For many travelers there is a must-do list when visiting Thailand: enjoy a full moon party, watch a muay thai boxing match, unwind with a massage, interact with an elephant, and of course, get a tattoo. Like restaurants and massage shops, tattoo parlors are littered throughout every tourist destination. Before getting a tattoo, though, there are some things you should know:
- Decide on a design concept
Those seeking tattoos usually fall into one of three categories: those who know exactly what they want, those who have no design in mind but just really want a tattoo, and those who have an idea but want the tattoo artist to guide add their creativity and guide them through the process. The thing is though, that when you know what style of tattoo you want, you can better choose an artist who fits that style. Many tattoo artists specialize in one style. And as good as they may be at that one style, they may not be all that good trying their hand at another style. Others, however are pretty well-rounded. Top from Namo Tattoo specializes in Thai-style and Ahm from www.Thai.Tattoo loves realistic tattoos, but both from Chiang Mai can do just about anything.
- Check out the artist’s work
A large majority of tattoo artists in Thailand have received no professional training. Instead they learn through practice on and off the job. On one hand, many great artists have taken this path. Although on the other hand, there are many artists who may be just starting and that are not yet all that talented. I’ve seen too many bad tattoos in Thailand and elsewhere, so it is up to you to look into the quality of the artist’s work before getting inked. The good news is so many of Thailand’s artists are on Facebook, Instagram, and even on Google, so you should be able to seek out an artist whose work you love.
- Visit the shop
Licensing and regulation is not all that strict in Thailand. While many shops are comfortable, clean and hygienic, many others are not. In fact, Thailand is home to many hole-in-the-wall tourist traps. Before getting a tattoo, you want to visit the shop and give it a look over for the sake of your health.And health aside, you have to remember that tattooing can be really, really painful. So you’ll most likely want to be a place that is comfortable. So during your visit you can see if the place seems relaxing, if their beds and chairs look comfortable, and overall if you’re comfortable with the place and the artist.
- The night before
The night before a tattoo is very important. That’s because a good sleep can drastically reduce how much the tattoo hurts. Head artist Ahm from Panumart Tattoo says in her experience she has seen customers who’ve gotten little sleep usually hurt much more. And secondly, the night before a tattoo (and the day of, before the tattoo) you want to avoid alcohol. Alcohol thins the blood, which will make you bleed more during the tattoo. That will make it much harder for the artist to do a good job on your design. You owe it to yourself to get a good sleep and lay off the booze for a night, you’ll thank yourself later.
The week following the tattoo is critical to keeping the ink well-preserved. For instance, you should avoid the temptation of going swimming at the beach. So when your tattoo is finished, make sure to listen to the instructions your tattoo artist gives you.
Follow the steps above and you’ll take home a beautiful memory of Thailand.
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