Why you Don't Get a Sak Yant in Bangkok

Find out why you Don't get a Traditional Thai Sak Yant Tattoo in Bangkok (or Phuket) anymore

Once the most popular place to get a Traditional Thai Sak Yant Tattoo was in Bangkok, Thailand. But now places like Chiang Mai and Pai in Northern Thailand are growing increasingly more popular. Here we look at why you don’t get a Sak Yant in Bangkok anymore …….

Bangkok is home to the famous Wat Bang Phra Temple, and many famous (and expensive) Sak Yant Ajarns. So why is the biggest city in Thailand increasingly becoming the Last Place people want to get a Sak Yant in Bangkok?

sak yant in bangkok or Pai
In Northern Thailand places like Pai (left) and Chiang Mai (center) offer a relaxed and spiritual atmosphere and much cheaper services without the constant touts and con artists scams that plauge tourist visiting busy Bangkok (right)

Northern Thailand is fast becoming a popular tourist destination than the more traditional holiday areas like Bangkok and Phuket.  Many tourists are discovering that not only is the beauty exquisite, the North offers a friendlier, cleaner, calmer and cheaper place to relax and unwind.  For those wanting a Spiritual Sak Yant Tattoo,  the idea of hours in a taxi, avoiding the many scams offered along the way to a busy street with the sound of traffic getting a Sak Yant Tattoo in Bangkok – is just not appealing compared to the options available.

In addition to the more relaxed and peaceful environment, getting a Traditional Thai Bamboo Tattoo costs less than half (often 1/3rd-1/4th) as much as the major tourist areas.  A 5000-10,000 Baht Sak Yant in Bangkok or Phuket will only be 2000 Baht in the North of Thailand.  Making cost one of the major reason why you don’t get a Sak Yant in Bangkok anymore.

Getting a Sak Yant in Bangkok used to be a simple activity.  However now there are many Tattoo shops who used to respect the Tradition and not provide Sak Yant’s in Bangkok – who now openly promote themselves as experts in ‘Bamboo Hand Poked’ fake Sak Yants devoid of meaning and spirituality.

In the following article, we will touch on some of the issues that have created a mass exodus of those people wishing to get the Traditional Thai Sak Yant Tattoo in Bangkok – choosing to go to Northern Thailand instead.

Why you don't get a Sak Yant in Bangkok - No 1

The cost of Sak Yant Tattoo's in Bangkok (or Phuket)

sak yant tattoo in Bangkok 1
In Chiang Mai you can get a guided tour to a Monks Temple for a Sak Yant from $60. In Bangkok a visit to a local Ajarn can cost $300 and up

The cost of a Traditional Thai Sak Yant Tattoo in Bangkok, Phuket and some of the tourist areas in Southern Thailand are very expensive compared to Northern Thailand.

This is a combination of a higher cost of living, and a greater level of commercialism of the Sak Yant Tattoo in Bangkok.  As the Sak Yant Masters seldom speak English, most of the services that provide Sak Yants comes in the way of a personal guide.  This includes the additional cost of your driver and translator.  While there is nothing wrong with having a guide to translate and make sure your understand what is happening during your Sak Yant in Bangkok experience.  Places like Sak Yant Chiang Mai and Sak Yant Pai, offer the same service for less than 1/4 to 1/2 the price of a Sak Yant in Bangkok.

Many people have found that they can book a return flight from Bangkok or Phuket, fly to Chiang Mai, stay a few days and receive a couple of Sak Yant and still have money left over from the cost of getting a Sak Yant Tattoo in Bangkok.

At Sak Yant Pai, and our sister operation in Chiang Mai, we are very open and transparent with the costs of each service and each design.  But you should not look at getting a Sak Yant in Bangkok if the website is paying the search engine to rank it, and does not specify the price of the service.

For the 3 Master Yants of the 5 Lines, 8 Direction and 9 Peaks for example.  In Northern Thailand such as Chiang Mai, Pai and Chiang Rai these designs from a real Sak Yant Master including the magical blessing cost about $60.  The same designs can cost as little as $150 if you go to the Master yourself, and around $250-300 if you use a guided tour service in Bangkok. 

Why you don't get a Sak Yant Tattoo in Bangkok - No 2

Fake Sak Yant in Bangkok by Tattoo Parlors with no meaning or Magic

With the reduction in Thailand tourist activity during and after Covid, Many Tattoo Studios have started to promote copy Sak Yant Tattoo in Bangkok (fakes), done in the ‘traditional bamboo hand poked form’. While fake Sak Yant tattoo’s have always been available in beach side tourist destinations, only recently have Bangkok Tattoo studios started as well.

Many of these Tattoo Parlors have spent a lot of time making websites with quality information about the history and tradition of Sak Yant including the meanings of many designs. Many also heavily spend money promoting and advertising their websites making sure they appear in the top search results as adverts.

Some Tattoo Shop websites will not mention that their staff are not providing a real Sak Yant Tattoo Experience, others will say that they actually provide a better looking Tattoo even if it has none of the magic and spirituality of the Authentic Sak Yant.

There are also legitimate Sak Yant Masters working in some tattoo shops, who will provide the a real Sak Yant Experience in Bangkok.  It has just become difficult for someone to distinguished between the Real and the Fakes on offer.

For more information you can read a detailed article “Why you don’t get a Sak Yant at a Tattoo shop”  Perhaps the most important thing to realize, is that the Traditional Thai Bamboo Tattoo is a Spiritual and Magic amulet worn on the skin.  It takes years of study to learn the magical text and to be able to personalize the Sak Yant for the individual.  The power of the Sak Yant then comes from the spiritual purity of the Sak Yant Master.  Spiritual purity is not an important lifestyle trait of a Tattoo Artist – especially one who tries to convince the public that the tradition, translation and magical blessing are not important aspects of a Sak Yant Experience. 

Don't get a Sak Yant in Bangkok Tattoo Shops
There is a BIG difference between getting a copy of a Sak Yant Design from a Tattoo Studio and having a real Sak Yant Experience!

Why you don't get a Sak Yant Tattoo in Bangkok - No 3

Beautiful Northern Thailand Vs Huge noisy busy and ugly Bangkok City

The Sak Yant Tattoo is an amazing Spiritual experience; that many people will write reviews saying “Best Experience of my life“, or “Most Amazing Experience in Thailand” when they receive the Sak Yant in Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand.  Not so many reviews include this type of comment when getting a Sak Yant Tattoo in Bangkok.  Rather the reviews talk more about doing something they have wanted for a long time, or clean and Air-con rooms.

This difference between having one of the most amazing experiences of your life and writing a review about a Tattoo ultimately comes down to the environment and surroundings.  While the fast paced hustle and bustle of a big city like Bangkok has it’s advantages, – being a peaceful, comfortable, and relaxing environment is not high on that list.

Without a doubt when you are surrounded by amazing Temples and preserved 500 year old city structures as found in Chiang Mai. Or surrounded by lush mountains and rice fields as found in Pai, Mae Hong Son. Your attitude and demeanor can’t helped but change.  If the spiritual aspect of the Traditional Thai Sak Yant Tattoo is important to you, fighting traffic and scams in a big city can have you arrive in a mood not really concurrent with your what you imagined.

Northern Thailand
The Peace and Calm of Northern Thailand creates a feeling of Spirituality that can not be found in Bangkok or Phuket

In Northern Thailand’s beauty and slower pace of life, you become immersed in the real and ancient Thailand Culture, that is not found in modern Bangkok, or tourists resorts like Phuket and other Islands in the South.  What better way to experience the ancient tradition art of a Sak Yant Tattoo, than in the midst of an environment that has not changed the soul and character to cater for tourism?

One of the reasons people are starting to spend less time in the major tourist areas of Thailand is the growing popularity from word of mouth of those who have experienced it.  Ask anyone who has actually been to the Northern Thailand area, and they will either tell you how disappointed they were they did not spend more time there; or they have found the place to retire later on in life. The Impact of Chiang Mai and small towns like Pai in Mae Hong Son to a holiday in Thailand is always overwhelmingly positive.

Why you don't get a Sak Yant Tattoo in Bangkok - No 4

Getting a sak Yant in Bangkok at Wat Bang Phra Temple

Sak Yant Tattoo in Bangkok Wat bang Phra
Getting a Sak Yant Tattoo in Bangkok at Wat Bang Phra, can be an all day adventure with the great number of people ahead of you in the line

Getting a Sak Yant at Wat Bang Phra Temple will guarantee it is a real Sak Yant and Blessing Experience.  Wat Bang Phra Temple Sak Yant Tattoos is an exception to most of the other reasons listed in this article.

Wat Bang Phra is the number one place in the world for getting a Real Sak Yant in Bangkok and all of Thailand.  This is the mecca of Sak Yant Tattoos in Bangkok and is often done at a very reasonable price.  Many traditionalists will insist on receiving at least one Sak Yant here because of the ancient traditions that are steeped in the history.

There are many fantastic articles online about people getting a Sak Yant from Wat Bang Phra Temple.  There are also many myths and misinformation (especially about thinking hours of the Sak Yant Monks time and skill is exchanged for a packet of cigarettes).  If you have read travel blogs about Sak Yant Tattoos, it would pay to read this article ‘Sak Yant Myths and Misinformation‘ to learn about some of the myths and get the facts!

Although Wat Bang Phra does have some draw backs to receiving a Sak Yant.  The most common reasons given by others are detailed below

Distance to Wat Bang Phra

Wat Bang Phra is some 50 km from Bangkok which requires hiring a Taxi there and back.  More often than not, Taxi’s in Bangkok do not like to use their meters and prefer to negotiate the fee, which can be reduced if you agree to visiting several shops along the way. 

This extra inconvenience of trying to find a ride to the Temple that does not involve one or the more common scams in Thailand (diversions to factory outlets, tailors, jewelers etc)

Separation of Males and Females

Females are unable to receive a Sak Sak from a Monk at a Temple, so they are separated into rooms with Ajarn Sak Yant Masters (ex Monks).

The inability of couples to share the Sak Yant experience together from the same Sak Yant Masters can make what could have been a great experience for couples, less than ideal.  Not so important if you are going alone, but very important for couples wanting to share their Thailand expereince.

Overcrowding at Wat Bang Phra

It is not uncommon for Wat Bang Phra to have 40-100 people a day to receive a Sak Yant. This means customers are often crowded together on concrete floors, intense heat and have to wait sometimes all day.

It is not uncommon for a person to not have time to receive a Sak Yant Tattoo in Bangkok from Wat Bang Phra their first attempt.

Although post Covid with less tourists crowded into the rooms this should not be an issue any longer until tourism in Thailand returns.

Inconsistent Hygiene

Many blog posts written about getting a Sak Yant in Bangkok at Wat Bang Phra often talk about the unsafe way in which tattoos are applied.

This is for 3 main reasons,

  1. The Monks believe the Magic of the Sak Yant protects from un-sterilized practice.
  2. Just too many people going for time to replace each needle
  3. Many people only give the Temple offering (not giving a Monk Donation). It is the latter that allows choice of design and pays for new ink and needles
Strange Sak Yant Rules of Wat Bang Phra

There are Sak Yant Rules for how to behave after you get a Sak Yant Tattoo in Bangkok and everywhere else.  Wat Bang Phra has some odd and interesting additional rules that do not apply elsewhere. This causes confusion which is not helpful if you want to understand the process and traditions. A list of these odd rules are listed in point 5 of why you don’t get a Sak Yant Tattoo in Bangkok or the Southern Tourist areas of Thailand.

Why you don't get a Sak Yant Tattoo in Bangkok - No 5

The Sak Yant Rules

Many people reading about Sak Yant Tattoos who want to really honor the traditions, worry about some of the weird rules associated with getting a Sak Yant in Bangkok.  

Why Do Sak Yant Tattoo’s have Rules?

The Sak Yant Thai Tattoo is a spiritual and magical representation of a desire/intention or specific purpose that is magically charged by the Sak Yant Master at the time of creation.  That magical charge bestowed into the tattoo is based on the power created by the Master from regular spiritual practices, purity of life and meditation.

The magical power embedded into the Traditional Thai Tattoo, relies on the quality of the persons thoughts, and actions to remained charged with power.  The rules are designed to highlight some of the most important actions that will do this.

Why Do Sak Yant Rules in Bangkok seem so strange?

Each Sak Yant Thai Tattoo tradition have there various and often differing Thai Sak Yant Tattoo Rules. The origins of the meaning of the Rules after getting a Bamboo Tattoo are often not even known by the Sak Yant Master.  They tend to not questions their own Master teacher and follow the guidelines of the tradition they learned.

Most Sak Yant Masters in Bangkok and in Southern Thailand come from a linage that started at Wat Bang Phra.  Wat Bang Phra Temple was for hundreds of years (and still is) a school with many children novice Monks living and studying there.  So many of the rules associated with getting a Sak Yant in Bangkok have more to do with being a child Monk, that they have to do with the spirituality of the Sak Yant itself. 

In Northern Thailand, the Sak Yant Tradition comes more from the old magical hermit Monks and includes the more beautiful Lanna Language.  Getting your Sak Yant Experience in the North comes without some of the bizarre rules of the Sak Yant Tattoo.  In Bangkok the rules are odd and confusing. In Chiang Mai and Pai as well as other Northern parts – they are simple and make sense.

Basic Sak Yant Rules (Found in Northern Thailand)

The Rules after getting a Sak Yant Traditional Thai Tattoo follow The Buddhist Concepts Rules of Conduct

  1. Do not kill
  2. Do not steal
  3. Do not desire another persons lover or spouse or be unfaithful to your own
  4. Do not lie
  5. Do not get Intoxicated (you can indulge but not to the point of losing control)
  6. Do Not speak ill of your Mother
Odd and Extra Sak Yant Rules from Bangkok Sak Yant Masters
  1. Do not commit evil deeds.
  2. Devotees of the same master are forbidden to fight or compete with each other
  3. Do not drink alcohol or take drugs.
  4. Do not make special claims of having protective powers because of your Yant or amulets.
  5. Do not think that the power of the Yant will protect you if you intend to use those powers for bad deeds.
  6. Do not eat Star fruit, Pumpkin, or any other ‘Gourd’ type Vegetable.
  7. Do not be anybody’s Lover who is already married
  8. Do not slander anybody’s Mother
  9. Do not eat food from a Wedding, or Funeral banquet.
  10. Do not eat left-Overs.
  11. Do not duck under a washing Line, or an overhanging building.
  12. Do not duck under a Banana Tree of the type Thaanii (classed as important to avoid).
  13. Do not cross a single head bridge; Large or Small bridges are not Forbidden
  14. Do not sit on a Ceramic Urn (Common in Thailand). Especially a Cracked, or Broken one.
  15. Do not let a Woman Lie on top of you, or sit on top either.
  16. Do not permit a Man to be brushed by the blouse or skirt of a Woman, or crossed in Front of; Especially during the Menstruation Period

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, you might not have planned on visiting the Northern part of Thailand and actually need to get a Sak Yant Tattoo in Bangkok.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with doing this, especially if the spiritual aspects of the tradition are not as important to you as part of the experience.  Many people just desire getting the Tattoo itself and are not concerned or interested in the Magical aspects.  You can now at least ensure you go to the little bit of extra effort and find a real Ajarn to have the experience.  Here are a few Real Sak Yant Masters you can find in Bangkok.

Ajarn Fluke
369 Phattharaniwet Samakkhi Village
+66 95 558 8578

Ajarn Ta
147/7 Sukhumvit 4 Soi Samahan
+66 95 251 8767

Ajarn Fu
Soi 6, Rarm Intra Road
+66 85 736 9784

Ajarn Neng
288/296 Phueng Mi 50/24 Alley
+66 85 075 9061

However if you have not yet planned your trip to Thailand, and getting a Sak Yant Tattoo is one of the things on your list.  You will never regret the time it takes to research online (especially YouTube) the immerse beautify and spirituality of Northern Thailand. Not to mention the savings to your bank account by spending more time in a part of Thailand that is at least 2/3rd -1/2 the cost of Bangkok, Phuket and the Islands. Everything in the North of Thailand is cheaper, the accommodation, the food, the cost of tours and getting a Sak Yant Tattoo 🙂