If you visited Hong Kong back in the nineties you would have found no more than 5 tattoo parlors in a region with more than 6 million inhabitants. Today, there are more than 200 parlors that service a more liberal local and international tattoo-loving community. Tattoo art has, in fact, become so popular in Hong Kong that, since 2013, it has been home to the annual Hong Kong International Tattoo Convention. This shift in attitude is great news for expats either wanting to add to their body art collection or simply roam the streets without fear of being persecuted.
People are more open-minded than before
As recently as 3 decades ago, tattoos were still highly frowned upon by a proudly conservative Chinese population. Any form of skin art (as well as piercings) were somewhat unfairly linked to the likes of sailors and common criminals with anyone who dared to display such ‘iniquities’ being subject to harsh criticism. The war against self-expression was so intense that men with tattoos were even refused entry into the army.
Changed mindset, happier people
The liberation of society and the subsequent awakening of individuality in China is seen as the main driving force behind the flourishing tattoo industry in Hong Kong. An increased interest in international celebs such as Post Malone, Halsey, and Justin Bieber among teenagers has also lead to a much more liberal view of tattoos. Today, even the army has lifted its ban on tattoos. Although you will only be allowed entry if you meet all the other requirements and if your tattoo is smaller than 2 centimeters in diameter, it is a big step in the right direction for an increasingly forward-thinking nation. While the general attitude towards ink has changed it is still illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to get a tattoo. It is also recommended that expats employed in white-collar positions make sure that their tattoos are well hidden during working hours, especially when employed in education and health care.
Best places to get inked in Hong Kong
As an expat in Hong Kong, you will be absolutely spoiled for choice as far as reputable tattoo parlors are concerned. If you are looking to be inked by a true legend, look no further than Jimmy Ho Tattoo situated in Mong Kok. Artist Jimmy Ho has more than 40 years of experience under the belt and is also the son of Hong Kong’s very first tattoo artist, James Ho. Although he does not sport a single tattoo himself, Jimmy has created beautiful pieces of art for movie stars and gangsters alike. If you find yourself near Kowloon City and are willing to spend at least $1,000 on a tattoo, be sure to book an appointment at Freedom Tattoo where Gabe Shum, who has inked the likes of Lebron James and David Beckham, will impress you with his mind-blown skills.
More and more people are getting tattoos in a bid to display a part of them that often can’t be put into words. Thanks to the significant shift in attitudes towards tattoos in Hong Kong, you will be able, for the most part, to add to your tattoo collection relatively hassle-free.
Sally Jackson is a professional freelance writer with many years experience across many different areas. She made the move to freelancing from a stressful corporate job and loves the work-life balance it offers her. When not at work, Sally enjoys reading, hiking, spending time with her family and travelling as much as possible.