Loei is the capital city of the Province of this name in the Isaan (Northeast) region of Thailand.
Loei Province is 520 kilometres from Bangkok, covering an area of 11,424 square km. It is a boundary province located in the upper northeastern part of Thailand, on the bank of the Mekong River along the Phetchabun mountain range.
The town of Loei is an eco-tourism city surrounded by undulating mountain ranges whose summits are covered by fog and abundant with flora. The best-known mountains are Phu Kradueng, Phu Luang and Phu Ruea.
Loei's temperature is comfortably cool, with beautiful geographical surroundings, as well as unique cultures and traditions. In the cool season it can get decidedly chilly: it is one of the few places in Thailand that ever gets down to zero degrees Celsius.
In the past, it was a small community in a prosperous empire during the same period as the Thai Kingdom of Ayutthaya. Later, the Lan Chang Empire weakened and the community moved to be with Ayutthaya. During the reign of King Rama V of the Rattanakosin Period, the community was upgraded to become Loei Province.
Nok Air  operates twice daily service from Bangkok.
From Bangkok, take Highway 1 or Phahonyothin Road, passing Amphoe Mueang of Saraburi. Turn onto Highway 21, passing Phetchabun. Then, take Highway 203, passing Amphoe Lom Sak, Lom Kao into Loei province at Amphoe Dan Sai, Amphoe Phu Ruea to Amphoe Mueang Loei. It takes approximately 7-8 hours. Otherwise, from Saraburi, take Highway 2, passing Nakhon Ratchasima to Khon Kaen, a total distance of 536 km and turn left into Highway 12, passing Amphoe Chum Phae and take Highway 201 into Loei province through Amphoe Phu Kradueng, Amphoe Wang Saphung and Amphoe Mueang, a total distance of 540 km.
The Transport Co., Ltd. provides daily buses between Bangkok–Loei, both standard and air-conditioned. The trip takes approximately 10 hours. For further information, contact the Bangkok Northern Bus Terminal (Mo Chit 2), Kamphaeng Phet 2 Rd, Tel. +66 293 628 418, +66 293 628 5266 . There are other private bus companies such as:
- Air Mueang Loei Co., Ltd--Bangkok Office: +66 29 360 142; Loei Office: +66 42 832 042
- Chumpae Tour Ltd--Bangkok Office: +66 29 363 842; Loei Office: +66 42 832 285
- Phet Prasoet Co., Ltd--Bangkok Office: +66 2936 3230; Amphoe Phu Ruea Office: +66 42 899 386; Amphoe Dan Sai Office: +66 42 891 908.
Many buses are available from Phitsanulok, which is a particularly convenient starting point for exploring the west of Loei (Dansai, etc).
There are regular buses to Loei from Khon Kaen (buses every 30 mins) and Udon Thani (100 Baht in June 2012, buses depart from the Bus Station No. 2, somewhat inconveniently located outside the main town).
Daily busses run from Luang Prabang via Sayabouly (Sayabuly, Xayabury etc.) to Loei. About 10 hours.
There is no railway station in Loei. However, visitors can take a train from Bangkok Railway Station (Hua Lamphong) to Udon Thani or Phitsanulok and take a bus to Loei.
Songthaews can be used to reach the town from the bus station (10 baht). Tuk-tuks are also available to and around town. Local buses and/or songthaews serve some of the noteworthy sights mentioned below.
Most interesting tourist attractions are sufficiently far away they require public transport or a motorbike to reach them.
Traditional Phitakon masks worn at the Phitakon festival. Note the handle of the sword.
- Phitakon (ผีตาโขน) . The best worst-publicised festival in Thailand. Every year in Dan Sai (ด่านซ้าย) the Phi Ta Kon festival is held. Revellers make traditional masks, which they wear in a parade down the main street of Dan Sai. Traditionally, the masks were made to frighten evil spirits away, the wearer dons the mask and drags bells behind them with the intention of clearing the surrounding area of evil spirits (generally while drinking large amounts of home brewed spirits of a different kind). Afterward, the parade begins and thousands of people head through the streets for what becomes a chaotic fertility festival, many participants in the parade carry phallic water guns and comically over-sized wooden penises with them. Dan Sai is about 2 hours west of the main city of Loei. It can be reached by bus.
- Each year there is a cotton blossom festival in early February.
- Climb Phu Kradung (and camp at the top if you wish).
- Visit Phu Rua National Park.
- Visit the rock formations at Phu Luang.
- Take in the views of the Mekong at Chiang Khan, Pak Chom or Tha Li.
There are any number of restaurants within the city, which is easily walkable. Many ethnic Chinese provide a good variety of places to eat, all at good prices.
Craft beer lovers will be amazed to find hand crafted brews this far from Bangkok. Outlaw Brewing, being run from an ice cream shop along the water in Loei City, brews several hopped up American IPAs , ales, and wheat beers. Jo Beer, situated along the Mekong River in Chiang Khan (soi 2), has a chocolate stout that must be tried, as well as a weizen and several ales.
There are many hotels in Loei from budget to luxury.
- Phuluang Hotel, 55 Charoenrat Rd, ☎ +66 42 811 532. The 450 baht room is good and air conditioned, but does not include breakfast. Showers are hot, but not much pressure. In the hotel restaurant fried rice with a large bottle of beer for 135 baht. Western breakfast for 90 baht. Has free WiFi and the Internet computer is 40 baht per hour. There are plenty of other restaurants nearby. Little English spoken, depending who is on the counter, but you can muddle through easily enough. Tuk-tuk from the bus station is 40 baht. About 1-2 km from the bus station on the edge of town. 350, 450 and 900 baht twin/double. edit
- Sugar Guest House (pronounced su-gar, not the English way of shu-gar), 4/1 Wisutitep Rd, Soi 2, ☎ +66 42 812-982, . The only real traveller-oriented accommodation in town. Run by friendly, English-speaking Pat. The rooms are plush by backpacker standards and very good value for money. Breakfast and bike hire services available. 180-380 baht. edit
- The Stay Guesthouse, 91/6-8 Wisutitep Road, Good Bong, Amphur Muang, Loei. 42000. GPS 17.503407, 101.732347, ☎ 0956207570, . The Stay Guesthouse is a wonderful home away from home in the stunning town of Loei in Northeastern Thailand. The owners John and Tai are wonderfully hospitable and welcoming hosts who make your stay as comfortable as possible. All rooms have private bathrooms and start at 250 Baht for a standard double room with fan to 399 for a standard double room with AC and up to 699 for a deluxe King room with AC. Rooms come complete with towels, soap, fridge and mini bar (extra cost). The Stay also offers tours, activities and motorbike hire as well as all the information and maps you could possibly need on the local area from those who know it best! Self serve laundry is also available and there are a few mini marts and restaurants within walking distance. From 250 - 699 Baht 399. edit
- Chiang Khan - Thirty minutes from Loei bus station if you time it right via the overnight bus from Bangkok's Mo Chit bus station, or 60-90 mins by songthaew (35 bath), the guesthouses of Chiang Khan look across the Mekong at Laos. The wooden town, replete with wats, is backed by a mountain topped by a Thai navy lookout surrounded by tamarind trees. A teak plantation on another mountain shades the home of forest monks caring for a temple in a cave. The cafe in the main street sells coffee made with milk from a dairy hidden in the hills. Nearby cotton is teased and netted into quilts. On a beach of coloured pebbles children run into the river where they float around in tubes from old tyres. It's a place to stay and watch the river world go by.
- Luang Prabang via Sayabouly, Sayabury, Xayabury etc.: daily bus leaves Loei at 08:00. Travel time to Sayabury 7 hours, Luang Prabang 9-10 hours. Also stops anywhere in between. Visa for Laos can be bought at the border.