Red Lotus Lake – A trip to Thailand’s most beautiful lake
Udon Thani – What, how, who?
Udon Thani is a province and at the same time provincial capital in the north-eastern region of Isaan, the largest region of Thailand. The Mekong River separates it from the neighbouring country of Laos.
This is your starting point if you want to visit Red Lotus Lake. You will soon be able to read more about the city itself and what there is to see in a separate article. But you can easily plan one or two days for sightseeing.
You can fly from Bangkok, but bus or train are both greener and cheaper, so I would recommend one of them. I myself arrived by train in third class and paid 250 Baht for it.
In Udon Thani I rented a scooter for 300 Baht a day and left very early the next morning to be at Red Lotus Lake for sunrise.
The Red Lotus Lake
Mainly local, but also some foreign tourists flock to Red Lotus Lake about 40 kilometres away from the city of Udon Thani. Its real name is Lake Nong Han. It is about eight kilometres long and three kilometres wide and an important source of water in the region. It is home to a variety of fish, birds and plants. The lake flows into the Lam Pao River, an important waterway for the inhabitants of the province.
Every year in December and January an incredible natural spectacle takes place here. When the lotus blossoms bloom, the lake turns into a sea of bright pink flowers.
You want to see the pink fairytale? That’s how!
When I arrived at the lake around sunrise, I was disappointed: No lotus flowers in sight. Although I had seen boats in the photos, I didn’t know that the flowers were not visible from the shore. So I drove a good 15 minutes further north along the lake until I reached the place where the boats leave: in Ban Diam.
Here you can either book a small boat for 300 Baht for two people (the next photo shows a small boat), or alternatively there are big boats waiting for you, in which more people fit and which cost 500 Baht. The tour takes about one to one and a half hours.
Since I would have had to wait an hour for a small boat, I decided to go for a big boat. As it turned out afterwards, this was not too bad, as I had enough space for equipment and co. and could even stand up in the boat.
Then you climb aboard and after about twenty minutes you reach the heart of Lake Nong Han. There the scenery begins to change. And suddenly you can see the ‘Talay Bua Daeng’… the sea of lotus flowers.
Lotus flower or water lily?
Locals say that the pink flowers are actually tropical water lilies. They resemble the flowers of the lotus flower and can easily be confused. The leaves and flowers of the lotus flower usually protrude a few centimetres above the water surface, while the leaves and flowers of the water lily usually float directly on the water surface. Tropical water lilies are an exception to this rule, however, because although their leaves float on the surface, their flowers protrude about 15 centimetres above the water. This is exactly the case with Red Lotus Lake.
All I know is, lotus or water lily… The flowers are indescribably beautiful!
The inhabitants of Red Lotus Lake
As previously mentioned, Red Lotus Lake is the natural habitat of many birds. A dream for ornithologists! But even I couldn’t help but sit there with my mouth open when I first saw one of the numerous herons open its wings. Watching it swing into the air and glide across the pink sea is breathtakingly beautiful.
After the tour
When you return after one and a half hours, you can let the experience sink in in one of the cafés and go through your photos for the first time. When I arrived early in the morning, they were still closed, but when I came back around 10 o’clock, everything was open.
There are also small stands where you can buy, for example, grilled bananas or grilled sticky rice.
My conclusion about Red Lotus Lake
For me, the trip to Red Lotus Lake was a perfect start into the new year 2020, and if you have been following my travels and adventures for a while now, you know that 2019 was not really my year. My mother died after a severe cancer and several months in hospital. This has put a dark veil over the whole year. The lake with its breathtaking splendour was a ray of hope for me that the mourning period is slowly over. That there are still wonderful things to discover. That I can and want to go on further discovery tours with a smile.
Besides this very personal reason why this was a particularly magical hour for me, I can also say that objectively speaking, it is simply a magical place. So if you want to go to a less touristy place and experience a completely different Thailand than you might have seen in Bangkok, Koh Samui or Chiang Mai, I can warmly recommend Udon Thani and Red Lotus Lake.
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