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The Ultimate Guide to the Red Lotus Sea Thailand

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. The Red Lotus Sea is also known as Talay Bua Daeng and the Red Lotus Lake. CNN named it one of the world strangest lakes in 2014 and well, it’s not a lake you see every day – for sure.

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 the more special.

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

Udon Thani map
Red Lotus Lake vs Red Lotus Sea Thailand
When to visit?
How to get there?
Must do: a boat ride
Good to know before you visit
Udon Thani things to do
The best hotels in Udon Thani

Udon Thani Map

Red Lotus Lake vs Red Lotus Sea Thailand

The Thai translation of Talay Bua Daeng (ทะเลบัวแดง) into English is Red Lotus Sea. But don’t think you will be visiting the sea, as it’s a big freshwater lake! The name Red Lotus Sea can be confusing, but don’t let it fool you.

The lake is about 8 kilometers (5 miles) long and 3 kilometers (1.8 miles) wide. And although the lake is called the Red Lotus Sea or Red Lotus Lake, experts found out the flowers are actually pink tropical water lilies.

What’s the difference between water lily and lotus? Water lilies actually bloom similar to lotuses, but rise up to 15 centimeters (6 inches) above the water – lotuses only float on the water.

Fun fact: the lotus is a sacred flower in Thailand.

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Red Lotus Lake Thailand

When to visit this magical Red Lotus Sea?

The season for the pink flowers to bloom is from December to the end of February, just after the rainy season. January and February are the peak months the pink flowers bloom. So Valentine’s Day is the perfect moment to visit this magical lake, how romantic!

When you visit, make sure to go early in the morning. From sunrise to noon you can see the water lilies opened up: they open when they see the first morning light and close when the midday heat comes. Early morning is also the best moment to spots birds. There are many birds and fish in and around the lake.

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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, 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.

We love to book our buses & trains through 12Go Asia!

Must do: a boat ride on the Red Lotus Lake

You can’t see the pink flowers from shore, you will need to rent a boat to see – and fully experience – it. From the pier at Ban Diam, you can have the options to go on a big or small boat for either a short (45/60 min) or long trip (90 min), including a driver.

We choose the small long-tail boat for a 90-minute trip (which costs us 500 baht, $16, in total): we want to see as much as possible! A small boat for an hour costs 300 baht ($10) and a big boat for an hour 500 baht.

The advantage of a small boat is that it can go further into the flowers, which makes it more special and makes for better for pictures (the smaller traditional wooden boats are way prettier, in our opinion). The big boat is more stable though and fits around 8 people (you can split the costs!).

Explore the Red Lotus Lake Thailand

Once you are on the lake, just sit back and relax! After about 10 minutes you will reach the area with the flowers. At that point, you will be surrounded by the red lotus flowers or pink water lilies: they are everywhere around you! And if there are not too many boats, it’s really peaceful.

Imagine seeing the sun coming up and the flowers opening – it doesn’t get more magical than that. During the boat trip, you will also stop at a little island with a temple and a Buddha. But the rest of the time you can just enjoy the pink lake and take all the pictures you want!

We visited the lake in February 2017, and we’re almost alone on the lake – but that might change quickly once people learn about this magical place.

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difference between water lily and lotus

Good to know before you visit the Red Lotus Sea

  • It can be cold on the lake early in the morning. December to March is the cold season in Thailand. Bring some extra clothes! Later during the day, it can get pretty warm and sunny, so also make sure to bring sun protection.
  • There are some coffee- and food stalls at the pier but it isn’t much, it’s a good idea to bring some water or some breakfast.
  • Keep in mind that the lake will be a lot busier on weekends, Thai holidays and during Valentine’s Day. The lake isn’t popular under Western tourists yet, though Thai families and couples love coming here on the weekend and during the holidays.
  • The Red Lotus Sea is amazing for photography lovers, so make sure to bring your camera!
  • Once again: the lilies bloom from December to the end of February, don’t visit this lake any other time – there will be no pink flowers.

Red Lotus Sea Thailand

Udon Thani things to do

Visiting the Red Lotus Sea is definitely one of the top things to do in Udon Thani but there are other exciting spots to visit in Udon Thani.

  • Wat Photisomphon: Wat Photisomphon is a beautiful temple in Udon Thani. The whole complex is big and has modern vibes. Its location is close to the Nong Prajak Park, which is also worth a visit.
  • UNESCO World Heritage Site Ban Chiang: Ban Chiang is located about an hour drive from Udon Thani. It’s an archeological site famous for its pottery.
  • Night market: Night markets in Thailand are a must-visit! They are a great place to get to know Thai culture better, to eat street food and to buy souvenirs. Search for UD Town and Centre Point in Udon Thani and enjoy it!
  • Phu Phrabat Historical Park: This park is famous for its unique rocks with prehistoric rock paintings.

The best hotels in Udon Thani

It’s possible to stay close to the lake or in Udan Thani. There isn’t much going on in and around the lake, so if you like some bustle, we recommend staying in Udon Thani. We will tell you all about the best options below:

  • Ma Der Bua Hotel: This hotel is located next to the Red Lotus Sea, so if you are looking for a place close to the lake, don’t look further!
  • Gecko Villa: Gecko Villa is located about a 5 to 10-minute drive from the Red Lotus Sea. It’s a very peaceful place to stay as it’s in the middle of nowhere in the countryside. You will be surrounded by rice fields and there’s a swimming pool.
  • Graham & Donlaya Homestay: This small home stay is located close to the Red Lotus Sea. It’s a cute place to stay at and the owners are very friendly.
  • Jamjuree Home at Udonthani: Jamjuree Home is only a 15-minute ride away from the airport and next to the Nong Prajak Park. It’s a lovely hotel to stay at!
  • The 8 Hotel Udonthani: This hotel is a new hotel in Udon Thani. It’s a trendy hotel located close to the bus station and night market. There are many restaurants and shop around the hotel.
  • Tanita Lagoon Resort: Tanita Lagoon Resort is a peaceful resort to stay at. It’s best to stay here if you have your own car so you can drive to other places in Udon Thani yourself. The resort has a swimming pool and a lagoon.

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Wednesday 19th of June 2019

Wow! This place is just out of this world beautiful! Hope to visit one day - love your photos sooooo much!

Roxanne & Maartje

Thursday 20th of June 2019

Aah thanks so much! This place is definitely worth a visit ?

Treasured Travels

Saturday 10th of November 2018

How beautiful! I love discovering hidden gems like this and will definitely be adding the lake to my list of places to visit when I’m next in Thailand.

Roxanne & Maartje

Thursday 15th of November 2018

Yess! Any plans to visit soon?


Saturday 10th of November 2018

I really enjoyed this post! I have been to Udon Thani's Red Lotus Sea a while ago - but your pictures have made me want to revisit. Beautiful photos and thanks for the tip on bringing a jacket for the cooler mornings.

Roxanne & Maartje

Thursday 15th of November 2018

That is so amazing, how did you like it?!


Saturday 10th of November 2018

This is so gorgeous!! I've never heard of it before, thank you for letting us know about it! :) Your photos are gorgeous as well.

Roxanne & Maartje

Thursday 15th of November 2018

Thanks so much! And you're very welcome!

Finding Yoki

Saturday 10th of November 2018

I’ve never heard of this place but this looks like a dream!!! Thank you for sharing. I’ll definitely check here out next time when I’m in Thailand :)

Roxanne & Maartje

Thursday 15th of November 2018

Any plans to visit?

Once Upon a Journey