A tattoo is for life, so make sure it’s a blessed Sak Yant

The Siam hotel in Bangkok, which distinguishes itself with its tranquil location on the Chao Praya River, eclectic assortment of antiques and state-of-the-art luxury extras, has added yet another intriguing string to its bow, opening up a space dedicated to a much-revered Thai tradition: the sacred art of Sak Yant tattoos.

Having witnessed an increasing interest in the ancient art from visitors and even arranged Sak Yant expeditions for high-profile ink-loving guests such as Cara Delevingne and Michelle Rodriguez, The Siam has now devised a way to provide their guests with access to this venerated practice. The hotel has installed a specialist Sak Yant studio, headed by master tattooist Arjan Boo. A craftsman of the highest order, renowned for the quality, intricacy and beauty of his work, Arjan Boo was trained in the traditional art by an esteemed abbot at the Buddhist temple of Wat Bang Phra, the prime pilgrimage spot for those who want to have their body adorned with spiritual Sak Yant ink designs. The 2,000 year old tradition, which is thought to have originated in ancient Cambodia, has seen it designs grown in popularity throughout South East Asia; tattoos can only be administered by specially trained practitioners. They are believed to have mystical powers, helping to protect those who bear them from evil spirits and bring good luck.

At The Siam’s purpose-built Sak Yant parlour, located in the resort’s deluxe Opium Spa, every last detail has been carefully considered to ensure the traditional tattoos are executed with the utmost care given to hygiene and comfort. Sak Yant tattoos, which are expertly engraved into the skin entirely by hand, run the gamut from ancient geometric sigils to vivid animal or magical deity figures, which have evolved into Brahmanist and Buddhist prayers. Most famous of them all, thanks in no small part to its high profile position on Angelina Jolie’s shoulder blade, is the Hah Taew or 5 Lines Yant. This particular design goes back over 700 years to the ancient Kingdom of Lanna (now Northern Thailand) and features five meaningful lines of script, each designed to provide protection and benefits to the wearer.

After the tattoo has been applied, guests will be brought to Wat Bang Phra, a traditional temple about an hour outside of Bangkok, to have their body art blessed, before returning home with a permanent and deeply significant reminder of their time in Thailand.

The Siam is the brainchild of the Sukosol ‘musical hotelier’ family, and has always had Thai culture at its heart. Not only is the Sukosol’s personal collection of curios, antiques and artworks – among them Buddhist sculptures, Neolithic pottery and vintage Thai cigarette cards – on display throughout the stunning property, but the resort also redefines luxury with its immersive Thai cultural experiences.

Among the standout offerings are a Muay Thai experience that includes one-on-one training sessions in their authentic Muay Thai boxing ring and Thai cooking lessons in their riverside culinary school.

Prices for a Sak Yant tattoo at the Siam start from £600.00 for a smaller design and from £1,200.00 for a larger design. The price includes translation between Arjan Boo and the client as well as supplies and offerings for the master. Visits to Wat Bang Phra incur an additional charge.