If you’re looking to get some tattoos in Hoi An then you are in luck. No longer is your choice restricted to the dingy, one-man backstreet joints of old, now there are Hoi An tattoo studios that would rival any in a Western city.
One of the most established studios in Hoi An is Faifooink. For many years this was ‘the’ place to go. However, in recent days choices have exploded with the opening of ultra-swish tattoo studios like 1984 Tattoo and Piercing Studio and the more recent, The Hangout Tattoo Piercing & Barber Shop Hoi An.
Vietnam Tattoo Culture
Funny how so many things in life come full circle. Way back in the 12th Century Vietnam’s tattoo culture was alive and throbbing. Used originally by fishermen who tattooed their bodies with crocodiles, lions and tigers to frighten water beasts, the culture moved into a thing of beauty eventually becoming a status symbol to indicate your rank. Tattoos were also used by warriors going into war to boost their fighting spirit.
But nothing stays the same, cultures change and soon tattoos in Vietnam were … taboo. Associated with gangsters and criminals and not very nice people at all, the practice was frowned upon until recent days.
Then in 2004 Denis Nguyen opened the very first tattoo studio in Vietnam, Saigon Ink. From this fledgling beginning the ink business in Vietnam flourished. Now, with over 100 studios in major cities around the country, tattoos have become widely accepted as an art form rather than a stigma.
In fact, the practice has become so widely accepted that it is not only young Vietnamese men who get tattooed but women too. How’s that for full circle.
Best Places to Get Tattoos in Hoi An
A skilled tattoo artist is one thing but as important is impeccable hygiene. Whilst some may be lured to a studio by cheap prices, poor hygiene could well result in your visit costing you much more if it becomes infected. And the last thing anyone wants on holiday is a medical issue.
Here are three studios we recommend if you’re looking to get tattoos in Hoi An.
1984 Tattoo Studio Hoi An
Western-style 1984 Tattoo Studio sprung up mid-2017 alongside Vietnam Backpacker Hostels Hoi An on Cua Dai. Testament to this slick operation’s success is the opening of their second 1984 Tattoo Studio on Ba Trieu Street near Hoi An Old Town.
The offspring of a successful Hanoi parent, both Hoi An’s 1984 Tattoo Studios boast ultra-modern facilities and premises and each have onsite cafes that make for ideal places to chill before or in between inking sessions.
1984 Studio Tattoo Styles
1984 Tattoo Studio offers an eclectic mix of styles: from Old School, Geometrics and Realistic to Japanese, Watercolours and Black Dot designs. Interestingly, no others in Hoi An have mastered the complex Japanese styles that follow very strict rules of colour, shape and theme.
Designs include Vietnamese Lanterns in Black Dot style and lots of nature motives in watercolor.
Anyone getting a tattoo in Hoi An needs to know the importance of hygiene. 1984 Tattoo Studio does and takes it very seriously. Its studio and facilities are impeccable. Tables, pillows, bottles (all wrapped in plastic film), disposable gloves and sterile needles are all equal to Western standards.
The average price is 100 USD for an hour’s work, which may alter a little depending on the difficulty and style of the tattoo. The cheapest tattoo is about 22 USD. Pay by cash.
1984 Studio Tattoo promises quality and delivers. Their accomplished artists pay great attention to detail not just in their designs but also in their preparation. We were very impressed with the amount of time they spent ensuring the best location on the arm for the tattoo along with the meticulous care and skill that went in to the inking.
For a tantalizing taste of 1984 Tattoo Studio check out their FB/Instagram or drop by one of their studios for a chat and a drink.
Note: 1984 Tattoo Studio Hoi An also do piercings. If you need inspiration on piercing ideas – just look at their staff!
The Hangout Tattoo Piercing & Barber Shop
‘Created to be creative’, this most recent addition to the Hoi An tattoo scene is effectively an offshoot of 1984 Tattoo Studio because ‘1984’ was where the creators of ‘The Hangout’ learned and honed their craft. But long hours and time constraints bred disenchantment and two highly talented artists broke away. Wishing to bring an extra level of artistry to their tattoos and a more personalized customer service to clients, they opened The Hangout Tattoo Piercing & Barber Shop. (That’s right, you can get your hair cut here too! But only men. Sorry.)
True to its concept, ‘The Hangout’ focuses on customer needs. Its customer service and attention to detail is second to none. Believe us, as soon as you enter the premises you’ll feel you’re being greeted by long-lost friends.
Like 1984 Tattoo Studio, the ‘Hangout’ is a modern, Western-style environment where immaculate hygiene is given high priority and artistry is of the utmost importance.
Besides tattoos and men’s haircuts, they have all manner of piercing options and if that isn’t enough, they have some very funky T shirts on sale.
The Hangout Tattoo Styles
The Hangout does both Blackwork and Colour work.
As with 1984 Tattoo & Piercing Studio Hoi An, these guys take hygiene very seriously. Standards here are similar to a Western studio.
The average price is 120 USD for 45 minute’s work, which may alter a little depending on the difficulty and style of the tattoo. (There is a 50% reduction on the overall price if you use the barber). Pay by Cash.
The Hangout is another great option for getting tattoos in Hoi An. These people really care about your needs and getting it right.
Faifooink Tattoo Hoi An
Run by one of Hoi An’s most highly respected artists, Vu Hoang Viet, ‘Faifooink’ was – for many years – the place to go. And it’s still a great choice for tat lovers but with the arrival of 1984 Tattoo Studio and The Hangout Hoi An, there are now far more inking options available.
Viet’s Faifooink Tattoo Studio is your quintessential parlor of old. Full of ‘atmospheric grunge’, this cosy Hoi An studio has left its mark on many a Hoi An Now staffer. And whilst it may not have the modern ‘pazazz’ of the newer arrivals in the city, it is right up there with cleanliness and hygiene.
Faifooink Hoi An Tattoo Styles
Viet concentrates on Blackwork and Dotwork and with many years’ experience under his belt this prolific old-school artist is the person to call if you’re looking for traditional ‘Dotwork’.
New needles, gloves, clean environment. Viet, like the others, understands the importance of a sterile environment.
80 – 120 USD for a 2-hour, palm size design. Pay by Cash.
This guy is very experienced and takes great pride in his artistry. Happy customers whose expectations have been exceeded are of the utmost importance to him.
As he works alone make sure you make an appointment before visiting – otherwise you may find the shop closed.
Price of Tattoos in Hoi An
The price of a tattoo in Hoi An will depend on who does it and where you get it done. However, one thing is for sure, every venue in the city will be way cheaper than Western studios. On average the price in Hoi An is half the price you’d pay in countries like Australia, America and the UK.
Tattoo prices in Hoi An range from 80 – 120 USD an hour (depending on size, placement and complexity of the design).
Getting a Tattoo – A First Time Guide
(If you are covered in tats from head to toe, skip this section)
Step 1: Choose your Tattoo
Your journey begins with deciding what it is you want on your skin. You’ll be able to select from studio catalogues, the internet or create your own custom design. Once choice is finalized, the tattoo artist will draw the design on his iPad and print it out for feedback. After amendments, the next stage is making sure the tattoo ends up in the right place. Where you want it on your arm, your leg or on your nose, placement is important. The artist will provide advice on this.
Step 2: Get a Quote, leave some cash, book an appointment
If you are happy with the quote provided, you will be required to leave a deposit. Make sure you bring cash with you. Hoi An is still largely a ‘cash-only’ economy. Book your appointment.
Step 3: Taking the Tattoo Plunge!
Before applying the design, the artist will prep you. Skin is cleansed and hair is shaved from the area. For simple tattoos the artist will draw directly on to the skin. If the design is more complex, a stencil will be used to transfer the artwork to your skin for the artist to follow. Inking begins.
Step 4: Dressing and Bandage Applied
The tattoo is a wound and like all wounds it needs to be protected. After applying a protective ointment, the wound will be covered with a clingwrap bandage.
The tattoo artist will provide instructions on how to care for your Hoi An tattoo. Pay particular attention to the following:
- Open wounds are a breeding ground for bacteria and infection. Vietnam, with its hot climate and high humidity, is a perfect hotspot for germs to thrive.
- Keep the clingwrap film bandage on for at least 2 hours after the procedure.
- After removing the cling wrap, clean the tattoo with an antibacterial wash
- Gently remove any oozing plasma from the wound to prevent scabs forming. Pat with a clean towel or paper towel, don’t rub. Use an antibacterial ointment to keep it clean.
- After a few days your tattoo will form scabs. Apply a hot compress to remove them, do not rub or pick at them.
It takes around two weeks for a tattoo wound to heal so keep it clean!
Traditional Vietnamese Tattoos
Whether it be a tiny statement or a humongous mother of a tattoo, what better way to commemorate your Hoi An adventure than with some traditional Vietnamese-style artwork? Some of Vietnam’s iconic symbols include calligraphy, girls in ao dai and conical hats, unicorns, Dong Son drums, tigers, dragons, lions, phoenixes, lotus flowers and Buddhas.
Opting for a henna tattoo is another great option for those who like the idea of getting inked but don’t want the permanence of a tattoo. At present the only shop in Hoi An offering henna tattoos is Henna Art Hoi An. Based in the Old Town, this small intimate studio set above a souvenir shop has numerous catalogues for you to choose from. You’ll find all types of designs from tribal to geometric to paisley and if nothing catches your interest, you can get Van, the owner, to draw your own original design.
Tattoos in Hoi An – Another Bargain in Vietnam
Where once services like tattoos, dentistry and even eye laser surgery were considered dangerous to get in Vietnam, things have changed. Standards have changed. Now many of these service industries are as good or even better than those in Western countries. Check out our ‘What to Buy in Vietnam’ page for all the incredible deals you can get in Hoi An and Vietnam.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does getting a tattoo hurt?
Yes. If someone sticks a bunch of needles in your skin it’s going to hurt – a little. But let’s face it, if it hurt that much no-one would return again and again – would they?
How long does it take to get a tattoo in Hoi An?
Tattoos are not something to be rushed. They take time. Most artists will take anywhere from one to three hours, depending on the design.
Should I tip the tattoo artist?
Tipping is a Western tradition and not expected in Vietnam. However, tipping in the service industries is more frequent these days so if you’re inclined, you may consider tipping. Wages in Vietnam are low so something in the vicinity of 50,000 – 100,000 VND would be considered very generous.
Is it safe to get tattoos in Hoi An?
Vietnam and places like Hoi An have come a long way. It is safe to get tattoos in Hoi An at any establishment that takes hygiene seriously. For complete safety, however, be ultra-vigilant about aftercare. The humidity in this country is a haven for bacteria. Keep the wound clean.
Can I swim after getting a tattoo?
Whilst it is okay to shower after getting a tattoo, you should avoid swimming or soaking in a bath for two weeks. The wound needs to heal and that means keeping it dry.