Phu Kradueng Loop

May 20, 2005
After 4 years it’s still a bit of a draw; coming to Chiang Mai in the summer, renting an old dog (CB750) from Mr Mechanic and heading off on bad roads between good hotels. I did the same last summer too but my touring isn’t very exciting. It’s more just a means of getting away from it all, clocking up the miles in a fascinating country and feeling the spirit; something this forum knows well so, apart from the first flush of discovery, there have not been many posts from me.

In a way, this summer was no different. I arrived, I rented, I travelled and then went home feeling that work will be interesting for another year. But this time I did a little excursion that has been on the agenda since first I saw a topo map of Thailand.

Always I have been fascinated by the amazing looking landscape around the Phu Kradueng National Park. On a topo map the terrain looks lunar with its strangely shaped mountains amidst splashes and central peaks in the landscape reminiscent of craters. I sometimes wonder if some cataclysmic cosmic event occurred here eons ago.


Anyway, to cut a long story short, while stopping off at Loei for a couple days, I took a hop around the region and logged the GPS track. From the ground, in the rainy season and with my standard of photography there is nothing much for me to show so, using the pseudo-colour (infrared) option, I have rendered the pictures with the free NASA WorldWind software. The result is very un-Google Earth-like but it really highlights the ruggedness of the landscape.



It was an all-day outing with the complete clockwise loop, beginning at Loei, being around 350Km. The first stopping point was the Visitor’s Center where, if you are feeling energetic, you can slog it up the mountain in the heat and on foot. Luckily the National Park is closed during the summer months so I don’t have to make excuses about choosing not to make the trek. Apparently, the park is a huge draw throughout the rest of the year and, although I like to feel I have discovered everything when touring, the Thai population are also fascinated by this marvelous landscape.

Too many times in the past I have taken interesting looking local routes only to find that the tarmac stops for replacement at a point beyond which, I am prepared to turn back and find an alternative way. The route east from Khun Yuam to Mae Chaem is a case in point. Last year off I went along here from MHS only to find that most of it was missing. I have no idea how an old CB750 street machine managed to stay upright. There was so much mud in the epic rain that, at times, I was not sure the caked front wheel was turning as much as the rear. It plowed along at low revs while I took exaggerated care not to turn the handlebars. This machine must have the lineage of a half-track.

So, I stuck to the main roads and tried to keep the mountain of Phu Kradueng ion the horizon. From the GPS track, it looks like this was not the case but it’s still a great drive. Only tarmac for this trip so no mud but still plenty of rain. At one point even the locals took shelter and we all watched the river of water that formed as it cascaded down the road.



I also took an early and erroneous easterly turn-off, missing Rte 2216 turn-off by a few kilometers. It’s interesting to see my mistake as a little, backtracking spur on the GPS track and how long it took me to make up my mind that I wasn’t going in the right direction. My GPS is intended for trekking use and is without maps but it is waterproof!

Overall, a good day loop starting from Loei. With better local knowledge perhaps it’s possible to skip between the surrounding villages, possibly off-road, and stay closer to this amazing mountain.




Oct 15, 2006
Khuang Nai
Hi there,,,

What a cool way to post your route,, look like you already did touring in the moon...

Nice report keep it comming.
Mar 15, 2003
Nice! Good to see some reports on an area that has not been covered ad nauseum before. Interesting writing style also, hope to see more reports from you.

How did the actual views and scenery compare to what your track pictures show?


Staff member
Jan 16, 2003
Chiang Khong
Yet another beautiful presentation & reminder of how great the roads & scenery are over there.
You really are an expert on GPS & sourcing fabulous topo images.

For anyone else who likes the images, check out Monoplex's other trip reports at
1. ... t1631.html
2. ... t1957.html
3. ... t1912.html
4. ... t1884.html
5. ... -t948.html

Jim, have you still got the ZZR600 in the UK?