Thailand Considers Tattoo Ban for Tourists

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Thailand's Culture Minister told reporters on Wednesday that he plans to ask the country's National Culture Commission to pass a law banning foreign tourists from getting Thai religious tattoos.

The tattoos, which generally combine Buddhist images and Pali text and sometimes feature Hindu themes, are popular with backpackers and celebrities alike.

Famed tattoo artist Sompong Kanphai inked a large Bengal Tiger on Angelina Jolie in 2004 while chanting a traditional hymn.

According to the Thai national news service, Culture Minister Nipit Intarasombat expressed concern that the use of religious symbols as body art for non-Buddhists was inappropriate. The Minister clarified his remarks later in the day, making it clear that tattooed tourists would still be allowed into Thailand.

If the Thai government follows through on the Minister's proposed plan, officials will simply ask tattoo artists to stop using religious iconography.

The announcement follows on the heels of "The Hangover II"'s big opening in theaters. That movie features a character who gets an ill-advised face tattoo (to describe it redundantly) following a night of heavy drinking in Bangkok. Of course that tattoo is based of Mike Tyson's Maori tat.

All this just after Amsterdam announced that it will ban tourists from entering its cloudy "Coffee Shops."

What is a backpacker to do?


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