Untapped Loei: A undiscovered region in Northern Thailand
Bordering Laos at the northern region of Thailand is the province of Loei, an area that is rapidly starting to get on the tourist map for authentic and still off the beaten path in Thailand. This area of Thailand is blessed with cooler climates, mountain areas filled with waterfalls, caves and rivers with riverside villages and hamlets still living an agricultural lifestyle. For the enthusiasts seeking an outdoor lifestyle combined with pure Thai history and amazing food, this untapped area is a wonderful place to explore the many river communities and natural landmarks in the area.
The mighty Mekong river separates the Vientiene region of Laos with the Loei region in Thailand and the river communities are alive and fun to explore the area and stunning landscape including: Kaen KhuKhu – small islets with colored boulders, fishing communities and riverside temples dotting the area.
Chiang Khan is one of the most colorful and picturesque cities along the Mekong and Loei province. The river front and adjoin streets are filled with interesting towns, quirky galleries and shop, and there is a lively night market that happens nightly with the riverside street closed off from traffic. I woke up early to do the morning alms to the Buddhists walking the streets towards their temple and giving blessings, it was a fantastic experience and I toured around the temple grounds afterwards. I wrote about that experience recently in this post.
Cruising the Mekong
One of the most popular attractions in this area is to take a river cruise on the Mekong. You can practically hop on a long tail boat in many areas and you can easily take a cruise from Chiang Khan and see both sides of the Thai and Laos riverfront communities and landscape. It is an easy and panoramic cruise which typically run an average of two hours or more in length. Late afternoon is the perfect time for beautiful light for photography and a magnificent sunset if the skies are clear. The day I took this cruise, it was completely socked in with clouds and fog, but fortunately things took a better turn and we had cloudy but some open skies breaking up the landscape. I just did a post with more images on the cruise, you can take a look at this post here.
Phu Ruea National Park
One of the largest national parks in Thailand is the Phu Ruea National Park which is famously known for it’s thick fog and spectacular views of the entire region. It’s supposed to be quite spectacular when it is a clear day, but unfortunately for me, the fog was as thick as soup. In this instance you just have to make the best of it and enjoy the moment and capture the mist/fog in the landscape like the image above, quite moody and unexpected for tropical Thailand.
Phu Tok Mountain viewpoint
Another panaromic ride and tour is taking a morning ride to the vista point overlooking Phu Tok Mountain close to Chiang Khan. This bumpy and fun ride on a Songthaew ( a type of jeep bus) all the way up to a lookout point to Phu Tok and the surrounding region. Coming here to view the sunrise and morning is a spectacular way to spend the morning and enjoy the 360 degree views of the entire region.
Panoramic views of the Leoi region in Northern Thailand
Phi Ta Khon Museum
Visiting the Phi Ta Khon Museum is fun at this educational attraction. It houses a colorful Buddhist temple along with a mask museum that shows the traditions of the local mask festivals that happen in the nearby Loei regions. Demonstrations of mask making and creating your own is offered on site and is a lot of fun to do for visitors into local craft.
Making your own ghost mask at Phi Ta Khon
Local trainees at the Buddhist temple at Phi Ta Khon
Tai Dam Village
A unique place to visit is the Loatian village at Tai Dam Village which is a preserved village that now serves as a cultural center and village. This area is home to these ethnic Loatian tribes that showcases some authentic homes, people, daily lifestyle and crafts of the region. The group occasionally gathers to share some of their dances and culture with visitors to their village and you can see their craftwork and purchase some traditional snacks from the various vendors. For more information and pictures about the village and visiting, check out my recent post on the Ta Dam village here.
This cultural village is worth the effort to understand the traditional, culture and lifestyle of these people who immigrated to Northern Thailand to avoid persecution from regional wars in their area and have been supported by the regional government to keep up their customs and village crafts and architecture. On our visit, we were treated to local dances, singing and musical instruments that were used in the performances. We also got to sample some of the local delicacies and sweets made by the indigenous people of this tribe.
Gorgeous bamboo architecture at Tai Dam Village
Morning Buddhist alms
Attending a morning Buddhist alms offering at a local temple is a great educational experience to understand this old tradition that pays respect to the Buddhist monks that support each local community. The large Buddhist temple at Chiang Khan is fun to explore after the offering so you can visit the temple grounds where the monks live and practice. For more pictures and insight to this regular morning tradition, check out my recent post on the morning alms here.
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Thank you to the Thai Authority of Tourism and the local Loei tourism group for hosting me in collaboration with Tbex Thailand, all opinions and thoughts were my own.
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