What to know before getting tattooed in Thailand

Hi everybody, I’m Panumart Ahm from Panumart Tattoo in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Every year tens of millions of tourists travel to this country. They come for the food, the beaches, the temples, for massages and to spend time with elephants. Along with a host of wonderful memories, many of them return home with freshly inked tattoos. For some, however, their new tattoo is not a source of joy.

In this article I’m going to help insure that you return home with a memory that will make you happy for a lifetime.

View our tattoo gallery @ www.Thai.Tattoo

Let’s be real

As with any industry the proficiency of various professionals differs greatly. There are great tattoo artists, terrible tattoo artists, and a wide-range of tattoo artists in-between.

If you are going to permanently alter your body, you should do some research to ensure that you’ll get an awesome tattoo.

By finding the right artist for you and by taking care of your tattoo after it’s done, you’ll return home a happy camper.


Follow this advice when getting a tattoo in Thailand:

1 — What style of tattoo do you want?

That’s the first question you have to answer.

Many artists specialize in a specific style of tattoo. An artist who produces great old school tattoos may leaving you underwhelmed with the watercolor design you had in mind. But before you can find the right artist, you’ve got to know what you want.

Two very different artistic styles from Me and Taew of Panumart Tattoo.

2 — Where on your body do you want to get tattooed?

You’ve got to look beyond the design and imagine how it would look on your body. Certain shapes look good on certain parts of the body and bad on other parts. For instance, circle designs are good for the shoulders.

Similarly, certain subjects are better for specific parts of the body. Portraits generally are good on the side of the side of the leg and the forearm, but put a portrait on the ribs and you’re risking a severely distorted-looking face.

A good artist should be able to guide you through the process of choosing the right body part for the design you want.

Even better, at Panumart Tattoo I Photoshop the design onto the customer’s body so they can see just how it would look.

3 — Find the right artist and shop for you

Tattooing is a huge industry here in Thailand. In any of our major tourist cities you will find tattoo shops littered on all the busy roads. Quite honestly, some of them are very bad — both in terms of cleanliness and in the quality of the body art they create.

Some shops are nothing more than tourist traps staffed by untrained artists and without the owner present. Also, some shops display photos that are clearly from the internet.

One of the best pieces of advice I can give to you is to do your research.

  1. Check out the artist’s work before getting anything done. Most of the top artists around Thailand have a Facebook page, Instagram gallery or a website.
  2. Visit the shop or check out shop photos online to see if it looks clean and if it looks like a place you will feel comfortable.
  3. Get in touch with the artist. The tattooing process can be stressful, so it’s better to be around someone you’re cool with. Plus if you’re getting any sort of custom work, it’s best to find out if they can speak English.

The above steps should ensure you get a great tattoo, but that’s not where things end. Proper aftercare is essential to protecting the integrity of your new ink, so let’s dive right into that.

4 — Avoid the beach!

Tattoos are pretty vulnerable for the first 7–14 days after they are done. Soaking a new tattoo in water is a terrible idea. So if you are planning a trip to the islands, it’s best to get your tattoo done at the tail end of your trip.

It’s worth noting, though, that some shops provide a waterproof “second skin.” This can help protect the tattoo while swimming, but soaking yourself is still not advised.

5 — Aftercare

As mentioned earlier, some shops provide a “second skin.” At Panumart Tattoo we use Dermalize. In addition to being waterproof, this breathable medical-grade film provides an anti-bacterial barrier, which together helps with the healing process.

In my opinion the use of Dermalize or an equivalent second skin is the best method to preserving and protecting a tattoo. It is especially helpful at preventing infection, which is an issue due to Thailand’s hot weather and due to the pollution in some of its cities.

To protect yourself, I’d suggest ordering some Dermalize for yourself if your tattoo artist doesn’t have any.


If you follow the above you’ll be fine.

If you’re in Chiang Mai, why not come into the shop for some ink? We do our best to give you the best tattoo.

Panumart Tattoo is located outside of the city center as you can see above.