When it comes to society’s seedy underbellies, local laws and customs vary by country, and you can never be too safe. In addition to wearing condoms (definitely do that), there’s other stuff. Here’s a comprehensive
When it comes to society’s seedy underbellies, local laws and customs vary by country, and you can never be too safe. In addition to wearing condoms (definitely do that), there’s other stuff. Here’s a comprehensive guide to the world’s best erotic playgrounds.
Kabukichō, Tokyo, Japan
Kabukichō caters almost exclusively to Japanese locals and their passion for odd sexual fantasy; it can be a difficult place for tourists. Clubs are often themed, and filled with sexy secretaries, nurses, maids, dominatrices, you name it – it’s 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. Don’t just pop into places to check them out – bouncers are known to hustle tourists with exorbitant, non-negotiable entrance fees.
Geylang, Singapore City, Singapore
Geyalng is a three-mile-long road with side streets called “lorongs.” The even-numbered ones are filled with “chicken farms:” legal brothels regulated by the government and filled with Thai and Chinese women working as prostitutes. Your sessions are limited to 45 minutes, so maybe don’t opt for the “extended pleasure” condoms and stick to the ribbed for her pleasure.
Though the legal brothels are confined to the even-numbered lorongs, there are still brothels on the odd-numbered ones too. Most of these are illegal and unregulated, and you may find yourself running out naked if there’s a raid. The main street of Geylang is also noted for its food, and the iconic dish of the street is called frog-leg porridge. That’s exactly what it sounds like.
Pigalle, Paris, France
Paris’ 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 it’s more about 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 their money.
If you can’t tell, it’s 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 didn’t even realize you were buying. Getting scammed, and possibly fearing for your life, is the norm. 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.
Reeperbahn, Hamburg, Germany
While it’s almost impossible to enter a place like Cologne’s Pascha or Amsterdam’s De Wallen without everyone knowing what you’re up to, Hamburg’s 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, Herbertstraße; 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 women currently employed on Herbertstraße, down 50% from a decade ago. 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 $22-$44 (€20-€40).
The area was made famous by, none other than The Beatles, who earned their musical stripes playing in Reeperbahn music clubs early in their career. Their impact on the area is commemorated with Beatles Square.
Patpong, Bangkok, Thailand
When it comes to Thai red light districts, Patpong is the one that primarily caters to tourists and expats. In fact, unlike Soi Cowboy, it’s decreed an official 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 fine” 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.
Pascha, Cologne, France
Cologne is home to Europe’s first high-rise brothel, Pascha, which was built in 1972 to condense the city’s RLD into one building. Women rent rooms from which to peddle their goods and can be found sitting in the hallways awaiting customers. You roam from floor to floor, room to room, until finding 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!
One floor is reserved for low-cost girls and another for transexuals. 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?
Villa Tinto, Antwerp, Belgium
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 — 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 onsite 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.
De Wallen, Amsterdam, Netherlands
De Wallen is the obvious gold standard for red-light districts. Thanks to government regulation, it’s safer, cleaner, and more efficient than most you’ll enter. It’s 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.
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.”