Sak Yant Tattoo FAQ | Thai Tattoo Questions

Sak Yant Questions and Answers from Real Sak Yant Masters.

Sak Yant Tattoo FAQ | Top 30 Sak Yant Questions and Answers from the Sak Yant Masters themselves. The ultimate Guide for Real Sak Yant Information

——    Sak Yant FAQ Questions and Answers   ——-

Sak Yant Misinformation is all over the Internet

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. 

Sak Yant Chiang Mai have attempted to clear up many of the misconceptions with this Sak Yant Tattoo FAQ and Guide.   We put the top 30 Questions about Sak Yant’s 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 and Top 30 Questions asked about Sak Yant with Answers

2nd Questions for potential guest at Sak Yant Chiang Mai

Top 30 Questions and Answers about Sak Yant Tattoos

hah teaw 5 line sak yantWhat is a Sak Yant Tattoo?
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

Who is the Best Sak Yant Master in Thailand?
The Best Sak Yant Master in Thailand will be a combination of who is closest to you, available, authentic and affordable.  There is no such thing as the best Sak Yant Monk or Ajarn, and none of the Sak Yant Masters in Thailand will EVER claim they are better than any other.  There are some Sak Yant Masters who have become more famous than others, there are some who are older and have been doing it longer, there are some who do better quality tattoo work.  But there is no such thing as the best Sak Yant Master.  

This is purely a western concept of ego satisfaction, where some people will feel a need to associate with what they call ‘the best’ in order to fill a void in their own ego with associations to another thing or event.  Sports teams, Political ideals, clothing etc are some of the ways that a person will do this.  Often if a person has been to a restaurant or a Sak Yant Master, they will naturally say it is the best.  Not because it is, nor through any real comparison; but because it increases their self esteem if they can find evidence that other people agree with them.  One way to have people agree with them is having others share the same experience you have had.

This is not a concept that Buddhist (and therefore Sak Yant Masters) ever think about.  It does not have anything todo with the Masters Lineage, or their teacher, or the amount of famous people who have had work done by them.

Is a Bamboo Tattoo the same thing as a Sak Yant Tattoo?

No: The term Bamboo Tattoo is usually used by Tattoo Shops and Artists as a marketing tool for those people looking for a Traditional Thai Sak Yant Tattoo, which is done using the Hand poked method.  Using Bamboo needles for a Sak Yant were never a part of Sak yant History, as they have always used a metal Needle (Khem) which is considered a magical tool of the Sak Yant Masters.

However the term Bamboo Tattoo is still widely used by Bloggers and Tourists when referring to the Sak Yant Tattoo.  Tattoo artists and parlors who are unable to provide a real Sak Yant complete with magical blessing, promote the term Bamboo Tattoo to attract tourists who do not understand the difference between a ‘artistic replica’ and an Authentic Sak Yant. You can read more here Bamboo Tattoo – Thailand’s Biggest Tourists Scam

Is a Sak Yant from Thailand or Cambodia?

Both: The Sak Yant Tattoo tradition is older than the border creation of the now separate countries of Thailand and Cambodia. The Sak Yant Tradition is over 2000 years old whereas the up until just a few hundred years ago, the separate tribes that existed in Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos where fighting and claiming, losing and reclaiming land boarders of the regions that now make up each country.

Thailand has established itself as the predominant country to receive a Sak Yant in modern times, however no country can claim it as unique to their culture.  The culture from each country is a blend of the culture of the different tribes that have made up each region over time. Many of the peoples of all Asian countries, can trace their lineage back to different traditions that originated from areas that are now part of a different country.

How much does a Sak Yant Cost?

In Chiang Mai you can get them starting at  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 your traditional Thai Tattoo will cost.  Sak Yant’s 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 1000 baht in remote rural locations. 

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

Sak Yant Price 2024
1000 Baht Booking Deposit required when Booking an Appointment

Sak Yant should be done for a Donation?

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.

Many Tourist going to a Temple for a Sak Yant, understand that they purchase the offering (usually a few hundred baht) and then get confused by the donation.  This is further complicated because Monks can not request money in exchange for their services – which leaves the tourist to blog about paying a donation of whatever they felt appropriate.
Sometimes Thai people will not have to pay anything or much for a Sak Yant. This is because they have been contributing to the local Temple for years and it is included as part of the Temple services to the local community.  If however a Thai person is going to a Temple outside of their local area – they will always ask about the donation.

Is a Sak Yant Tattoo Painful?

The Sak Yant Tattoo 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?

is a sak yant painful50% of people say the Sak Yant Tattoo is as painful as a machine tattoo
20% of people say the Sak Yant Tattoo is less painful as a machine tattoo
20% of people say the Sak Yant Tattoo is more painful as a machine tattoo
10% of people say the Sak Yant Tattoo is very painful 

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.

Is it Disrespectful to get a Sak Yant Tattoo?

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).

Is a Sak Yant Tattoo Safe?

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.

Should I bring my own Ink and Needles for a Sak Yant?

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.

What is the Quality of Artwork with a Sak Yant Tattoo?

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.  Although when we get to take the photos they are usually fresh, red, swollen and not the best looking.  After a few days the Tattoo heals and looks much better.  For a true look it would pay to look at our Google or Facebook Reviews where many customers include a photo of the Sak Yant after a few days of healing

Why getting a Tattoo on the Loose skin (Bicep) is not the best location

Any Tattoo is best done on a flat bit of skin with less fat tissue.  This is especially true of the Sak Yant as it uses the poke method.  The tattoo is breaking through your skin and depositing ink within skin tissue.  This tissue needs time to heal and enclose the ink to prevent it leaking.

While it is possible to get a Sak Yant Tattoo on your arm, it pays to bear in mind a couple of things

1) Any Tattoo has the chance of ‘bleeding’ (where the ink spreads out beyond the initial tattoo line). This happen in about 1 out of every 1000 Tattoos by any Tattoo Artist.

2) The skin on the arms is looser, fatter and has less collagen, making the chance of Tattoo bleed around 1 in 600

3) The healing time (where you should not stretch or workout) is 3 days, which is difficult on the arm, increasing the chance of blowout or ink bleeding

4) The arm is not a smooth canvas, making the distortion of the Tattoo more pronounced.

So while it is possible to have your Sak Yant Tattoo placement on the arm, we will point out these concerns and have you sign a waiver of responsibility.  It is up to you as the guest to take strict precautions and aftercare to ensure the least possibility of the tattoo blowout issue.

While the chance of tattoo blowout is small, the risk on the arm with it’s softer and fatter tissue is twice that of a location such as the back.  The last thing we want is an unsatisfactory Sak Yant with blow out.  So we prefer to not do them on the arm.  At the end of the day this is the guests choice and responsibility

Can I get the Monk to read my Aura and choose the Sak Yant for me?

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.

Does the Monk Choose the Sak Yant?

Not Really: Generally 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 or using 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.

confused buddhist monkMany years ago, way back before the internet, an uneducated in spiritual matters 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 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 30-70 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.

Can I choose My Sak Yant Design?

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.

Can I get a Bamboo Sak Yant Tattoo?

No  The term “Bamboo Tattoo” is generally a marketing gimmick by Tattoo Shops who count on a customers limited understanding of a Sak Yant Tattoo.  Real Sak Yant Masters have used steel rods for decades as it is safer and less painful

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.  The Bamboo Needle used by a Tattoo shop is essentially a chopstick with a needle attached that they give to the customer as a souvenir.

For more details read “Why you Don’t get a Sak Yant from a Tattoo Shop

Can I get a Sak Yant Tattoo anywhere on the body? What Tattoos can go on the legs

Short Answer Yes and No. Sacred and Buddhist related images must go above the waist. This includes the majority of Sak Yant Designs.  Some designs (mostly featuring animals) can go below the waist such as on the legs.

Sak Yant Location: Not much below the waist
Can I pick my Sak Yant Location?

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

Sak Yants allowed Below the Waist

Can a Female get a Sak Yant Tattoo from a Monk?

Short Answer No  (At Sak Yant Chiang Mai) normal answer Sometimes.  Women can get a Sak Yant from a Monk – but it can not be done at a Temple. Females getting a Sak Yant from a Monk is possible outside of the Temple.   

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.

Can a Female get a Sak Yant from a Monk

At Sak Yant Chiang Mai, if a Monk is working with the In-House option they can provide a Sak Yant for females because it is not done on Temple grounds

Can a Female get a Sak Yant Tattoo from a Temple?

Yes But not from a Monk.  At Sak Yant Chiang Mai we offer a service for females and couples (who wish to share the Sak Yant Experience) at a Temple.  Here an Ajarn who works along side of the Monk will provide the Sak Yant Tattoo and the Monk will provide the Blessing.

In this way couples do not need to go to separate places and can share the experience together.

Female at Temple Sak Yant in Chiang Mai

What Language is the Sak Yant Tattoo?

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

What is the difference between a Sak Yant Monk and a Sak Yant Ajarn?

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.

Difference between monk and ajarn?
Same Same – But Different. Almost all Sak Yant Ajarns have spent years as a Monk previously

Sak Yant Ajarn

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.

Sak Yant Monk

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.

Can I get a Sak Yant from a Tattoo Shop?

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 and many Thai people.

Having an existing 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 fake, and will usually cost more from a tattoo shop than the real thing.

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 what a real Sak Yant is. For more details read “Why you Don’t get a Sak Yant from a Tattoo Shop

What are the Sak Yant Rules?

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 …..

  • Do not kill
  • Do not steal
  • Do not desire another persons lover or spouse or be unfaithful to your own
  • Do not lie
  • Do not get Intoxicated
  • Do Not speak ill of your Mother (or any Mother)

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.

What happens if you break the rules of Sak Yant?

The power of the Sak Yant comes from the blessing given by the Sak Yant Master and then your dedication to living a good and proper life.  When you break one or some of the Sak Yant Rules, the power of the Sak Yant’s protection begins to fade. For many Thai’s they will go every year to their Masters Wai Kru (honor the teacher day) and have the Sak Yant re-blessed.

For those who are unable to do this, as you live your life and break the rules given to you with the Sak Yant the tattoo, the influence of the Sak Yants magic fades.  In reality this is about the extent of any punishment for not following the Sak Yant Rules, although some people with particular dedication might tell tales of negative effects and harm. 

What is the Medical After-Care for a Sak Yant Tattoo?

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

  • Avoid Water and Soap: There are pathogens you do not have resistance to in water including the ocean. (if you have to swim, use Vaseline to form an oil barrier over your Sak Yant)
  • Avoid Stretching and Exercise: You do not want to tear open additional skin which might create tattoo bleeding. Let your tattoo heal
  • No Direct Sunlight: The ultraviolet light in the sun will break down the Ink. Wait until the skin heals before exposing it to direct sunlight

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.

How long does a Sak Yant Tattoo take to Heal?

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.

Do I have to be Buddhist to get a Sak Yant Tattoo?

No, Anyone from any religion or non religious person can get a Sak Yant Tattoo.  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. 

Is a Sak Yant Black Magic?

The simple answer is 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

This is a separate issue from what might be considered dark arts (involving bodyparts, graveyards and what would be more known to the westerner as ‘evil’.

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 cultures raised in the Christian influence would attribute to the word.  A Sak Yant Master learns both Good and Dark magic art’s, and on a very rare occasion they may make their magical system based on the darker aspect.  Although this is usually done for the same reasons a magical practitioner in the West would want to pursue this path, which is as a ego builder, trying to make themselves feel more important because they are ‘unique’.

Why do Some Sak Yant Tattoos have Gold Leaf?

Gold leaf is a way for Thai Buddhist to pay respect and honor the Buddha and his teachings.  Gold Leaf is sometimes applied to Sak Yant Designs that have an association with Buddhism as a way to placate spirits and request favour. This is however totally unnecessary for the Sak Yant Tattoo that receives it’s power from the prayers and chants of the Sak Yant Master and many Sak Yant patterns have nothing to do with Buddhism.

The gold leaf on a Sak Yant looks nice in photos, and has been adopted by some Sak Yant Masters as a extra bonus for the personal satisfaction of the person getting the Sak Yant.  

In reality, the gold leaf has never been part of the Sak Yant tradition.  Historically, gold leaf required a lot of work, and most Masters came from poor rural villages.  They just did not have the time or resources to hand beat sheets of gold.  With the advent of modern gold leaf making processes and an increase in wealth in Thailand, it is sometimes now added mostly for decoration rather than any spiritual purpose.

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

Questions related to getting a Thai Tattoo at Sak Yant Chiang Mai

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.

The Booking deposit can be paid by Paypal or Credit Card.  The rest has to be in cash at the time of your appointment

You can use a credit Card to make a payment with PayPal without having a PayPal account.   This is done by selecting the ‘Debit or Credit Card’ option. Only the Booking Deposit is able to be paid this way.  The rest of the service charges and donation will have to be in Cash


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.

Temple Monk Visit

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).

Please note:
Females can not get a Sak Yant in Temple grounds from a Monk. If you have a female getting a Sak Yant from a Monk Tour, the Sak Yant will be done at the Monks Temple by an Ajarn and then blessed by the Monk.

In-house Sak Yant

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.

For more details of comparisons

All of our options you pay 1000 baht towards the total cost with the Booking fee. Our In-House options starts at 2000 baht per hour when you book in advance. If you want two people or to get a large Sak Yant you will need to make 2 separate bookings. The 2000 Baht includes 1000 baht donation which covers the smaller Sak Yants.

For the Tour, the first person is 3500 Baht, and additional people just 2000 baht each – plus the donation to the Monk or Ajarn. We are small private tour, and do our best to make this service affordable, so if you can bring another person the shared costs goes down.

Why the Suggested Minimum Monk Donation?

Sak Yant Tattoos have grown very popular now among the Chinese, who strongly believe in the magical powers and are prepared to pay for it. Organizations regularly fly several Ajarns to China or Taiwan for a week, with each Ajarn doing hundreds of Tattoos. Chinese tour companies also bring in busloads of people to Temples in several parts of Thailand. These tourist are prepared to pay much higher donations on top of their tour cost, (starting at 7000 but going as high as 20,000 baht). We have had to make the minimum cost 2000 baht just to be able to see the Monks, however Ajarns will charge more when taken to their location.

Our Tour Prices
Like any tour, you are paying a fee for the knowledge, organization and explanation of an experience that you would be unable to get on your own. But unlike any other tour you might undertake in Thailand the Sak Yant Experience requires adherence to strict protocols and displays of respect. Not only an understanding of Thai Culture, it requires an interpreter of your desires into the Thai language (for the Monk) and someone to guide you through the rituals in the Thai Culture surrounding the Sak Yant Traditions.

Our In-house Monk and Ajarn Prices
We charge a minimum of 2000 baht for a Sak Yant from both the Monk or the Ajarn in our Shop location. This consist of your 1000 baht booking fee and then a 1000 baht donation as part of the offering. Larger Designs requiring more time will require a higher donation. This is still almost HALF the price of going to a Tattoo Shop, and considerable less than the busloads of Asian package tours are giving for the same service.

For a rough guide to Donation prices for various Sak Yant Designs

Donation amounts are for basic Sak Yant Design. Larger designs will require higher donation

Can I use a Credit Card?

For the booking fee you can use a credit card via the PayPal system. For the Tour balance and donations we accept cash only. Thailand is still mostly a cash society due to the heavy credit card fees mandated by the Thai Government.

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. Because of this we started the In-house service which has quickly also become full as well (although it is possible to sometimes get a booking by walking into our store or online a day or 2 ahead).

The honest truth is, we have enough guests who are very dedicated and serious about receiving a Sak Yant Tattoo, so we do not have the need, time or resources to accommodate people who are looking for a tourist tattoo.

We take the Sak Yant Tattoo Experience seriously! As Thai people, Sak Yant Chiang Mai staff, respect the Monks more than it is possible for a westerner to comprehend. As such we attempt to ensure that anyone we take to visit the Monks is also coming for genuine and sincere reasons. Any cancellations or failure to turn up by a guest, we ensure the Monk or Ajarn receive the deposit for the time they committed to preforming the Sak Yant.

Normally If you advise us of a cancellation within 3 days of the event we will refund in full your booking fee. If less than 3 days we will refund your deposit if another guest books the time slot.

However the corona virus situation resulted in 100 cancellations and has exhausted our bank accounts.  Now we are unable to refund your booking but will credit it for your next trip to Thailand or refund it when business resumes back to normal

I am a Travel Blogger, can I get an Affiliate Commission if I write a Blog Post?


We appreciate that Digital Nomads need to earn an income from their websites (as indeed we use our website to earn a living) and that generally bloggers take tours from companies that offer affiliate marketing commissions and incentives if you write a Blog Post and have an affiliate link. However companies that offer affiliate incentives charge 2-4 times the price of our services, and your readers quickly ascertain you have your interests above providing information.

Sak Yant Myths from travel blogs

Sadly the short answer is No, we do not offer affiliate links for our service. While we understand the benefits of being able to offer incentives for marketing support in the way of blog post promotion – we have Monks on premises and have to follow ethical considerations.

The reality is when dealing with real Monks, we have to do our best to preserve their dignity and position in Thai society and offering affiliate marketing is going to far into commercialization of the experience we offer. We have also seen the results of blog posts written for affiliate commissions, which tend to be the same articles (copy provided by the tour company) repeated over and over in each article. If a guest wants to write a blogpost about their experience we do our best to assist them. But we feel our service and standards are best reported in our ratings and reviews, and do not feel the need to make snide comments (about genuineness) about other providers as you will find in paid for articles.


Understand that just like any other tour, you do not get to bring a friend along for free just because they want to look and not participate. At Sak Yant Chiang Mai, we charge a much reduced rate for additional people (and less for observers) but the bottom line is that this is a tour and while your friends are welcome to come and share the experience with you – just like the Elephant Camps, or Tiger visits – you do not get in for free just because you do not want to feed or bathe the Elephants, or touch the Tigers.

With our In-house service, your friends can watch for free

Sak Yant FAQ Video

Why do people get a Sak Yant Tattoo?

Protection Against

Unwanted Spirits
Bad Luck
Physical Harm
Black Magic
Spells & Curses

Sak Yant Ajarn Naruphat Tom Chiang Mai

Personal Qualities

Good fortune and Luck
Avoid bad Habits
Attraction and Charisma
Power and Authority
Overcome Opponents
Comparison and Kindness