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Sak Yant Questions and Answers from Real Sak Yant Masters.
Sak Yant Tattoo FAQ | Your complete guide to common Sak Yant questions with answers from the Sak Yant Masters themselves. When you want the ultimate resource Guide for Sak Yant Information
Sak Yant FAQ Questions and Answer Guide
Getting accurate information and guidance when you want a Sak Yant Tattoo is something that can be difficult to navigate the online truth vs fiction. There are a lot of Myths and Misinformation about the topic of Sak Yant in blog-posts and forums that cause some eye rolling by those who actually understand the Thai Tattoo Traditions. Much of this mis-information about Sak Yant tattoos have been created by
Travel Bloggers – Most whom don’t speak Thai, and seem to idealize the adventure of ‘self reliance’ travel experience. This has lead to many misunderstandings about their experience – writing articles based on best guess rather than fact. Other travel bloggers who need to pump out content as quickly as possible seemed to have copied the incorrect information when writing their own articles
Tattoo Artists and Studio’s – A new trend, after a lack of tourism income following Covid – Many Tattoo Studios are attempting to convince tourists that the sacred and magical aspects of the Sak Yant are not required. Many Tattoo Studios have create webpages (some with good, some with not so good) Sak Yant Guides that attempt to influence readers into getting a Fake Sak Yant from their Stores. Some are even advertising in Google to ensure they rank at the top of search results.
Sak Yant Chiang Mai have attempted to clear up many of the misconceptions with this Sak Yant Tattoo FAQ and Guide. We however don’t have to guess or speculate like travel bloggers or lie like some Tattoo Websites – we just put the questions to over 15 different Sak Yant Masters from around the country for the real and correct information. In some instances our Sak Yant FAQ: Questions and Answers Guide elaborates and explains why the misinformation has come about.
The Following FAQ is split into two sections
1st General Sak Yant FAQ and Answers
2nd Questions for potential guest at Sak Yant Chiang Mai
Table of Contents
Sak Yan or Sak Yant (Thai: สักยันต์), is a form of tattooing that originated in ancient Tai peoples. It consists of magical geometrical, animal and deity designs accompanied by Pali phrases that offer power, protection, fortune, charisma and other benefits for the bearer.
Today it is practiced in Thailand and Myanmar, and to a much lesser extent in Laos and Cambodia. Sak means “to [tattoo]” in Thai, and yant is the Thai pronunciation for the Sanskrit word yantra, meaning “magical design” or “mystical insignia”. Hence the Sak Yant Tattoo is a “Magical Tattoo.
Sak Yant designs are normally tattooed by ruesi, wicha (magic) practitioners, and Buddhist monks. Traditionally with a long metal rod sharpened to a point called a khem sak. Although today with many health concerns of the westerners obtaining their tattoos, many practitioners have modernized the hygiene methods to be completely safe.
In it’s basic form, the traditional Thai Sak Yant tattoo is a visual representation (talisman) of a goal, desire or objection (affirmation) that has been created by a religious or holy man and charged with initial power
Go here for detailed description of What is a Sak Yant
Sak Yants are not done on a donation you decide or pack of cigarettes – they do cost money. Depending on both the location in Thailand and the size of the design a Sak Yant tattoo might start from 500-1000 baht in remote rural locations. In Chiang Mai you can get them for around 2000 baht, while the same design might cost 4000 baht in Phuket or Bangkok. The larger the design and the more fame a Sak Yant Master has the more it will cost.
One of the biggest myths created by travel bloggers is that you can decide how much you want to donate – maybe only give some cigarettes. This myth can be traced back to a single source where the blogger just did not understand the Sak Yant and created many incorrect myths attempting to explain his experience without any understanding. Sadly the blog-post ranks well in Google and often becomes the starting point for many people interested in the Sak Yant Tattoo. The same blog-posts also creates other myths that are addressed in this FAQ.
The price of the Sak Yant can differ in different areas, and many Sak Yant Masters in larger cities will use a sliding scale pricing system. Two people getting the same design will be told a different price, depending on things like … ability to speak Thai, knowledge of what design you want, knowledge of the respect protocols, how respectfully you dress etc.
At Sak Yant Chiang Mai we use a Standard Pricing system based on the amount of time a Sak Yant takes to create. This works out to around 2000 baht per hour. For full details of pricing you can go to our Pricing page
This has never been the case, but became a misconception by both Tourists at Wat bang Phra and Expats married to local Thai people. A Sak Yant Tattoo requires both a
Offering: consists of a small package of flowers, incense and maybe some cigarettes.
Donation: An amount of money – Thai’s will always ask how much the Monk or Temple requires
For Thai people the local Temples and Magic Shamans are supported by the local community. Thai’s understand that the Temple is there to be both supported and to provide support. Temples provide services for the local community and some of those services it is understood to cost a certain value of money. However Thai people also live in a culture to avoid losing face, which is most important when it comes to the highly revered Temples and Monks.
In Thai Culture, to lessen the chance of seeming rude and asking “How much money”; they will refer to it as a ‘Donation’. Also, the Thai’s do not exclude ‘Spiritual Services’ from the normal system of bartering or exchange of money as they do in the west. For the Thai’s they fully expect to pay for services from the Temple and to be polite refer to this as a donation. The amount of that donation depends on how much they have contributed over the years, the type of service (funeral, House Blessing, Sak Yant etc) and if they are using the services of a local or a Temple in another area.
Yes: It is a tattoo, the process of your skin being pierced thousands of times with a needle; it is going to hurt. The real questions is does it hurt more than a normal tattoo?
50% of people it is about the same as a machine tattoo
30% of people it is less painful than a machine tattoo
10% of people it is the worse pain they ever experienced
Like any tattoo, the Sak Yant tattoo will hurt more and less in different areas of the body. Generally the closer to the bone – the more discomfort. Locations like the spine, wrist, shin, rib cage, will hurt more than areas with more flesh. Men tend to feel it more than females, and men with muscle mass and less fat will feel more discomfort than someone with more fat tissue.
At Sak Yant Chiang Mai, we prefer to make the Sak Yant experience as amazing as we can. If you know you have a low tolerance for pain, we have pain pills, which will take some of the sting out of the experience.
Yes: It is Disrespectful to get a Sak Yant Tattoo copy, from a Tattoo Artist who is not trained in the magical art and skills of reading (and changing) the Magical text and being of a Spiritual level to provide the Blessing. So it is considered disrespectful to get a Tattoo from a Tattoo studio
No: It is not considered disrespectful to get a Sak Yant Tattoo from a qualified Sak Yant Master. You do not need to be a Buddhist in order to have a Sak Yant Tattoo, you only need to commit to the five precepts of Buddhism (5 common sense ethic guidelines of every spiritual philosophy).
Yes: Almost all the hygiene systems used are the same as western tattoo artists.
Many Tourists and Westerners like the idea of getting a Sak Yant Tattoo but then begin to question the standards of hygiene with this tattoo. This is especially true it seems if you have found and read blogs about Bangkok’s famous Wat Bang Phra who do tend to cut back on hygiene if you do not contribute towards covering the basic costs with a reasonable donation. Many a budget blogger has given a $5-6 donation for 30-60 minutes of a Monks time, then been shocked to find that they were not given new Ink and Needles. While this does happen when someone does not contribute to cover the cost of getting a Sak Yant, it is a rare occurrence.
It is also true that some rural Ajarn, might also operate in primitive and un-hyigenic conditions as they still service their local communities living off pure donations of the community only. Many times these Ajarns just can not afford to use new ink and needles, and in the past this was more common. However today, it is very unlikely a modern Sak Yant Master is going to ruin their profession by not having a safe practice.
No: This is not necessary, and stems from misinformation provided by a single source where the blogger just did not understand the Sak Yant and created many incorrect myths attempting to explain his experience without any understanding.
Almost all the Ink used by today’s Sak Yant Masters is brought from the Tattoo supply shop and is the same brands as is used by American Tattoo shops. The Ink might get a little starter (previous blessed ink containing some magical blends), but long gone are the days when Masters had to make there own ink and used all sorts of dangerous items.
Almost all Sak Yant Khem (Steel Needles used to poke the tattoo) are modern design that have either disposable or replaceable tips. The Tips are usually UV treated, fire treated and soaked in alcohol. Even if you wanted to bring in new needles you would have to know exactly what type was being used.
Sak Yant Chiang Mai, like many of the professional Sak Yant guides around the country ensure proper safety and hygiene issues are being taken care of.
A genuine Sak Yant Tattoo (Yantra Tattoo) is done with a long steel needle in about 20-25 minutes for a basic design. It pays to bear in mind the purpose … Sak Yant Tattoos have Spiritual and Magical properties. So the finish tattoo will not always be a perfect balanced and symmetrical piece of art. Monks and Ajarns are spiritual leaders first and foremost not tattoo artists.
There are in truth some shockingly ugly Sak Yant Tattoos people have received from around the country. While having something beautiful is not a requirement, almost all Sak Yant Ajarns will have social media and photos displaying their work. Some Sak Yant Masters do provide some truly beautiful work, some do not. It pays to look first, as the reality is, you will have it for life – so it might as well look nice in addition to bring you blessings.
You can see for yourself the types and quality of the Sak Yant Tattoo that our customers have received in Chiang Mai at our FaceBook Page
No: Auras are not part of Buddhist belief.
Monks will pick up of personality and spiritual vibes and consult with you regarding your intentions. But Monks reading your aura is a myth that does not exist in real life. What has probably happened is someone went to Wat Bang Phra, where they do 30-100 Sak Yants a day. We have found from experience that it can take anywhere from 15 minutes to several hours for a guest to chose a Sak Yant design. When Wat Bang Phra have 100 people a day wanting a Sak Yant, the Monks does not have time to ask you what you want. You get what they decide your getting if you do not have any personal request. Not understanding what happened, someone in an attempt to explain the experience used their own spiritual belief system (aura’s) and started promoting the myth.
Not Really: The purpose of the Sak Yant is to bestow the wearer with a special blessing and purpose using the power of the magic associated with the process of getting a Sak Yant Tattoo. If you do not know why you are getting a Sak Yant then why or how is the Monk supposed to know?
The Sak Yant Master can and does discuss with people the options available to them, which sometimes includes asking their birthday and using astrology. However most of the time a student (person getting the Sak Yant tattoo) knows exactly what they want and what design they would like to have to represent it. For the westerner not familiar with the Chinese version of astrology or having a grasp of Thai language sufficient enough to discuss Asian metaphysical concepts – asking the Monk to decide what design you have is leaving you open to having a life long tattoo you do not like.
Many years ago, way back before the internet, an person would often ask the advice of the Sak Yant Master. This does not happen too often now days, since most people can research online. However the internet is a double edged sword and this is why people mistakenly believe they should ask the Monk to choose for them.
Here is how the myth began
A travel blogger went to a famous temple just outside of Bangkok, deciding that getting their Sak Yant had to be an amazing adventure they must do on their own without any assistance. They joined the other 30-100 people a day getting a Sak Yant, and at their turn, did not pay a donation (thinking the $5 offering sold at the front of the temple was enough). They did not speak Thai to be able to communicate their choice of design, and had no idea why they were there except for an ‘amazing spiritual adventure to blog about’.
The Monk, not being able to communicate with the person, gave them a standard Master Yantra (usually one of the 3 Masters Yants you get for your first Sak Yant).
There was no reading of aura’s, no inner knowledge making a magical choice. The simple reality was, the person went unprepared, and with other people coming after this person, the Monk did not have time to muck around. You may have even read this account online yourself, and because it is a highly ranked article on Google, others looking for content for their own blog-posts will copy the same incorrect information.
At Sak Yant Chiang Mai, we go over the reasons, purpose, intention and blessing of a customers Sak Yant, along with the design preferences. Sometimes designs can have the Khata (text) modified to reflect the goals of the person with a design they like the look of. Sometimes for specific designs are only available with specific blessings.
Yes: When getting the Sak Yant Tattoo, the meaning associated with the Tattoo comes in 3 parts; It is sometimes possible (it depends on the design itself) to have an imagine you want, but change the text and prayers and final blessing for a specific and special meaning. Since most Sak Yant Masters do not speak English, you will need to speak Thai or have someone with you who does in order to discuss these elements
The 3 elements are …
1) The Design
This is the picture or design of the Sak Yant. While all Sak Yants come with their own meaning implicit to the design, if you like a certain design, it might be able to be used but changed to include the Kata and Blessing elements into the final meaning
2) The Kata
This includes the magic spells within the mind of the Sak Yant master as they create the Sak Yant. The master is reciting special prayers as they apply the design so that it becomes filled with the desired intention of the final design. The Kata also includes the text written around the Sak Yant. This text is usually presented incorrectly in drawn images you find online and are corrected by the Master. This is design to keep the knowledge so that only those qualified to give Sak Yants can give them.
3) The Blessing given
The final blessing given at the end of the Sak Yant Process. Special intentions and desires can be requested for this. For example you can get a Five Line Sak Yant and ask for financial prosperity with the blessing.
You will often read accounts where the writer says “The Monk chose the design for me”. This happens when the receiver does not speak Thai and does not understand how Sak Yant’s work. Many people decide their Sak Yant adventure needs to be done as a solo spiritual experience without the assistance of someone who knows the language and process to guide them. They then write about their experience from a limited understanding and the “Sak Yant Master chooses” myth becomes a common error.
The Sak Yant is a Magical Talisman and Blessing, and is not limited to a few preset designs and options. You can obviously talk through your desires and reasons for getting a Sak Yant and discuss your options (if you speak Thai) with the Master, but in the end you have a say in what image you get put on your body.
The use of a bamboo needle for Sak Yant’s stopped decades ago as the more hygienic and heavier steel needles became more popular. Steel needles are more accurate, creating better looking Sak Yants, they are heavier than wood which means less pain during the tattoo process.
What did not stop was the term “Bamboo Tattoo”. Even if you see the words Bamboo Tattoo in articles when you look at the photos you can see almost always the Sak Yant Master is using a Steel Needle.
Bamboo Tattoos and Traditional Thai Tattoos is really a marketing term used by Tattoo Artists outside their parlors as a way to distinguish a tattoo in Thailand from other countries. Long ago Tattoos were given using the poke method of tapping a craved bamboo stick into the skin. This method died out with the invention of tattooing machines almost a century ago, but came back into vogue a few decades ago among Tattoo Shops wanting to create a novel experience for tourists.
The use of the terms ‘Traditional Thai Bamboo Tattoo using poke method’ does lead to confusion with the Sak Yant which also uses a poke method but with a sacred magical Kem stick (which is metal). It is a confusion that tattoo artists do not mind reinforcing as it allows tourist who don’t know better to think they are getting a Real Sak Yant – when they are just getting a ‘artist rendition’ of the sacred and spiritual Sak Yant.
Yes and No
Sak Yant Design
The Sak Yant represents to the wearer magical and spiritual reminders that are much more profound than a normal tattoo. While it is mostly the Text used within the Tattoo and the blessing and ritual of the Yantra tattoo that determines the purpose – certain designs hold magical and spiritual representations in themselves.
Often you will read on other websites that the Monk chooses the design for you, this is not strictly true. While the vast majority of people get one of the 3 master yants because they cover most blessing requests. If you have some knowledge of the designs and meanings you can choose your own design. When you use Sak Yant Chiang Mai, we help you pick a design that has personal meaning and that you like.
At Wat Bang Phra in Bangkok (where the vast majority of people get their Sak Yant) they do 70-100 Sak Yants a day, in groups of 20 people at a time. In this situation the Temple just does not have time for each person to ask about the designs available (we know from experience this can take hours from some of our guests) – so the Monk decides for you. It is not a rule of thumb around the country in smaller Temples, that the Monk decide – but since this is the experience of most people who write blog posts, it has become a kind of urban myth.
All of the Monks and Ajarns used by us have sample books that you can look through and choose a design you like. Or you can talk with the Monk (at least explain to your guide what you desire) and allow the Monk to suggest a design for you. You can bring with you a picture of a particular design that you like and request that the Monk create this pattern for you. Just remember that you are getting a 100% genuine Sak Yank experience, so the design has to be of a Sak Yant Tattoo – not something you have found online from a Tattoo design website that does not represent Thai or Buddhist culture.
Sak Yant Location: Not much below the waist
Sak Yant’s are a spiritual and magical Tattoo and those images that represent Buddha or the Master Yant’s have to be placed on the back, the arms and side torso. Females can not get the Sak Yant placed around the breasts (or have the area exposed) or below the waist. Men can have some designs placed on the thigh.
The feet are off limits for everyone. In Thai culture the feet are the lowest part of the body which is why it is against the law to point your feet towards a Buddha, or step on money with the image of the King. You certainly can not get a sacred symbol placed there. Only animal designs can be placed below the waist (no images representing Buddha or powerful Yants), and a few examples are below
Short Answer Yes (At Sak Yant Chiang Mai) normal answer No
Women can get a Sak Yant from a Monk – but it can not be done at a Temple, and it would have to be done in secret without any photo’s or videos.
This is a question that 99% of blog posts about Sak Yants or Thai Monks get wrong, by confusing tradition and culture with the actual Vinaya (Monk code of conduct).
Thai Buddhist Monks are permitted to touch a women, so long that it does not create lust. For this reason many Monks decide that it is better to be safer than sorry in this regards, and if they do touch a female they use prayer clothe (or gloves for Sak Yant) as an added layer.
Many Monks nowadays just outright refuse to give a Sak Yant to a woman to save themselves the inconvenience of having to explain themselves (especially if tourists take and publish photographs). This is further complicated (only in Thailand) when the cultural tradition of women not touching Monks is added to the mix.
At Sak Yant Chiang Mai, If a female is getting a Sak Yant via the tour option you are taken to the Temple Monks Samank. This is his holy Sak Yant area he has created at a residential property outside of Chiang Mai. Females can get an In-House Sak Yant when the Monks are at our Shop,
Sak Yant Tattoo’s do not use Thai language, for the magical text. The language used in most Sak Yants is much older forms of Pali, and Khom Scripts developed in the Khmer Empire (Cambodia). Khom and Pali script are used for various purposes in Thailand, such as Buddhist texts, images, magical textbooks, and manuals on topics like astrology, numerology, cosmology, and the creation and interpretation of Yantras.
In Northern Thailand another ancient and more localized Lanna language is often used by the Sak Yant Masters who grew up and learned how to read and write from Temple schools. While every Sak Yant expert has undertaken learning Pali and Khmer, The Lanna script is believed (by Northern Thailand Masters) to be more powerful, in addition to looking more attractive. Sak Yants from South Thailand will use Pali text, while Sak Yants from Cambodia will use mainly Khmer scripts.
The point of a magical talisman of which the Sak Yant is one, is the Blessing which comes from secret knowledge and power. If everyone could read and understand the scripts used in Traditional Thai Tattoos, then they would not be unique or special or powerful.
It takes years for the Sak Yant Masters to learn these secret languages that are said to have magical power. So it makes it difficult to find out what the writing says, as only a very select few people can understand it, and then they do not like to tell you as it is believed to dilute the power of the Sak Yant
The major difference between an Sak Yant Ajarn (almost always an Ex Monk of many years) and a Monk (someone still engage in Temple duties) for the purposes of getting a Sak Yant Tattoo is that the Ajarn will generally do their Yantra Tattoo for a set fee and will do Tattoo’s on Women. There are many subtle differences as well, far too many to explain in a section of a FAQ, but we will cover some of the basics.
The term ‘Ajarn’ is used to describe a learned person… similar to the term Professor or Master. When we refer to the term ‘Ajarn’ we are referring to a Sak Yant Master. Generally an Ajarn (or Sak Yant Master), is a former Monk that has taken their training in the Magical Art of Sak Yant and continued to provide the service to people after they no longer work within the Temple environment.
Getting Sak Yant Tattoo from an Ajarn means, they are free from the ‘touching female’ restrictions. Often Ajarns are open to additional training in the Sak Yant Tattoo and general tattoo arts. The Ajar opens his Sak Yant temple to Thais and Foreigners alike and operates it like any other business and charges a fee for his expertise. The Ajarn is a highly respected and sought after adviser to both the normal Thai person and the Monk community
Sak Yant Ajarn’s, (like Monks) gain their magical power from meditation and following may spiritual rules for living a good and harmonious life. Ajarn’s will spend a considerable amount of their time in meditation, retreats, serving charities and living life to exceptionally high moral codes and ethics. They will take the responsibility of performing Sak Yant Tattoo’s at the same level as Monks do.
The Ajarn usually has more of a worldly interest outside of Temple life, more familiar with westerners seeking a Sak Yant, can speak better English and can be much more relaxed in accepting our lack of knowledge of protocols.
A Sak Yant Monk is a Buddhist Monk who has specialized in the secret knowledge of magic and blessings associated with the Sak Yant Traditions. While all Buddhist Monks can give Blessings, the Sak Yant Monk has spent years studying ancient texts, different languages and the application of Bamboo Hand Poked Tattooing.
Generally a Monk (for the purpose of a Sak Yant Tattoo) is a Temple associated Monk that has duties engaging in the local community. The Monks role in Sak Yant Tattoos is only one of their duties and seeking a Sak Yant from a Monk can mean waiting along with other Thais, seeking advice, magic and blessings from the Monk.
A Sak Yant Tattoo from a Monk is done by donation (like all their duties) and a higher level of respect must be shown because you are at a Temple. However many Westerners have written blogposts proudly claiming they only donated a few hundred Baht for their Sak Yant. This is a ridiculously cruel thing to do, coming to another country, and cheating Monks by paying less than the locals.
Many Monks now will just tell westerners that they are busy, or can not preform a Sak Yant because of their previous experience with cheap travelers.
No The Sak Yant Tattoo is a magical and spiritual talisman and blessing that requires years of training in the ancient magical arts. While you can get the pattern of a Sak Yant from a Tattoo shop, it will be based on the incorrectly provided online drawings and easily recognized as being fake by real Sak Yant Masters.
Having what a tattoo artist will refer to as a ‘Traditional Thai Tattoo design in my personalized style’ (essentially a fake Sak Yant), will not come with any power, it can not be blessed by a real Sak Yant Master, who may refuse to provide the real thing on a body that already has a ‘artistic rendition’. Additionally the fake will usually cost more from a tattoo shop than getting a real Sak Yant.
Tattoo shops will often advertise “Bamboo Tattoo” along with the catalogue of Sak Yant images in the hopes that the customer has no idea about the difference between ‘Traditional Thai Poke method and a real Sak Yant is. For more details read “Why you Don’t get a Sak Yant from a Tattoo Shop”
The Sak Yant Rules of Conduct refer to the rules you must follow once you have become a student of a Monk or Ajarn (a title inferred after receiving a Sak Yant). Every Monk or Ajarn has different Sak Yant Rules which they sometimes suggest and sometimes do not. There is great confusion as to the Rules which you can read about in detail at Sak Yant Rules of Conduct.
The general rules are …..
Each lineage of Sak Yant traditions have their own rules, some of which apply in some situations, specific people and particular designs. Some rules apply to student Monks, some apply to Thai (but not Westerners). The Bottom-line is you can pretty well ignore any rules you see in travel blogs, except the ones above – unless the Sak Yant Master has specifically told you differently.
The Sak Yant is a Tattoo, which is essentially an open wound and requires proper aftercare to avoid infection and ‘tattoo bleed’ (the leaking of ink into surrounding skin). Added to the usual aftercare of a tattoo is the extra element that you are exposing an open wound to pathogens and bacteria in a new country that your body has not yet had the time to develop an immunity too.
Getting any tattoo in a country you are visiting it is essential to apply a antiseptic healing cream. This is one situation that no matter what your personal choice about ‘Natural VS Pharmaceutical’ health options – you should used the product made by the drug companies and not a natural alternative.
For 3 days you should
For 7 days you should
Apply a pharmaceutical Antiseptic healing cream: Natural products will provide a moisturizing effect that will help heal the skin and assist in the prevention of skin scabbing. If your skin scabs, you are able to peel off a layer of ink which lightens your tattoo. But a natural product will not assist in the killing of any pathogens that can cause infection. In this situation you need a medicated product.
The Sak Yant tends to heal within 1-3 days after getting the Sak Yant when the Tattoo done with a Khem (Steal Needle), as it usually does not go as deep into the skin. For the 1st few days you should treat it much like a normal tattoo, and most importantly use a medicated ointment to avoid infection.
Many people think a natural moisturizer product like aloe or coconut oil is sufficient – It is NOT! Getting a tattoo in another country with different pathogens opens you up to risks of infections that natural products do not address. If you have lived in Thailand for 3 months or more you can go this route. Otherwise always use pharmaceutical products to avoid infections and heal faster.
Strictly speaking the Sak Yant tradition pre-dates the introduction of Buddhism into Thailand. As Buddhism started to spread across Asia, it took on regional elements of pre-existing cultures, the Animalism religions and magical practices, Sak Yant being one of them. As Buddhist temples were for centuries the schooling system in Thailand, in order to learn reading and writing, you had to become a Monk. Over time the practice and teaching of Sak Yant Tattoos became part of a few selected Temples.
Sak Yant designs have been expanded and incorporated the Buddhist prayers and blessings as part of its heritage for many hundreds of years, within certain Temples (Wat Bang Phra in Bangkok being the largest) and have become part of the traditional Thai culture now.
Although many Temples and Monks in Thailand will say that a Buddhist blessing from a Monk without the need for a tattoo is just as powerful and beneficial, the fact remains many Monks will seek out a Sak Yant Master for their Tattoo’s if their own Temple does not provide them. Currently the head of the Buddhist council (chief Buddhist Monk) is actively engaged in a ‘No Sak Yant in Temples’ policy citing the reason that Sak Yant is not part of Buddhist teachings. This is one of the reason outside of Bangkok’s Wat bang Phra that it is becoming very difficult to find a Monk who will provide a Sak Yant to someone they do not know.
No, Sak Yant is not black magic.
In order to understand this answer you need to remove yourself from your own cultural meanings for good and black magic and understand the Thai definitions. In Thailand Magic is defined as
White Magic: For the purpose of improving the spiritual and material improvement of the whole
Black Magic: For the purpose of improving the spiritual and material improvement of the individual
From the Thai prospective if the Sak Yant is done for personal reasons (which most of them are) then it falls under grey/black magic. This in no way has any correspondence to ‘evil’ which people raised with a Christian influence would attribute to the word.The Thai concept of spirituality does also have what we would recognize as ‘Black Magic’ – but when it comes to Sak Yant’s they are preformed by Buddhist Monks.
After leaving the Monkhood, a Sak Yant Master learns both Good and Dark magic art’s, in order to understand and counter act spells, curses and the like.
Want to Get a Real Sak Yant and Blessing?
Sak Yant Chiang Mai is Thailand’s leading Sak Yant provider – Over 10 Independent Sak Yant Masters working in Hygienic and comfortable Samnaks
There are other people and companies offering a Sak Yant Tour experience – so why would you choose Sak Yant Chiang Mai to get yours? There are many reasons, the main ones are below.
The short answer is Sak Yant Authenticity, Credibility & Cost!
Authenticity: We are a Thai Co-operative of individual Sak Yant Masters, including both Monks and Sak Yant Ajarns who work together to provide an authentic experience for the guest. With the growing popularity of Sak Yant Tattoos, there is also a growing number of people offering tourists the opportunity to receive one. Sometimes these services are legitimate, and sometimes it is an opportunistic person taking advantage of the unsuspecting. At Sak Yant Chiang Mai, all we do is Sak Yant tattoo’s. We do not up-sell other tours, we do not deliver food or make custom suits, we do not take you to Sak Yant Masters that have arranged to slide up the cost to give a kickback commission. We are fulltime, dedicated to the Sak Yant Tattoo
Credibility: We are a co-operative of local Monks and Ajarns who have joined together to bring the Sak Yant experience from a provider who educates and ensures proper protocols are followed. We are proud to be the ONLY Sak Yant provider who has earned the trust of the Monks and Ajarns that they feel comfortable working with us from our store (where as other Sak Yant services need to take you to their private Samnaks).
Cost: We have standardized the cost of the Sak Yant depending on time and complexity, and among different Ajarns. As a co-op we have set a price that does not include the commission you pay to Taxi’s or other part time tour guides.
There are several points that make us unique;
First and most importantly we are the only place that Monks come to us to preform Sak Yant Tattoos – That in itself is as close to an official stamp of approval anyone can get.
Second, we have a variety of Monks and Ajarns that work with us, other providers only have one option for everyone (not what is the best experience for the individual) .
Third we offer both Tours for those wanting the traditional full on experience, and In-House for those on a budget or limited time.
Fourth we do NOT get commissions from Monks or Ajarns (as we are a co-operative), in fact we have arranged for cheaper donations as we bring daily guests.
Fifth: we offer before and after experience care. We discuss with you designs, your intentions (if you believe in the magical aspects), help with unique designs and provide new ink and needles for each guest. Afterwards we have a meditation garden to relax and come back to earth after your spiritual adventure, Antiseptic ointment for your Tattoo, coffee or tea and instructions for taking care of your Yantra.
When all said and done, Sak Yant Chiang Mai are 100% dedicated to providing our guest with a unique and amazing experience. Something which our hundreds of 5 star reviews attest too.
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However you can come into the shop and see if there is a free appointment on the day or the next few days. We suggest you do not wait until the day before or the day you are leaving Chiang Mai to do this. Usually and especially during high tourist season we are booked at least a week in advanced.
At Sak Yant Chiang Mai we offer a variety of options for getting a Sak Yant Tattoo and Blessing. Both the Temple Monk Visit and the In-house options are 100% real and include the Magical Blessing. The only real difference is the romantic notion of visiting a Temple (and this is a powerful and worth while notion), The time it takes and the cost.
The Temple Tours are conducted twice a day at 9am and 1.30pm and we take a maximum of 2 people in the morning and 3 people in the afternoon each time. The tours take 3-4 hours where you visit the home location of the Monk or Ajarn and go to the Sumnak (Sak Yant room) usually in a building at the side of the Temple (not in the Temple itself).
Females can not get a Sak Yant in Temple grounds. If you have a female getting a Sak Yant from a Monk Tour, it will be done at the Monks Samnak not at a Temple. We will visit a Temple time permitting
At our old city location we have created our own Samnak and have visiting Monks and Ajarns come to us. Our room has been blessed and has the additional benefit of air conditioning and soft seating (something Temples have no need for). It is the same powerful experience you will receive at a Temple of Ajarns Samnat.
We are a small company that provides a totally unique experience. The reality is that our limited Tour services are booked by customers several weeks and months in advance. If can be difficult to book a Sak Yant if you are only allowing a few days notice.
Booking your Sak Yant Online
This is by far the best option. We use an Online Booking system that lists each type of Sak Yant Service (Go here for details) on the days that they are available. Each Booking absolutely requires a reservation deposit to confirm complete the booking.
Booking at the Sak Yant Chiang Mai Office
We use the exact same Online system at our Office. However sometimes when the Booking Calendar does not allow you to make a booking because the time slot has been taken, we are able to manually do a double booking. If you are in Chiang Mai come on in and see us at our Old City Store Location
The main reason you would want to book a Sak Yant tattoo ahead of time, is because if you do not, someone else will; leaving no spare appointments for walk-in guest. This is especially true during the months of September – April, when Chiang Mai has it’s peak visitor season.
At Sak Yant Chiang Mai, we also need to plan which Sak Yant Master should come into our shop on each day. For our own ease we offer the Online booking option at 500 baht cheaper than the walk-in option.
If for any reason you are unable to attend your appointment, we offer a full refund if you let us know within 3 days of your appointment. After this time, your booking fee is paid to the Monk as a donation, because they have already traveled the 40km from their Temples to see you.
There are several reasons but the bottom line, is that we are unable to provide every request with an appointment. Most of our guests are booked weeks and sometimes months in advance – we are usually fully book a week or so before.
In the past we have found that many people while on holiday plan lots of tourist activities and tend not to bail out on the ones they have made a deposit. The simple reality is we prefer people who are serious about the Sak Yant Tattoo – not those seeking something to do while in Thailand.
In addition, the Monks don’t only do Sak Yants. They have many daily duties and we have to make a request to the Temple Abbot for them to have time off to preform a Sak Yant. If we have booked the Monks time, and they have arranged for other Monks to do their duties – and you don’t turn up. We give your deposit to the Monks for the time they put aside for you.
Yes: The Sak Yant Tattoo booking deposit is 100% refundable if you give us 3 days notice of cancellation of your booking.
Without 3 days notice, if we can fill your booking time slot with another guest we will refund your booking deposit. Usually someone else will want the spot and it is very seldom we are unable to return the deposit to you.
We appreciate that Digital Nomads and Travel Bloggers need to earn an income from their websites (as indeed we use our website to earn a living). We are also aware that other companies do pay affiliate commissions – Sadly we are unable to do so.
We have found in the past that many readers of travel blogs mention they just had to click another link to find our website and discover we are more than half the price of what bloggers are recommending. It is always nice to be able to get a commission from a service you write about – we are however bound by unusual ethics in the situation.
The reality is when dealing with real Monks, we have to do our best to preserve their dignity and position in Thai society. Offering affiliate marketing opportunities is something they do not feel comfortable with.
Yes: However just like any other tour service, if you are not participating, you can get a reduced (not free) rate. For a 2nd person receiving a Sak Yant we offer a 1000 baht discount. If the 2nd person is only going to watch and take photos for you, there is a 500 baht cost to join the tour.
With our In-house service, your friends can watch for free since fuel and vehicle maintenance costs are not an issue
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