Most backpackers traveling in Thailand will hit certain major areas: Bangkok and Khao San Road, the scattered islands such as Phuket and Koh Phi Phi, and the adventurous Chiang Mai. However, if you are looking to avoid some of the swarms of “farang,” the Thai word for foreigner, add Phu Kradung to your travel plans.

The second national park of Thailand, known for its sandstone cliffs and wild elephants, is located about two and a half hours west of Khon Kaen city in the Loei province. Transportation to the park by local bus is fairly straightforward and inexpensive. The park itself consists of a nine kilometer steep hike (a hike that includes little restaurants and souvenir shops dotted along the way) up to the top of an expansive plateau that boasts a variety of biodiversity.

On the approach up to the mountain top of Phu Kradung, we noticed many Thai vacationers using porters (see below) to carry most of their camping equipment up to the summit. This was an interesting sight; however, everyone who was camping on the mountain made the hike. There is no road access to the top- everything is brought up. People of all ages, in footwear that ranged from flip-flops to heavy-duty hiking boots, made the summit attempt.

Porters make trips up and down the mountain every day, carrying equipment that ranges from bags to refrigerators
Porters make trips up and down the mountain every day, carrying equipment that ranges from bags to refrigerators.

Upon reaching the mountain top (1,288 meters in elevation), it’s another three kilometer hike to the campground. There you can either rent a tent or pitch your own tent or hammock, as we chose to do. Thailand is not super conducive to bringing your own food and cooking, but not to worry, there are many restaurants to choose from at the visitor center and around the plateau (especially at the scenic cliff viewpoints).

The vegetation on top of the plateau varied from meadows to evergreens to sandy cliffs.
The vegetation on top of the plateau varied from meadows to evergreens to sandy cliffs.

Phu Kradung is well known for Lom Sak cliff, a definite must see if you are looking for a solid hike with a great view. See the gallery below for more shots of Phu Kradung. Happy exploring!

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Written by Aaron Pomerance

Professional adventurer, writer, a bit of a dreamer

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