What is Sex Tourism – And Is It Legal?

What is sex tourism - and is it ok to travel for it?

Sex tourism is nothing new, it’s actually something that has been around since humans first started to travel for fun. Seriously, the Romans loved to travel and they had a penchant for prostitituion.

But in todays modern world, where do we stand with sex tourism?

It’s a term that is often frowned upon, with many looking down on those who travel for sex. But the truth is that travelling to get laid is not uncommon. Look at the hedonistic activities in Ibiza, Miami or on the backpacker trails of South East Asia.

However, travelling and getting laid is not necessarily sex tourism – this is something else entirely. So…

What is sex tourism?

Travelling to specific place with the intention of paying for sex, or for sexual gratification, is sex tourism.

In the context of sexual gratification, this can include travelling for prostitution, strip clubs or any other form of paid sexual activity.

Places that are known for sex tourism often have loose laws around the actual practices of paying for sex. Some of the more popular places however aren’t entirely legal, but are relaxed about enforcement.

Is sex tourism legal?

There is no blanket answer to the legality of sex tourism. In some countries it is entirely legal to pay for sex.

The Netherlands for example have a well known sex tourism industry, with the red light districts of Amsterdam a popular haunt for those happy to pay for prostitutes of all varieties. However, prostitution here is not technically ‘legal’, but is ‘decriminalised’. This means that those practicing are not subject to police harrassment, and the punters are free to visit their choice of red window.

Contrast this with Thailand, where prostitution is illegal. However, because of loose application of the law and little desire to clamp down on the sex industry, prostitution is openly sold and is rife in places like Pattaya and Bangkok.

The side effect to these loose applications of the law is the booming trade in sex shows, strip clubs and other forms of titillation. This means that even if a visitor isn’t looking to pay for the actual act of sex, they can still enjoy the thrill of seeing naked women (or men, if that’s what they’re into) performing for their entertainment.

Sex tourism in Germany is openly accepted and legal
Hamburg in Germany is a well known and popular spot for sex tourism

Countries where prostitution is legal

There are many countries where prostitution is legal and sex tourism is openly accepted. These include:

  • Germany
  • Brazil
  • The Dominican Republic
  • Mexico
  • Spain
  • New Zealand
  • Hungary
  • Cosa Rica
  • Portugal
  • Italy
  • Colombia
  • Some states of the USA

There are many countries where prostitution is legal but where the open practice or promotion of it is off limits. This includes countries like India, Senegal, Indonesia and Singapore.

This definitive list of countries where prostitution is legal only tells half the story.

The grey area

However, there are also countries where it is entirely illegal, but there is still a booming sex trade industry.

These are countries like Cambodia, The Philippines, United Arab Emirates and Thailand.

It should be noted that even in countries where prostitution is legal, there are many factors that still apply. For example, child sex trafficking is always a punishable offence, wherever you are in the world.

Remember that sex workers are real people with a livelihood, and so they deserve to be treated with respect. Violence or other non-consensual acts against sex workers will likely result in police action wherever you are.

Even if sex tourism is legal, be sure to respect your sex workers

Travelling for sex tourism

We’re not ones to frown at your choices, and we’ve had some epic nights in places like Bangkok and Dubai. So we understand that sex tourism is an aspect of travel that is very tempting and enjoyable for many.

If you are travelling anywhere to engage in sexual activity, we recommend:

  • Bring condoms- for yours and their sake (yes women too, bring protection so they don’t have an excuse. And yes women can be sex tourists)
  • Respect local customs – breaking laws means you lower the reputation of tourists and you could even end up in prison yourself
  • Understand where the sex trade areas are. These are usually specific areas in the nightlife district of wherever you’re going.
  • Be respectful. Sex workers have to put up with a lot of shit from idiots. Don’t be one of them.

We’ve also looked before at countries that offer a fun playboy lifestyle option.

Have fun out there and stay safe!

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