designated leisure zone, so it's one
of the seedier red-light districts in Thailand. Although like the countrys other RLD,
Patpong, sex shows are the main draw here. While prostitution (and nude dancing) is
illegal in Thailand, it's tolerated and partially regulated. Most of the women working in the
go-go bars (including the bartenders and waitresses) are available for a price; whether
they say yes or not depends on a lot of factors -- namely, how disgusting you are and how
much coin youre willing to drop. Its customary to buy a drink for a lady if youre
interested, FYI. Sound familiar?
What itll cost: If you leave the go-go bar with one of its employees, you have to pay a
bar ne", usually around $15. From there you negotiate a rate directly with the woman
for her services. Rates start around $45 for up to an hour but can extend to $125, you
know, if you'd like her to stay the night and cuddle, or talk about why your GF left (go
gure) or why you didn't get that big promotion at work. Between the price of drinks, the
bar ne, and the hourly rate, you're looking at about $75 minimum.
Be aware: Dont talk poorly about the Thai monarchy to folks in Thailand (even to sex
workers) -- doing so has landed some loud-mouth tourists in jail.
Did you know? Nightlife columnist Bernard Trink gave Soi its name, after the late T. G.
"Cowboy" Edwards. He was a retired American airman who, in addition to oft sporting a
cowboy hat, opened one of the rst bars there in 1977.

FLICKR USER ABI SKIPP

5. HAMBURG -- REEPERBAHN
What to expect: While its almost impossible to enter a place like Cologne's Pascha or
Amsterdam's De Wallen without everyone knowing what youre up to, Hamburgs red-light
district, Reeperbahn, is a huge nightlife area with great bars, restaurants, theaters, and
clubs. You know, in addition to your standard sex shops, sex museums, erotic theaters,
and strip clubs.
Sex work's only available at certain times of the day and is limited to one street,
Herbertstrae; it's actually partitioned off by a wall so as not to offend minors and
demure ladies. In Hamburg, strip clubs have overtaken prostitution in terms of popularity
and there are fewer than 400 working ladies currently employed on Herbertstrae, down
50% from a decade ago. The more you know...
What itll cost: Most strip clubs charge around a $41 (30) cover, and the ones that
dont will make up for it with $28 (20) drinks. For some alone time with a lady of the
night, its the European standard (but negotiable), $69 (50) for 15 minutes. We didn't
even make the Euro to Dollar conversion up. Erotic massage parlors will cost you around
$69-$207 (50-150) an hour.
Be warned: Be careful if you're asked to buy a stripper a glass of orange juice
(orangensaft). The "orange juice" is actually an offer for the woman to sit down with you,
usually at a cost of between $28-55 (20-40).
Did you know? The area was made famous by, none other than, The Beatles, who
apparently loved to hit up the strip clubs earned their musical stripes playing in
Reeperbahn music clubs early in their career. Their impact on the area is commemorated
with a Beatles Square.

FLICKR USER ERIC MOLINA

4. THAILAND -- PATPONG
What to expect: When it comes to Thai red light districts, Patpong is the one that
primarily caters to tourists and ex-pats. In fact, unlike Soi Cowboy, it's decreed an ofcial
entertainment zone by the government, so venues stay open until 2am. Patpong's a
strange mix of sex for sale and overpriced souvenirs, and it's best known for shows
where nude women do wild stunts. At most strip clubs, you can pay a bar ne to take
the girls home with you, or if you'd rather take things a little more slowly, there are plenty
of massage parlors and pink salons.
What itll cost: Let's be honest, the sex show exists to rip you off, so only go if you have
the cash to blow. While they lure you in with the promise of a drink specials, expect to get
stuck with a hefty bill once the entertainment starts. Getting your oil changed at a pink
salon will run you about $25. As a rule of thumb, women in Patpong run a little more
expensive than in Soi Cowboy.
Be warned: This cannot be stressed enough -- stay away from drugs of any kind. The
Thai police do NOT mess around when it comes to narcotics, and unlike America, where
the police are held accountable for the smallest of infraction, Thai cops operate with a lot
of autonomy; they can be quick to extort tourists and get violent.
Did you know? The most offensive thing you can do to a Thai person is show them the
bottom of your feet. Doing so is considered a terrible insult, and will surely result in
aggressiveness or a ght. Save the shoeless handstands for home.

FLICKR USER _KCU

3. COLOGNE -- PASCHA
What to expect: Cologne is home to Europes rst high-rise brothel, Pascha, which was

What to expect: Cologne is home to Europes rst high-rise brothel, Pascha, which was
built in 1972 to condense the citys RLD into one building. Women rent rooms from which
to ply their wares and can be found sitting in the hallways awaiting customers. You
roam from floor to floor, room to room, until nding a lady of your liking, before
negotiating a price directly with her. Interestingly, some of the women actually live in
their rooms; so much for not bringing your work home with you!
What itll cost: Entrance into the building is around $7 (5) but the women work
independently, set their own prices, and pocket all the prots. Standard European rates
prevail though, again, about $69 (50) for fteen minutes. Still not making that up.
Be warned: One floor is reserved for low-cost girls, and another for transexuals. Getting
off on the wrong floor could have traumatizing consequences.
Did you know? Men over the age of 66 enjoy the girls at half-price during afternoon
hours -- no AARP card required. Men who get a Pascha logo tattoo are guaranteed free
entry for life! And who says customer service is dead?

MAXTED TRAVELS WITH MODESTINE 5

2. ANTWERP -- VILLA TINTO


What to expect: Belgium's better known for waffles than women, but prostitution is
very much legal here. The pristine looking district -- a three-block tolerance zone
established by the government in 2000 (think Hamsterdam from The Wire) -- is one of the
safest and cleanest red-light districts in the world. Similar to Amsterdam's De Wallen,
expect to window shop, as young scantily clad women in Antwerp also peddle their
wares behind storefront glass.
The city's best brothel, Villa Tinto, has been dubbed Europe's most high tech bordello
and boasts 51 suites, safes to store cash, a biometric scanner to identify workers, an on-

site police station, a panic button under the beds for the women's safety, and a control
room to oversee the operation. There are also massage parlors and strip clubs that offer
sex shows, where, for example, you can pay to watch a monkey slap a naked woman.
We're just reporting the facts.
What itll cost: Full-release massages start at about $83 (60). Or, for just under $3
(2), you get about 90 seconds of action in one of the peep shows. Window prostitutes
start at the standard rate of $69 (50) for fteen minutes, although you can pay more for
extras like kissing and not having to use a condom. Bonus STDs, however -- totally free!
Be warned: While the ladies working in the windows are regulated, the street hustlers
are not. Best stay away from the woman who comments on how much she loves your
sweet new fade.
Did you know? Seventy percent of the prostitutes working in Belgium are Bulgarian. So,
hope you like Bulgarians.

FLICKR USER QIOU87

1. AMSTERDAM -- DE WALLEN
What to expect: De Wallen is the obvious gold standard for red light districts. Thanks to
government regulation, it's safer, cleaner, and more efcient than most you'll enter. Its a
huge tourist area, as well, so the streets are packed with pedestrians. The ladies
themselves are on display in floor-to-ceiling windows, summoning you to come in as you
pass. When you see one that strikes your fancy, negotiate a price at the door.
What itll cost: Starting rates for most women is around $69 (50) for fteen minutes,
although talking your way down to $55 (40) is not unheard of. You're on the clock as
soon as you enter the room, so breakaway pants and crocs are probably a strong
wardrobe play.

Be warned: The negotiation is no time to be coy about your goals, interests, and
expectations. The women will take advantage of tourists who are ambiguous, and have
been known to tack on extra, hidden charges for unspecied add-ons, like changing
positions. Be as specic as possible.
Did you know? Amsterdam is the only place in the world to have a bronze statue
commemorating its sex workers. Titled Belle, it depicts a woman in a doorway and the
plaque reads, Respect sex workers all over the world."