Like so many other places, getting a tattoo is trendy in Vietnam’s biggest city. It’s also clean and safe. And we’re here to help you with the process.
Like that great travel selfie you took, a tattoo can commemorate a life-changing memory and experience. The tattoo business has blossomed into a legitimate art form, with many different styles, sizes, and techniques all over the world. Why not celebrate your next trip to Vietnam’s biggest city by getting a tattoo in Saigon?
How are tattoos perceived in Vietnam?
Tattoos as an art form have exploded around the world, including in Vietnamese culture. Although initially, tattoos were signs of criminal activity and gang life, they are quickly gaining wide acceptance among both Vietnamese and expat residents. You will notice this is especially so among young adults.
That includes women. There is still some stigma for Vietnamese women to have visible tattoos as clear skin is prized. But overall there is tolerance and appreciation for tattoos in major urban areas of Vietnam.
In smaller provinces, you may get your share of stares but Vietnamese people tend to be incredibly polite, so you won’t get too much trouble for having visible ink.
Southeast Asia may not be known for following rigid sanitation standards, but Vietnamese tattoo shops will surprise you. Many have excellent cleanliness standards, including using fresh needles, gloves and masks, and reusable autoclaving equipment. Most reputable places will happily answer any of your questions about shop hygiene and even let you watch the tattoo process.
If you do, check that the artist uses fresh gloves and tattoo needles out of a sealed bag. He or she probably will. It’s hard to compete with other shops without following proper procedure.
- It’s helpful to come into the shops in person with ideas and references on hand, and talk to the artist rather than emailing them. That way you can check out the cleanliness of the studio.
- Most studios hire multiple tattoo artists with different styles, so bring reference pictures and let them help you find an artist who will be a good fit.
- Never get tattooed under the influence. Alcohol is a blood thinner, meaning you will bleed, have issues with healing and distortion of your art.
- Always tip your artist!
- Ask about aftercare. Humid climates require less moisturization than you would need in Europe or North America. Good shops will sell you a suitable and SEALED aftercare package.
- Always avoid direct sunlight and swimming in pools while your tattoo is healing (2 to 4 weeks).
Best places to get a tattoo
Location: 26 Tran Hung Dao, District 1, HCMC
Specialty: blackwork, intricate and original designs
Saigon Ink is the most famous tattoo parlor in Saigon. It’s a premier English-speaking studio specializing in blackwork and black-and-white ink. Many of the best tattooists operating in Ho Chi Minh City started at Saigon Ink. A lot of the standout designs integrate unique Vietnamese stiles with crisp blackwork and spare use of color. It’s one of the more well-known and expensive shops, with prices up to $150 USD, but the work is guaranteed to be excellent.
Locations: 14 Q1 Duong 38, Thao Dien, District 2
Specialty: diverse, color, traditional, black and white
Exile Ink is another long-standing studio. They offer a wide range of styles and services, including traditional portrait, realistic and Japanese-style tattoos. They are run by British expats, so the language barrier won’t be an issue.
Location: 494/11B Cach Mang Thang 8, Ward 11, District 3
Specialty: nature, delicate, watercolor, cover-up tattoo
Monster Ink is an excellent place to go to for a cover-up of a bad tattoo. Their artists also produce some of the most incredible, nature and flower tattoos, great if you’re looking for a feminine design.
Vien Tattoo Studio
Locations: 46 Vuy Huy Tan, Binh Thanh District
Specialty: stylized, blackwork, neotraditional
Vien Tattoo has its own distinct style. It’s not the type of place to go if you’re looking for a full-color back piece, but rather one for a smaller, detailed black-and-white piece that draws upon the old-school styles of sailor jerry flash while adding its own distinct flair. Both incredibly detailed and clean and simple, Vien Tattoo designs will work on their own or as a cool addition to your collection.
Young Ink Tattoo
Locations: 237 Tran Hung Dao B, District 5
Specialty: miniature, realism, dot-work
Formerly Lucky Tattoo, Young Ink Tattoo has some of the best hip styles, such as miniature or even glow-in-the-dark tattoos. Their artists also create incredible linework and dot-work pieces.
Vietnam’s distinct tattoo styles and impeccable quality have much to offer to everyone. Don’t be afraid of trying out a shop as long as it has good reviews and a clean atmosphere. And don’t be afraid to ask questions. You are decorating your body with permanent art, so it’s worth finding the right artist for the job. But by following these tips, getting a tattoo in Saigon can become one of the better stories you tell your friends and family when you’re back in your hometown, either in Vietnam or overseas.