12/4/20237 min read

Travelling can mean different things to different people, and that’s completely fine. Some people travel for leisure, choosing all-in-one trips to rest by the pool. Others travel seeking a sense of adventure, venturing into unseen places, often intertwined with danger. Whatever we choose, as long as it brings us happiness, it’s all that matters.

What does travelling mean to me, though? Everything. New tastes, new places, new colours, new experiences. So, in short, it means freedom. Getting to know the world we live in and experiencing life in different cultures – that’s why I travel. And how do I remember and record these things? Sometimes it’s a cliche keychain, a refrigerator magnet, or a touristy bracelet.

But sometimes, it’s something a little bit more unique. Like a traditional tattoo with deep spiritual meaning. This is a recount of how I decided to get a Sak Yant tattoo in Bangkok, Thailand.



In all honesty, when I arrived in Thailand in April of 2023, getting a tattoo in the middle of a record heat wave was the last thing on my mind. It was during our three-month adventure in Asia, and we’d just arrived in Bangkok from Busan, South Korea.

The adventure was going smoothly, South Korea was our first destination, and it was honestly one of the most comfortable experiences ever. But Thailand? It was so different. From the high heat to the sounds, scents, people – everything was different.

A few days after arrival, I found myself sitting in bed at our hotel, rather gobsmacked. I was actually living the adventure like those famous travel bloggers and influencers, posting absolute wonders. And so I began thinking to myself, how do I capture these experiences?

I didn’t want to walk around with a camera all day, trying to find the best pics or go have the craziest experiences.

“Why not get a tattoo?” were the famous words of my partner. I was shaken, and immediately started remembering things we’ve read about Thailand and what’s famous about it. One of the first things we read was the traditional Sak Yant tattoos that seem to be covering the majority of the Thai people.

And yes, you’re probably thinking of Angelina Jolie now, she’s probably the main reason why the rest of the world has random knowledge of traditional Thai tattoos.

Thus I spiraled into a deep rabbit hole of research. But the page that made me come to a decision, both on the design and where to get the actual tattoo, was a blog article written by the tattoo salon All Day Tattoo. Unexpected, right?

Before we jump into that, though, let’s briefly go over the history and meaning of Sak Yant tattoos. Let me put some of the research to good use.


Sak Yant tattoos have a rich history that dates back as far as the 9th century. Originally thought to have come from Cambodia during the Khmer regime, Sak Yant has now become deeply rooted in Thai culture and Buddhism.

The designs of these tattoos are a unique blend of animistic beliefs, Hinduism, and Buddhism, incorporating Khmer and Sanskrit writings.

The most iconic and widely recognised Sak Yant design is the Gao Yord, also known as the Nine-Spire Yant. This design is typically placed at the base of the neck and is believed to hold sacred magical powers.

Each Sak Yant tattoo has a specific meaning or blessing, and it’s advised to consult with an Ajarn Master, a highly skilled practitioner, to choose the design that best suits your life and aspirations.

In reality, though, due to the increased popularity of these tattoos and tourists seeking them out, it’s become rather difficult to find a temple with a master who could do Sak Yant tattoos properly. And besides that, my own feeling was that I wasn’t an actual follower nor a believer.

Although I have the greatest respect for these traditions, I felt it right to leave temple tattoos for those who were truly seeking spirituality. Now, though, my view might have changed, but I digress.


Getting a Sak Yant tattoo is not just about the artwork – it’s a deeply spiritual experience. Many Buddhists in Thailand consider it a way to seek protection, guidance, and blessings from the divine.

To fully appreciate and understand the significance of a Sak Yant tattoo, it’s crucial to respect the spiritual and cultural aspects associated with it.

One of the most famous temples for Sak Yant tattooing is Wat Bang Phra, located just outside of Bangkok. Here, you can find the renowned Master Luang Pi Nunn, a skilled monk who has dedicated his life to the art of Sak Yant.

While there are other famous monks and Ajarn Masters in Thailand, Wat Bang Phra remains a popular destination for both locals and foreigners seeking a unique tattoo experience.


If you're truly considering getting a traditional Sak Yant tattoo at a temple by a master monk, be sure to do proper research.

The increase in foreign tourists wishing to adorn themselves with these tattoos isn't the only thing that has increased. Noticing an emerging niche, there's also an increase of less-than-savoury places offering the "traditional tattoo experience" in questionable conditions.

This goes without saying that the prices may fluctuate, the quality can be terrible, not to mention hygiene and health dangers.

However, if you do find a reputable temple with a real master to both guide you and help choose the best tattoo, prepare to pay a pretty penny. Especially if you opt to go to an Arjarn who has previously worked with celebrities.

Otherwise, whether you choose to experience a true traditional experience in a temple, or in a tattoo salon, it's an amazing experience nonetheless. While I believe that exploration should be tempered with caution, don't be afraid to experience.


If you’re like me and you feel like exploring other options rather than going straight to a monk and asking for a tattoo, I recommend going to the All Day Tattoo salon in Bangkok.

At that point, I’d already had several tattoos, so I had a brief understanding of the standards and quality a good tattoo salon should have. And let me tell you, this salon had all of that and more. And no, this is not a sponsored text, this is me prattling about how awesome they were.

As I scrolled through their blog article on Sak Yant tattoos, I immediately knew they were the real deal. Naturally, I also looked at their socials, and their Instagram page made me want a tattoo even more. Interestingly enough, from all of the designs they had, I chose the one I wanted almost immediately, together with the location where I’d want that piece of art to land.


The design I ended up choosing was a Hah Taew Na Kong Krapan tattoo. I’ve inserted a link to another of All Day Tattoo’s blog articles as they explain the meaning and design much better. However, to briefly reflect on why I chose this design and what it means to me, the main reason was just plain aesthetics, I just loved the design.

The second reason was that, apparently, it’s a tattoo often associated with novices beginning their spiritual path. This I found to be an incredibly funny coincidence but a welcome one nonetheless.

Once I’ve made up my mind, I messaged them via facebook (they have a Messenger popup on their page), we talked a little bit about the process, and the date was set. Finally, when the time came, I caught a Grab (basically Bolt, but 1000 times cheaper), and went to the salon.

I won’t talk a lot about the experience there, as it was pretty much what you’d expect from a famous tattoo salon. Oh, I might mention that I shazamed like crazy when my tattoo was being made, here’s a some of the tracks I got just to give you an idea of the vibe.

All in all, a 10/10 experience. Everyone was super professional, friendly, and didn’t hesitate to provide information. The place was modern, quite large, and very well-ventilated and super clean. And while customers would wait on the first floor for their appointment, with everyone buzzing around, the second floor was where the magic happened.

I found that to be a really nice distinction, plus the atmosphere was amazing, with you basically lying in a semi-dark room with other masters performing wonders.


While all of this sounds magical and amazing, you should never forget safety and hygiene. It’s key to making sure the piece of art remains like that after it’s fully healed.

Admittedly, it wasn’t the smartest idea to get a tattoo in the scorching heat of almost 50 degrees (celsius, of course), but the people at the salon were very clear on instructions, and they also provide special care products that honestly are well-priced.


Getting a traditional Sak Yant tattoo in Thailand was my way of bringing back the ultimate souvenirs from my travels. And I have to say, it was one of the key highlights of the entire trip. What truly amazed me was how popular these tattoos were, we saw so many locals walk around with them, it gave off the feeling of it being a total part of their culture.

We know that lots of ancient and old cultures had tattoos, but in Thailand, you could literally see how tattoos survived throughout the ages. And even though Sak Yant tattoos have gained immense attention from foreigners, once you’re in Thailand, there’s no doubt that these tattoos are part of their identity.

So, whether you’re a fan of tattoos or not, I hope you learned something new and interesting. My own experience showed me that it was amazing to be welcomed into the Thai culture.