Red light areas are linked with sex-oriented businesses and industries. Regardless of our society’s view of the worlds oldest job, sex trade and the businesses it’s associated with are very much present in the corners of most major cities in the world. In most of the red light areas prostitution occurs, whether it’s legally or illegally. There are places in the world that have liberal laws about sex work but in many places it is illegal. These are some very infamous red light districts in the world.
- De Wallen, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Prostitution and other activities associated with it is legal in the Netherlands. There is 12 red light district in the country with their very famous window prostitution. Among all of those De Wallen is the largest and most famous red light area in Amsterdam. De Wallen is the oldest area and attracts a major part of tourists in the country. There are approximately more than 300 cabins in the network of alleys decorated red and black lights in the district. The area is packed with several sex shops, sex theatres, peep shows, sex museum and cannabis museum, and several coffee shops that also sell marijuana. Although everything seems perfect in the world’s one of the most famous red light area, it’s not. Despite taking many measurements taken by the government, Amsterdam still thrives as a top destination for the victims of human trafficking.
2. Patpong, Bangkok, Thailand
Although prostitution is illegal in Thailand, in many places in the country it is tolerated and partly regulated. Patpong is one of the most famous red light areas in Bangkok, Thailand. Bangkok has become a hub for the sex trade in Southeast Asia. Apart from Patpong, Soi Nana and Soi Cowboy are another two very famous areas in Bangkok. The moment you enter the area it will feel like a neon attack on your senses. In this area, you can hear hawkers trying to sell everything from ping-pong shows to live sex and the participants who can be sold for money. The people who have experienced this area says it’s far from arousing. You can expect strictly enforced and exorbitantly priced drink minimums, aggressive management, and high-pressure sales tactics.
3. Pigalle, Paris, France
In France, while keeping a brothel, pimping and paying for sex is illegal, prostitution is not unless it is soliciting. While we all know that in Paris there are many popular tourists destinations like the Eiffel Tower, what many of us don’t know is that the city of love also has a more erotic side. Pigalle is one of the most famous and active red light areas in France. It is also very popular among tourists. The area is filled with sex shops, theatres, strip clubs, and adult shows. The two very famous cabaret Divan du Monde and the Moulin Rouge is also located in Pigalle. The area is also known for petty crimes. Pigalle is also home to many bars and clubs.
4. Sonagachi, Kolkata, India
Prostitution is not illegal in India, but public solicitation of prostitution is. Although in practice prostitution is tolerated, brothels and pimping are illegal. Located in Kolkata, Sonagachi is India’s largest red light area. The area has an estimated 11,000 sex workers with more than a few hundred multi-story brothels. According to experimental filmmaker Eybi Sulam, Sonagachi is the worst place, he has ever visited. The area has been documented many times. In 2005 a documentary was released named, Born into Brothels: Calcutta’s Red Light Kids which won the Oscar for the best documentary feature in that year. The documentary focuses on the lives of children born to prostitutes in Sonagachi, the so-called worst place on earth.
5. Kabukicho, Tokyo, Japan
Although prostitution is illegal in Japan, there are ways around it, since it is the trade is narrowly defined in the country. There are many sexual acts that legally happen in this area, that would be considered prostitution in other countries. Located in Shinjuku, Tokyo, Kabukicho is also known as the Sleepless Town. The entertainment area is packed with host and hostess clubs, love hotels, shops, restaurants, and nightclubs. The management of these clubs reportedly can be aggressive especially towards foreigners. The criminal gang of Japan named Yakuza also has a big influence on this area and are involved in the sex trade business.
6. Geylang and Orchard Towers, Singapore
Though prostitution is legal in Singapore, public solicitation of prostitution, living on the earnings of a prostitute, and maintaining a brothel are considered illegal. Geylang and Orchard Towers are Singapore’s most notorious red light areas. Geylang is a red light district located on the eastern fringe of Singapore. And the Orchard tower is building which is located on the corner of Claymore Road and Orchard Road. Because of the ongoing business, the building is known as the Four Floors of Whores.
7. Schipperskwartier, Antwerp, Belgium
Prostitution is legal in Belgium. Antwerp is one of the famous destinations in Belgium. The place is a go-to destination for many for its famous clubs and nightlife. Ever since the tolerance zone has been set in motion the crime rates have also been lower. The three-block section is a progressive and exceptionally clean red light district. In this area, you can experience the places the Villa Tinto or you can just take a walk and explore the red light district.
8. Reeperbahn, Hamburg, Germany
Reeperbahn is a red light district located in Hamburg’s St. Pauli. The district is also known as the most sinful mile. Reeperbahn is also one of the largest club festivals. The street of this district is filled with restaurants, night clubs, discotheques, bars and strip clubs, sex shops, brothels, and similar sex trade businesses. There’s also an Erotic Art Museum. There is a street called Herbertstrasse which is forbidden for people under 18. In Germany prostitution is legal.
9. Zona Norte, Tijuana, Mexico
Zona Norte is located in Tijuana, Mexico, where prostitution is legal. It is one of the largest red-light districts in North America. The area is especially famous for its strip clubs and bars which also operates as brothels. This district is also famous for commercialized street prostitution. The streets of this area are also famous among drug dealers including Heroin.
10. Wan Chai, Hong Kong, China
In Hong Kong prostitution is not illegal but brothels are illegal. Wan Chai is Hong Kong’s main red light district. The Hong Kong triads are said to be heavily involved in this business. Wan Chai might look like a normal metropolitan area by day, but in the night it turns into the sex industry.