- Phu Kradueng National Park
Phu Kradueng National Park ( _th. อุทยานแห่งชาติภูกระดึง), located in
Amphoe Phu Kraduengof the Loei Province, is one of the famous national parks of Thailand, with a high point of 1360 m. Every year tens of thousands of people come to make the climb up this famous mountain. It received the title of a nationally protected forest in the year 1943, and was proclaimed a national parkon the 7th of October 1959, the second national park of Thailandafter Khao Yai National Park.
"Phu (ภู)" comes from the Thai word "Phukao (ภูเขา)" meaning mountain. It's used the same way as "Mt." is used in English. The name "Kradueng (กระดึง)" comes from the word "Krading (กระดิ่ง)" a word of the
Loei Provinceaboriginals. Also "Phu Kradudng (ภูกระดึง)" can be translated as "Ra Kang Yai (ระฆังใหญ่)" meaning a large bell. This name comes from a legend relating to a Buddhist holiday. During the holiday many of the towns people heard the sound of a large bell. They believed it to be the bell of Indra.
The beauty of the mountain is reflected in local folk tales. One person named Phran, who fled from another village, believed that Phu Kradueng had never been climbed before. He led his bull to the top of the mountain. He found it full of beautiful deer, and pine forests. There were many different types of plants, trees and wild animals. After this he stayed, and lived his life surrounded by the beauty of the mountain.
Nowadays, Phu Kradueng is extremely popular with young Thais, particularly university students. Accommodation on the mountain itself is limited to a "tent city" with hundreds of canvas tents available for rent. The sense of isolation and scenic beauty is further spoilt by annoying and unnecessary loudspeakers intermittently announcing food availability, sleeping hours, and other concerns in Thai.
Travelling to Phu Kradueng
The easiest route to "Phu Kradueng", is to take a bus from
Khon Kaento "Pha Nok Kao". Get off in front of "Raan J Gim (ร้านเจ๊กิม)". From there a minibus is available to take you to the central office of the park. The minibus takes approximately half an hour. The park office closes at 15.00, as climbers will not have enough time to climb the mountain before dark.
The Main Trail to the top from Amphoe Phu Kradueng
This is a very old and historic trail. Travelers start their way on the trail in Amphoe Phu Kradueng at the main park office. There are many places to rest on the way up. These rest plateaus are called "Sum (ซำ)". There are seven of these plateaus on the way up. In order of ascent, they are:
* "Sum Hake (ซำแฮก)" The word "Hake (แฮก)" most travelers believe this means to be out of breath, because of its resemblance to the sound made when out of breath. The real meaning of "Hake (แฮก)" is "sacred or holy object" in the local dialect. This plateau is approximately one kilometre from the bottom.
* "Sum Bawn (ซำบอน)" This plateau is approximately 700 metres from Sum Hake.
* "Sum Kok Kawk (ซำกกกอก)" This plateau is approximately 360 metres from Sum Bawn.
* "Sum Kokwaa (ซำกกหว้า)" This plateau is approximately 880 metres from Sum Kok Kawk.
* "Sum Kokpai (ซำกกไผ่)" This plateau is approximately 580 metres from Sum Kokwaa
* "Sum Kok Doon (ซำกกโดน)" This plateau is approximately 300 metres from Sum Kokpai.
* "Sum Krae (ซำแคร่)" This plateau is approximately 585 metres from Sum Kok Doon.
Travelers must start off at the park's main office at the base of the mountain. They can then begin their climb up to the "Sum Krae" plateau. On the plateau there are several vendors selling food and water, and it is a good place to rest. There is also a washroom available there. After this plateau there is still 1020 metres to the top. This last 1020 metres to the top is the hardest and steepest part. There are ladders and ramps at parts where it is impossible to walk. Once at the top of the mountain, there is still a 3.6 kilometre walk to the park office at the top and the campsite. At the campsite there are tents available and lodging buildings. There are many hiking trails on top of the mountain, to the many cliffs and waterfalls of the mountain.
Many climbers hire porters to carry their belongings to the top of the mountain for them. As a result, the main trail is often crowded with long lines of porters and following climbers.
Trail to the top from Amphoe Nam Nao
Travelers can climb the mountain from
Amphoe Nam Nao. This is a new trail, to open in 2005. There aren't as yet any places to stop and purchase food and drinks on the way up on this trail.
Trails at the top of the Mountain
There are two areas of trails on top of Phu Kradueng. One is the normal open to public trails, while the other is the closed off forest. In the normal area, there's a waterfall trail and a cliffs trail. The closed forest has two areas, named area one and area two.
From the tourist office on the mountain, travelers can explore the cliffs trail. There are many cliffs that are known worldwide for their beauty.
* "Pha Nok Ann Cliff (ผานกแอ่น)" This cliff is located on the east side of the mountain. Approximately 1.1 kilometres from the campsite and tourist office. This is an important tourist spot, where many people go to watch the sun rise. In the summer and rainy season, this cliff is above the clouds, creating a beautiful view of the sun rise.
* "Pha Mak Duk Cliff (ผาหมากดูก)" This cliff is located on the west side of the mountain. It is located approximately 2 kilometres from the campsite and tourist office. Travelers who have little time come here to watch the sunset, due to its closeness to the campsite.
* "Pha Jam Sil Cliff (ผาจำศีล)" Approximately 600 metres from Pha Mak Duk Cliff.
* "Pha Na Noi Cliff (ผานาน้อย)" Approximately 600 metres from Pha Jam Sil Cliff.
* "Pha Yiap Mek Cliff (ผาเหยียบเมฆ)" Approximately two kilometres from Pha No Noi Cliff.
* "Pha Daeng Cliff (ผาแดง)" Approximately 1.5 kilometres from Pha Yiap Mek Cliff.
* "Pha Lom Sak Cliff (ผาหล่มสัก)" Approximately 2.5 kilometres from Pha Daeng Cliff. This cliff is located on the west side of Phu Kradueng mountain. Most people who climb the mountain, will go to watch the sunset at this cliff. On a nice clear day, it's possible to "Phu Pha Jid Mountain (ภูผาจิต)" of "Nam Naao National Park(อุทยาแห่งชาติน้ำหนาว)".
Closed Forest 1 (Waterfalls Trail Khun Phawng)
Closed Forest 2 (Sawng Lok Cliffs Trail)
Wild Animals Native to Phu Kradueng
DeersTravelers who climb to the top of Phu Kradueng will definitely see at least one deer. One group of dears is looked after in the camp site. This allows these deer to not be scared of humans, thus letting the other deer to not be bothered by travelers. The first deer's name is "Kam La (คำหล้า)" which means the last born. The second deer's name is "Kam Pir (คัมภีร์)" which means religious scripture.
GrubsSmall insects that are called "Thak (ทาก)" . These insects are very common to Phu Kradueng beyond the little recognition they receive. Most people don't like these insects, although they are important to Phu Kradueng's environment (As most people believe they're disgusting).There are a lot of these insects during the rainy season. They have made residence in many of the building on Phu Kradueng. There are also many near the waterfalls and in the closed forests. These grubs are similar to those found in Khao Yai National Parkor Khao Luang National Park, yet are of bigger size.
Famous Plants and Trees of Phu Kradueng
* Maple Tree or "Fai Deun Ha (ไฟเดือนห้า)" The leaves of these trees turn red during the winter season(In Thailand the month of December). If travelers want to be sure that they will see red leaves they can and should phone the park before hand.
NepenthesCan be found close to the Pha Na Noi and Pha Dang cliffs.
Siam TulipThis tulip can be found close to Pha Yiap Mek and Pha Dang cliffs. This flower blooms beautifully annually during the month of April. In the month of May you can still find many of these flowers blooming but insects and other animals will have begun to eat them.
* [http://www.trekthailand.net/north-east11/ Phu Kradueng National Park]
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.