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|Although geographically located in the northeast or I-San, Loei has many things in common with the northern region – namely its numerous high hills and mountains and its wintry as well as foggy climate. Literally speaking, the province deserves its name “Loei” which means ‘beyond’ or ‘to the furthest extreme’ as Loei lies in the northernmost part of the Northeastern region. Most notable is that Loei is the only province in Thailand where the temperature can drop to as low as zero Celsius in winter while it can become hotter than any province during summer. In short, Loei’s geography and climate is unique when compared to other I-San provinces.
Situated along the Phetchabun Mountain Range, Loei, a province that rises approximately 400 meters above sea level, is dubbed “the land of seas of mountains, the coolest in Siam”. Covering an area of 11,424 square kilometers (equivalent to 7.14 million rai of land), Loei Province, which is 520 kilometers from Bangkok shares a border with Laos to the north with the Khong and Heung Rivers forming the natural border, with Khon Kaen and Phetchabun Provinces to the south, with Nong Bua Lamphu, Udon Thani, Nong Khai and Khon Kaen Provinces to the east, and with Phitsanulok Province to the west. The province can be divided into three main areas: the high mountains in the west, the plains at the foot of the hills in the south and the east, and the lowlands in the basins of the Khong and the Loei Rivers.
Loei Province has an abundance of precious resources such as forests and natural resources. Of equal importance, however, is its unusual mix of northern and northeastern culture which is treasured by both locals and visitors. This remarkable cultural blend has produced more than one local dialect but only one local identity.
Attractions within the province that should be explored include Phu Kradung, Phu Luang and Phu Reua National parks, as well as Tha Li and Chiang Khan Districts.
Administratively, Loei is divided into 12 districts (Amphoes) : Mueang, Wang Saphung, Phu Kradueng, Chiang Khan, Pak Chom, Tha Li, Phu Ruea, Dan Sai, Na Haeo, Na Duang, Phu Luang, Pha Khao, Erawan and Nong Hin.
|Nong Bua Lamphu
|Split off from Udon Thani in 1993, Nong Bua Lam Phu is a scenic province
famous for its prehistoric sites. Fossilised shells about 140 million years old can be seen in the cliffs 10 kilometres outside the main town;archaeological sites at Kudkwangsoi villages are also attractions.
Well worth a visit is the huge Erawan Cave, Full of beautiful stalagmites and stalacitites. A very long stairway leads up to the cavern, where a large Buddha sits at the entrance.
Wat Tham Klong Phen, a tranquil forest monastery outside of town, is revered as the home of the famous meditation monk. Luang Phu Khao Analayo. A museum in the compound is dedicated to the monk. A beautiful nature reserve is found at Phu Kao Phupan Kham National Park covering 320 square kilometres, including a large lake formed by Ubon Ratana Dam, which is a popular fishing area.
|Udon Thani, a northeastern province covering an area of 11,730 square kilometers, is a prime business center of I-San. Located 564 kilometers from Bangkok, it the world heritage site for the prehistoric culture of Ban Chiang.
Udon Thani is probably best known for its archaeological wonders, paramount among them the hamlet of Ban Chiang where the world's first Bronze Age civilization is believed to have flourished more than 5,000 years ago.
Udon Thani borders Nong Khai to the north, Khon Kaen to the south, Sakon Nakhon to the east and Nongbualamphu and Loei to the west. The province is located on a plateau which is approximately 187 metres above sea level. Most of its areas are covered with rice fields, forests and hills, with the Phu Pan mountain ranges and the Songkhram River are the provinces 2 main natural resources.
The locals are mainly engaged in agricultural activities, with particular rising in wholesale and retail trading activities. That is why Udon Thani is an agricultural market hub or neighboring provinces.
Udon Thani's provincial seal depicts God Wetsuwan, King of the giants and keeper of the Northern Heavenly Gate.
|Khon Kaen is the commercial,administrative an educational
centre of the Northeast,which is often used by travellers as a base for visiting many parts of upper Isan.
Khon Kaen National Museum houses objects from the Dvaravati period and bronze sculptures from Ban Chiang. Kaen Nakhon Lake in the centre of town is a popular spot for picnics and dining,while Wat That on its bank features typical Isan spires.
Khon Kaen is the centre of the northeastern silk industry with numerous villages producing their own mudmee designs. Chonnabot is noted for its quality silks. Every December the city hosts a Silk Fair,when all the best materials are on sale.
Unusual animals are popular in the province,with the cobra and the turtle villages high on tourist programmes. In both villages, the residents live with their proteges,training them and putting on fascinating shows. A dinosaur is the provincial symbol ever since remains of these great beasts were unearthed in Phu Wiang National Park,an area also famous for its flora,fauna and waterfalls.
Khon Kaen is 445 kilometres from Bangkok and has an area of about 10,886 square kilometres. It comprises the districts of Muang, Ban Phai, Phon, Nam Phong, Chum Phae, Phu Wiang, Mancha Khiri, Nong Ruea, Kranuan, Nong Song Hong, Chonnabot, Si Chomphu, Waeng Noi, Ubolratana, Ban Fang, Khao Suan Kwang, Phra Yuen, Waeng Yai, Pueai Noi, Phu Pha Man, Khok Pho Chai, Nong Na Kham, Sam Sung and Ban Haet.