Life of Pai

 |  October 29, 2012

Shhhhhh! We’ve got a secret. Or rather, we were told some during our recent trips to Pai. Getting in with the locals, we got the lowdown from them as to what their favourite things to do in Pai are. What secret ingredients have them living in this distant valley?

• Sathien Manochat

Designer of the new Oia Resort & Spa, this landscape, construction, interior and décor expert is originally from Srisaket.

“I like to grab a bunch of candles, take them to the hot springs in the evening, wait until the crowd has left and I get to soak in the pool surrounded by glittering candle light all by myself until nine at night when the park closes.”

• Vanisha Vorakuldamrong, nicknamed Boom


Originally from Surathani, Boom has lived in Pai for the last 13 years. She is the owner of Pai Explorer map which she opened 3 years ago ( She has just started a new site;, about property and lifestyles in Pai.

“My favourite dish in Pai is at this restaurant called Nong Best, on the way to the airport (500 metres on the left before you get there). There is a special, and very hard-to-catch, fish called sa-ngae (? or Bengal freshwater eel), and they serve tom yam plaa sa-ngae which is amazing and fresh.”

• Patrick

This English man has been living in Pai for the last six months to practice meditation and work in the gardens of the meditation centre.

“I love to meditate at The Womb Meditation Centre; it’s away from the crowds of the town, peaceful and serene. The name of the centre has caused much intrigue among men, women and feminists. It describes something which is nurturing. Nurturing is what we do here.”

• Suwannee Cummings 

Wife of Joe Cummings, of Lonely Planet fame, and a full-time gardener at her home in Pai. Originally from Bangkok, she has lived in Pai for the past 15 years

“I love to drive alone in my four wheel drive with loud music blaring and the wind in my hair from Pai to Chiang Mai. It is meditative. I do it every ten days.”

• Dave Waltz

Dave runs his own healing Himalayan crystal salt business in Pai. Born and raised in Texas, he has spent most of his adult life travelling, but found his niche in Pai four years ago.

“Hiking up the Mae Hee River trail to find a quiet secluded spot for meditation and a refreshing skinny dip in the waterfall is my Pai secret.”  

• Tuan

A Thai bartender at Ting Tong Bar, he loves living in Pai for the eclectic mix of people, both foreign and Thai

“People say there is a special geographical energy in Pai, maybe that or the energy is created by those who come here. Anyway my secret is simple; come to Pai and you can be yourself, wear what you want and do what you want _ to some extent. Farang hippies came here first from India, they were dancing in the market and the locals thought they were weird. Now the locals make money from visitors.”

• Jack Sparrow

Originally from Kanchanaburi, he started to develop into the character of ‘Jack Sparrow’ from Pirates of the Caribbean after friends noticed the likeness, when he’d become rather unkempt after a period of hard labor. He has now become a local Pai legend.

“I like to go up on the mountains near the hot springs at night, when there’s a clear sky. You can see every star and milky way up there so clearly. I like to pretend I am sailing through the dark on the Black Pearl ship.”

• Baa

This Japanese traveller loves travelling barefoot around Asia.

“I can be myself in Pai. I wear this banana leaf, to protect myself from the rain and sun; it’s bio-degradable, free and makes some cool shoulder gear too.”