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Phu Kradueng
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Phu Kradueng

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Phu Kradueng

Page Type: Mountain/Rock

Location: Loei, Thailand, Asia

Lat/Lon: 16.90016°N / 101.78696°E

Object Title: Phu Kradueng

Activities: Hiking

Season: Spring, Fall, Winter

Elevation: 4318 ft / 1316 m

 

Page By: mountaingazelle

Created/Edited: Feb 5, 2006 / Oct 3, 2013

Object ID: 155384

Hits: 7864 

Page Score: 96.85%  - 63 Votes 

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Overview

 
The vast summit plateau has a...
Summit Plateau

Phu Kradueng is a giant, heart shaped, sandstone mountain in northeastern Thailand. It is located in a region more commonly known as Isan. Phu Kradueng means "Bell Mountain" in Thai for the bell-shaped peak that makes up the summit. It consist of a lone, steep-sided mountain, which rises out of a flat plain that covers over 134 square miles and is crowned by a 23 square mile plateau.

There is an abundance cliffs, savannas, streams, waterfalls, and forests to explore. Many trails go through these areas with an opportunity to see several different types of vegetation from tropical forests to evergreen and pine trees at higher elevations. The area is the head watershed of the Lam Nam Phong River which is one of the most important rivers in northeastern Thailand. All of these things makes Phu Kradueng a popular mountain to hike for Thai and foreign trekkers.
 
Phu Kradueng
Summit Plateau

The mountain is located in Phu Kradueng National Park. This was supposed to be Thailand's first National Park but lack of funding and other circumstances prevented this from happening. It wasn't until 1949 that government funds were finally available, then it took another ten years before Phu Kradueng was granted National Park status. It became Thailand's second National Park after Khao Yai in the Nakhon Ratchasima Province.

Phu Krudueng is in the province of Loei, which is one of the most sparely populated provinces. The name Loei is an appropriate title meaning "land of a sea of mountains." It is a diverse and beautiful place that is one of the country's most geographically scenic areas and is still untouched by mass tourism. Loei is located near the eastern and western Phetchabun mountain ranges and is bordered at the top by Laos and the Mekong River. It consist mainly of mountains both large and small. The area if susceptible to China's winter winds and as a result has some of the most dramatic temperature changes. Summer can reach over 100 degrees while winter nights can drop down to freezing. Loei has the distinction of being the coldest place in Thailand.

The mountain is usually covered in mist from October to February. I found this to be true and was unable to take any pictures of the mountain from far away. It was totally engulfed in clouds and fog when we drove there early in the morning. From February onward color begins to saturate the park. Summer usually bring out the mountain's famous red and white rhondodendrons and many other flowers. In winter the park has green mosses and ferns set against maple tree leaves. I've never seen so many ferns while hiking before. Phu Kradueng is also well known for it's wildlife including asian elephants, black bears, jackals, barking deer, and gibbons. Many species of birds can also be found here.


Getting There


Thai Airways International operates flights in the United States from the city of Los Angeles. Most people will be flying into Bangkok. For more information go to the website for Thai Airways.


How to get to Northeastern Thailand:
 
On the summit plateau looking...
Plateau View

By Plane - Thai Airways Domestic operate flights to the northeastern cities of Nakhon Ratchasima, Sakon Nakhon, Khon Kaen, Udon Thani and Ubon Ratchathani.

By Road - Isan is easily accessible, with four major highways connecting it with other regions. Inter-provincial transportation networks are also among the best and most convenient in the country. Air-conditioned and non-airconditioned buses leave from the north-eastern bus terminal at Talat Mo Chit, Phahonyothin Road, Bangkok.

By Train - Express trains leave from Bangkok's main railway station at Hua Lamphong, daily to Nakhon Ratchasima, Buri Ram, Surin, Sri Sa Ket, Khon Kaen, Udon Thani, Nong Khai and Ubon Ratchathani.


How to get to Phu Kradueng National Park:

From the North - Buses from Loei bus terminal are scheduled every half-hour from 6:00 a.m. until 6:30 p.m. They travel south along Highway 201 and should take about 1.5 hours. From the town of Phu Kradueng, at Pha Nok Khao junction, hop on a sawngthaew to the park visitor center at the base of the mountain. The last bus to Loei from Phu Kradueng leaves around 6:00 p.m.

From the South - Buses from the city of Khon Kaen go to the town of Phu Kradueng. They travel west along Highway 12 to the junction with Highway 201 where they head north to the town of Phu Kradueng. Once in town, take a sawngthaew (pick-up truck with bench seating in the back) to the park visitor center.


Red Tape

 
Ferns grow in abundance along...
Trail Vegetation

The currency of Thailand is baht. About 33 baht = 1 U.S. dollar. An fee of (30 baht) per vehicle is required at the Park Entrance. A national park admission fee is payable near the Visitor Center at the beginning of the trail. The cost is (20 baht) for Thai nationals and (200 baht) for foreigners; called "farangs" in Thailand.

The country of Laos shares borders with Thailand. Travelers should be aware that there have been occasional incidents of violence on Thailand’s northern and eastern borders with Laos. So it is wise to exercise caution when travelling in remote areas near the border.

Thailand is home to many different types of animals. You may occasionally see wild animals in hiking areas. On my trip I saw elephants, monkeys, and several different types of birds.


When To Climb

 
View of a lake down in the...
View of the valley

The best time to hike is during the winter months when it is dry.

During the warmer months from March to June, it's a good idea to start early at sunrise.

* Phu Kradueng is closed to visitors between the months of July - September.

During the rainy season, it is considered too hazardous for hiking because the trail is often slippery and subject to mudslides. It also gives time for trail restoration and forest recovery.


Mountain Conditions

 
View from Makdook Cliff with...
Plateau view in the clouds

In northeastern Thailand the seasons are clearly defined. Between November and May the weather is mostly dry, however this is broken up into the periods November to February and March to May. In March the temperatures start to warm up considerably. It does get cool during November to February with breezy winds. The months of May to November are dominated by the monsoon season when rainfall is at its heaviest.

Most people can climb Phu Kradueng wearing T-shirt and shorts. During winter you may want to bring a jacket and long pants. On the summit plateau it can get a little windy. There isn't anything available for weather conditions near the mountain. So the best thing I could find are conditions for the two largest cities that the national park is closest to.

Here is current weather for the cities of Loei and Khon Kaen.


Camping


There are a lot of accommodations in the park. Camping is available and you can pitch your own tent or rent one. Renting a tent cost 20 baht a night. The park has basic A-frame cabins for 200 baht as well as 4 person bungalows with hot water for 1200 baht. You can call the booking office and make reservations. More information can be found at this website.


More Information

1) Phu Kradueng National Park
Wikipedia Page for Phu Kradueng National Park. Good overview and information of the park and trails.

2) Lonely Planet : Thailand (Country Guide) : 14th edition
By China Williams, Mark Beales, Tim Bewer, Catherine Bodry, Austin Bush, and Brandon Presser. Has info on several national parks.

3) Thailand : Nelles Maps : Folded Map
By Nelles Verlag. This is a detailed map that shows major and minor roads and mountainous areas in Thailand.

Additions and Corrections

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Restaurants at the Summit

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Accommodation site at the summit offers full open air restaurant service so you snack up, warm up with hot chocolate, or even have a Korean style bar-b-que. Warm food variety is limited, a little pricey for Thai standard, and you would find that the dozen or so restaurants up there all offer pretty much the same menu. Head gears, apparels, batteries are sold as well. Power outlets are available to rent if you would like to charge up on phones. Some restaurants also offer hot showers if you are happy to pay extra.



Porters to Carry your Stuff

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Porters are available if you can not manage your heavy belongings. There is a baggage drop-off station at base station (near the parking lot) where they will weigh your luggage in at 15 baht per Kg. You will pick it up at the summit accommodation park at the pick-up station. Your belongings will be hand carried by porters, who at times can be carrying up to a total of 50 Kg of supplies up to and down from the summit. If you are planning to use a porter, a duffel bag or any non-trekking bags are fine. It is recommended you carry a day pack for the trek to store rain ponchos, water for the day, a sweater, flash lights, cameras, valuables and other items you may need during your trek. If you are a fast trekker, you may arrive at the summit before your porter does.



Trekking Seasons

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Weekends and public holidays, and especially in the winter (December/January) seasons will be packed with local tourists. Accommodations and tents for rents can be overbooked. Make sure you book in advance if you are planning to use accommodation services at the summit. On special occasions like the New Years holiday, there can be a thousand tents pitched up side by side at any given moment, which can feel like a refugee camp. Long lines can build up at restaurants and public toilets. Avoid holidays if you can if you prefer a more peaceful experience.



Other Helpful Info

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- Stow away all snacks, food and drinks in a container or stow it inside your tents safe from wild deers and other animals.

- There is phone reception for all major operators. However, 3G might be limited to the slower EDGE (last checked in 2013).

- Leeches can also be found even in the dry season. Wear leech gaiters if you have one or use insect repellents.



Itinerary

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At the very minimum, your itinerary should be something like:

Day 1: Arrive at the National Park entrance by 12:00 pm. Start the trek as soon as possible. Last call for porters is at around noon. if you arrive too late, you might miss a chance to hire a porter and end up trekking in the dark. You should be able to arrive at the summit before dark (bring a flash light in case).

Day 2: Rest Day. This is your day to relax, rest your legs, and do some sightseeing. You can visit a handful of waterfalls and do a 10 Km trek to a sunset viewpoint. Though waterfalls can be almost bone dry during the dry season but still worth trekking in the wilderness anyway.

Day 3: Trek back to base station. The journey down is the easiest part. I did it in 2.5 hours (with a fully loaded 12 Kg backpack). Then depart to Bangkok or where ever you came from.
Posted Nov 8, 2014 6:03 am

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Images

The vast summit plateau has a...View from Makdook Cliff with...Phu KraduengView of a lake down in the...Ferns grow in abundance along...Hiking up the trail. Bamboo...The view along Phu Kradueng...
On the summit plateau looking...Black Giant Squirrel