Blessed By A Monk: How I Got My Magic Sak Yant Tattoo

Sak Yant Tattoo Experience
Getting a Sak Yant Tattoo in Thailand
Nakhon Chai Si, Thailand

Over 40 people watched in silence as a famous Thai monk repeatedly penetrated my flesh like a sewing machine. His Sak Yant needle sent waves of searing pain into my back.

Traditional Sak Yant (also called Sak Yan, or Yantra) tattoos are hand-etched onto the skin using ancient geometric designs mixed with Buddhist prayers.

They are believed to give the wearer magic powers associated with healing, luck, strength, and protection against evil.

Sak Yant tattoos have been around for over 2000 years.

Buddhist monks originally engraved Sak Yant into warriors seeking protection and strength in battle.

Often covering their entire bodies from head to toe in magic symbols to prevent knives and arrows from piercing their skin.

Traveling around Southeast Asia while living out of my backpack, I learned about these tattoos from some fellow travelers and thought it sounded like a cool experience.

Sak Yant Tattoo Buddhist Monastery
Wat Bang Phra Outside Bangkok
People Waiting for Sak Yant
Waiting for My Turn

Sak Yants: My Very First Tattoo

I’ve never had a tattoo before. Long ago I decided that if I ever received one, I wanted it to be special. Not some drunken challenge in the middle of the night.

So when I learned about the magic-infused sak yant tattoos given out by Buddhist monks in Thailand, I was intrigued.

The more I learned about them, the more I wanted one.

No machines are used to create a Sak Yant design. These traditional Thai tattoos are engraved into the skin with a long metal spike or bamboo sharpened to a point.

The needle is dipped into ink and repeatedly jabbed through your flesh by hand.

Monks will often choose a sacred design, as well as the location of your tattoo based on your aura. This sounded perfect!

I’ve had trouble picking a tattoo, so why not let a monk choose for me?

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Sak Yant Donations
Donations of Cigarettes, Flowers, and Incense

Wat Bang Phra Temple

The best place in Thailand to receive a Sak Yant tattoo is a Buddhist temple called Wat Bang Phra.

It’s located about 40 minutes West of Bangkok.

For hundreds of years, the temple has been a pilgrimage site for Thai people wanting to receive the protection of a magic tattoo, inspiring them to travel long distances.

It’s also home to the most famous Sak Yant practicing monk in Thailand, Master Luang Pi Nunn.

The grounds of Wat Bang Phra are composed of a series of beautifully ornate temples surrounded by colorful statues. I made my way towards the tattoo building located in the back.

Thai Monk performing Tattoo
Master Luang Pi Nunn

Cigarettes As Tattoo Payment?

Outside the entrance, I purchased a temple offering consisting of orchid flowers, incense sticks, and menthol cigarettes for 75 baht ($2.40 US) before removing my shoes and heading inside.

Everyone is expected to present these simple gifts to the monk as payment for a Sak Yant tattoo.

The items are then recycled so the process can be repeated, with money from the sales helping with the upkeep of the temple.

You should then make an additional donation for your Sak Yant to the monk.

An old Thai man led me into a dark room filled with dusty golden Buddha statues. Photos of Thailand’s King Rama IX and elder monks adorned the walls.

Ceiling fans slowly whirred overhead, but the room was still hot — as there were 30 to 40 people packed inside.

Man with Full Back Tattoo
That’s a Lot of Magic!

Waiting For My Sak Yant

It seems I’m not the only one wanting a tattoo today. Master Luang Pi Nunn is in demand here and etches up to 50 Sak Yant tattoos a day. If you don’t visit the temple early enough, you may not get one.

Due to some miscommunication with a motto-taxi driver that morning, I arrived about an hour later than expected. I’d just have to wait my turn and hope for the best!

So I found a spot on the floor and attempted to make myself comfortable over the next 4 hours. The long wait allowed me to witness many others receive their own tattoos.

Eventually, Luang Pi Nunn took a break while the rest of us continued to sit in silence, listening to bird song and cats meowing outside. By now I was up front though, with a great view of his tattoo workspace — and I have to admit it was a bit shocking!

Tools of the Trade
Not Exactly a Sterile Workspace…

Sak Yant Tattoo Safety

The safety of Sak Yant is debatable. It can be a risky practice. The needle itself is usually wiped with an alcohol pad after each tattoo.

Or it might be placed in a bottle of alcohol while a separate needle is used for the next person. But the same pot of ink is used with everyone, and blood can mix with the ink.

This opens up the possibility of contracting HIV or Hepatitis. There are no hard statistics though.

After getting a close look at his tools, I got a bit nervous and briefly thought about backing out. This is not the kind of thing you should do if you want to practice safe travel

The workspace consisted of a few cushions surrounded by bloody rolled-up pieces of toilet paper, a nasty bucket of inky water, old plastic bottles full of rubbing alcohol, and grime caked onto the walls.

I’d also just watched at least 12 people get jabbed with the same couple of needles. And who knows how many went before I arrived.

But then I realized that if it was truly dangerous, there wouldn’t be so many people waiting in line to get one. Right?

Or is the whole room just full of crazy people with a death wish?

Needle Close Up
The Needle

Snake Venom Ink!

I didn’t have long to ponder though, as the monk soon returned and it was my turn to help hold the next person’s skin while he worked. This gave me an excellent view of the whole process. It was mesmerizing to watch.

Suddenly it was my turn. Pulling off my shirt, I respectfully bowed three times before turning my back on the man who was about to repeatedly poke a sharp needle into my skin.

Occasionally a monk will deem a person unfit to receive a Yant if they don’t take it seriously, refusing to work on them.

Two local guys held my skin tight as I braced for first-blood. Not knowing what image I was about to get.

Each monk concocts his own special blend of magic tattoo ink too. The recipe is secret, but is thought to contain Chinese charcoal, snake venom, palm oil, and even human remains!

Monk Tattoo in Thailand
Receiving My Sak Yant Tattoo

Taking The Pain

When the needle first punctured my skin, it felt like a bee sting. Followed quickly by a swarm of bees launching a full-scale attack.

My muscles tensed up and I began to sweat. Squeezing a pillow in my lap while attempting to look tough for the 40 Thais attentively watching the foreigner for any signs of weakness.

But surprisingly it didn’t hurt as much as I thought it would. Initially, I was afraid my eyes would water, or worse, I’d pass out in front of a room full of people…

Yet after only 10 minutes and a thousand needle strikes later my new Sak Yant was nearly finished!

To complete the sacred tattoo, Luang Pi Nunn chants a Kataa (or magic spell) and blows it into the design unleashing its power.

My Gao Yord Tattoo
Finished: Gao Yord (9 Spire) Magic Tattoo

Yant Gao Yord

So which tattoo did the monk give me? It’s called the Gao Yord, or 9 Spire. A powerful and sacred tattoo that protects the wearer from violent physical attacks and magic assaults. It’s also supposed to bring good luck.

The 9 spires represent the 9 peaks of Mount Meru — a legendary mountain from Buddhist and Hindu mythology that is thought to be the center of the universe.

Atop each peak sits a small Buddha, with the spirals above them representing the path to enlightenment.

Inside the boxes are symbols written in Khom, an ancient Cambodian alphabet, but the language itself is Pali Sanskrit. The same mantra is actually written on each side. A mirrored image of itself. It reads: Gu Ti Gu Ya Tha Saa Wae Taa Saa Gu – Gu Gu Ti Saa Tha Ya Gu Saa Taa Wae

Apparently there are also 11 special rules that go with my Sak Yant:

  • I can’t eat star fruit, pumpkin, or any other ‘gourd’ vegetable. (no more pumpkin pie?!)
  • I can’t have a lover who’s already married. (sounds reasonable)
  • It’s absolutely forbidden for me to slander anybody’s mother. (no problem)
  • I can’t eat food from a wedding, or funeral banquet. (well that sucks)
  • I can’t eat left-overs. (I’d love to know why…)
  • I shouldn’t duck under a washing line, or an overhanging building. (um, ok)
  • I definitely shouldn’t duck under a Thaanii banana tree. (harvesting bananas isn’t a hobby)
  • I can’t cross a single head bridge; but large or small bridges are not forbidden. (no idea what this means)
  • I shouldn’t sit on a ceramic urn. Especially a cracked, or broken one. (do toilets count?)
  • I can’t let a woman lie on top of me, or sit on top either. (shit!)
  • I can’t brush by the blouse or skirt of a woman, especially during the menstruation period. (how am I supposed to know?)
Sak Yant Healed
My Tattoo After Healing

Would I Do It Again?

Yes. Absolutely. I may get another one too. In fact, I’ve learned that the magic needs to be replenished each year with a fresh blessing by the monk. So I’ll have to go back eventually one day anyway.

Thai people from all levels of society take the practice very seriously, and many completely cover their bodies with sacred Sak Yant tattoos.

You’ll frequently find Sak Yant designs on Thai soldiers, doctors, monks, actors, and politicians as well as criminals and mafia assassins.

Women can get them too. Angelina Jolie is probably the most famous.

But because it’s forbidden for monks to touch female flesh, they’ll use a cloth or gloves to prevent contact with women.

Some people choose to receive an invisible tattoo, by using palm oil on the needle rather than dark ink.

I’m very happy with my Sak Yant, it was a wild experience I’ll never forget. Especially with this permanent souvenir on my back!

Sak Yant Tattoo Details

The monestary is located at Nakhon Chai Si, Thailand.

My sak yant tattoo only cost ฿75 THB (about $2.50 USD) plus my additional personal donation, however after a few years it turned into a backpacker Disney Land and they are now charging MUCH more up front.

I’ve heard from others that it has completely lost its authenticity, and often actual monks are no longer doing the tattoos.

NOTE: This monastery holds an annual Sak Yant Wai Kru tattoo festival, which is quite an experience! ★

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Recommended Guidebook: Lonely Planet Thailand
Suggested Reading: Thai Magic Tattoos: The Art Of Sak Yant


I hope you enjoyed my story on how I got my magic Sak Yant Tattoo in Thailand. Here are some wanderlust-inducing articles that I recommend you read next:

Have any questions about sak yant tattoos? Would you ever consider getting one? Drop me a message in the comments below!


Hi, I’m Matthew Karsten — I’ve been traveling around the world for the last 9 years as a blogger, photographer, and digital nomad. Adventure travel & photography are my passions. Let me inspire you to travel with crazy stories, photography, and money-saving travel tips.
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Comments (409)

  1. Thank u for the useful Information. What if u don’t do all the rules that u need to avoid?.. Did the spiritual power will take away?. I had plan to go visit to Thailand to have tattoo and I want the one that u actually had, it is possible to have more than one tattoos?

  2. Thanks Matt. It is an excellent article!

    My son went to get his first Sak Yant there with Luang Phee Neung (not Luang Phee Nun in your pictures). During the first Sak Yant Gao Yord, like yours, Luang Phee Neung asked him several questions about what he was studying and what he would like to do in the future. Finally, he got out of there with 4 yants and is extremely happy. He came back to France and did a check-up on his health. Everything is perfect. No worry at all.


  3. I would love one of these tattoos. However, I do not have the finances to make this trip, even though the entire experience would make it that much more worth it. I want to be very cautious of the culture and history behind these tattoos. My question for the public is – is it considered disrespectful to get a Sak Yant tattoo in the USA, by a tattoo artist?

    I know you would will be lacking that authenticity and possibly accuracy in the design. I’m interested in others thoughts?

  4. Good morning,
    I will be visiting Bangkok in June 2019 on vacation and staying within the beautiful City. It is my wish to acquire a Sak Yant tattoo. I believe and hope this will help and assist my meditations and learning of Buddhism. My questions Sir, are do I just turn up or are appointments necessary? and are there any sample tattoos on line one can look at to see the difference in one’s needs?
    Sincerely and very respectfully,
    Ted Bristow

    • I guess u actually can.. But if you do that in U. S its not bless by a monk and there’s no spiritual power on ur tattoo.. It will just a normal tattoo

  5. Hey!
    I really want to get a sak Yant tattoo the way you did, but after reading this im a little concerned about how sanitary it is. Did you get checked out after you got home and stuff? Would it also be possible to ask to use fresh ink/needle or would that be considered rude?

  6. Matt, does the tattoo placement have to be on the back or are you allowed to choose the spot on your body where you want the tattoo? Headed back to Thailand in November and am thinking about getting one!

  7. What other countries can you CURRENTLY get spiritual/magical tattoos, blessed by a priest, like these in Thailand? I know in history many other countries did similar to this, (like Cambodia and Laos, etc.), but those are no longer authentic anymore. I read possibly Nepal? India? New Zealand? Australia?

  8. Your Tatto looking very creative and religious. But, I can feel the pain behind this tattoo is really Bad. I really read all your all blog from starting. This blog is really inspired to visit religious temples.

  9. A great experience, being african I would tell you to obey the manual (Do’s and Dont’s) of the sak yant tatoo. A great read all the same

  10. Ok have read this article maybe a dozen times and it drives me insane every time i read both the article and the comments. I have had probably about 50 plus hours of Yak Sant tattooing and would not use this temple for free gold. The risk of infection here is incredibly high, the work station is disgusting, the quality of tattoo is very poor (there should not be any bleeding) the needles should be sterile and removed from packaging in front of you, with new pot and fresh ink. The needle/pin in this photo is fixed which means it will have been used on many different customer (HIV etc). Common sense says if your paying with a $3 pack of cigarettes then that will not cover the cost of new equipment. Lastly the quality of the tattoo is very low! Sorry

  11. Such a bummer that this place is no longer the same. I love your story. I wonder if there are any other places where you can still have the authentic experience…

  12. HI Matt, I’m just subscribe and I have read you sak yang with 11 rule please respect all.
    Let me explain to you when no woman on top of you. It mean where you are stand or lie down if. There are woman above your head try to avoid

  13. Hi, I’ve just left the temple and they wanted to charge 4000 thb for a tatto. I only saw one monk in the first floor using a machine. The guys on the second floor using the bamboo, werent even monks, just regular people, professional tatooers.

    Stayed there and watched for a bit, there is no ceremony, no nothing.

    It was nothing I expected and I’m completely disappointed. Just plain scam.

    • Sorry to hear that Gabriel, but you are not the only one I’ve heard this from. Apparently this place got so popular with tourists that they’ve turned it into a tattoo factory.

      One of the downsides to sharing these special places/experiences on the internet these days I guess.

  14. Great site. Informative and well written. I want to get a sak yant tattoo. I do not relaly want to get one one during the festival though I do intend to vist it. My question is: Can I visit the temple any time to get the tattoo or only during the festival period? I want to go in Jan or Feb 2017

  15. Dear friend! I would like to have a tattoo from this monk. But i really don’t know how to get there as well as find him. Could you please give me some suggestions and advices? Really appreciate if you reply my message. Thanks so much

  16. Awesome article. Thank you for sharing your experience. I want to do this but am afraid of the part when the needles are reused…. :(

  17. I don’t think I can deal with the tattoo coz I’m afraid of needles! Hahaha! But we love experiencing the local culture first hand. :)

  18. Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    Hi!! I am planning on going to Thailand in January and really want to experience a Sak Yant tattoo. It will also be my first tattoo! I wanted to ask if you traveled to this temple on your own or with a tour group as well as if it cost anything other than the donation you mentioned. I have heard of Sak Yant Chiang Mai, but they charge about 3000 Baht that includes a tour of a temple and the tattoo itself. What do you think is the best way for me to get the most genuine experience?

    Please respond here since I will get a notification for it! haha

    Thank you!

  19. Thank you very much for this article
    Around what time is the best time to arrive at the temple if you want to get a tattoo done early?

  20. Hi Matthew,
    please let me know by what time ishould reach the temple to get first turn of the day?
    and what if one does not follow the rules after words?
    do they forbidd alcohol before or after the tattoo?

  21. Hi there! I’m headed to Bangkok in a few weeks and intend to do the same :) Can you offer any suggestions for the best way to get there and back from the city?

  22. hi
    This sounds brilliant do you have the address I can give to a thai taxi driver. Am I right in thinking that apart from the 75 bhat and donation there is no fee.

  23. loved your blog. I am considering one as well,but I want something unique like a promise to myself to love myself,show forgiveness,to be happy etc things like that and I would like an entire back piece. do you think they would do that considering the fact iwant it custom and not really their idea? would i need to bring a translator? did you get tested after the tattooing just to be sure? how long dis you stay there? one night two days kind of trip? or when you arrived you just got the tattoo and came back immediately? I do not havea website just shoot me an email with your replies because I am curious : )

  24. I agree that the work space is a bit off putting but like you said many people get their tattoo’s without issue. I know some people have blood work done after their tattoo’s to ensure that they did not contract anything. I would probably do this if I got one, however, I don’t think I could get the nerve up to let someone else choose a permanent feature on my body lol. Your looks great though! One of the nicest ones I have ever seen. Happy travels.

  25. Hi, I would like to get one Sak yant by the monk as well. However, I am not well verse in Thai lamguage. Is the place farang friendy? or is the a steps or procedures to follow, so that I can get the tattoo done?

  26. Hi, I plan to go alone and get one Sak Yant tattoo by the temple monk. However I’m not well verse in thai language. Is the people from the temple easy to communicate with to ask to get a San Yant tattoo for myself or I just need to follow certain steps or procedures?

  27. So now, 4 years later, would you say the magic powers outweigh the fact that you can’t eat left-overs? Anyhow, it’s an awesome story.

  28. Hey there! I know you mentioned that we can pick the design but not the location, but do you think they’d let us pick a location and have them do whichever design goes in that particular spot, regardless of what it is?

  29. Great blog. I’m married to a Thai and wanted to get a Sak Yant tattoo but my wife said they don’t do them for farangs – I’ll know better next time. Thanks for sharing!

  30. What an incredible adventure! I love the meaning that is behind the tattoo and the whole ritual involved. You were truly part of a beautiful cultural experience. Thanks for sharing!

  31. Hey will anyone understand an honest monk that I might move to in Thailand? I’m moving into December month and in undecided wherever to induce one. Thanks

  32. Wow this is a really interesting blog as I am in Thailand as I type at this moment. I did my own share with a experience called Vipassana Meditation but on a physical level was no where near as intense as your experience. Glad you made it through it and thank you for sharing!

  33. Love reading your experiences.. & im liking your spiritual tattoo. Just want to ask a bit more about the invisible tattoo, using palm oil on the needle rather than dark ink. Does this raise the skin? Can you show an example?

  34. A very good maintained amulet can contain divine power for a century. But the a very good sacred tattoo will last for a few years only. The divine power, embedded in the black ink , will be gradually degenerated by many contacting materials such as cloth, water etc.. It’s the same as magnet has lost the power with the contacting metal. And don’t be a fool by any ajarn, they don’t have any power in their palm. If they knock your head, it means they just want to have fun with your head. There are plenty of nasty monks with this kind of behaviour. Mostly they are the orphan who has to become monk since their childhood or unemployed person who can survived in the competitive social.

  35. Wow, you’re a lot braver than I am but what an incredible experience!! I actually love the tattoo, even without its potential powers! Think I might stick to the ear piercings for now though… 😜

  36. Hello, thoroughly enjoyed the write up … thank you for sharing… as for me the siren call of the Sak Yant Tatoo has been calling me… here I find myself on your page with having found the temple and Master I wish to do it with… so here is my request. I feel vuneranle undertaking this journey on my own. Is there someone who you could recommend that I could contact who offers their services to assist me with this journey… this as a women travelling and doing it alone as mentioned coming from SA. If unable to recommend, if you could offer info. That I should consider, including safe places to stay, etc. … it would most generous. Blessings with warmest thanks…

    • Hi! Did you go there already? Planning to go there this coming Sunday, if you dont mind I can be your travel buddy.

  37. Hello ,

    I just received my tattoo at the same temple . I did not receive any instructions. I have been smoking weed for about 15 years and it helps with my anxiety and I don’t do it to party . My question is , will the power wear off if I continue to smoke ? Thank you!

  38. I love your work and website. I live in VietNam. Do you know anyone in VietNam that can do tattoos like you

  39. I actually did this same thing at the Wat Bang Phra back in November was a true one of a kind experience! I’m curious did the monk absolutely non stop chain smoke cigarettes with you as well!? The man is a national treasure and a medical anomaly at that, I don’t think he stopped smoking the entire time I watched him! I guess that was what the menthol cigarettes as payment are for… I too enjoyed the rules of my tattoo a little too much, going to be a little challenging to follow these on a regular basis, just have to stay away from those damn single head bridges they’ll get ya’ 😏

    • Maybe the smoke is his aid to ward off negative energy from those which he does… feels like the “intuitive hit” anyways… namaste.

  40. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog. I found it well written and informative, thanks so much for sharing your insight and exerience. If you have a moment, check out my site
    Hoefully you find it helpful! x

  41. Very interesting story, Is the rules is for a lifetime? The monk choose your tattoo by what term, and the position of the tattoo too? Can we choose on arm or leg instead of the back, because back is more hurt…

  42. Hi Matthew, I loved your story. My name is Clarisse, Im from Brazil and Ive been traveling for Indonesia and next week Im going to Thailand. Ive always think about doing this tattoo. What time do you think I should arrive at the temple and is that ok for me to do it(because Im woman)? And how long did it take to heal? And another thing, you paid only 75 thb? Thanks so much for your time!

  43. I was gonna have one of these done in Yunnan province in Southwest China. Unfortunately the one day I was in town, the monk who did them wasnt.

  44. I’ve been thinking about getting traditional tattoo myself but I am debating against the tools and process used. And oh, I can’t help but chuckle due to your remarks on the rules. I think some of them are quite unreasonable no?

  45. Hey Matt. Great article. I just left on a trip of the world, and started a travel blog to document my journey. Thailand is number one on my list, and I plan on getting a Sak Yant tattoo. Your article shed light on the process, and made me more comfortable. Cant wait!

  46. Ouch! You are a very brave man. We’re looking for our first travel tattoos and this would be ideal but I don’t think we’re quite ready for the pain!

  47. What a unique experience, thanks for sharing your story! That is so neat to have a tattoo with such meaning behind it, and it really looks great.

  48. I would like to say thank you , I follow your advice and went to Thailand and got my first tattoo as well , which ended up being the same ,which I am very happy with . thanks for the information

  49. Great post, awesome! I would like to go and see how they work and take some pics. Do you think it could be possible if I am not interested in getting a tattoo? If I do an temple offering would be allowed to staying and seeing??? I’d really like to take pictures! Thank you!

  50. Beautiful tattoo with an even more beautiful story behind it! I am sometimes skeptical of travel tattoos (even though I am planning on two different ones) but this has a lot of meaning! What a magical experience. You are tough!!

  51. Absolutely amazing. I am fascinated by these tattoos and the stories that are behind each design.

    Your pick is a great one though ;-)

  52. This is a fascinating story! I’m inspired by your willingness to do something so out of most peoples’ comfort zone. It’s pretty cool how you unchain yourself!

    I’m curious if things scare you anymore XD

  53. This is amazing! I’m going to Thailand in February and I definitely want to get a bamboo tattoo! I don’t think I’m brave enough to do this! lol

  54. Thanks for sharing your experience, I’ve always been facinated by Sak Yant, it’s great to hear a story of somebody who got the real one.

  55. As I read this piece I can almost feel the needle going through my own skin. Is it true they use snake venom..that sounds so much of a stretch of the truth … not the skin. If you got all those skin punctures of even the tinniest amount of snake venom, it would enough to give you a lethal dose… about human remains… i think this is just to mystify the whole exercise… nonetheless, awesome magical tattoo you got there.

  56. Very gutsy of you! I intended to get one a few years back but backed out because I’m not much of a follower of rules, and didn’t want anything to backfire on me just in case. So, I went to Khao San Rd and got myself a fake Gao Yord. Close enough haha.

  57. I visited Wat Bang Phra in early November 2016 for a similar experience and am very happy with the results. I wanted to add a couple data points though:

    1) I have gotten “normal” tattoos in the U.S. and the pain is comparable. The Sak Yant hurts a little more than the “outline” phase of a normal tattoo, but less than the “filling in” phase (which hurts more as the needle is sort of wiggled around to color in larger areas). It does, however, hurt for quite a bit longer than a tattoo done with electric tools as it is a slower process.

    2) The price was 5000 Bhat ($142 USD) for mine, which was surprisingly high. Granted I choose a larger design, but it was still an order of magnitude higher than for a local (I went with my local friends ). I was OK with the price (my US tattoos cost more) but I wanted to warn others to be prepared if you are a farang on a slow day.

    • And are the hygiene factors the same as Matthew wrote in his Blogpost? I mean with the same Cup of ink for all and cleaning the needles only with alcohol…

  58. Such an interesting and detailed post! I love it! I’ve wanted to get a tattoo like this done for some time now, but never done any real research. I have to be honest, after reading this I’m a bit more hesitant. But your tattoo turned out great ;)

  59. I got mine from a small company in Chiang Mai that takes people out to different Temples with guide Nana. Absolutely awesome experience, in a small country Temple, without all the crowds and waiting. This really made the experience more special since it was just me and the Monk. And new needles were used.

    Guide Nana also explained that these rules are designed for Monks and don’t really apply to westerners as well as being corrupted over time with mistranslated. Many are designed to avoid a women having a period and just don’t make sense in translation.

    If hygiene and crowds are a concern I can highly recommend Guide Nana. She has several real monks as well as ajarns (like the company you suggest) but it is almost 1/4th the price.

  60. Hi Matthew Karsten,

    Thanks for the post this is amazing post to learn about Tattoo. Tattoo has been a amazing & unique part of Fashion. As we see to most of famous celebrities has their wonderful Tattoos & local people also follow the Tattoo but this is more amazing to see Sak Yant Tattoo :)

  61. Wow I love this. The tattoo is awesome and the meaning and the process of it is pretty cool. But there is no way I could sit there next to that nasty bucket of ink and have it jammed into my skin with a shared needle. I have many tattoos and a couple are large pieces but I don’t have the guts for that. hahaha Good for you, that’s a special memory to always have.

  62. Hello, I love your tattoo. I was thinking to get one too, but reading all the rules, made me think twice. There are some questions I wanna ask you. First, what if I don’t follow the rules? Second, I am a girl, so I can’t sit on top or lay on a guy?

    • If you don’t follow the rules the blessing will wear off, but you can always get the blessing in another temple (if there’s a buddhism temple in your hometown you can go there)
      As for the second question I don’t know sorry

  63. Thanks for this info! I’m headed to Thailand come January 5th, 2017 for the Peace Corps. I friend of mine told me about these tattoos a few months ago and this post just convinced me to get one! Hopefully, it will give me blessings for my 2 years stay in Thailand!

  64. Very interesting read! I’ve been considering getting one of these tattoos myself when I get to Thailand, so this was a great, informative post for me. Thanks!

  65. You’re brave! I’ve long wanted one, but your description has put me off a bit. I recently got a new one in Kathmandu and spent weeks stressing about having caught Hep C ( which I didn’t) and I didn’t have to share that needle with anyone. ( although I didn’t see any sign of sterilisation at all) All good fun! Looks great :)

  66. Ahahahah, the 11 rules killed me :)
    The tattoo looks great, I am definitely considering getting now, since we’re going to Thailand soon !

  67. This is totally awesome! Never heard of this before but, wow, I want one!! And I agree, it’s so hard to decide on a tattoo to begin with, having a monk choose one for you is so freaking cool! Definitely on my travel bucket list now, thanks SO much for sharing, cheers!

  68. This was such a fascinating read. I’d never heard of this practice before. Thanks for braving the experience so that we could read about it! I’m new to your blog, I think it’s definitely going on my blog reader app.

  69. Love the idea of getting a tattoo from a monk. I’m headed to BKK this weekend and will look into this.
    One correction to your post: HIV is unable to live after exposure to air (as in, the virus will die within seconds). It can be transmitted via dirty needles only during intravenous drug use, when it’s sealed in a vacuum in the syringe and injected directly into the body. So it’s not possible to contract HIV via this tattoo method. Please pass this on.

    • Please dont share fake information about a real problem, the virus die after 24 h of exposition to the air and without conditions of humidity, and what you say about sharing vaccums is a real stupid think do you know the size of a virus?fit in a small hole that your eyes cant c, if seems the people dont get ill with this tattoo practice is cause nobody has studied this especific cases. If danny doesnt have vih or heppatitis is cause he is lucky and nobody before him was ill, sorry for my english im from spain. Biology ph thanks for your attention

      • Danny is absolutely right, the HIV virus dies (a misnomer; viruses aren’t technically alive) very quickly after exposure to air. HIV is a fickle virus that is very difficult to contract. The rate of transmission, even sexually is comparatively low to some other more common infectious diseases.

  70. Good Lord, that looks painful! I have several tattoos done in the traditional Western way. I think I would be too scared of getting a tattoo like this even though it looks spectacular.

    But on the bright side, the food at weddings sucks anway.

  71. Hi! Thanks for sharing, I just visited the same temple to receive my own Sak Yant. I did a lot of research and talking to Thai friends who have also had the tattoos done to make sure I had proper etiquette for the tattoo. I must say, after living in Thailand for 2 years now and being really excited to receiving my own blessing, the whole process was beyond disappointing. The tattoo I requested, only because the monks simply tattooed 3 colorless oil drops in me, they wanted to charge me about 100x the price as my Thai friend paid. I don’t think this is a proper place to receive a Sak Yant, given they are supposed to be all donation based. Maybe the system was abused by too many foreigners, not sure but I will be looking for an honorable place to receive the blessing in Thailand.
    Thanks for sharing though!

  72. Hey, I’ve got inspired by your tattoo. I wish to have one too. Thanks for sharing. I like the idea having a tattoo, it’s not bad at all, it makes people brave.

  73. Awesome tat. I loved it. I have few tats on me too. I am sure it will being you great job specially when its blessed by a monk.

  74. Amazing! I love tattoos and this really sounds like the most amazing experience, would love to do that one day!

  75. Imagine my surprise at researching the tattoos we just got in Thailand and finding a post from someone I’ve met Matthew! Great post – we just got ours done in Phuket at a very reasonable 2000 Baht each, with sterile needles in a normal tattoo parlor. Would still like to think it’ll be good protection anyway ?

    • Hello Clare, would you be fine to share the name and addres as I would live to get mine done end of the month in Phuket ? Is it with bamboo stick or by hand ? not machine right ? is it blessed by the monks ? thanks !

    • Clare – can you please tell me where in Phuket you got yours done, and was it with a monk or at a tattoo bar/place? Thanks!