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The Ultimate Guide to the Red Lotus Sea Thailand

The Red Lotus Lake is a truly picturesque and remarkable natural wonder. Here you will find yourself floating across sunlit waters shimmering with starbursts. Stretching across the entire horizon, you will see nothing but a magical, endless tapestry of pink tropical water lilies. Spending an early morning on The Red Lotus Lake is to experience absolute serenity and tranquillity; a complete contrast to the hustle of Bangkok or Phuket. Tourists are flocking to Nong Han Kumphawap or also known as the Red Lotus Lake, in the Udon Thani province to view the spectacular scenery of pink water lilies in bloom.

Yes! Thailand still has hidden gems only a few Western tourists know about. The Red Lotus Sea, located in Udon Thani in Northeast Thailand, is one of those gems and it’s definitely one for the bucket list.

Red Lotus Lake Thailand

The lake, whose official name is Nong Han Kumphawapi, was once unknown to most tourists. Then, after being featured on international media, it popularity grew till it became an Instagram star. Now it is widely recognized as one of the priceless jewels of Unseen Thailand.

The banks of the Red Lotus Lake also provide the backdrop for the ancient Isan legend of Nang Ai. This gives the lake a truly mythical feel besides its natural beauty.

‘Red Lotus Lake’ is the English translation of the lake’s popular Thai name ‘Talay Bua Daeng’. Actually, a more accurate and direct translation is ‘Red Lotus Sea’. T

Tropical Water Lilies are equally as pretty as Lotuses and much more majestic. Their flowers rise up and sit some 15-30cm above the water and grow up to 40cm wide. Lotuses are smaller and tend to sit on the water. It is this characteristic of water lilies that gives the lake its spectacularness. They also create a wall of pink that extends as far as the eye can see. So don’t be disappointed if you were expecting lotuses.

Despite the misdescription, the growing popularity of the Red Lotus Lake has inspired many imitations. Other Thai regions have tried to artificially create their own Lotus Lakes. Yet none of these come close in beauty to Udon Thani’s lake and which blossomed without help or hindrance.

Red Lotus sea Udon Thani Thailand

The freshwater lake located just north of Kumphawapi, in Udon Thai Province is around 7 km long, 3 km wide, and quite shallow at approximately 2 meters deep. For most of the year, the lake is average. However, from December to February every year, the blooming of thousands of pink lotus flowers transforms the lake into a never-ending carpet of pink blooms that CNN has named one of the world’s strangest lakes.

Imagine a lake with thousands of pink flowers, spreading as far as the eye can see! Getting on the lake by boat is one of the most romantic and unique experiences we’ve ever done. And Valentine’s is actually the perfect time to visit: the red lotuses only bloom a couple of months each year. But that makes the experience more special.

In this blog post, we will tell you everything you need to know about visiting the Red Lotus Sea in Thailand.

The pink-colored flowers are tropical water lilies that resemble lotuses. The leaves and flowers of lotus usually rise above the water's surface whereas the leaves and flowers of the water lily usually just float on the surface of the water. However, the exception to this is tropical water lilies where the leaves float on the surface and their flowers rise around fifteen centimeters above the water, as is the case on Nong Han Kumphawap.

Red Lotus Sea Udon Thani Thailand

The Legend of Nong Han Lake

Local folklore links Nong Han Kumphawap to a traditional tale involving Princess Nang Ai and Prince Phadaeng. According to legend, Nang Ai was famed for her beauty and many suitors wanted to marry her. Her father decided to hold a competition to decide the winner of Nang Ai’s hand in marriage.

The competition becomes complicated involving magical transformations, murder, and revenge. Mythical serpents arose from a local river after a fierce battle and flooded the area which became Nong Han Kumphawap. This ancient folktale just makes the lake even more romantic in the eyes of local Thais.

Red Lotus lake

Where is the Red Lotus Lake?

The Red Lotus Lake is one hour drive from the city of Udon Thani. This seasonal attraction is not often visited by international tourists due to the difficulty of reaching the area by public transport. The best way to reach the lake is by private transport.

  • Rent a car or motorbike – You can rent a car or motorbike in Udon Thani.

  • Hire a taxi for the day – Hiring a taxi for the day should cost 1000-1500 Baht. Ensure the price includes a return trip and the driver waits while you are on your boat ride.

Red Lotus sea

How to get to Thailand’s Red Lotus Sea?

The lake is located near the city of Udon Thani in the Isan region. From Bangkok, you can reach Udon Thani by train, bus, or plane.

From Chiang Mai, you can reach the city by bus or plane. The actual lake, the Kumphawapi Reserve, is located about 40 kilometers (25 miles) south of Udon Thani’s city center – a one-hour ride.

Ban Diam is the point at the lake where all the boats are that will take you for a ride – it’s on the northeast side of the lake. It’s possible to reach Ban Diam from Udon Thani by public transport but it’s time-consuming and difficult, and you are unable to get to the lake for sunrise.

Better options are to rent a vehicle – car or motorbike – or get a taxi. A taxi will cost you between 1000-1500 baht ($33-49) for a return trip, the driver will wait for you when you are on the lake. Ask your hotel to arrange this for you, and if they can’t help, search for a travel agency in Udon Thani.

Red Lotus lake

When is the best time to visit the Red Lotus Lake?

The best time to visit Red Lotus Lake is during the cool season which occurs from early December until the end of February. The peak times to view the water lilies are in January and February when the plants cover a wide area of the lake.

The flowers are at their best in the early morning. They tend to close slightly as the sun heats up in the middle of the day. It is recommended to get there early to visit the blooms at their peak between sunrise and 11 am.

What to do at the Red Lotus Lake?

You will need to hire a boat to enjoy the unique experience as you float among the sea of pink flowers. From the shoreline, the water lilies are barely visible. You will need to travel by boat for 10 minutes in order to reach the lotus blooms. The boat will stop at designated places with the engine cut, allowing you to float on the water and pose for photos. Surrounded by a blanket of pink lout flowers as far as the eye can see, allows you to take some amazing photos and soak in the pink splendor that makes this lake a unique attraction.

Visiting the red lotus lake is popular with local residents and the lake can be busy on weekends, public holidays, and Valentine’s Day.

sunrise at the red lotus lake in Thailand

How much does it cost to visit the Red Lotus Lake?

At the Ban Diam pier on the northern side of the lake, you will see the rows of boats available for rent. There are two boat choices:

  • A small wooden boat, that seats two people, cost 300 Baht for one hour.

  • Larger plastic boat seats for up to eight people cost 500 Baht for one hour.

Boat rental includes a driver and life vests. The small boat has the advantage of going further among the lotus blooms, giving you better photo opportunities.

Travel Tips Before Visiting the Red Lotus Lake

  • Bring a light jacket as the early mornings may be a little cold.

  • Even though it is a cool season, take a hat, sunscreen, and a bottle of water for your boat ride as it can still be hot during the day.

  • There is ample parking space available, as well as some local restaurants and basic toilet facilities at the lake.

  • Download offline Google Maps when driving to the Red Lotus Lake.

  • Weekdays tend to be less busy than weekends and public holidays.

  • The pink flowers are best viewed during the cool season from early December to late February. Outside these months, the lotus blooms will not be flowering.

Staying Overnight?

Maderbura Hotel Basic hotel with everything you need right at the lake. Rooms around 25 Eur a night including breakfast

fishermen during sunrise at the red lotus lake in Thailand

Travel Tips

  • Use Klook to find the best deals for trips, somehow they are most of the time 30% cheaper than when you buy them at a local agency. We visit a temple in Pattaya The Sanctuary of truth and on Klook you pay 360 Bath and at the temple itself 500 Bath. Klook is a world-leading travel activity and services booking platform with more than 60,000 activities across 250 major destinations.

  • Use Trivago to find the best prices for your hotels Trivago is a world-leading metasearch platform allowing users to compare accommodation prices from the best service suppliers. Travelers can find the best offers for hotels, apartments, houses, and even luxury villas.

  • Use 12Go to find your travel route for local buses, and ferries, we use them all the time as you can easily see the reviews, and the vouchers are everywhere accepted. tickets are sold for more than 5,000 destinations in 100+ countries worldwide.12Go has already helped more than 3,500,000 travelers from around the world get from point A to point B trouble-free and with a high-quality service guarantee. Over the years, the service has received more than 166,000 customer reviews.

  • Find Cheap rental cars with Discover Cars, somehow they always find the best deals for you. Many other websites hide fees and extra costs from you. Discover Cars includes all mandatory fees, taxes, and extras in the quoted price so there won't be any surprises when you arrive at the rental desk.

  • Use VisitorsCoverage to find the best Travel Insurance worldwide suitable for all types of travelers, including digital nomads, couples, and families regardless of budget VisitorsCoverage is one of the largest online travel insurance platforms offered in 175+ countries (with their primary market being the United States). This insurance company was one of the first to offer travel insurance to travelers worldwide in 2006. Now, they offer several customizable plans, from classic insurance to cover medical expenses to extended insurance to cover flight delays, missing baggage, and other emergencies.


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