Thai Tattoos Wed, 06 Feb 2019 01:26:58 +0000 en hourly 1 Thai Tattoos 32 32 My D.I.Y. Thai Tourist Visa Run From Bangkok To Vientiane, Lao in 2018 Thu, 02 Aug 2018 16:09:20 +0000 The post My D.I.Y. Thai Tourist Visa Run From Bangkok To Vientiane, Lao in 2018 appeared first on Thai Tattoos.


So if you’re like me and you don’t fancy doing a horrible journey in the back of a mini van from Tesco On Nut overnight into Laos for your next Thai tourist visa run, then this post might be of interest to you…

I’ve done this tourist visa run by myself once before but then I actually paid a guy in Lao to do the running while I soaked up the sun by my pool in the hotel. I’ve also done it a few times using the usual On Nut BTS station visa run company (never again!) but this time I decided to save the Bahts where I could but still have a nice hotel and flight – Basically a moderately expensive visa run that would be pleasurable as a whole trip as opposed to being a shitty trip overall. So I’ve written this guide on how to achieve exactly that.


Save Some Cash By Getting The A1 or A2 Bus to Don Muang Airport

This is basic advice but after nearly 10 years living in Bangkok, I’d never just caught the bus from Mo Chit BTS station to Don Muang airport. So, yeah definitely do it this way if you’re ahead of time. Take exit 3 from Mo Chit BTS station, walk down the stairs and you’ll see a bus stop sign saying A1 Bus to Don Muang airport. I waited 5 minutes when an A2 bus arrived. I checked with the nice driver (because I hadn’t heard of the A2 bus) who said he was going to the airport so that was all good. I paid 30 baht to the lady and sat back and wasn’t stressing about a taxi meter creeping up while we moved through the heavy traffic.

Air Asia Flight To Vientiane, Lao

So the flight was booked quite last minute as I changed my plan from wanting to do a visa exempt border run to a Thai tourist visa in Lao. I think it was 5,500 baht or around that with Air Asia from Don Muang airport. This was a first for me as previously when I’d done this visa run D.I.Y. style I had flown to Udon Thani but I figured flying directly in was removing some of the stress and was therefore worth the extra if Udon was a cheaper flight.

The check-in was done online beforehand so I walked straight in to Departures. At passport control I had to point out that I wanted to cancel my extension as I was coming off a Non Immigrant working visa (but that’s another post coming soon!) and the officer had noticed that I had no re-entry permit. So the flight was alright, the usual lack of leg room on Air Asia flights but in just over 1 hour we were landing in Lao.

Arriving At Wattay International Airport and the Lao Tourist Visa

Got off the plane and through nothing to declare. Then at the immigration point I grabbed a Tourist visa on arrival form and quickly filled it in to get ahead of the others. But then we were all in the lines to passport control when we realized or an officer said we would all probably need to move to the counter on the right which is where you hand over the form, your passport and then $35 in my case (UK citizen) and just 1 photo (not 2 as I had read somewhere). I used a 3.5 x 4.5cm one that I had ready for my Thai tourist visa application. This process took around 20 minutes.

My next mission was to find a SIM card and the bus to central Vientiane. I decided not to get a SIM card just yet as I was discussing data options with the desk about which option would be okay for 2 days of online teaching. A discussion which just confused them and I decided to take a look in town for other options later.

The bus however was parked just outside and to the right – It was a nice little bus with just 3 people on and a nice ticket lady who, as with everyone I’ve met in Lao was just very nice. I think Lao should be called the land of smiles and not Thailand anymore. Anyway, the bus actually had free wifi which was a really nice touch. It cost 15000 kip to central bus station I think.

Getting to My Hotel: Grand Hotel Vientiane

So I got off the bus at Central Bus Station and was shuffling around looking for a SIM card place when a motorbike taxi driver asked me where I was going. I had a chat and we agreed on 100 baht to the hotel as I was getting tired. The lady selling the SIMs was just a little stall and I was looking for a larger proper phone company shop, so just took the bike but it started raining. A nice little monsoon to welcome me to Lao. We had only gone maybe 500m, and he stopped under a tree while it cooled off. But still raining, I gave him 40 baht for his trouble and turned back to a new shopping mall that I’d seen that could have a good phone SIM shop.

I did find a shop selling SIMs but still decided to do more research as there was no unlimited data package and I was unsure how much 2 days of online teaching would use. So then took a tuk tuk to the hotel. The tuk tuk drivers grunted at my request of 100 baht, but I held firm and said motorbike taxi man had said 100. Eventually he did take me to my hotel for 100 Baht.

Thai tourist visa

The Hotel

I would recommend this hotel, Grand Hotel Vientiane for a few reasons. First, it’s very near the Thai consulate, about a 3 minute walk. That was obviously the main reason for booking it, but it’s also just a nice hotel. It would be better with a pool but whatever, it’s a 4 star and it cost me around 5000 baht for 3 nights. The staff are friendly and they changed the phone in the room which was broken and TV has cable channels including True Sports. The food was nice too, I had a nice Chick pea Indian curry and speaking of a Ruby Murray – Grand Hotel Vientiane is opposite an Indian restaurant called Delhi Durbar which I will eat at and add to this post if it’s any good. Overall, a good hotel, breakfast was average but is on to 10.30am so I could have it after the visa application.

Bar The Way

Right next to Grand Hotel Vientiane is a nice little bar called Bar The Way which is open to 2am, so be careful when going there before visa application day as I did, and very nearly overslept. But, the hotel being so close to the consulate really was important as I woke up at 8am on the day. The staff at Bar The Way are friendly and you can put your own tunes on if you want, the price of a Beer Laos is cheap by the big bottles. I met some interesting people there and will go back again tomorrow.

I’ve not tried Timeline restaurant next door yet, it’s an upstairs place that looks like it would serve up a nice dinner. I do recommend Sanook cafe restaurant which is on the road of the Thai consulate a bit further up and I had an amazing beef lasagna there.

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Thai Tourist Visa Application in 2018

So on the day of the visa application (and I’d overslept a little thanks to some guys in Bar The Way’s drinking games) I made my way to the Thai consulate around the corner. It was 8.25am when I arrived and it was already open, with hundreds of people queuing up already. I was right at the back with a printed version of the form in my hand (that I’d downloaded and printed in BKK). A member of staff came up to me and looked at my document and told me that it wasn’t right and pointed to the building on the left of the queue of people (the one where you wait to pick up the visa normally). So I went in there and got the latest version of the form which was a bit different to the one I’d downloaded online from the consulate’s website. Filled the form in and the guy told me to get a ticket in that building and that I didn’t need to wait in the big line if I was not with a company. Wow, I thought, this D.I.Y. method was working out nicely! Got chatting to a Romanian guy in the waiting area and we checked we had the right documents which were a photocopy of the photo page of your passport, a copy of the Thailand departure stamp, as well as the form and 2 photos 3.5 x 4.5cm. There is a photocopy machine there that I used next to the counter where 3 girls and one’s daughter were working. About a 45 minute wait for the staff to call my number and then they logged my form into a computer which was a new way I’d not seen before. I paid 50 baht to the lady and she told me to take my passport and form which she’d signed to the big queue outside. Once in that queue the staff guy came back up to me and said I didn’t need to wait in the big line and took me to a much smaller line of ‘D.I.Y.’ers and in 20 minutes or so in that line I was handing the docs over to a final counter and she gave me the collect tomorrow slip and I was done, it was around 10am.

Collecting The Thai Tourist Visa at the Thai Consulate in Lao

This final part of the trip started at around 13.00 when I went back into the consulate. Everyone was sat waiting so there weren’t many chairs available and a few people were lay on the grass and some sat on the steps of the building on the side. Everyone had a number which was given to us the day before on the application morning. So it’s less chaotic than the Thai tourist visa application day.

The consulate re-opens at 13.30 although they do let you in before then to wait. There are 3 counters – The one on the left is for the express route with numbers starting at 300. This was mostly for people from Myanmar i think. The two counters on the right was what I was waiting for. I was number 91 and I waited for about 30 minutes. I paid the 1000 baht and he handed me my passport with the all important Thai tourist visa inside. Mission complete, time to relax before heading back to Thailand the next day.

The post My D.I.Y. Thai Tourist Visa Run From Bangkok To Vientiane, Lao in 2018 appeared first on Thai Tattoos.

A Guide To Getting A Buddha Tattoo Fri, 02 Sep 2016 11:06:47 +0000 The post A Guide To Getting A Buddha Tattoo appeared first on Thai Tattoos.


A Guide To getting a Buddha Tattoo in Thailand

Buddhism is the official religion of Thailand and manifests itself in all forms of Thai life. Buddha tattooing is as established part of Buddhist life that is not only condoned by monks but actually carried out by them as well. ‘Sak yant’ is the tradition of tattooing that has not only existed for several thousand years but its practitioners can trace the lineage back over many generations. ’Yan’, from the Sanskrit word yantra, means a geometrical design used to aid meditation. In Thai culture, the ‘yan’, or ‘yant’ as it is sometimes spelt, has incorporated iconographic imagery from the three main religious influences on Thailand: early, primitive Animism, or nature worship;  Hinduism and Buddhism, both introduced from India two thousand years ago.

Getting a Buddha tattoo is a serious business, you don’t just pop in from the street and lie on a couch getting inked while you listen to some chilling music on your headphones. First of all you have to pick the most auspicious day of the week, the one when the spirits are at their strongest. Saturdays and Tuesdays are traditionally the best, though the best of all is when one of those days falls on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month. Next, where to go?

Traditionally a wat, or temple, is a good bet for getting your first Buddha genuine tattoo. If you’re in Bangkok you can go to Wat Bang Phra, the most famous one and generally acknowledged as the place to go – it’s which is about a forty-minute drive away from the City. Or you may have decided to visit a ‘samnak’, which is the name given to a room, or building used by a non-monk tattooist, a shaman, or Ruesi. Whichever you choose, the ritual process you then follow is very much the same.

On the morning of the day you have picked make sure you have had a shower and you’re wearing fresh, clean clothes. Never go in short trousers. Don’t drink alcohol the night before as the stale smell lingers on the body and can be offensive to the Tattooist. When you arrive take your place and wait your turn. You may already have an idea of what image or design you want. You will probably be offered a book of designs to look through in case you haven’t chosen one yet. Thais believe that the chosen Buddhist tattoo often comes to mind subconsciously, so don’t worry too much about it, just let the fates decide!


Here are some of the more popular Buddha designs for tattooing, what they signify and the powers they possess


Mythical creatures from the Himaphan Forest, perhaps the oldest and most animistic of Thai buddha tattoo designs. These include – ‘Suea’, lions and tigers. ‘Ling’, icons derived from monkeys and ‘manimals’, closely associated with the Hindu god Hannuman. There are dozens of different designs each with their own characteristics and therefore, outcomes if adopted. Deers, snakes, turtles, geckoes and bird images also come under the title of Himaphan Forest creatures, as do the ever present in Thai culture, Garuda, part man – part bird.

You can also choose from Erawan, the Thai manifestation of the Hindu god Bramah, who appears as a three headed elephant and was the symbol of the old Lan dynasty from northern Thailand. This yant is associated with controlling the unruly. And there are many, many more symbolic animal tattoos, love-birds, crocodiles, wild boars, peacocks and tigers, and we haven’t got to the Deities yet! Before looking at these, let’s look at Buddha pattern tattoos.

These are, in a sense, ‘grids’, or geometric patterned designs and may be thought of as a kind of substitute for body armour. Each Samnak brings their own variants to their creation. There is the square or triangular Yant Maha Ud. The Gao Yord, or ‘Nine Peaks’, symbolising the sacred mountain at the centre of the universe, possibly the most popular choice for a first time tattoo, which consists of nine spiralling lines made up of words written in Pali.

Sometimes the grids can consist of boxes which include text, sometimes they are magic squares containing more magical incantations! Muay Thai boxers often choose the ‘five spire’ Buddhist tattoo variant to be tattooed with, believing that the lines will help aid the receiver by giving them charm, good luck, protection from evil spirits, success in all aspects of life. Also popular with these fighters are yants that will bestow bravery and courage, such as depictions of Hannuman, the monkey god, and images of a tiger, or better still, two tigers. Often the tigers are depicted looking backwards, this is to protect the wearer from attacks from behind – literally, the tiger is watching your back. Some folk have their entire back and neck covered meticulously with letters and symbols all building up into a mystical diagram, the basic purpose of which is to protect the wearer from evil influences.

Perhaps the person looking at a tattoo wants to make a fresh start in life, in which case they may choose an image of the Hindu god Ganesha, symbol of strength and the ability to overcome obstacles. Of course, a devotional depiction of Buddha on your tattoo may be the chosen design. Frankly, there are as many to choose from as there are samnak practitioners, each one adding to and adapting existing designs by bringing their own brand of magic into the process.

So when you’ve chosen your tattoo imagery, you’re ready to decide which part of your body you want the tattoo to be inked on. According to Thai belief, different parts of the body  are worthy of different degrees of respect. The feet, for example, are the least favourable place for a tattoo because they are in contact with dirt on the ground.  At the opposite end, the head is considered to be the place where a person’s soul resides, therefore it is the most holy place on the body. Occasionally somebody may shave their head and have a tattoo of the buddha on the very top as a guarantee of maximum protection, but more popular is the ‘unalom’ or zig-zag line leading up to a magical number or letter. This is usually tattooed on the throat though very occasionally people have had it tattooed on their foreheads to ‘open’ the third eye.  Thai etiquette is still uncertain about tattoos and although the upper classes may have a discrete charm tattooed somewhere on their body, to actually display a tattoo, particularly in such open view, is regarded as low class and vulgar, though this attitude is changing along with the old tradition of sak yan being strictly a male preserve. Angelina Jolie certainly revolutionised the whole world of Buddha Thai tattoos when she had a five spire tattoo on her shoulder when she was in Nonthaburi.


All decisions made – at last it’s time to go ahead with your Buddha Tattooing.

First you should make a small, symbolic offering to the samnak – some small flowers, perhaps a pack of cigarettes, incense, a candle and a few coins, but always adding up to an odd number and preferably ending in nine, that being a most spiritual number.

You will be helped into position and the Buddhist tattooist’s helpers will hold you and pull your skin taut for the work to begin. The samnak will start chanting, this is to invoke the spirit that will inhabit him while he carries to the tattooing. Using a metal or wood shaft the samnak begins to incise the skin all the time chanting ‘gatha’ or magical spells.

A word about hygiene. If you are concerned about the fact that the same tattoo shafts are used repeatedly for each customer you probably have a point (no pun intended). In between sessions they are placed in jars of alcohol to clean them, but the prevalence of hepatitis makes having a Buddha sak yant tattoo a slightly risky business. On a similar point, the AIDS virus dies on contact with the open air so at least that’s a very minor worry. Some monks and Ruesi have told people who expressed concern about hygiene that you will only catch an infection if it’s your karma! It has to be said that Wat Bang Phra has upped its game and now use individual ink pots; tissues are used for wiping away blood rather than a re-used cloth and the needles are sterilised to a higher standard.

When the tattoo is finished the polite thing to do is turn and bow (wai) to  the monk and then make an offering. This should be cash and the manner in which it is offered has strict rules – put the cash in an envelope, put the envelope on a tray and then politely bow and hand it over.

You may think the Buddha tattooing ritual is now done, but if you want to follow Thai cultural practice you should adhere to the following rules for the yant to remain efficacious – remember, you’ve just had a magical spell inscribed on your skin for the rest of your life! You should abstain from sex for seven days and avoid eating any gourd fruit; don’t walk under banana trees and never eat left-over food; don’t eat food at a wedding or a funeral, the list goes on. Also, strictly speaking, you should recharge your tattoo’s magical potency once a year by attending a ‘wai khru’ or ‘teacher honouring’ ceremony. The one at Wat Bang Phra takes place every March.


Ritual footnote – Modern Buddha ‘invisible’ tattoos

In the past having an ‘invisible’ Buddhist sak yant tattoo was most popular with women, but now its also popular with people whose jobs forbid tattoos. The ink used is sesame oil and it only leaves a faint mark, but the magic has been done and the charm will have the same effects as a visible one. As an aid to the efficacy of the magical tattoo you can also have designs painted onto a vest or sleeveless jacket which is worn over the real tattoos, but the big question is – does the magic really work? As any sensible Thai will tell you, either it will or it won’t but isn’t it best to be certain and have one done!

As you’re a fan of Buddhist tattoos, you may want to check out our Buddha Necklace store too!

And if you’re planning on a trip to Thailand to get your new Buddha tattoo then check out our guide to getting a Thai tourist visa as well!

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