How to get a Sak Yant or traditional bamboo tattoo in Thailand

I had wanted to get this done for a while and had been researching how to go about it. Most of the ‘organised’ appointments sounded good where you are picked up at your hotel, taken to a temple and provided with lunch etc but that felt very ‘touristy’ and with little meaning. I thought I would look into it further when I arrived in Bangkok. The prices I was seeing were around AU$350 which I thought was a bit steep.

The day after we arrived we were walking around the Khaosan Road area when I spotted a place that offered these tattoos. It was decorated in the Buddhist style with someone having a tattoo done. We were invited inside and ushered to watch as the monk completed this person’s intricate design.

An offering for the Arjan

We were shown some designs and I decided just to ‘go for it!’

I was provided with an offering to give to the monk and encouraged to kneel to receive his blessing.

He seemed happy

Once in position Arjan (the Master) Nat began the tattooing using the traditional bamboo rod with a needle at the end.

Did it hurt?

Yes it did! But no more than when using a machine. I have a small tattoo at the base of my spine which was done using a machine and I honestly think that hurt more. I have read other people find it really painful.

At the end of the procedure the Arjan sort of blew on the tattoo very gently. I was asked (by the translator) to turn around and was blessed by (holy?) water and further prayers were said. I think the kneeling part almost hurt as much as the tattoo! The whole process took less than 30 minutes. It cost around AU$130 or £65 which I was happy with.

By the time I paid the money the Arjan was tucking in to his well deserved lunch!

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