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Our Ultimate Guide to Bamboo Tattoos in Thailand

Our Ultimate Guide to Bamboo Tattoos in Thailand

Getting a bamboo tattoo in Thailand will get you badass designs and a truly unique experience during the process. The peaceful vibe of getting inked (sans the sound of the tattoo machine) is truly unforgettable!

You need to consider a couple of factors though, to make sure that your tattoo comes out amazing like what kind of tattoo to get, where to get it, and some aftercare. To know more, read our ultimate guide to bamboo tattoos when in Thailand!

What are bamboo tattoos?

A bamboo tattoo, which has its origins in Buddhist teachings, involves a bamboo stick with a needle at the end getting poked into the skin to deposit ink. This is all done by hand and is known to be meditative by those who have tried it out.

Getting a bamboo tattoo in Thailand means getting inked the traditional way. Instead of the tattoo artist using the standard and more modern tattoo gun, he’ll instead use a poking technique by hand.

To properly poke your skin, the artist uses a bamboo stick with tattoo needles attached to its end. These fresh needles (and we insist that you ask for fresh needles always) are dipped in an inkpot before it is applied to your skin to get the design you want.

Aside from free-style bamboo tattoos where you can choose your own design, there’s also a popular traditional bamboo tattoo style in Thailand called the Sak Yant Tattoo.

Instead of a single design or theme, you can have this tattoo done depicting various elements that show sacred animals, geometry, and other designs or shapes based on Buddhist teachings.

The locals believe that such tattoos pass on benefits such as fortune and power to the person getting inked. Traditionally, these tattoos were done by monks and these sacred symbols are blessed during the Sak Yant Ceremony.

There are three very common Sak Yant Tattoos: the Hah Taew (5 lines), Paed Tidt (circular tattoo), and Gao Yord (triangular tattoo). You can choose among these designs based on your preference, but it’s best to better understand their significance first.

Better yet, talk to a monk and have them determine which one is best for you based on what they see and feel. This is the ultimate tattoo experience as you get a genuine assessment of what Sak Yant ink suits you the most.

What’s the difference between a conventional and a bamboo tattoo?

The main difference between conventional and bamboo tattoos is that a conventional one uses a machine while the latter utilises a sharpened bamboo stick to poke your skin and create the desired artwork or effect.

Bamboo tattoos usually are less painful and heal faster due less scab formation. With modern tattoos, the usual healing time is 4 to 7 days, while bamboo tattoos only take 2 to 4 days to heal.

However, bamboo tattoo sessions also last longer (double the time required) than their more conventional equivalent. 

Where can you get bamboo tattoos in Thailand?

You can get bamboo tattoos almost everywhere in Thailand. From simple roadside shacks to full-on modern tattoo shops, you have a ton of options where you can have yourself inked. 

What’s important is that you don’t rush your decision in choosing where you want your tattoo done as this has a lasting or permanent impact on how you look. Our best piece of advice is for you to do some research based on your needs and preferences

Take your time and decide carefully on which designs you like, check around for the best price, review the shop’s portfolio or previous works, and always request that new needles be used before choosing the best tattoo shop for your bamboo tattoo. 

Below are some of the most popular tattoo shops for you to consider when in Thailand:

Address: Thai​ Bamboo​ Tattoo 82/52 Nern Plub Wan Rd, Pattaya City, Bang Lamung District, Chon Buri 20150, Thailand

Contact Number: +66962696364

Operating Hours:

  • Monday to Saturday, 12:00 N to 9:30 PM
  • Closed on Sunday

Cost:

  • Starts at 2,000 THB

Website

The Thai Bamboo Tattoo, Pattaya is a good shop to start if you want convenience, fair prices, and a masterful artist willing to listen to your preferred design and vision. They’ve mastered the Sak Yant form and can incorporate other designs as well.

It’s a great tattoo shop too, especially if you’re travelling to Pattaya from other parts of Thailand or across the globe. You can simply book your appointment online and inform the tattoo artist when you need your tattoo done so you can work out the schedule.

Address: 147/7 Sukhumvit 4 Soi Samahan, Klongtoey Bangkok, Klong Toey, Bangkok 10110, Thailand

Contact Number: +66952518767

Operating Hours:

  • Monday to Saturday, 11:00 AM to 7:00 PM
  • Closed on Sunday

Cost:

  • Starting at around 2,000 THB (plus 15% discount)

Website

If you plan on getting a bamboo tattoo in Bangkok, check out what BT Tattoo Thailand Bangkok has to offer. They offer conventional (tattoo gun) and traditional (bamboo tattoo) methods of getting inked and both can give you that amazing design you want.

This is mainly thanks to their roster of award-winning tattoo artists who are not only skilled but also get the best equipment and technology available. The shop only uses imported needles and never reuses any of them, making it a truly hygienic tattoo place.

Address:  382 4 Fa Ham, เมือง Chiang Mai 50000, Thailand 

Contact Number: +66918530014   

Operating Hours:

  • Monday to Saturday, 10:00 AM to 12:00 AM
  • Sunday, 11:00 AM to 11:00 PM

Cost:

  • Starting at around 2,000 THB 

Website

Chiang Mai has its share of great bamboo tattoo shops and Mana Bamboo Tattoo is one of them. You can get traditional Sak Yant designs done but their artists are so talented that you can ask them to do other less-conventional designs as well.

This tattoo parlour also prides itself in how clean its tattoos look plus how stringent they observe hygiene. You’ll see them using new sets of needles with each customer, a practice that should be the standard for all tattoo shops in Thailand. 

How can you take care of your bamboo tattoo after getting inked?

After getting your bamboo tattoo, you need to take care to ensure that your new tattoo comes out great after completely healing. 

Below are some of our aftercare tips for your new bamboo tattoo:

After getting tattooed, the artist will apply a bandage over the inked area before sending you on your way. Keep it there for at least three hours and don’t worry too much if you see different liquids seeping through like ink and blood.

This is normal and it’s best to keep the bandage for now to help with the healing process and to protect your tattoo from possible infection.

Once you take off the bandage covering your tattoo, wash the area with some lukewarm water and antibacterial soap. Make sure to pat it dry only and avoid rubbing or scrubbing the tattooed area. 

It’s important to use lukewarm water here as using cold water can slow the healing process while water that is too warm may cause further irritation.

Once you’ve cleaned your tattoo, apply a moisturiser twice or thrice daily (every 8 hours or so). This will help ensure that your tattoo won’t bleed, dry out, or crack. 

You need to continue applying moisturiser until you see that your scabs are healed. Also, make sure that the moisturiser you use is free from petroleum jelly as this can disrupt the healing process and lead to further skin damage.

Avoid exposing your skin to direct and harsh sunlight while your tattoo is still recovering. UV light from the sun’s rays will be absorbed by your skin and can lead to the pigment breaking resulting in the tattoo looking faded or washed out.

You need to make sure that you keep your tattoo away from direct sunlight for at least a week to a month. To protect your skin from the sun, you need to time your activities and as much as possible avoid going out between 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM.

It also helps if you can apply sunscreen for your tattoo which should at least have an SPF of 30+ and ideally be made from all-natural ingredients. 

Consider your new tattoo as micro-wounds that are vulnerable to damage and infection. Working out while waiting for it to completely heal may expose the area to bacteria from the gym equipment and even your sweat.

Plus, there’s a chance that you might stretch out the scabs and further delay your skin from completely healing. Tight gym clothing can also chafe and rub against the inked area which can lead to additional and unnecessary trauma to the area.

As such, tattoo professionals would recommend that you only do light physical activity 48 hours after getting your tattoo. Instead, you can go cycling or walking to improve blood flow during this period.

Don’t forget to cleanse and moisturise afterward to avoid infections and further irritating your new tattoo.

Similar to your workout clothes, tight clothing can cause chaffing and rub against your skin. This can cause more discomfort or pain, stick to your applied moisturisers or gels, and can prematurely pull off your tattoo’s scabs.

These scabs are crucial if you want your skin to properly heal and if you wear breathable clothing, you can keep them intact. As such, make sure that you maximise the healing process by wearing loose-fitting clothes made from breathable material.

Just like other wounds and cuts, your new tattoo is a wound that needs to heal naturally through the formation of scabs. If you pull a scab prematurely, it may damage the ink and can also lead to scarring which can negatively impact how your tattoo looks.

Scabs can be quite itchy though, especially as your tattoo starts to dry. If you feel like scratching it, just leave it alone or (if you really can’t help it) just apply some moisturiser to lessen the itch.

Keep in mind that if you let the scabs sit longer, the results will be far better. It’s going to be a test of your willpower but the long-term outcome for your tattoo will be so much better.

When in Thailand, you might be tempted to dive right in and take a swim at the many lakes, hot tubs, and beaches of the island so our advice to you is just don’t! Not yet anyway, as your tattoo may get infected if you choose to swim during this period.

You need to wait until your scabs are fully healed before you can safely enjoy splish-splashing across the island. Don’t forget to shower though, as this will help you keep the tattooed area clean and minimise the risk of infection.

To avoid damaging your tattoo, don’t run a blade or a razor just yet. This can lead to your skin and the scabs getting peeled which can damage the ink before it can set properly. 

You should also avoid using shaving products as they may contain harmful chemicals. Plus, don’t shave newly formed hairs on your new tattoo as this is part of the healing process and shouldn’t affect how your tattoos turn out. 

Start shaving the area only when you’re fully healed to preserve the ink and prevent damage to your skin.

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