If you are planning your next vacation, but you don’t want to choose destinations that are not tattoo-friendly, we have you covered. We have compiled a list of the countries that have the harshest policies when it comes to tattoos so that you don’t have to go back and replan your vacation at the last moment. A good idea would be to use a drawing table and add all the locations you wish to visit, along with dos and don’ts for each so you can plan properly and avoid having your tattoos getting you in trouble.
You would be surprised to know just how strict Japan can be when it comes to tattoos, especially when one considers that many people view it as the original birthplace of this art form. The main reason why tattoos are viewed negatively has to do with the fact that they relate to organized crime gangs within the country.
There are many public areas within Japan that have an entry ban if you have visible tattoos. Among the popular places that regularly ban tattoos include resorts, gyms, and bathhouses.
A recent survey commissioned by the government discovered that around 65% of inns and hotels ban tattooed visitors actively from their public bathing areas. Any exposed ink on the skin will be perceived as shocking and offensive, so you’d better cover them up if you plan to travel to Japan.
While tattoos, in general, are not viewed as an offensive thing in Sri Lanka, you need to examine the art you have on your body carefully because you can inadvertently wind up in jail. There have been many arrests within the last decade all over the country mainly due to travelers showing Buddha/Buddhist tattoos in public.
Since Sri Lanka is a country with firm Buddhist beliefs, both the government and the people are very sensitive about their religion being defaced in any way. This happens mostly with tourists that are seen displaying tattoos that mark something so symbolic within the country.
You have to consider that what may seem like a respectful tattoo to you, might have an entirely different effect on another culture.
Thais are known for being welcoming to visitors, and it indeed is a country worth visiting, but if you have visible tattoos, you might need to reconsider your plans. Much like Sri Lanka, Thailand is also slowly but steadily cracking down on tourists who expose their religious-themed tattoos.
The Thai government has time and again stated that they believe tattoos that feature religious motifs to be culturally inappropriate, as they deem it as a lack of respect for the native religions.
What’s more, tattoo artists are banned from allowing foreigners to get religious tattoos that offend Thai people. We recommend you either cover up any potentially dangerous symbol or avoid this destination entirely.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that tattoos are not viewed well in Iran since this is the case with most Islamic countries, but the opinion on this matter is especially extreme in Iran. This subject has become even touchier in the recent years.
Country leaders, as well as government officials, have stated publicly that they believe that the art of tattooing oneself is associated with devil-worshipping. What’s more, tattoos are seen as a sign of Westernization, another aspect that the country is firmly against.
When going to Iran, it is best you try to cover any visible tattoos that you might have, especially if you have anything that is based on religion.
In the case of Vietnam, the stigma around tattoos is slowly starting to die down yet we would still recommend you be mindful when traveling to the area. Tattoos were once viewed as being associated with the illegal and criminal activity, and even having a tattoo studio was banned and punished accordingly.
The international trends have made the Vietnamese way more receptive to the concept, and that has led to the tattoo industry growing fast. That is the reality in the main cities, but outside of them, things are a bit different.
There still exist older generations as well as more traditional communities that still have the old mindsets and attitudes. If you do travel to Vietnam, we recommend you focus your journey on the main cities and try to avoid to go outside of them uncovered.