Literally translated, ‘Loei' means ‘beyond' or ‘to the furthest extreme', a name most suitable for this province that lies in the northernmost part of the Northeastern region, bordered at the top by Laos and the Mekong River. Though part of Northeastern Thailand, its geography and climate is more similar to those of Northern Thailand. Consisting mainly of mountains, large and small, it is cold and foggy in the winter and searing hot in the summer. In the past, bureaucrats based in Bangkok who had fallen out of favor with the Siamese government were sent to this remote town as punishment. Fortunately, the province's isolation helped it retain its local traditions. Some national parks here are major tourist destinations. Loei is 520 kilometres from Bangkok. It has an area of about 11,426 square kilometers.
Covering an area of 348 sq km, Phu Kradung(Bell Mountain) National Park has a 60-km plateau at its summit, 1,350 m above sea level. Certain plants that thrive in the cool climate can only be found here on the plateau. Legend has it that the steep-sided, flat-topped mountain rings like a bell when struck with a staff. Highlights include the numerous falls dotting the park, which are most impressive in October, Pha Nok An (Swallow Cliff) with breathtaking sunrise views, and Pha Lomsak with beautiful panorama of rolling hills and valleys below.
Phu Rua (Boat Mountain) National Park derives its name from its highest peak, which is shaped like a Chinese junk boat. Standing 1,365 m above sea level, it offers spectacular view of Loei and Laos. It is possible to drive to the summit, passing several bizarre rock formations along the way, with the most interesting being ‘Hin Tao' (tortoise rock). The park has a number of marked trails leading through beautiful landscaped meadows, rock gardens, waterfalls, and evergreen forests. Phu Rua is also famous for being one of the coolest areas in Thailand, with a recorded low temperature of –4 degrees Celsius in 1981.
A newly established park in the Phu Kradung District is the Phu Pamarn National Park featuring many caves and several falls.
Located on a high plateau with an elevation of 1,550 meters, the year-round cool temperatures of Phu Luang (Royal Mountain) Wildlife Sanctuary makes it possible to view cold weather thriving plants and flowers that cannot be seen elsewhere. Its highlights are the numerous, beautiful waterfalls, walking trails among pine tree forest and grassy, wildflower fields, and spectacular viewing points. The popular 3 days / 2 night hike to the summit, requires a permit and a forest ranger guide.
Located in Dan Sai District, Phra That Sri Song Rak was built in 1560 during the Ayutthaya period as a token of friendship and mutual support between the kingdoms of Ayutthaya and Krung Sri Satana Kanahut (Vientiane).
The architectural structure of Phra That Satcha was designed to resemble blossomed lotus flowers with 3-layered petals, one meter high each, encircling around the main pagoda. Similar in style to Phra That Phanom, the pagoda is 33-meters high and is capped with the white 7-tiered umbrella, symbol of monarchy.
Situated on the south bank of the Mekong River, many of the temples and teakwood chophouses in Chiang Khan reflect the Laotian influence. Wat Mahathat is considered to be the town's oldest temple, having been built in 1654, and shows French colonial influence in its colonnades and shutters. Similar features can also be seen at Wat Tha Kak, which has red-stained exterior walls.
Nearby, the scenic and narrow Kaeng Khut Khu rapids appear in the middle of the Mekong River. Shaped by the swift currents for countless years, the large, multi-colored rocks are unique creations of beauty. During the dry seasons (February to May), tiny islands emerge among the low volume torrents. Restaurants specializing in spicy northeastern food and freshwater fish dishes line the riverbank.
The Suan Hin Pa Ngam (Beautiful Cliff and Stone Garden) is a concrete mountain eroded over time into a beautiful garden of bizarre rock formations, similar to the one in Kunming, China. A curvy path meanders around the different formations and passes by 2 spectacular waterfalls, the Suan Horm (Aromatic Garden) Fall and the Piang Din Fall (Only Soil Fall).
Travelling by long-tail boat or road downstream will take you to the small, picturesque town of Pak Chom on the riverbank. During the 1970s and 1980s, the town received greater interest due to the establishment of Ban Winai, a Laotian-Hmong refugee camp of 15,000 inhabitants who fled Laos when the Laotian monarchy was overthrown, and the country controlled by the Pathet Lao Communist group in 1975. The camp was disbanded in 1992.
Chaloem Phra Kiat Public Park is in front of Loei Municipality. It occupies an area of 28 acres beside the Loei River. This is another place townspeople come to relax.
Chao Pho Kut Pong Shrine is next to the city shrine. Locals worship at this shrine. At the rear of the shrine is a park that is popular with locals.
Kaeng Khut Khu is an islet in the middle of the Mekong, 3 kilometres from Chiang Khan District Office. This famous destination offers a fantastic view in the dry season from February to May when the islet is clearly visible. For tourists, there are traditional northeastern restaurants on the bank selling grilled fish and river shrimp.
Wat Si Khun Mueang is on Chai Khong Road north of Chiang Khan market. This unique temple has a chapel similar to that found in northern Thai temples. A mural of a Buddhist tale covers the entire front part.
Wat Tha Khaek is an ancient temple on the Mekong bank, 2 kilometres from Chiang Khan district office. Three 3 granite Buddha images are housed here.
Phu Luang Wildlife Reserve is a jungle plateau with a cool climate the whole year. Certain parts are open to the public. A trail leads from Lon Mon past a pine forest, a grass field, a flower field on a rock plateau, and various cliffs, totalling about 6 kilometres in distance. From Pha Lon Tae, visitors can see Phu Ho and Phu Kradueng. Officers must guide visitors up Phu Luang. Advance reservations must be made at Phu Luang Tourist Office, Wang Saphung District Office, in order to arrange accommodation, food and a 3 days / 2 nights tour. The best time for trekking is from October to May. For more information, call tel. 0-4284-1566.
Phu Kradueng National Park is the dream destination for many Thai trekkers. The goal is to hike up to the summit and conquer the distance of 1,325 metres above sea level. At the top of Phu Kradueng is a wide plain of about 60 square kilometres. There is a cold-climate pine forest and a grass field full of wild flowers and orchids that bloom in different seasons. The jungle also has several lovely waterfalls, as well as an observation point that is especially good during sunrise and sunset.
To get there, take Bangkok-Loei bus and get off at Pha Nok Khao, the boundary between Khon Kaen and Loei. From there, take a mini-bus to the park office at the foot of the mountain and walk up Phu Kradueng for 6 kilometres. The park is open during October to May and closed during the rainy season to rejuvenate the flora and fauna there.
Suan Hin Pha Ngam Park is south of the town on Highway No. 201. Go past Wang Saphung to Nong Hin then take another road for 20 kilometres. This is a limestone mountain that has eroded over time to form an interesting shape, similar to that in Kunming in China. A path winds through the rocks. This path also takes visitors to the lovely Suan Hom and Phiang Din waterfalls.
Phu Ruea National Park is on a plateau with an area of 75,525 square kilometres, 60 kilometres west of Amphoe Muang on Highway No. 203. Phu Ruea's summit is a large plain 1,365 metres above sea level. Part of the park is a natural pine forest conducive to travel in the cool season. There are plenty of observation points, waterfalls, rock gardens, and caves. There are several resorts on the way up Phu Ruea, as well as a huge vineyard called Chateau de Loei Winery, with its modern winemaking facilities.
Pla Ba Waterfall, or Tat San Waterfall, falls from a large rock platform to the pool below. To get there, take the Phu Ruea-Dan Sai Road for 7 kilometres to Ban Kok Pho and take a left-hand road for 10 kilometres. The Phu Ruea Highland Agriculture Testing Station is 14 kilometres past the waterfall. The centre grows cold-climate plants and an assortment of flowers.
Phra That Si Song Rak is on the bank of the Man River, 83 kilometres from Amphoe Muang. This temple houses the holy relics of Lord Buddha. Its Laotian design is like that of Phra That Phanom. Built in the Ayutthaya period in 1560 to be a symbol of camaraderie between Ayutthaya and Si Sattana Khanahut (Vientiane), it is worth a visit, especially during the Phi Ta Khon celebration held there every May or June.
Kaeng Song Khon waterfall is at Ban Hua Na Yung on the Dan Sai-Nakhon Thai Road (Highway No. 2013), 400 metres past Phra That Si Song Rak and another 2 kilometres on a road on the right. The waterfall drops down several rock levels to large pools below.
Tat Huang Waterfall , or the Thai-Lao Waterfall, is 25 kilometres from the district office, 7 kilometres away on the Na Haeo-Rom Klao Road and 10 kilometres more on the way to Bo Mueang Noi. This large waterfall originates from the Huang River. The area is still a thick jungle.
Than Sawan Waterfall is only 800 metres from Na Haeo District Office, behind Na Haeo Witthaya School. This 15-metre-high waterfall drops down to rock formations below. Another smaller waterfall nearby shaped like a stairway can be reached by walking 1 kilometre.
Khring Waterfall is 15 kilometres from the district office on the Muang Phrae-Rom Klao Road in Tambon Saeng Pha. The waterfall has an assortment of plant life, as well as rock levels and a large pool. It is a good place to unwind.
Wat Pho Chai Na Phung is at Ban Na Phung, and houses the Ong Saen Buddha image, or the Fon Saen Ha image. It is believed that wherever this bronze image is placed, that area will not be dry. The chapel is over 400 years old and has a wall mural of Lord Buddha's life.
Phra That Satcha is at Wat Lat Pu, 2 kilometres from the district office. The pagoda is 33 metres high, similar to Phra That Phanom.
Dok Fai Ban Makham Wan Mueang Loei Fair is held in front of the provincial hall during Chinese New Year in January-February. A procession decorated with cotton products is the highlight. There are also displays from various shops and offices.
Phi Ta Khon Festival is held at Amphoe Dan Sai in May or June. Aside from meritmaking and a sermon, there is a procession bearing Phra Uppakhut, a rain-inducing Buddha image. Adult men and boys wear colourful ghost masks and join in the procession. The ghost costumes derive from a local legend. Some believe that they are from the Buddhist saga Phra Wetsandon Chadok.
Dok Mai Mueang Nao Fair is held in Amphoe Phu Ruea during New Year. The fair features shops, pageants and the sale of decorative plants, flowers and agricultural produce.
Hotels and accommodation
- Chiang Khan Hill Resort : Kaeng Khut Khu 28/2 Mu 4 Tambon Chiang Khan Amphoe Chiang Khan [Tel: 0 4282 1285, 0 4282 1414 Bangkok Tel: 0 2580 6201, 0 2588 3634] : 480-3,100 baht
- Ho Luang Resort : 159 Mu 6 Tambon Panpuan Amphoe Wang Saphung [Tel: 0 4284 1306] : 250-1,500 baht
- Kaeng Khut Khu Resort : 40/3 Mu 4 Tambon Chiang Khan Amphoe Chiang Khan [Tel: 0 4282 1248] : 200 baht
- Khun Phaen Resort : 404 Mu 6 Maliwan Road Amphoe Wang Saphung [Tel: 0 4284 1500] : 300-700 baht
- Kings : 11/9-12 Chumsai Road Amphoe Muang [Tel: 0 4281 1783, 0 4281 1701] : 300-1,000 baht
- Loei Palace : Loei-Na Duang Road, Tambon Kut Pong, Amphoe Muang : [Tel: 0 4281 5668-74 Bangkok Tel: 0 2255 3960] : 1,500-4,600 baht
- Loei Palace : Loei-Na Duang Road, Tambon Kut Pong, Amphoe Muang [Tel: 0 4281 5668-74 Bangkok Tel: 0 2255 3960] : 1,500-4,600 baht
- Loei Palace Hotel : 167/4 Charoenrat Road, Kudpong, Muang [(66 42) 815-668-74]
- Mani Noppharat Garden Hill : Tambon Nong Bua Amphoe Phu Rua [Tel: 0 4289 9056, 0 4289 9255-6] : 800-1,500 baht
- Muang Fai : 191/1-9 Charoenrat Road Amphoe Muang [Tel: 0 4281 1302] : 200-1,000 baht
- Muang Loei : Km. 5 Loei-Wang Saphung Road Amphoe Muang [Tel: 0 4283 2863] : 300-1,000 baht
- Naem Guest House : 112 Rim Khong Road Amphoe Chiang Khan [Tel: 0 4282 1295, 0 4282 1342] : 150-250 baht
- Nak Rop Resort : Behind Na Haeo District Office, Amphoe Na Haeo : 50-300 baht
- Nanthaka Resort : Phu Rua-Dan Sai Road, Ban Pa Chan Tom Amphoe Phu Rua [Tel: 0 4281 2885] : 400 baht
- Nong Sam Guesthouse : 407 Mu 1 Tambon Chiang Khan Amphoe Chiang Khan [Tel: 0 4282 1457] : 70-100 baht
- Pak Chom Guest House : Soi 1 Rim Khong Road Amphoe Pak Chom [Tel: 0 4281 1021] : 50-70 baht Phimphon Resort : 9 Mu 2 Tambon Nong Bua Amphoe Phu Rua [Tel: 0 4289 9152] : 1,000-1,500 baht
- Phu Kham : Loei Rajabhat Institute Amphoe Muang [Tel: 0 4281 3416] : 50-300 baht
- Phu Kradung National Park : Contact Loei Provincial Forestry Amphoe Phu Kradung [0 4281 1112] : 50-100 baht
- Phu Kratae Resort : 34 Mu 7 Tambon Na Arn Amphoe Muang [Tel: 0 4281 2140, 0 4281 3249] : 350-700 baht
- Phu Luang : 55 Charoenrat Amphoe Muang [Tel: 0 4281 1532, 0 4281 1570] : 420-1,500 baht
- Phu National Park : Contact National Park Division, Bangkok [0 2579-5734, 0 2579-7223),] : 500-1,200 baht
- Phu Pha Nam Resort : 252 Mu 1 Tambon Khok Nagm Amphoe Dan Sai [Tel: 0 4289 2055-6 Bangkok Tel: 0 2254 3000] : www.phuphanamresort.com 40 rooms : 2,500-8,500 baht
- Phu Rua Chalet : 110 Tambon Nong Bua Amphoe Phu Rua [Tel: 0 4289 9012] : 500-1,200 baht
- Phu Rua Resort : 163 Mu 4 Tambon Nong Bua Amphoe Phu Rua [Tel: 0 4289 9048, 0 4281 1182] : 700-2,500 baht
- Phu Rua Royal Mew : 47 Ban Non Sombun, Loei-Lomsak Road, Tambon San pom Amphoe Phu Rua [Tel: 0 4289 1396-7 Bangkok Tel: 0 2513-7578-9] : 1,500 baht
- Phu Sing Valley : 222 Loei-Udon Thani Road Amphoe Wang Saphung [Tel: 0 4284 1333, 0 4284 1666] : 500-3,500 baht
- Phun Sawat : 251/2 Chai Khong Road Amphoe Chiang Khan [Tel: 0 4282 1114] : 80-100 baht
- Phuphet Guesthouse : 286 Moo 7 Nongbua, Phurua, Loei [042-899-157,01-320-2]
- Rai Niyom : Km. 13 Loei-Wang Saphung Road, Amphoe Wang Saphung : 200 baht
- Rai Phakdi Mit : 109 Mu 4 Ban Nong Bua Amphoe Phu Rua [Tel: 0 4289 9118] : 800-1,800 baht
- Rai Waranya : On the way to Phu Rua National Park Amphoe Phu Rua [Tel: 0 4289 9020] : 400-2,000 baht
- Rang Yen Resort : Ban Na Kham Pom, Tambon Rong Chik Amphoe Rang Yen [Tel: 0 4289 1089, 0 4289 1389] : 675-900 baht
- Ratchanee Resort : 247 Mu 5 Tambon Nai Muang Amphoe Muang [Tel: 0 4281 1522] : 700-2,500 baht
- Rungyen Resort : 92 Moo7 tambol Khok-Ngam, Dansai [(66 42) 891-089]
- Sarai Thong : 25/5 Ruamchit Road Amphoe Muang [Tel: 0 4281 1582, 0 4281 1693] : 100-180 baht
- Suk Sombun : 243/2 Chai Khong Road Amphoe Chiang Khan [Tel: 0 4282 1004] : 100-150 baht
- Thai Udom : 122/1 Charoenrat Road Amphoe Muang [Tel: 0 4281 1763, 0 4281 1789, 0 4283 0193] : 200-600 baht
- Wang Namphu Resort : 217 Mu 5 Maliwan Road Amphoe Wang Saphung [Tel: 0 4285 0416-7] : 200-400 baht
- Krua Nid : 58 Charoen Rat Rd., Tel: 0-4281-3013
- Krua Thai How : Maliwan Rd., Tel: 0-4283-3384
- Rabiang Nam : Maliwan Rd., Tel: 0-4281-1332
- Savita Bakery : 317/7-9 Charoen Rat Rd., Tel: 0-4281-2499, 0-4281-1526
- Sor. Ahan Thai : 32/106 Nok Kaew Rd., Tel: 0-4281-3436
- Tiam Chan : 2/1-4 Chumsai Rd., Tel: 0-4281-1372
How to get there
* By car
- From Bangkok, take Highway No. 1 to Saraburi and Highway No. 21 via Phetchabun and continue the trip along Highway No. 203 via Lom Sak, Dan Sai and Phu Ruea to Loei, a total distance of 520 kilometres.
- From Bangkok, take Highway No. 1 to Saraburi and Highway No. 2 via Nakhon Ratchasima to Khon Kaen, then continue driving along Highway No. 12 via Chum Phae before turning left into Highway No. 201 and proceed to Loei via Wang Saphung.
* By bus
Buses depart from Bangkok's Mochit 2 Bus Terminal to Loei every day. Call 0 2936 2852-66 for more information.
* By train
Regular trains depart from Bangkok's Hua Lamphong Railway Station (1690, 0 2223 7010-20) to Bua Yai Railway Station which is 51 kilometres from Chaiyaphum.
* By plane
Visitors can fly from Bangkok to Phetchabun or Udon Thani and continue the trip to Loei by bus. For more information, call Thai Airways at tel: 1566, 0 2628 2000, 0 2280 0060.