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Phu Kradueng National Park

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Comprising a 60-square-kilometre plateau along with vast tracts of untouched forest in the far south of Loei province, Phu Kradueng National Park rewards hikers with waterfalls draped in red-and-yellow leaves, a wide array of temperate flowers and sunrises that are said to be like heaven.

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Photo of Phu Kradueng National Park

Reaching up to 1,316 metres, the plateau is embraced by average yearly temperatures of 20 degrees Celsius, with the occasional frosting. A large campground and accommodation zone at the top can, at time of writing, only be reached by what we’ve heard is a fairly challenging five and a half km trail.

The trail loops around the top of the plateau and leads to (or close to) half a dozen waterfalls and numerous viewpoints, a couple of which have been outfitted with Buddha images and shrines. Highlights include the thundering Tat Hong waterfall and Pha Lamsak, a rock ledge that juts out from the mountainside along with a lone pine tree to afford incredible vistas.

Popular with domestic tourists, Phu Kradueng gets swamped with overnight visitors, including busloads of school kids, on weekends and especially on holidays during the colder months. The King’s birthday on December 5 and New Year’s Eve should be avoided completely. A park official whose spent 30 years here told us that April and May are the best times to visit thanks to sparse crowds and an abundance of flowers. October is primetime for waterfalls.

The same official also told us of an ill-conceived plan by the local government to erect a cable car to the top of Phu Kradueng. Though it has been met with resistance, it appears likely to become a reality as Loei province pushes its tourism industry. In our opinion, this would vastly detract from the natural atmosphere while negatively affecting the plant and wildlife. Get here before they turn the plateau into a Disneyland ride.

A visitor centre is located at the base of the mountain, near the trailhead, and is staffed by friendly English-speaking park officials who offer maps and brochures in English and Thai. This is the place to arrange accommodation at the top, which ranges from 150-baht tents to cabins running from 900 up to 3,600 baht and accommodating anywhere from two to 12 people.

You’ll also find a simple Thai restaurant at the top, and basic food and drinks are sold every one km along the trail. Porters can be hired to carry your gear for 30 baht per kilo. Plenty of food vendors also set up down near the parking lot, where you’ll find a display of detailed drawings of the dozens of bird species that you might see in the park.

When visiting the park in September, we were unaware that the trail, accommodation and all of the attractions are closed from June 1 to September 30 each year, so we can’t comment on what the plateau is really like. We were told that the hike up takes three to four hours for most people; plan to spend a couple of nights to make the most of it.

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What next?

 Browse our independent reviews of places to stay in and around Loei.
 Check prices, availability & reviews on Agoda or Booking
 Read up on where to eat on Loei.
 Check out our listings of things to do in and around Loei.
 Read up on how to get to Loei, or book your transport online with 12Go Asia.
 Do you have travel insurance yet? If not, find out why you need it.
 Planning on riding a scooter in Loei? Please read this.
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