How much does a Sak Yant Tattoo Cost?
Other sub-factors that affect how much a Sak Yant Tattoo will cost.
Donation Vs a Set Price?
This aspect is most often misrepresented online about pricing of Sak Yant Tattoo’s created by tourists who did not understand the experience. In Bangkok; the dynasty of Sak Yant Tattoo’s is Wat Bang Phra. At this Temple, there is a minimum donation required, which consist of a package of cigarettes and some flowers, this is purchased at entry and available from tables outside.
This is the basic essentials of your donation. You then pay the Monk and Sak Yant Ajarns for their time, based on what you can afford. Tourists who do not understand this, (and even some expats), then write Blog-posts about their experience and (sadly) explain how cheap it was. Often without the donation you are told by bloggers “The Monk Decides“. This tends to happen when a person does not show the respect to the Masters skill and the master gives them something standard. You should always give a cash donation in addition to the offering you already purchased. Otherwise you will find that you receive what the Monk decides and not the Sak Yant you are wanting.
The Reality of the Sliding Scale
Understandably the most unfair aspect of visiting and living in Thailand is that westerners can pay more for things than locals. Tourists in obvious tourist centers will often pay more still. There are a few cultural reasons for this, the most common is that bartering is an aspect of commerce in Thailand. When you have some local knowledge (such as regular pricing and speak some Thai) you get better prices.
Many of the western expat living here who love the Yant tradition, the respect they have for their Sak Yant Master means they deny the reality that someone they think so highly of, might actually engage in Thai commerce sliding scales. Often (in forums at least), they go on the defensive and make accusations towards whoever asks about’ pricing’ about their validity in receiving a Yantra if money is an issue.
The reality is (even if a Sak Yant groupie does not like it), many Sak Yant Ajarns use a sliding scale. The same Sak Yant can be given to someone who is returning, or speaks a little Thai or explains why they want this design for much less than the tourist who turns up without respectable clothing or any knowledge of the Sak Yant design or Ajarn themselves.
The Location in Thailand
Some parts of Thailand are cheaper than others. In the larger cities the price is usually more due to the living costs of the Sak Yant Master. In places like the Islands and Phuket, prices can be 2-3 times more than in the North of Thailand such as Chiang Mai or Chiang Rai.
The Sak Yant Master
The more famous the Sak Yant Master is, the more customers they will have, and naturally the higher the price they will set. Some Sak Yant Masters will have many Chinese customers who strongly believe in the magic and offer 5-10 times what a westerner feels is a fair price.
Established Sak Yant Masters with good reputations (or even just well known with westerners and referred often) will cost more than a new Ajarn who has yet to receive the same level of notoriety.
Going yourself or using a Guide or Tour
While it seems obvious that paying for a guide is going to cost more to get a Sak Yant Tattoo this is often not the case. Guides and tour companies have established a connection with a Sak Yant Master and usually done something that not many people do …. dare to talk business with a Sak Yant Master! Sak Yant guides who will ensure that you understand the meaning of the designs, and explain the reasons why you are their which effects the Ajarns sliding scale. This is not always the case, and it would pay to check a number of Sak Yant guides (who will display their pricing) in any one city.
In Bangkok the cheapest place to get a Sak Yant is Wat Bang Phra. You can easily find information on how to get there. When you factor in the 50km cost of the Taxi, the many hours you have to wait and the ride home, it certainly would have been quicker and perhaps cheaper to use a guide who took you to someone closer.
How to determine how much you should pay for a Sak Yant Tattoo
The simple solution is to ask. Ask in Facebook Groups, send emails or messages to various Sak Yant Masters or tour guides. It will depend on which part of Thailand you want to get your Sak Yant, and from who you want to get it from. You will need to factor in other factors such as the value of your time. It is one thing to look for the cheapest option, then you need to factor in time, comfort, safety as a financial value to you.
If going yourself to Wat Bang Phra Sak Yant Temple for example, to save $30-100 over using a local tour guide or Ajarn, you will need to ask yourself … how much are these factors worth to me
- 4-8 hours of sitting in 40 degree Celsius temperature on a concrete floor waiting
- Additional $15-35 taxi fee
- Sak Yant Master might use same Ink and Needles as the person before you
- You have no idea what is going on or how to ask for the Sak Yant you want
Are these factors worth the cost savings for you? Compared to a air conditioned car, booked time appointment, and the guide educating you on what is happening and why? For some people it is, for others it is not.
In almost every major city there are searchable options online; the larger the city the more options. You need to know where you are going in Thailand and how long you will be in each location. Check out the various pricing options as there can be significant differences between each tour company and Sak Yant Ajarn. While it is good to get the same recommendations of who to go to, you should be able to get a price for the Sak Yant.
In Chiang Mai city for example, there is one tour company that has formed a co-op with many of the local Sak Yant Masters. This company displays it’s services and Sak Yant pricing and even compared their price to local tattoo shops. You have the option of going to the same Sak Yant Masters yourself (or get them or other tour company to take you) at their own Samnak; or get the day they work in the co-op.
The cost of seeing the same Ajarn in the co-op can be half of the cost if you go yourself, and up to 4 times cheaper than using the most expensive tour company for the same Sak Yant Ajarn. The key point here is to go online and search, as this situation of different pricing is all over Thailand and also applies to Sak Yant Tattoos