The truth about coffee shops and the red-light district in Amsterdam.
Everyone visiting Amsterdam is probably aware of the infamous red-light district, and has no doubt heard of the many pot selling coffee shops. Both can seem to be quite intimidating for new travellers as even though many have heard of them, most are unaware of how they work. The one thing everyone should keep in mind is. Although prostitution is legal in the red light and smoking weed is fine in some coffee shops, not every one in these places takes part in these activities.
There is so much to do and see in the red-light district, and is in fact a great place to go for drinks and a night out. Not everyone in the area is doing the whole prostitute thing. In fact, most people are not, and a visit to the area even at night will surprise you at how safe and non-threatening it is.
The same can be said for coffee shops, some shops will have a lot of people smoking inside and others don’t allow it at all. Sometimes it’s not that easy to tell which kind you will be walking into, so to help with this confusion, the shops that sell marijuana have a special sticker/sign.
It’s not that big but can be found usually by the front door. It’s a half white, half green flag and lets people clearly know if you can get a bit more than coffee inside. However, even the shops that do sell something extra do operate as more than just a pharmacy. Some even have designated smoking areas, so others can just sit and enjoy a simple beverage or baked good. The main point is these two overly hyped areas of Amsterdam attract people of all kinds, and in no way will you stand out for not partaking in the activities of the area. So just come with the attitude of live and let live, there are great people all around and some areas that tourists can be a bit scared to venture tend to be the best!