Loei, ThailandKirsty Turner
This sparsely populated province in the North-East of Thailand has a lot to offer for the independent traveler with a strong sense of adventure and a dash of curiosity. Close to the Laos border, this can be a great place to stop off for a few days and discover the spirit of Thailand.
With its low mountains, flowing waterfalls and immense areas of open, fertile land forming plains that hold the province’s main town and the River Loei, this is a place of great natural beauty and contains a wide range of both natural and cultural attractions.
The province of Loei experiences different weather conditions to much of the rest of Thailand. During the winter the temperature can drop to 0 degrees C with swirling fogs and mists, whilst in the summer it is not unusual for temperatures to exceed 0 degrees C.
There are three main areas in this richly diverse province that draw travellers: Loei city, Dan Sai and the sleepy yet picturesque and very welcoming town of Chiang Khan.
The city of Loei was formed in 1853 by king Mongkut (Rama IV) in order to better administer the accelerated population in the area. Loei city is the capital of Loei Province and there are many things for visitors to see and do.
The extremely beautiful Phu Kradung National Park is well worth exploring, and it is easy to spend an entire day there as it contains several sparkling waterfalls and Tham Yai – which literally means ‘big cave’ in Thai.
Another great day trip idea is the Phu Reua National Park, which can be combined with a visit to the nearby Tham Erawan and Wat Tham Erawan.
The Culture Center of Loei is a great place to explore at your leisure and get to grips with the local history, and you can discover the uniquely creative side of the people at the Sirindhorn Arts Centre.
The centrally located night market is a good place to pick up a bargain, engage in some colourful local banter and find a cheap and tasty meal.
If you are in Loei city at the end of January, don’t miss the Cotton Blossom Festival, where floats are decorated with cotton and there is dancing and cavorting in the streets.