Wat Bang Phra Sak Yant Tattoo

Sak Yant Tattoo at Wat Bang Phra

Getting a Sak Yant Tattoo at Wat Bang Phra

For decades getting a Sak Yant Tattoo at Wat Bang Phra was the most popular place in Bangkok to receive a Sak Yant.  Wat Bang Phra, located about 50km from Bangkok on south west Nakhon Chai Si River (Tha Chin River), Nakhon Chai Si district, Nakhon Pathom province, it was believed to be built in Ayudhaya era (1667) and has been always spiritual center of the locals.

Wat Bang Phra is the subject of countless blog posts and travel articles describing the experience of receiving a Sak Yant. So we will not cover this aspect in too much detail, rather we will focus a little bit more on why Wat Bang Phra is no longer the first place someone should seek a Sak Yant Tattoo

Wat Bang Phra is not what it used to be

With decades of blogposts incorrectly saying that the cost of a Sak Yant Tattoo at Wat Bang Phra starts at 100 baht (this is the cost of the offering – people are supposed to ask the Monks what is an acceptable donation for the design they want).  The Monks at Wat Bang Phra have grown tired of western tourists turning up and not understanding the protocols and will seldom see them anymore. Rather they have allowed past students of the Sak Yant (Sak Yant Ajarns) to rent space at the Temple to take care of the Western tourist unable to speak Thai. This has created additional issue, over and above the generally well known lack of hygiene of Sak Yant’s at Wat Bang Phra

Renting Space to New Ajarns

Now days when you go to Wat Bang Phra for a Sak Yant Tattoo, especially if you do not speak Thai or have taken a Thai speaking guide – you are taken to the location where Ajarns are working on a commercial basis.  Here you are shown a few designs from a design book and told the price of the donation required.  The downside to this is that the skill levels of the various Sak Yant Master differ greatly, with one person getting a beautiful tattoo and another person getting something that quite honestly looks terrible.

 

Tourists can receive some pretty terrible Sak Yants
Bangkok Temple Sak Yant
Wat Bang Phra Sak Yant

Photo Source: Wat Bang Phra Tripadvisor page

Sak Yant purest will say that the quality of the Sak Yant is not the main reason to get a Sak Yant (which it isn’t it is the magical blessing); But in the real world, receiving a horrible looking tattoo that you carry with you for life – even a magical one is a heart breaking experience.

Touts Scamming Tourists

If you arrive at Wat Bang Phra for your Sak Yant, without having any knowledge of how to proceed, you are quickly approached by touts offering to assist you. The Touts will take you to the Ajarns in rented space, and add several thousand baht to the price of your Sak Yant.  Then they leave you, with no explanation of what is happening to you as they seek out their next victim.

In this situation you are charged an extraordinary amount of money and left in a cultural situation that is confusing without any explanation of what is happening and why

 

Sadly this is allowed to happen by the Temple who do nothing to prevent it

Can you still have a great Experience at Wat Bang Phra?

Yes you can, almost guaranteed when you have a local Thai guide who knows their way around the Temple. There are still some western tourist who are lucky enough to bump into an official worker at the Temple who will take them to the Monks and Ajarns who are officially part of the Sak Yant Temple itself; before being scammed by the touts.

Even then their are the well known pitfalls of getting a Sak Yant Tattoo at Wat Bang Phra

 

Unsafe Practices and Hygiene at Wat Bang Phra

Sak Yant Masters who learn how to do Tattooing at Wat Bang Phra, all strongly believe in the magical benefits of traditional Thai Tattoos. So strong is their believe that their blessing work, it is common and well known that the Sak Yant Masters will often use the same ink and needles for different people.  This is especially the case if someone goes and only makes a small donation that doesn’t cover the cost of ink and needles – let alone the time of the Monks and Ajarns.

wat bang phra unsafe tattoo
If you have the faith of many Thai people in the power of Magical Blessings over western tattoo hygiene - no problems

The Long wait time and lack of a personal experience

Wat Bang Phra does many Sak Yant Tattoos each day – sometimes with hundreds of visitors wanting to receive their magical Sak Yant.  This can mean that you will be waiting for many hours, perhaps not having time and needing to return another time.  Once again this is not an issue for Thai people who have experienced many times sitting on a hard tile floor in 30-38 degree weather.  But this can be a difficult for people who have never done it before.

Additionally when you do get your turn, there are still many other people waiting in line watching you in a large open area.  Compared this to an Experience you receive at Sak Yant Chiang Mai or at Sak Yant Bangkok.   Sak Yant Bangkok arranges for private one on one time in a private Samnak with a guide to translate and explain what is happening – so that you can fully immerse yourself in the cultural experience.  This is a big and important difference and one of the reasons why our reviews so often mention “Best Experience of my Life”

 

Hardly a personal or Spiritual experience when shared with hundreds
Waiting at Wat Bang Phra
You can wait all day to get a Sak Yant Tattoo at Wat Bang Phra - on hard tile and Thailands heat

How to get a Sak Yant Tattoo at Wat Bang Phra

It is still possible to have a wonderful experience if you speak (or take a Thai speaker) along with you and know how to navigate around the touts to find the Temple Masters.  It has just become very difficult to do and as recent reviews of peoples experience getting a Sak Yant tattoo at Wat Bang Phra Temple suggest a rare occurrence.

It has become so difficult that those who research well, end up deciding to go to a Sak Yant Ajarn in Bangkok rather than the Temple itself.  Sadly this has lead to vast increases in costs as a few of the more famous Sak Yant Masters become more well known.

So what to do?

These reasons are why we created Sak Yant Bangkok.  We love the traditional Thai Tattoo culture and want to be able to have tourists and visitors to Thailand receive a Sak Yant without ending up with an ugly and permanent reminder of their mistake.  The Sak Yant Tradition is starting to suffer with bad quality work and high costs.  We want to be able to provide great Sak Yants for people, with a wonderful experience and at a reasonable price.

 

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