Getting a tattoo in a developing country is always an interesting experience. In Sri Lanka, there are plenty of different tattoo studios to choose from. I was in Unawatuna in the south of the country and found a tattoo artist called Sajee in the nearby city of Galle.
I visited the studio to meet Sajee and check out some of his work. The studio wasn’t spotless but it was fairly clean and the photos of his previous work filled me with confidence.
I took in a few images of tigers that I liked and together with Sajee’s help we combined several of the images into an original sketch. Sajee quoted me $320 USD. I don’t like bartering when it comes to travel tattoos as I always feel like it may affect the quality or effort that goes into the final product.
One of my local friends laughed at me and suggested I could have gotten the same tattoo in Sri Lanka with his friend for a third of the price. That is the type of decision you will be faced with when looking to get a tattoo. It is a risk that may or may not pay off.
I felt comfortable with Sajee Tattoo studio and decided to go ahead with his design and quote.
As always nothing happens fast in Sri Lanka. I arrived at the agreed time of 10 in the morning hoping to begin straight away but the tattoo was only just being sketched. After a couple of small revisions, the actual tattooing only began at 1:30. The entire process took a few hours and I ended up leaving the studio just before 4pm in the afternoon.
Sajee was incredibly friendly and patient throughout the process and made the experience comfortable and as enjoyable as possible when you are being needled for a few hours.
There are definitely lots of studios across the country more than capable of producing a quality tattoo. The question is if you are willing to sacrifice a bit of security for a lower cost or not. There is no right or wrong. I chose the safest option I found because as cliche as it sounds it is going to be on you for life. I have now been tattooed in Santa Monica in California, Siem Reap in Cambodia, Boracay in the Philippines, Koh Tao in Thailand and Galle in Sri Lanka.
Comment below if you had an interesting tattoo experience while abroad.
WHERE TO STAY IN SRI LANKA
Sri Lanka is a huge region so it depends on where you are and what attraction you are visiting as to which accommodation will be best. For example, when you are visiting Sigiriya Rock, Hotel Sigiriya is clearly the best choice! Below I have recommended my favorite accommodation in each region.
- Top pick – a stunning estate in the Tea Country: Thotalagala
- Best overall experience (with Sigiriya Rock): Hotel Sigiriya
- Best for heritage in Galle: Galle Fort Hotel
- Best for elephant safaris: Cinnamon Lodge Habarana
- Best for beachfront bliss in Tangalle: Buckingham Place
- Best for exploring Colombo: The Kingsbury or the Movenpick
- Best for home-cooked food in Kandy: Green View Boutique
MORE SRI LANKA BLOG POSTS
Best things to do in Sri Lanka: 15 AWESOME THINGS TO DO IN SRI LANKA
Hiking in Ella: LITTLE ADAM’S PEAK HIKE IN ELLA
The famous Sri Lanka rope swing: THE PALM TREE ROPE SWING AT DALAWELLA
Getting a tattoo in Sri Lanka: MY EXPERIENCE GETTING A TATTOO IN SRI LANKA
Portrait photography in Sri Lanka: PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHY IN SRI LANKA: MARKETS & MOUNTAINS
Sri Lanka Packing List: THE ULTIMATE SRI LANKA PACKING LIST: WHAT TO PACK AND WHY