CityGuide: Doi Saket
This month, we met up with Aae, a Thai lady who has lived with her partner in Doi Saket for 14 years. Here is her insider’s guide to the lush and lovely neighbourhood, a rural getaway just a stone’s throw from the city.
Who lives here?
Many small rural communities with an interesting mix, and significant number of, expatriates (many of whom cooperate and communicate with local authorities and communities). From a British executive of the Asia Development Bank, Norwegian WHO Doctor, German conservationist and rare bird breeder, Thai gynaecologist, Swiss bathroom fittings tycoon, well- known Thai artist with teaching studios, young IT couple from Dubai, Canadian professor at a Chiang Mai University and a Portuguese philanthropist funding the local school, to name just a few. An American Buddhist monk from Chicago completing his PhD is a temporary resident and welcomes all from whatever denomination to visit his temple and learn about Buddhism. The expat community runs a fundraising charity to benefit needy locals, mainly the elderly and alone and any others in need.
What makes Doi Saket special?
The professionally-run local authorities, Tessaban Luang Nua, works very well with both local and expatriate residents.
What do you like least about it?
Best cheap eat: Jamjuree, an excellent, if simple, family run restaurant (089 853 5359).
Best special occasion dining: House of Palm, super value for money. Set in a lovely palm grove overlooking a lake. Your host is Khun Montri, a well-known ex Los Angeles restaurateur. The restaurant is a previous recipients of Tatler’s Thailand’s Best Restaurants, and frequently patronised by Thai royalty (053 291 401, 081 950 8559).
Best drinks: There is no nightlife here, the only club opened and was shut down last year!
Best day out: The wonderful, vast and almost deserted Mae Kuang Dam, which, with a bit of imagination, is not unlike parts of Scotland, and an ideal place to walk and bike. There are two fish restaurants there and an area behind the dam, reachable by boat (Lung Jaloern: 081 961 4627), with several “embryo” resorts in the making, some with tree houses. Swim in cool clear streams that surround the small resorts. Booking is essential for Rebeung Pasak Resort (087 660 1243), where an interesting walkway will take you into the jungle swamp full of exotic flora.
You can also visit a local Tai Lue community. They are very proud of their traditions and welcoming to visitors. The main wat at Luang Nua is a must and will reassure you that Lanna traditional decorating skills are very much still alive. The huge and important wat complex at Doi Saket is also worthwhile. A 700 year old Lanna bronze Buddha was discovered in a local stream by an elephant mahout and now resides in the temple…as does a meteorite.
Best activity for locals: Join the dog sterilisation project of Dr. Tanit and his wife Melanie (083 135 1742) who have sterilised over 100 dogs with the Lanna Dog Centre and with much help from the local authorities.
Best tip: Check out the world famous Tao Garden Health Centre that is situated here and has a well-earned reputation for excellence in all aspects of health. Clients from all around the world visit to benefit from the wisdom of Master Mantak Chia and his team.
Best kept secret: Aae’s Unique Guesthouse is a stunning teak guesthouse with huge open spaces and large bedrooms, with views of lime green paddy fields and mountains beyond. All for 900 baht per night, including breakfast. Bargain!
If you are moving to Doi Saket and want some insiders’ info, call Aae at 081 783 9313.