Popular national park in Loei reopens

The natural wonder of Phu Kradueng's flat top makes the national park one of the best known in Thailand. (Photos: Pongpet Mekloy)

After a six-month closure -- two months longer than normal due to a devastating forest fire in March -- Phu Kradueng National Park is now welcoming visitors again.

The legendary park in Loei province is made up of a sandstone mountain with a relatively flat top. The initial 5.5km hike includes several steep sections but luckily there is a porter service provided by the locals. The climb ends at a meadow studded with tall pine and oak trees, 1,288m above sea level. From that point, which is known as Lang Pae, one has to continue walking on level ground for another 3.5km to reach the camping area. Bring a torch just in case you cannot make it to the campground before nightfall.

The following day, you can walk from the camp to clifftop lookout points, waterfalls and other attractions. The distance ranges from 500m to several kilometres.

This year, heavy rains have been prevalent. Therefore, the trail from the foot of the mountain to Lang Pae is wet and in many parts muddy and slippery. So, hikers must be careful and make sure to wear proper footwear. Twisting an ankle in the middle of the tough hike is no fun and don't forget about leeches. They are still active as long as there is high moisture on the ground.

During this period, there still are not many visitors on the mountain. On Oct 5 and 6, for example, there were 187 and 177 campers, respectively. Still, social distancing should be practised, especially on the steep climb. It's wise not to get too close to the hiker in front of you. Safety first.

Shops at the camping ground are now open so there is no need to bring food. But on weekdays, do not expect all the stalls to be open.

Before making a visit to any national park, travellers must first register via the QueQ mobile app. For more information and updates, visit Phu Kradueng National Park's page on Facebook or call 042-810-833.

The lookout point Pha Lom Sak is one of Phu Kradueng's top attractions.

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