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.
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.
The pink-coloured flowers are tropical water lilies which resemble lotuses. The leaves and flowers of lotus usually rise above the water surface whereas the leaves and flowers of the water lily usually just float on the surface of the water. However, the exception to this are 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.
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.
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 be international tourist 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. Malaysians are allowed to drive in Thailand without the requirement of an international driver permit (IDP).
- 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.
When is the best time to visit the Red Lotus Lake?
The best time to visit the Red Lotus Lake is during the cool season which occurs from early December until 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 shore-line the water lilies are barely visible. You will need to travel by boat for 10 minuts 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 make this lake an 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.
How much does it cost to visit the Red Lotus Lake?
At the Ban Diam pier at the northern side of the lake, you will see the rows of boats available for rent. There are two boat choices:
- Small wooden boat, seats two people, cost 300 Baht for one hour.
- Larger plastic boat, seats 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 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 are ample parking space available, as well as some local restaurants and basic toilet facilities at the lake.
- Download offline Google map 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.