Phu Kradeung National Park, where you find maple trees in Thailand
Phu Kradueng National Park (Thai: อุทยานแห่งชาติภูกระดึง) is one of the more popular national parks in Thailand. It’s a plateau located in Loei Province and is only open to visitors from October 1 to May 31 because it’s safe to climb up during the dry season. It’s 1,288m high in elevation and there are clearly marked trails plus many sign posts so it’s quite doable to climb up! Most people take about 3-4 hours to get to the peak.
If you plan to camp at the peak and need help carrying your bags up and down, you can hire a porter to carry your bags for you.
The route up is quite scenic and there are several rest stops for people to eat and drink along the way up!
You’re also rewarded with picturesque views when you reach the peak.
There's also a sign to congratulate you on reaching the peak that you can take pictures with.
When you think you're done with walking for the day, your journey doesn't stop here. If you’re planning to stay at the campsite, it’s another 3km walk in (on flat ground, phew).
To book a tent, you go to the visitor’s office to pay rent and you pick an empty tent after that. It costs 20 baht (S$0.80) per night. Pillows and sleeping bags are available for rent are low rates too! The thing about camping is that the public toilets are the portable kind with no water heater so it can be quite cold at night!
Apart from tents, there are also cabins and bungalows for rent at 200 baht ($8)and 1200 baht (S$48) per night too! You can check for availability and book at the office at the base of the mountain before climbing up. You can also call 0-4281-0833 0-4281-0834 during office hours to check beforehand too.
Don't worry about bringing food up because there are many food stalls that provide you a rather wide variety of food on your way up and near the campsite as well!
Highlights of Phu Kradeung
Sunrises and sunsets
The campsite will play an announcement at 5.30am that it’s time to wake up and get ready to see the sunrise (even if you want to go or not but most people do wake up and go). At 6am, a staff would bring everyone to the sunrise cliff. It’s located 5km away from the campsite!
The sunset cliff was located 5km away from the campsite in the other direction. It's a long walk but the views are pretty good and you can stop by some waterfalls along the way. There are bicycles for rent for exploring the plateau too! Remember to bring your torchlights because once the sun sets you have to make your way back to the campsite in the dark.
You get to see maple trees in Phu Kradeung too, and at the peak of its "bloom" leaves will fall and line waterfalls (a bit like what you get to see in the next picture).
When I visited in December, the waterfalls were really dry, I only saw waterfall signs at some areas but couldn’t see where the waterfall was.
A famous waterfall on Phu Kradeung is Khun Phong Waterfall (น้ำตกขุนพอง), it’s the largest waterfall on Phu Kradeung and it’s a nice backdrop with maple leaves in the foreground!
Phu Kradeung National Park
Getting there: You can take a plane from Bangkok to Khon Kaen and then take a bus over to Loei. There are buses that go from Bangkok to Loei as well.
Thai: Adult 40 Baht, Child 20 Baht
Foreigners: Adult 400 Baht Child 200 Baht