Attractions in Loei

Phu Kradueng National Park Loei province

Phu Kradueng National Park is in Loei province which is in the North Eastern part of Thailand. For anyone visiting Loei, it is a place that should be on the to-do list. The views when you are at the top are amazing. A lot of Thai people make a point of climbing Phu Kradeung Mountain at least once.

The park has a large campsite with many tents; with toilets and shower blocks around the edge of the campground. There is a large visitor center, several vendors, and good lighting within the campsite area. Bicycles are for rent should you prefer to ride rather than walk.

Let’s explore Phu Kradueng.

Where and what is Phu Kradueng National park?

Phu Kradueng National park is about 84 kilometers from Loei city. It is a flat top mountain 1,200 meters above sea level. There is a 5.5 km trail that leads to the top.

The climb is steep in some places and takes on average about 3.5 to 4 hours. The park recommends that people take a health check first before attempting the climb.

Once you reach the top there is then another 3.5 km walk to the visitor center and campsite.

Most visitors go to the park in the colder months of November, December, January, and February. It is a tough trail doing it in colder weather makes it more enjoyable.

I have seen people do the climb in the midday sun. I would not recommend doing that. You will be exhausted.

On the trail, there are many rest stops. They are between 500 and 800 meters apart so you can pace yourself nicely.

The rest stops have food and drink for sale and have seats for you to catch your breath. The vendors like to give words of encouragement to all climbers as they pass.

Here is Phu Kradueng on Google maps.

What are the parks opening and closing times?

The park opens at 7 am and closes at 2 pm. It closes for the rainy season from 1st June to 30th September.

The park does not allow anyone to start climbing after 2 p.m.

When is the park busy?

Phu Kradueng is busy over the New Year period. This is also the coldest period so ensure you bring plenty of warm clothing for the cold nights.

The New Year holiday break at the end of December to early January is extremely busy. If you do not like crowds, then I suggest you avoid the New Year.

How long should I stay?

To enjoy Phu Kradeung and get the most out of its natural beauty, I would say you should stay at least two nights. There are tents and cabins for rent or you can rent space to pitch your own tent.

The top of the mountain is 10 kilometers in length. That is a lot of walking. One day is not long enough. Two days gives you a chance to enjoy the park without having to rush.

Is there a car park?

Yes, there is. To park your car, you need to fill in a registration book that is with the staff at the security barrier and also pay a fee.

How much is it to get in?

The entrance fee in 2014 was 200 baht for foreign child visitors and 400 baht fee for foreign adult visitors. The prices may be different now.

You also pay for your accommodation here. If you need to rent bedding, you can pay for that at the visitor center at the campsite on the top of the mountain.

Once you have paid for everything you will get a receipt, do not lose it! You will need to show it at the top of the mountain. Take a minute to put the receipt somewhere safe.

If you prefer to book your accommodation in advance, you can visit the National department of parks website.

I have paid, what happens next?

Before you can start your climb, the park would like you to declare what refreshments you are taking up with you.

There is a desk opposite the exit of the building you paid your entrance fee. At this desk, you are asked to write down your items. They want you to bring the same things down with you. It helps reduce littering in the park.

Your list is put into an envelope, they also ask you to leave a deposit of 100 baht.

The 100 baht is returned to you when you show them you bought your trash back down with you.

If you bring down more trash, you will get a certificate to show that you helped keep Phu Kradueng clean.

How much does it cost to have a porter carry my backpack?

When I went to Phu Kradueng in 2014, the fee was 30 baht per kilogram. You do not pay the full amount until you reach the top.

The fee here is a 5 baht admin charge per item. Do not lose the receipts; you will need them to claim your backpack at the top.

There is a temptation to carry your bags, but the climb is steep, and the extra weight will drain you as you go up. The porters you see do this day in, and day out, they are very fit.

Phu Kradeung National Park Loei Thailand
Porters on the trail at Phu Kradueng

When will my backpack get to the top?

The porters have a set time to start their climb to the top, therefore your bags will arrive after you have reached the top. These guys carry a lot of weight so they take their time climbing the trail. It could be between three and six hours after you reach the summit before your bags arrive.

If there is something essential that you need, please carry this yourself.

Once you have checked in your bags, then you can proceed to the trail. At the start of the trail is an inspection point. At this point, they will ask to see your tickets, and you will be asked to fill in a visitors book.

How long is the trail?

The trail is 5.5 km and in parts is steep. At specific points, there are steps and handrails, but for the most, it is dust, grass, and rocks. Comfortable footwear is a must.

On the trail, there are rest stops. A majority of them have food and souvenir vendors, so you can rest and take in some refreshments.

The prices of food and drink are double what you would find locally. This extra cost is added on to what they sell.

Phu Kradeung National Park Loei Thailand
Part of the trail at Phu Kradueng
Phu Kradeung National Park Loei Thailand
The porters are busy at Phu Kradueng

Is there a sign at the top of the trail?

Once you reach the summit you are welcomed by a sign to let you know that you have conquered Phu Kradueng.

Do not be surprised by the queue of people waiting to have their picture taken by this sign. The faces you see around you are just as red as yours but are smiling at making it to the summit.

Phu Kradeung National Park Loei ThailandPhu Kradeung National Park Loei Thailand
The sign at the top of the trail

Is the campsite near the trail?

Once you reach the top of the trail, there is another 3 to 4 km walk to the visitor center and campsite.

If you would like an alternative to walking, then there are bicycles for hire. You can rent a mountain bike. You can rent a mountain bike for the journey to the campsite or you can hire a bike for the day. The mountain bike trail is longer than the walking trail because the bikes cannot go along the shorter route due to too much sand.

If you rent a mountain bike to get to the campsite, you will get a ticket with the time of your departure. This ticket has be shown to the staff member when you reach the visitor center when you return your bike; they know how long it should take to travel between the two points.

Phu Kradeung National Park Loei Thailand
The mountain bike trail

What do I need to do when I get to the campsite?

When you arrive at the visitor center you will need to rent the things you need for your tent. Show your receipt for the accommodation that you got when you paid your entrance fee.

You can rent things like mattresses, pillows, and duvets. Once you have paid you will get a receipt. You use this receipt to get your things from the huts outside the visitor center.

Each hut has different things, so you might have to go to various cabins to get everything.

Are there enough tents?

There are hundreds of tents in the field near the visitor center.

After you collect your bedding, you will need to find a vacant tent.

Most of the tents are pitched in an open field so are in direct sunlight. Some tents are pitched in the tree line so are in some shade and will be cooler during the day.

There is no housekeeping so the tents will as they were left. You might have to do a bit of cleaning if the person before you did not take their trash with them.

Phu Kradeung National Park Loei Thailand
The campsite at dusk

Where do I go to get my backpack?

The porters just put their bags down in front of one of the huts and wait for the owner to come to them with their original ticket from the bottom of the trail. It is here that you pay the 30 baht per kilogram fee.

Expect there to be a delay from when you arrive at the summit to when your bags arrive. Rather than wait you may want to organize your tent, or get your bearings or visit the food and souvenir shops that are set up on the edge of the campsite.

Make the occasional visit to the area for bag collection to see if your bag has arrived. Each porter will lay their bags on a separate piece of grass so you will be able to recognize your own bag quite easily.

Can I go anywhere in the park?

The top of Phu Kradeung mountain is flat and covers a large area.

Half of the area is closed to the public and is strictly for wild animals to roam without interference from people. There are some restricted areas that the park rangers will take you to if you pay a fee.

Are there any animals at the campsite?

In the campsite area, wild deer will make frequent visits to scrounge for food. They are used to people and will allow people to touch them and will stay still long enough for photos to be taken. They make most visits during the evening.

If you have any snacks in your tent, be sure to keep them hidden away. If the deer smell something and your tent is open, then they will barge right in.

Phu Kradeung National Park Loei Thailand
Wild deer like to wander through the campsite

What is there to see in the park?

In the area that is open to the public, some trails take you along the cliff edge or inward towards waterfalls and other picturesque sites.

The waterfalls are the most beautiful after the rainy season. If there has been a long period of no rain, then the water dries up, and the waterfalls are not so impressive. There are many types of beautiful flowers and plants on the mountain, too.

There are park maps available from the visitor center.

How much walking will I be doing?

The walk from one end of the mountain top to the other is about 12 to 13 kilometers, so there is a lot of walking.

There are mountain bikes for hire, which makes light work of the distances. Some of the trails have so much sand in places that you will have to push the bike through those sections, but generally, the mountain bike is the better option.

There are also food stalls at most of the viewpoints so there are many places to rest, take refreshments, and take in the outstanding views.

Phu Kradeung National Park Loei Thailand
The views from Phu Kradueng are amazing
Phu Kradeung National Park Loei Thailand
There are many places on the trail to stop and take in the view
Phu Kradeung National Park Loei ThailandPhu Kradeung National Park Loei Thailand
There are several rest stops on the trails

What time do I need to be ready for sunrise?

Every morning a park ranger will lead people from the entrance of the visitor center to Nok Aen view point to watch the sunrise.

Check with the visitor center on what time the ranger will leave in the morning.

Take a torch with you because on Phu Kradeung there is only lighting at the visitor center and campsite. The Park Ranger will lead the way with his torch, be wary of your footing, the trail is uneven.

Phu Kradeung National Park Loei Thailand
This is where you watch the sunrise on Phu Kradueng

Is it far to the sunrise point?

The trail is about 2 kilometers and takes about 40 minutes to walk.

Once you arrive it will still be dark so be very wary of where the edge of the mountain is, there are no railings anywhere.

Pick your spot and wait for the sunrise, it is outstanding. The whole cliff edge will be full of people with their cameras waiting for that perfect picture.

Once you have taken your pictures of the sunrise, you can take the original trail back to camp, or you can take another trail which passes a Buddha statue.

Where can I get breakfast?

All the food stalls at the campsite will be open by the time you return from watching the sunrise.

The souvenir stalls and visitor center sell maps of Phu Kradeung. The maps detail where all the viewpoints and waterfalls are, they also give you distances between points in kilometers.

How far is the sunset point from the campsite?

Most people plan to be at Lom Sak viewpoint for sunset. Lom Sak is the most famous spot of Phu Kradeung.

Most pictures taken of Phu Kradeung will be of a sunset at this point, it is amazing. The distance from the campsite to Lom Sak is about 10 kilometers, a round trip is about 20 kilometers.

Do not forget, if you stay for sunset at Lom Sak you will be walking home in the dark. Make sure you bring your torch with you.

Phu Kradeung National Park Loei Thailand
Sunset on Phu Kradueng
Phu Kradeung National Park Loei Thailand
The famous ledge on Phu Kradueng

Can I buy food at the sunset point?

At Lom Sak, there is food and drinks on sale.

Whether you walk or bike back to the campsite, be careful. There is no lighting on the trail, it is uneven, and there is a lot of sand in some places.

Where do I take my backpack in the morning before I go back down the trail?

If you would like the porters to take your backpack down the trail for you. Take your bags to the same place where you collected your bags when you arrived.

You pay a 5 baht admin fee per item and get a ticket. Use this ticket to collect your pack at the bottom of the trail.

When do the porters take the bags down?

The porters do not leave straight away, they will leave at certain times. Usually, if you check your bags in at 7 am. Then you will probably expect your bags to reach the bottom between 1 pm and 2 pm.

I recommend you check in your bags in at 7 am. Then plan to descend at about 11 am to midday.

The journey to the bottom will take you about 90 to 120 minutes. By doing this you should arrive at the same time as your bag and will not have to waste time waiting for it.

Do I leave my bedding in the tent when I leave?

You need to return your rented bedding items before you descend. Also, do not forget to take your trash with you.

At the least the items you declared when you purchased your ticket before your climb. Take extra trash if you can.

Going down the mountain is easy, right?

Take your time when you descend, the steep trail will take its toll on your leg muscles. You need to keep stopping yourself going down the trail too fast.

Use the numerous viewpoints to rest. Keep an eye out for the porters. They will be on the trail too, and they have a lot of weight on their shoulders, please give them room. You may even see your bags on the way down.

What do I do when I get to the bottom?

At the bottom of the trail, you will be asked to declare who came down from the mountain.

After this, you will see the porters station further down on your left. All the porters will find a spot and lay the bags out in front of them.

Declare your trash

At the ‘declare your trash’ station. They will find your original envelope and return your 100 baht if you have bought down your declared trash.

If you have a bag of trash, they will ask you to weight it, and then separate the trash into recycling bins. For everyone who brings down more than a kilogram of trash, they will give you a certificate.

Conclusion

I cannot emphasize enough just how great Phu Kradueng National Parks is. Do not miss the opportunity if you are in Loei, it is a must.

Please treat my information as a guide only. The authorities at Phu Kradeung National Park have the right to change policy and prices at any time they please. Some things may change from when I went to Phu Kradueng in 2014.

If you are worried about there not being enough tents when you go, you can reserve them in advance by visiting the Department of National Parks website.

If you do not have time to go to Phu Kradueng National Park, then have a look at my ‘Things to do in Loei‘ post for alternatives.

Comments

Have you ever been to Phu Kradueng National Park?

How long did you stay?

How many times have you climbed Phu Kradueng?

I look forward to reading your comments.

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4 Comments

  1. Hello, what is the easiest way to get from Loei airport to the National park Phu Kradueng? Is there a taxi service available?
    Thank you for your help

    1. There are taxis for hire at the airport, I don’t know how much they will charge you, the park is about 90km from Loei. The bus to the park passes the airport during the day it passes every 30 minutes, it is the bus to Khon Kaen. Alternatively, you can get the airport shuttle to the bus station and catch the Khon Kaen bus from there. The fare is about 50 or 60 baht per person.

  2. hi! I read somewhere that reservations must be made ahead of time if you are to go into Phu Kradueng. Was this your exerience or am I maybe thinking of a different park?

    1. Hello, it depends on what time of the year you go. Are you planning to stay overnight? December and January are busy, especially during New Year, I would avoid that at all costs. If you go in November or February, you won’t need to book ahead. The weather is cool during those months too.

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