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.
Most visitors are draw to Phimai by the Phimai Historical Park, which contains a large number of temples and ruins to explore including the beautiful Khmer temple of Prasat Phimai. Don't forget to check out to informative Phimai National Museum in order to learn more about the temples and to discover some rare temple artefacts.
Nearby, the brick chedi of Meru Boromathat and the Pratu Chai - victory gate - are just waiting to be discovered, whilst on an island in the middle of a large reservoir the Sai Ngam (Beautiful Banyan) draws Buddhists from all over the world. You can take a rowing boat out onto the reservoir for a closer look at the sacred tree. Whilst there, don't forget to pay a visit to the interesting Tha Nang Sa Phom - which is an ancient and intricately decorated landing platform.
Nakhon Ratchasima Province is famous for its unique and beautiful pottery, and a good place to see it is at the Dan Kwian pottery village, where you can still see craftsmen creating the Thai ceramics.
Another famous skill from the north of Thailand is silk weaving, and visitors can go to the Pak Thong Chai silk weaving village, which is very close to Phimai. Here, the weaving looms are still being put to good use today, creating beautifully shimmering Thai silk, which is then dyed in a dazzling array of colours and made into a wide range of products for people to buy as souvenirs.
In November, Phimai celebrates with the Phimai Festival. This is a good opportunity to experience the traditional folk songs, dancing and theatre of the region as well as sample the many delicious dishes and sweets.