Phu comes from the Thai word Phukao, meaning mountain. The name Kradueng, or Krading in the local dialect of Loei Province, can be translated as Rakhang Yai, meaning a large bell. This name comes from a legend relating to a Buddhist holiday. During the holiday many of the towns people heard the sound of a large bell. They believed it to be the bell of Indra.
The beauty of the mountain is reflected in local folk tales. One person named Phran, who fled from another village, believed that Phu Kradueng had never been climbed before. He led his bull to the top of the mountain. He found it full of beautiful deer, and pine forests. There were many different types of plants, trees and wild animals. After this he stayed, and lived his life surrounded by the beauty of the mountain.
Nowadays, Phu Kradueng is extremely popular with young Thais, particularly university students. Accommodation on the mountain itself is limited to a "tent city" with hundreds of canvas tents available for rent. The sense of isolation and scenic beauty is further spoilt by annoying and unnecessary loudspeakers intermittently announcing food availability, sleeping hours, and other concerns in Thai