Phu Rua New Year Flower Festival

In my December story On the Road to Loei and Phu Rua I promised to write about Phu Rua’s Annual Flower Festival and so I’ll start this post by explaining a bit about Loei Province which is where Phu Rua (Boat Mountain) can be found. Click on any photo to enlarge.

As you can see from the map of Thailand, Loei Province is in the North-East region of the country and Loei River which flows through the province separates it from Laos. The border waters are a tributary of the great Mekong River.

Loei is a vast area of low mountains and fertile plains, and its cool winter temperatures are ideal conditions for growing exotic flowers, plants and trees. The area’s climate is often compared to that of the South of France…. hot balmy afternoons sandwiched between cold misty mornings and cool evenings.

To view a morning mist over the rolling mountain plains is a quite spectacular sight, a field of vision far from ones normal mental portrait of Thailand.

Phu Rua town is 50 kilometres from Loei city and the journey to there is a winding mountain road climb past sprawling hills and vegetation on either side. The route is intermittently broken by jagged mountain rock face which has reluctantly given part way to the asphalt cement highway trail.

Loei Province is also home to Chateau de Loei Vineyard and Winery. Chateau de Loei wine is bottled in the bosom of Phu Rua with the winery situated just a few kilometres away in Dan Sai. The winery opened in 1995 and its product became the first commercially produced Thai wine exported to Europe and Japan. Phu Rua’s climate of cool nights and sunny days are perfect for growing wine-making grapes. The winery and vineyard are on a 600 rai (240 acre) stretch of rolling land and the plot has become a popular tourist attraction.

Phu Rua Annual Flower Festival is held between late December and New Year on the grounds of the town’s district office which exhibits a giant thermometer (a few of these in the area) at the front of its land. The latest festival ran from December 30 to New Years Day and the event was as well attended as it had been on my previous two visits.

The horticultural show is a haven for any garden enthusiast and has many bed and tree flowers on view as well as a wide variety of plants and ornamental flower decorations.

Roses, Tuberose, Frangipani (Plumeria), Ylang-Ylang, Petunia, Hydrangeas and Phlox were displayed either at the festival or at one of the many garden nurseries which line the road both in and out of Phu Rua town.

Phu Rua’s flower show is bookmarked by garden traders from the length and breadth of Thailand. Their annual pilgrimage to this sleepy northeastern town provides them the luxury of buying high standard flora species grown in the cooler climate of Loei.

Coach and busloads of Thai tourists also flock to the annual event and if you’re planning to arrive by car then get there early as parking spaces are quickly taken.

Here’s a few more photos taken at the Phu Rua Flower Festival.

There’s lots of potted flowers and plants on show here and also a cute looking saleswoman hiding away at the back.

This one reminds me of something out of America’s Wild West. I love the cow horns pinned to the top of the stucture.

If you love pots, pollen and petals then head for Phu Rua next New Year for its multi coloured flower festival. To my knowledge Phu Rua doesn’t have any hotels but Loei city has enough to suit every budget.

The bottom photograph is my favourite and was taken about 10 kilometres outside of Phu Rua at one of the many garden centres which line up on both sides of the road all the way to the town.

This may be a very remote and peaceful area of the world, and despite the nature of ones work requiring a love of flowers and dedication to duty, a girls most precious tool is still her mobile phone.

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I'm a sixty-year-old Englishman living in the town of Swindon in rural Wiltshire and I have a real deep desire to retire in Thailand one day. If you don't have a dream then you won't have a dream come true.

16 Responses

  1. Talen says:

    Beautiful pics Martyn…and it looks like Phu Rua is yet another beautiful place to visit in Thailand. I can certainly see why Wi would want to bring back a lot of flowers.

  2. Hoo Don says:

    Talen sorry about the delay but I’ve been working nights.

    The pictures are okay for a point and snap camera but my new one doesn’t handle red too well. One day I’m going to get myself a really decent Canon camera or something along those lines.

    Loei is worth a visit and Wi loves the place to bits.

  3. I fully agree with Talen – smashing photos. I think you are also doing the Loei tourist board a great service – there are not enough good things written on the web about Loei.

  4. Hoo Don says:

    Paul – Loei is a very nice area and you’re right about it being a bit unknown. I think if you asked a lot of Thailand regulars about the province very few would know much. The weather at Christmas is absolutely perfect and those foggy early mornings are something else.

  5. Lawrence says:

    Great pics, Martyn. Phu Rua is a smashing place to visit and there are several good resorts to choose from. Did you go up the mountain? It costs, these days, I believe.

  6. Hoo Don says:

    Thanks Lawrence. By the mountain do you mean the Phu Rua National Park one. I didn’t go there this time but have been once before, there were people camping at the top. Quite an impressive place and we did have to pay to get in.

  7. Snap says:

    …but Martyn…did you try the wine? 😉 Phu Rua is certainly a picturesque slice of Thailand isn’t it!

  8. Hoo Don says:

    Snap we bought two bottles of wine, one red and one white. I’m no wine expert but the white tasted okay to me. I didn’t try the red as I not that keen on the stuff.

    It certainly is one pretty area and one I know you’ve cycled through.

  9. Deong Peng says:

    I am a Singaporean and I have been travelling to Phurua every year for the past 3 years during December and Jan because Phurua has one of the coolest climate during that period. I love the cool weather, the friendly people and best of all, the food there. If you are traveling from Danzai to Phurua/Leoi, just about 8m before reaching Phurua near a temple, there is a small wooden hut resturant called Sap Jun which serve one of the best somtam and barbeque chiken in the country. I think they must have marinated the chiken with some kind of milk as it is so tasty and is cheap about 40 to 50 Thai baht only for the whoke chcken. The weather in Phurua can be very cold at night and you can see fog duirng the morning.

  10. Deong Peng says:

    Leoi is more commercialised as compare to Phurua as there is no cinema or disco in Phurua unlike Leoi which has a cinema, disco and recently Lotus. But on the other hand, you can hardly find any 3 storey building there in phurua. There is a small town called Chiang Khan about 55km from Leoi and is along is along the Mekong river and you can see Lao on the other side. Chiang Khan has some very old nostalgic builidng.

    I love Phurua more because it is less commercialised than Leoi and Phurua is famous for its beautiful flowers, National Park and waterfall. I am lucky to know the head director of Phurua national Park who organise events and camps for young peoepl and students in Thailand.

  11. Hoo Don says:

    Deong Peng – Thank you for commenting on The Juice.

    I will be visiting Loei and Phu Rua again sometime and will make a point of seeking out the Sap Jun restaurant, Wilai will love that.

    I particularly enjoyed seeing the morning fog in Phu Rua although we waited for it to lift before heading for the mountain roads. They are dangerous enough in good daylight especially over the New Year period.

    I thought Phu Rua’s climate was perfect for me.

    We stopped briefly in Chiang Khan on our way to Loei and it did look a very nice place. I’m hoping to stay a night there one day.

    I have been to Phu Rua’s National Park before and would also like to spend one night there too, although that would have to be in a tent. One day I will and then I’ll get a great view from the top of the mountain once the fog starts to lift.

  12. Mike N says:

    Hi, my GF & I must have been at Phu Rua a couple of days before you, lots of people shopping for plants even before the flower festival ! I had to smile at the tourists in their cold weather gear getting their “been there, done that” photos next to the big thermometer in town….but I’m not so sure about it’s accuracy. I cannot see what it is reading in your photo, but on our first day in town it was cold and wet, thermometer was reading 10 degrees ….next day was warm and sunny, but still reading 10 degrees !!
    There are many resorts in Phu Rua if you want to stay there rather than loei.

    “before heading for the mountain roads. They are dangerous enough in good daylight especially over the New Year period.”

    Too true ….our visit there ended rather badly when we witnessed the result of crazy Thai driving in the wet….one car coming towards suddenly stopped to look at some flowers, a car following too close behind ran into him, and then a pick up following him locked up his brakes, spun across the road in front of us, throwing the 3 passengers sitting in the back onto the road. My GF would n’t let me stop, but at least 1 person was clearly dead…..

  13. Hoo Don says:

    Mike N – Thanks for posting such a good comment.

    The big thermometer is a very popular thing in Phu Rua and at the flower festival there’s a regular stream of people having their picture taken there. As far as whether it works or not then the answer is yes. If you click on my photo it will enlarge and you can then clearly see it reads 28 degrees C. It had changed from our visit the day before.

    We did see a couple of places to stay on our way from Loei to Phu Rua. One was at a steak restaurant we always stop at on our way to the flower show.

    The roads are dangerous and a little bit scary at times especially at that time of year. The accident rate on the roads is very high in that particular area (Loei to Phu Rua).

    Thanks and please do pop by again.

  14. Deong Peng says:


    Next time if you want to go to Leoi, Phurua or Chiang Khan, and want to find a good and honest local guide, let me know as I recently I got a contact of a local phurua guy who was born and raise in Phurua and he is conducting cheap and afordable tour guide to this 3 places, particularly Phurua because this is where he stay for more than 28 years and he knows almost every good places to visit in Phurua and where and which resort to stay and where to find good and cheap food.
    I am sure you can get a good rate before you hire his services.

    As for Phurua National Park, I know the head or the guy which in charge of the national park, but I have not stay there before although I was invivted a few times to stay at one of the resort near the HQ. But I think I can get good rates there too.

    I have been traveling to many cities in Asia, like Japan, Korea, Taiwan, China, Philippines, Malaysia etc, but Thailand is still one of my favorite place to visit because the thai people are very friendly and polite and also I like Thai food, I used to like Bangkok but now is too congested and crowded and polluetd so going to traveling to country side or outside Bangkok provinces like Leoi, Phurua is a better option before it become another tourist haunt for foreigners like me.

  15. Martyn says:

    Deong Peng – Thanks for dropping by again and posting more information on Phu Rua and I appreciate the offer of the guide.

    I think it will be a while before Phu Rua is touched by western tourism but it does do good business with Thais and I’d guess other Asian visitors to the Kingdom.

    Next time I’m in Phu Rua I intend visiting the National Park again, the view from the mountain top is breathtaking.

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