The early morning sun shines on the water’s surface as the boatswain slowly steers his boat toward shore. But there’s yet to be a sign of the stellar pull. It only goes to the heart after boarding and a ride of about twenty minutes. From Nong Han Lake that the scene begins to change. Now the lake lives up to its colloquial name. This is ‘Talay Bua Daeng,’ the ‘Red Lotus Sea.’
Tucked away in a quiet district in the northeastern province of Udon Thani, the lake is a unique tourist attraction that comes alive in Thailand’s more excellent season when carpets of pink lilies cover the water’s surface.
Lotuses or water lilies?
Although Nong Han Lake is nicknamed the Red Lotus Sea or Red Lotus Lake, local experts tell me the pink flowers are tropical water lilies. The flowers resemble lotus flowers and have similar properties. The leaves and flowers of the lotus generally rise above the surface of the water, while the leaves and flowers of the water lily float typically on the surface. The exception, however, is tropical water lilies, in which the leaves float to the surface, and their flowers rise about six inches above the water level. Water, as in the case of Nong Han Lake.
Red Lotus Lake vs. Red Lotus Sea Thailand
Talay Bua Daeng’s Thai translation into English is Red Lotus Sea. But don’t think you will visit the sea since it is a large freshwater lake! The Red Lotus Sea name can be confusing, but let that fool you. The lake is about 8 kilometers long and 3 kilometers wide.
And although the lake is called Red Lotus Sea or Red Lotus Lake, experts discovered that the flowers are pink tropical water lilies. What is the difference between the water lily and the lotus? Water lilies flower similarly to lotus flowers but stand taller. Six inches (15 centimeters) above water: lotuses only float on water.
When to visit this magical Red Lotus Sea?
The pink flowers bloom from December to late February, just after the rainy season. January and February are the months when the pink flowers bloom. So Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to visit this magical lake. How romantic! If you go, make sure you go early in the morning. You can watch the water lilies open from sunrise to midday: they open when they see the first morning light and close when the midday heat sets in.
Morning is also the best time for bird watching. There are many birds and fish in and around the lake.
The best time to visit Red Lotus Lake is during the excellent season, which occurs from early December to late February each year. The prime times for spotting water lilies in Talay Bua Daeng are January and February when lotus plants cover a wide area of the lake. We visited in mid-January 2018, and the lake was impressive, with a full cover of open pink flowers.
How to get to Thailand’s Red Lotus Sea?
The lake is located near the city of Udon Thani in the Isan region. You can reach Udon Thani from Bangkok by train, bus, or plane. You can get to the city by bus or plane from Chiang Mai. The Kumphawapi Reserve lake is about 40 kilometers south of downtown Udon Thani, an hour’s drive away. Ban Diam is the point on the lake where all the boats that take you for a ride are located. The northeast side of the lake.
It is possible to get to Ban Diam from Udon Thani by public transport, but it is time-consuming and complex, and you cannot reach the lake at sunrise.