I was keen to have a new tattoo on my foot or leg whilst in Thailand and I couldn’t think of a better place than in Pai, Northern Thailand. So in true Nichola style, I spent a few weeks researching the best and most hygienic place to ink my skin. There are only a handful of options thankfully so I managed to narrow it down to two tattoo shops. Before making my final decision, I wanted to go in and speak to the artist to see some of their actual ink on skin and make sure they understood what I wanted. I was also keen to learn the price of Thailand tattoo’s.
Monkey Magic Tattoo Studio
The artwork by the tattoo artist Poh is incredible. Monkey Magic Tattoo shop offers a fresh and clean smell as you walk in and a cool, almost barbershop vibe. The artist I spoke too was understanding and offered his personal style on my ideas which is what I normally look for when choosing a tattoo artist. The downside, which ended up being the deciding factor, was that they only used a machine and not bamboo – which is what I wanted. The cost per hour was not too different to what I paid in the UK at the time, if I can remember right it was around 2500 – 3000 baht per hour for my piece, but they can price per piece rather than per hour, as this usually determines the cost.
Cross Tattoo Studio Pai
Mink, the owner of Cross Tattoo Studio was very enthusiastic about my ideas and his girlfriend, who runs the reception, was an added bonus as her English understanding was amazing. It is always a little worrying when having something so permanent on your skin, let alone from a different country. My partner Colin also decided he wanted to have a bamboo tattoo and they offered us a good price for both pieces rather than hourly. I think overall it equated to around 2500 baht per hour when I broke it down. Only having one bamboo artist in the shop at the time, Mink booked his friend in from another shop to work on Colin’s piece – which ended up taking two days! We actually had to wait a week for them to manage to fit us in and shuffled their diary for us to ensure we could be tattooed in the timeframe that we stayed in Pai. They also do piercings and ear stretching which Colin also decided to withstand after his tattoo – he’s braver than me!
Are Thailand tattoos safe?
Something to always look out for is clean needles. I usually watch them set up like a hawk, making sure everything is cleaned, sterilised and fresh needles are taken from a sealed package. If you have been tattooed before, you will know that studios usually have fresh cling film on all areas that you can possibly contaminate; such as the bed and armrests and the artist will be wearing gloves. All I can say is if you’re not sure, do not risk it as there aren’t regulations in Thailand as there are in the UK.
Another tip to help you decide on being tattooed in Thailand or anywhere in the world is to watch the artist in your preferred studio actually tattooing someone. This will also enable you to see the artwork on real skin as it’s not always as good as on paper.
One last little note from me on this subject is to pick a tattooist that will no tattoo you intoxicated. I always see foreigners in or outside tattoo studios, holding a bottle of beer, having that bottle of beer or something random tattooed on themselves with their friends. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not against a beer bottle tattoo, I just feel that you are more likely to make a bad choice and not just with the tattoo you choose.
Thailand tattoo culture
Think before you ink. Thailand has its own traditions and culture which need to be respected when choosing the type of tattoo and its placement on your body. Thai people consider the head sacred and the feet profane so keep this in mind when choosing your placement. Some foreigners choose to have Buddhist tattoos below the waist which can also upset the Thai people. Make sure you are aware of the issues and choose to have a tattoo that will not offend Thai culture as you are in their country after all.
Peace, Love and happy inking guys.
☆☆ Finished tattoo image at top of this post – by Meghan Barrett ☆☆