Getting a Bamboo Tattoo in Thailand

by Poi on February 6, 2012

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Every so often I get the craving for a new tattoo and being in Thailand, surrounded by advertisements for bamboo tattoos, I promised myself I wouldn’t leave the country without one. A souvenir, one I’d find very hard to lose but also doesn’t take up any space in my backpack.

Last night we went out to our favourite restaurant and decided to head onto Khao San Road to check out some of the tattoo shops, you know, just to have a look around…

…Guess what happened?

Before you panic, I didn’t just dive straight in and pick something from a book, I had been eyeing something up about for a while that I had saved on my Iphone.

The reason for going with this (other than liking it obviously) was that I wanted something small and simple, I’ve got lots of other big ideas I need to save skin space for.

So right there and then I got my tattoo fix for the year and experienced getting a bamboo tattoo in Thailand.

Bamboo Tattoo Khao San Road

Bamboo Tattoo in Thailand

The whole thing took about 40 minutes from start to finish and didn’t hurt nearly as much as I had expected.

The biggest positive however was how clean the whole process was, no blood at all during of after ‘the stabbing’ . In the following hours and days it was not nearly as sore as machine tattoo’s either.

As much as getting ink forced under your skin can be, it was a very pleasant experience.

Up 2 U Tattoo - Khao San Road

Bamboo Tattoo in Bangkok

If anyone is interested in getting a Tattoo on Khao San Road then I can happily recommend Up 2 U Tatoo on the second floor opposite Rikka Inn Hotel.  I spent a long time going through their work and the quality was very good, it was very hygienic and everyone was very helpful.

Update 3 Years Later

For anyone who has stumbled across this post who is considering getting a bamboo tattoo, I thought it might be nice to have a little update as it’s been a few years. This is how the tattoo currently looks with no after-care whatsoever…

do bamboo tattoos fade

If you want to see a short clip of what it looks like being done check out the clip here Or maybe you’ve already had one done? How did you find it?

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{ 42 comments… read them below or add one }

Ali February 7, 2012 at 12:35 pm

Really, no blood at all? That’s crazy! The bleeding and scabbing is the worst part of getting tattooed, so that would be awesome. Ok, the pain sucks too, but after several trips in there, at least I don’t cry anymore 🙂 Awesome that you now have a bamboo tattoo as a memory of Thailand.

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Poi February 8, 2012 at 5:05 pm

Yeah no blood what so ever before or after. It’s got a few little scabs now but NOTHING like a machine done tattoo!

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Andi of My Beautiful Adventures February 8, 2012 at 7:37 am

Love it!!!!!!!

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Poi February 8, 2012 at 5:05 pm

Thanks Andi!

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Sarah February 8, 2012 at 12:03 pm

Ah-maze-ing!

Seriously, what a souvenir.

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Poi February 8, 2012 at 5:07 pm

It is indeed, I was looking at traditional Thai bamboo designs but I would feel a bit like a cheat having something with serious Buddhist meaning that doesn’t relate to me.

But an elephant.. that’ll remind me of Thailand 🙂

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Jade - OurOyster.com February 9, 2012 at 9:44 am

You are braver than I am ! I would never let anyone other than the one specific artist do any work on me!

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Poi February 10, 2012 at 10:16 am

It’s only because it’s such a simple design, anything else and I would have been more cautious.

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Chris February 9, 2012 at 9:54 am

Sweet ink bro…can’t wait to get some bamboo done later this year – was going to get one on Tao but didn’t have enough money 🙁

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Poi February 10, 2012 at 10:17 am

Look forward to seeing what you get done mate, it feels so much different to a machine!

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Tiffany February 10, 2012 at 1:09 am

That’s awesome it didn’t hurt or scab up afterwards which is usually the worst part in getting a tattoo. But I lovee the design really unique!

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Poi February 10, 2012 at 10:18 am

haha thanks – by unique do you mean stupid?

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Tiffany April 10, 2012 at 10:57 pm

haha no I don’t mean stupid there’s plenty of other options you could have gone for that would’ve qualified as stupid. I thought it was a cute idea but since you’re a dude didn’t really want to say cute lol

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Ayngelina February 13, 2012 at 7:50 am

I got a tattoo ten years ago when I moved to the Philippines, I have never regretted it because it was such an important time in my life and the tattoo was a reminder. I hope yours will be as special for you.

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Poi February 14, 2012 at 11:27 am

Thats great you’re still so happy with yours. My others have no meaning but I still love them, this one will be a nice reminder of Thailand though I’m sure.

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Tiffany February 13, 2012 at 10:40 pm

This is awesome. Dustin (my husband) and I have been talking about getting one traditionally for years!

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Poi February 14, 2012 at 11:28 am

Go for it when you get the chance – definitely and interesting experience!

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Monica February 16, 2012 at 6:27 pm

Love the new tattoo. I had a bamboo tattoo in Thailand too. Unfortunately I had it after about 4 buckets, had the shittest thing imaginable and couldn’t even remember it when I woke up.

To quote our lovely friend Chris: “I spent the night getting messed up and making bad decisions.” haha

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Poi February 24, 2012 at 1:39 pm

haha how do I not know about this already? Do you not show it off at every opportunity?

I saw so many people on Phi Phi getting tattoo’s late at night, I bet half of them can’t remember it in the morning either.

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Kae Lani | A Travel Broad February 26, 2012 at 9:54 am

Great memories with pain! wow! Best souvenir ever.

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Poi March 5, 2012 at 1:44 pm

I quite like it 😉

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Joseph March 5, 2012 at 3:39 am

Awesome – loving the design, never seen one like it….as a big fan of tattoos (and owner of 2), I can say I know what I’m getting as a souvenir when I reach Thailand 🙂

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Poi March 5, 2012 at 1:45 pm

Cheers Joseph.

Be sure to send us a pic when it’d done and let us know what you thought of it!

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Anthonee March 13, 2012 at 12:59 am

Haha.. brilliant tattoo ma man!!!

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Poi March 29, 2012 at 12:17 pm

Cheers mate!

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Jen March 20, 2012 at 7:47 pm

I can’t believe how clean it looks finished! I always thought it would be much more painful than machine-done tatts x

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Poi March 29, 2012 at 12:18 pm

It was so different that it’s hard to compare. The lack of blood was awesome though!

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charles March 21, 2012 at 10:42 am

Nice tats…. very creative, elephant riding a bike.

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Poi March 29, 2012 at 12:18 pm

Not sure if this is sarcasm or not but I’ll say thanks anyway! 🙂

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bernie March 26, 2012 at 9:48 pm

Yeah looks good! How much would that cost????

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Poi March 29, 2012 at 12:19 pm

Thanks – not sure what you work in but 2,800 baht. On the pricey side but the place came recommended.

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Jay July 9, 2012 at 7:05 pm

My friend also has a bamboo tattoo in Chiang Mai, the shop called Jin Tattoo. Good work and inexpensive, about 2500 baht for 3 inches wide design.

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Pete October 16, 2012 at 11:29 am

I had a friend who got a traditional Sak Yant tattoo on the back of his neck last time we were in Thailand. Said it was more painful than he thought it would be.

An elephant riding a bike, not your traditional Thai souvenir. Definitely a conversation piece.

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Will April 5, 2013 at 9:31 am

Nice..i got a bamboo tattoo done while on Koh Phi Phi, found it so much easier and less painful than machine tats, love how the colours stay so vibrant. trying to find someone in UK who does this now as the rest of mine are all going to be bamboo inked. Only found someone in Bradford so far though…the hunt continues

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Kirsty April 9, 2013 at 4:45 pm

Keep us updated, I’m sure Poi would love to get another too!

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Amber December 28, 2013 at 12:28 am

This is interesting. I was under the impression that the manual tattoos take a lot longer than machine tattoos. I also got a bamboo tattoo in Bangkok, of a different variety – a machine tattoo of bamboo on my lower leg. It took 3 hours and was the most painful of all of my tattoos. Never again. Well, I said that until I got two more tattoos recently, but not near my ankle and achilles heel.
Amber´s last blog post ..Settling Back in Bali

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Jamie November 16, 2014 at 3:54 pm

I remember always seeing so many people in Thailand getting tattoos while insanely drunk. I love the Thailand whatever attitude, that can be found in most of Asia, but geez some people probably regret it a lot.

Your tattoo is quite cute! Getting it that way was probably way more fun!
Jamie´s last blog post ..Budget Travel: Seoul, South Korea

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Hannah March 4, 2015 at 4:51 am

I would be too much of a chicken to get a traditional bamboo tattoo done. I have a bunch of tattoos, but I get spastic about cleanliness. How did that seem? Did they use alcohol or a different antiseptic?

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Poi April 13, 2015 at 8:55 pm

Everything seemed fine at this place. I did a bit of research on the shop beforehand and as they do standard machine tattoos as well the standards are just as you’d expect from any trusted tattoo place. I still follow the shop on Facebook and they do some pretty decent work.

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Jorge Cobra July 30, 2016 at 11:24 am

Bamboo tattoo has a tradition and culture and I just too handsome to find people who still cultivate all this tradition

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Rodrigo Cardoso December 13, 2016 at 9:45 pm

Amazing Tattoo
Rodrigo Cardoso´s last blog post ..Marketing Digital e Produtividade

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Johnnatan February 2, 2017 at 8:11 pm

Very cool. But that method must hurt a lot, right? It’s a great way to mark the journey and remember for the rest of your life, though painful hahahaha.

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