Thailand's Red Lotus Sea

The Pinkest Place on the Planet

I was surprised last week, after having teased my uncharacteristically luxurious route to Asia on Facebook, at the reaction some people had to my destination. Thailand, again? Weren’t you just there a few months ago? 

Yes, Thailand again. Yes, I sure was – and I’ll be back again in a few months no doubt: Thailand is my favorite country in the world. As if it is my duty as a travel blogger to visit only the uncharted reaches of the world, that by “repeating” myself I have somehow failed! But I digress.

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Robert Schrader in Koh Lipe, Thailand

All my trips to Thailand have been special, but this particular one had two very unique elements. The first was that my friend Dora (with whom I traveled to India in 2009 and who came to see me in China in 2010, when I was living there) accompanied me this time. It was her maiden voyage to Thailand and it was an honor to be able to walk beside her as she discovered the Kingdom for the first time.

The second unique element of this trip (and the one that perhaps best dispels the notion that my frequent returns here are somehow un-exciting) was the so-called “Red Lotus Sea” (Talay Buadaeng in Thai), a flower-filled lake just outside the northeastern city of Udon Thani, near the Lao border.

A surreal landscape not entirely different from Indonesia’s Kawah Ijen or Brazil’s Lençóis Maranhenses in its otherworldliness, the Red Lotus Sea (whose flowers are actually pink and are technically water lilies) is the antithesis to the idea of Thailand being ordinary. And, well, I guess I’ll let my photos do the rest of the talking when it comes to that.


How to Visit the Red Lotus Sea

If you want to see the Red Lotus Sea, the first thing you need to do is come in the right season. January (when the official “Red Lotus Sea Festival” occurs) and February are the only months of the year where flowers cover the surface of the lake enough to replicate the experience you see in the pictures above, although you can go out on the lake whenever you wish.

To reach the Red Lotus Sea, fly or take a train to the northeastern Thai city of Udon Thani (airport code UTH), from which Nong Han Kumphawapi Lake is about 30 minutes away by taxi. Unless you’ve practiced speaking Thai and its many tones, I recommend you simply screenshot a picture of the Red Lotus Sea, rather than trying to tell its official name – again, Talay Buadaeng  to your driver.

You can visit the Red Lotus Sea anytime of day, but I recommend going just before sunrise (leave Udon Thani no later than 6 a.m.) for the best lighting and most manageable crowds. A taxi for return journey will cost you between 1,000-1,500 THB, while a 90-minute boat ride on the lake costs 50 THB as of February 2015.

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About The Author

is the author of 795 posts on Leave Your Daily Hell. Robert founded Leave Your Daily Hell in 2010 so that other travelers would have an entertaining, reliable source of information, advice and inspiration at their fingertips. Want to travel more often? Subscribe to email updates today!


informs, inspires, entertains and empowers travelers like you. My name is Robert and I'm happy you're here!


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{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

The Kentucky Gent February 4, 2015 at 11:57 am

This photos are beyond gorgeous. One thing I am envious of of there countries is natural beauties like this. We definitely have them in the States, but they’re definitely fewer and farther between.


Josh – The Kentucky Gent

House To Laos February 4, 2015 at 4:10 pm

What?! We LOVE Thailand, but have never hears of the red lotus festival. We were even there in January / February! This is amazing, thank you for sharing. I have been pining to go back to this amazing calendar, and this is another excellent reason.

Katrina of The Two Week Travel February 4, 2015 at 7:05 pm

Wow that is incredible! I love Thailand too and would go back several times a year if I could. Now I am definitely going to have to go back during Jan/Feb to see this.

Robert Schrader February 8, 2015 at 5:14 pm

Yes, you haver to return 🙂

Robert Schrader February 8, 2015 at 5:14 pm

Y’all are gonna have to go!

Christian P February 10, 2015 at 2:30 am

I thought red lotus are mostly found in China. Now there are more reasons to visit Thailand. Thanks for sharing your experience Robert.

JustChuckinIt February 10, 2015 at 10:30 pm

Incredible photos sir, just wow. I need to get back to Thailand just for this! I also need to give Thailand another shot, I got comfortable in the north and barely explored elsewhere while waiting for my teaching job to start, and then got kicked out during the Coup and was angry haha. I’ll be back this year, and maybe run into ya!

Robert Schrader February 16, 2015 at 7:07 am

Like many travel bloggers 😉 Good luck in India Mr.

Robert Schrader February 16, 2015 at 7:08 am

Thanks for reading 😉

Ada Wilkinson February 18, 2015 at 7:44 pm

Hello Robert,

Beautiful photos! Thank you for sharing! I’ve never been to Thailand but I’ll definitely add this to my places to go.



P.S. What do you use for post processing your photos? Do you use Actions or Presets? I simply love the way you do it in every blog post! I have been struggling in making my photos to look high quality. Any tips would be greatly appreciated!

Robert Schrader February 22, 2015 at 9:39 am

I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on it!

The Beauty of Everywhere February 22, 2015 at 5:21 pm

Stunning photos, I can’t believe how magical it looks! If anything, I think repeated visits make for better travel writers and photographers. You’re able to get below the surface of a country and write from a new angle!

Robbert jack February 24, 2015 at 5:26 am

Awesome photos that you have shared with us. I would like to go there again to refresh my memories of my last tour after coming from museum of art knoxville and had a great time like as you had. It is really nice place for a unique traveling experience.

Robert Schrader February 25, 2015 at 9:31 am

Yes, I agree! I’m glad you do too.

Sarah Kriebs February 26, 2015 at 6:29 am

Stunning photos!
Thanks for sharing. 🙂



Robert Schrader February 27, 2015 at 6:12 am

Thanks for reading!

Renuka Singh March 4, 2015 at 9:50 am

Thanks for presenting a totally different side of Thailand! Gorgeous pictures!

Robert Schrader March 4, 2015 at 2:56 pm

Thanks for reading it 🙂

Diana March 5, 2015 at 8:42 am

Those are some amazing shots! I can see why you want to keep going back when you discover beauties like this!

Natalie Mahiphan March 8, 2016 at 6:57 am

Hai.. Im going to udon thani on september,i wonder if the lotus is like in the picture at that time,do yo have any idea?thank you ????

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