Flying in from Chiang Mai especially to see the famous red lotus lake near Udon Thani for only a day, might seem crazy but it was so worth it! If you happen to be in the country between mid January and mid February, check out the red lotus flower for an otherworldly red lots flower blooming season. Here’s what you need to know.
How to Get to the Red Lotus Lake near Udon Thani
By Public Transport
Be warned, this is challenging but possible. Head to the Udon Thani bus terminal 1 and get a local bus (from bus halt #8) for 30 THB. Make sure you let the bus driver know where you are going so they can drop you off by the highway leading into the village Ban Na Di Sang Bong. Buses leave hourly. When I went, it was at 30 minutes pas the hour. Alternatively, you can take the train to Khumpawapi. Getting a taxi or grab car costs 600 to 800 baht.
From there, it gets tricky. You can jump on a tuk tuk – if the driver is actually around. Me and a fellow traveller didn’t want to wait around too long and walking to the red lotus lake would have taken too long. So we successfully hitchhiked with a local woman. During high season and on weekends, when all the tourists are coming, there should be tuk tuks available more easily.
The same applies for the way back. Tuk tuks were rare during my visit. However, we were offered (paid) motorbike rides for 300 baht for the two of us (150 baht each), which we thought was definitely overpriced. We bargained for a tuk tuk at 150 baht total. Please note: Don’t expect people around this tourist attraction to speak English, you have to get creative with communicating. (Frustration won’t get you anywhere.)
If you have a car at hand, congratulations, you have chosen the easiest and smartest way to travel to the red lotus lake of Udon Thani. Simply take Highway 2 towards Khon Kaen. Once you reach Thai Phian, turn left and follow the road signs.
GPS Address: Nong Han, Baan Diam Village, Chiang Wae Subdistrict, Kumphawapi 41110, Thailand
Geo coordinates: 17.221091, 103.038136
Boating around the Red Lotus Lake
Once you are in the Ban Diam Village in the Kumphawadpi Reserve, you will easily spot the lakeside. This is where you will find the boat rentals. Your options are between getting a small boat or a large boat. The small boat costs 300 baht total for an hour-long tour. The large one 500 baht for one and a half hours.
You need to get out on the lake to actually see the red lotus flower because they hide in bulks about ten minutes into the boat ride. Still, have your camera at the ready from the get go because the ride itself is just fantastic. You will be a little splashed and have to wear a life vest, but that shouldn’t be a big deal. We had three photo spots, where the boat stopped and we could snap away at the red lotus flowers to ou
r heart’s content.
On a busy day, you will not be alone and undoubtedly have a lot of other boats in your photos. The earlier you go, the less likely this scenario occurs.
What to Bring to the Red Lotus Lake
The most obvious things are the Thai traveller’s trinity: water, sun screen and bug repellent. For some reason, mosquitoes weren’t a problem at all but that might have been luck. Since you will be on a small boat and surrounded by water, appropriate clothing should be a no brainer. Wear comfortable shoes so you don’t fall into the water when you balance your way towards the boat’s middle.
Also, try to keep things that can fly away at home. Hats and scarves might look cute but they can be quite the nuisance. My hat actually flew off right at the start and the boat driver had crazy reflexes and managed to snatch it before it was gone. I mostly sat on it during the entire ride to keep it safe.
Having a map or offline map app is always a good idea. I recommend maps.me. It constantly helped me when I was stranded or needed to show locations I wanted to go to if English communication failed.
Best Time to See Udon Thani’s Lotus Lake
As with all flowers, you need to make sure your timing is right to get the full red lotus lake experience. Late January is the peak season with most flowers shining their brightest and creating the famous blanket of pink on the blue waters.
The red lotus flower opens fully only in the early morning. By noon it might already be closed. To see the bud of the red lotus flower open for certain, visit between 8am and 9am. If you manage to get up super early, you can even catch the sunrise over the Udon Thani lotus lake.
Where to Stay in Udon Thani?
This paragraph contains affiliate links. The big question is: what is your budget and travel style? If you want to treat yourself and love overlooking the water and watch the sun rise/set in the arms of nature, check out the Tanita Lagoon Resort. Conveniently, it also provides car rental, which makes getting to the Red Lotus Lake a lot easier. A more central stay is Prajaktra Design Hotel near Nongprajak Public Park.
In case you are on a budget and want a super central stay, nice staff and a rooftop terrace, check out Oldie and Sleepy Hostel. This is where I stayed and I enjoyed it. It has really atsy and hipster design and several chillout areas.
Is the Red Lotus Lake near Udon Thani on Your List?
I am mighty glad I found out about the red lotus lake during my Thailand trip. I remembered seeing photos of this stunning place years ago and mentally filed it away under my bucketlist. But then forgot about it. Udon Thani itself is a nice place to visit and there are several day trip options, for instance to the Rock Salt Farm or the prehistoric rock formations at Phu Prabat.
If you want to get the most out of your trip, come during the annual city founding celebrations on January 19. On that day, you can admire live dances in bright orange costumes. Around 7pm, hit up the central Nong Prajak Park for street food and fireworks.
Now tell me, would you wanna see Udon Thani’s Red Lotus Lake?