The Lake of Red Water Lilies – One of the World’s Strangest Lakes

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Imagine rowing your boat through a sea of floating lotus flowers that expand as far as the eye can see. Dreamy? Yes, but also completely possible if you visit to one of the world’s strangest lakes (according to CNN) in Northeastern Thailand (Isan, Esan).

The Sea of Red Lotuses, or the Lake of Red Water Lilies or what local people call “Nong Han Kumphawapi Lake หนองหานกุมภวาปี” , often just “หนองหาน Nong Han” or “Talay Buadaeng ทะเลบัวแดง (the Red Lotus Sea)” occupies 20,000 rai (8,000 acre) and it is a significant source of water for the Nam Pao River, the lifeline of the Udonthani province.

The lake is very shallow, mostly not exceeding a depth of one meter, but the unique feature of this lake is thousands of red lotus flowers sprout and completely transform the surface of Lake Nong Harn into a romantic dreamlike lake.

(Photo credit: Pinterest)

Teacher Pear visited the lake on Feb 2, 2015.

Teacher Pear visited the lake on Feb 2, 2015.

Teacher Pear and her friends on a boat among amazing pink lotuses.

Teacher Pear and her friends on a boat among amazing pink lotuses.

Folk tale of Phadaeng & Nang Ai – “Nang Ai was the beautiful daughter of King Kom who ruled the country of Chathida. Many wanted to marry her. Amongs those men was Prince Phadaeng, a man from another land, and Prince Pangkhii, who had wed Nang Ai in former lives but in this one was the son of Phaya Nak, the Grand Nāga who rules the Deeps. So many suitors desired to wed Nang Ai that her father staged a Rocket Festival competition, the winner to enjoy a royal wedding. But hopes were dashed when only rockets of her uncles make it aloft, and her father called the whole thing off. Naga Prince Pangkhii changed into a white squirrel to spy on Nang Ai but she saw him and had him killed by a royal hunter. Pangkhii’s flesh magically transformed into 8,000 cartloads of meat. Nang Ai and many of her countrymen ate of this tainted flesh, and Phaya Nak vowed to allow no one to remain living who had eaten of the flesh of his son. Aroused from the Deeps, he and his watery myrmidons rise and turn the land into a vast swamp — of which this very Nong Han is a remnant” (Wikipedia)

When to visit:

The red lotus sea is best witnessed in the cool season from November to February, it reaches full bloom in December.

The perfect time to see the beautiful red lotuses in full booming is in the morning from 6am to 11am when the flowers are fully opened, revealing their vibrant, pink color (not red, despite the name), but tourists can take a boat tour for sightseeing around the lake all day.

The rest of the year, the Nong Han Kumphawapi Lake is certainly less interesting but still a fishy place with fishermen and a wide variety of birds and water plants.

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(Photo credit:facebook.com/RedLotusSea)

Location:

Nong Han Kumphawapi is located north of the town Kumphawapi, Kumphawapi district in Udon Thani Province.

The lake is about 50 kilometers away from Udon Thani. The access point to the lake is in a village Ban Diam, which is just south of PrajakSinlapakhom town. In Ban Diam village, the access to the lake is at the backside of the temple.

Getting Around:

You can rent boats on Nong Han Kumphawapi Lake;

– A small boat holds 2 -3 people for 100 Baht/person/trip

– A big boat holds 10-12 people for 300Baht/hour or 500Baht/2 hours.

red lotus sea

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(Photo credit:facebook.com/RedLotusSea)

How to Get to Udon Thani

By air: Thai International Airways have several daily flights (50 minutes) from Bangkok on Airbus or Boeing aircraft, from both Don Muang and Suwannabhumi airports. Bangkok Air flys daily between Suwannabhumi and Udon Thani. Air Asia, Nok Air and Thai Lion Air have frequent low cost flights from Bangkok to Udon Thani.  Air Asia also operates several flights a week between Phuket and Udon Thani, and Nok Air also flies between Chiang Mai and Udon Thani.

By train: Several daily trains from Bangkok each with three classes (approximately 9 hours). A first class compartment for two can be a novel alternative to flying, although you will need to book in advance.

By road: From Bangkok, a fascinating fly-drive via Khao Yai National Park & Nakhon Ratchasima (Khorat). Alternatively, drive straight to Gecko Villa from Nong Khai if arriving from Vientiane, the capital of Laos.

How to Go to Nong Han Lake

By car: GPS Latitude: 17.3567 , Longitude: 103.109

From Udon Thani Bus Terminal number 1, you can take the bus to Wangsammo and get off at Kumphawapi. The trip takes about 1 hour for a price of thirty baht and a departure every hour. Otherwise, the nearest railway station is the tiny local station of Huay Sam Phat, about 30 km before Udon Thani. Only the slower local trains stop there and only for a few seconds.

Pink Lotus Sea(Photo credit:facebook.com/RedLotusSea)

Tip: Don’t copy the fishermen and swim in the lake: it’s infested with liver flukes, which can cause a nasty infection known as opisthorchiasis.

Thai Language Corner:

  • หนอง /nŏng/ means swamp, bog or fen
  • ทะเล /tá-lay/ means sea
  • บัว /bua/ means lotus
  • แดง /daeng/ means red

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12 Responses to The Lake of Red Water Lilies – One of the World’s Strangest Lakes

  1. Sky 10/11/2016 at 12:38 #

    It is one of the most amazing places I’ve seen in Thailand. I wonder why is it not as popular as other locations? I guess people just don’t know about it and crowds of tourists spend most of their time on the beaches and in BKK. Here is short video I’ve recorded at the red lotus lake: http://bit.ly/2RedLotusLake

  2. Michael 12/02/2015 at 04:07 #

    As always, thank you for your lessons and reviews and guidance and the many things on can do in your beautiful country.

  3. Sankalp Kota 09/02/2015 at 01:31 #

    Just out of curiousity, why are the fisherman not getting infected by the liver flukes?

    • Mod 04/03/2015 at 23:21 #

      It is a good question but I am sorry I don’t know the answer.

  4. Simon 05/02/2015 at 07:08 #

    Last time I went to Thailand, I swam in a river very similar to this one, only with yellow and white lotus flowers in Kanchaburi. It was very beautiful but I didn’t know anything about opisthorchiasis. until I just Googled that. I’m glad I chose not to swim when I visited the fantastic lake at khon kaen. Thanks for sharing the pictures.

    • Mod 04/03/2015 at 23:28 #

      Thank you for reading my post and your comment. The lake you went in Kanchanaburi sounds nice!

  5. Felipe Machado Pinheiro 05/02/2015 at 02:45 #

    Pretty beautiful place. Must be ease and romantic to take a tour with the loved person. The lotus flower is like the Vitória-régia (Brazilian flower found in Amazonia forest).

  6. Terryl Sky 04/02/2015 at 19:52 #

    Sawaht dee,

    Thank you for your post. The photographs are very beautiful.
    Suay mahk mahk!

    I am an artist (and a teacher) and so I enjoy this beauty.
    I would like to visit it and paint it someday.

    Chok dee nakhrap!

    Sky

    http://www.skypeenglishexpress.com

    • Mod 05/03/2015 at 09:24 #

      Sawatdee ka, thank you for visiting my website and your comment. 🙂

  7. Denis 04/02/2015 at 17:12 #

    Great post Mod. Thanks for sharing!

    • Mod 04/03/2015 at 23:29 #

      Thank you for reading my post Denis. 🙂

  8. Sim 04/02/2015 at 16:34 #

    สวยมาก

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