Thailand's Red Lotus Sea

The Pinkest Place on the Planet

I’ve been coming to Thailand for almost as long as I’ve been traveling abroad. One of the Kingdom’s star attractions continued to elude me until very recently, however: the so-called Thailand lotus lake, also known as Talay Bua Daeng or ทะเลบัวแดง in the Thai language.

Located a short drive from the city of Udon Thani, a large city in the northeastern Isaan region near Thailand’s border with Laos, the Red Lotus Sea is not only one of the most surreal places in Thailand, but indeed on the entire planet.

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Where to Stay in Udon Thani

If you’re on the hunt for Thailand lotus lake hotels, I’ve got goods news and bad news—bad first. While there aren’t really any hotels in the general vicinity of Talay Bua Daeng, accommodation is plentiful and extremely cheap in Udon Thani. None of it is particularly luxurious, of course, but places like  The Gallery Guest House and Wara Boutique Hotel manage to exude a particular chicness in spite of their simplicity. Maybe because of it?

Things to Do at Thailand’s Red Lotus Sea

Not that you’ll be sleeping much: An essential part of seeing the Thailand Red Lotus Lake is going before the crack of dawn. Ideally, when your taxi leaves Udon Thani (TIP: arrange it with your hotel’s reception before you go to bed the night before), the sky should be completely dark. I remember a very pink sun was just coming over the horizon when the car I was in pulled into the parking area for the Red Lotus Sea.

As far as what to do in Talay Bua Daeng, there’s really only one thing: Ride a boat through the lotuses that cover huge portions of the lake. Depending on when you start (again, it should ideally be as close to sunrise as possible), your Thailand lotus lake boat ride should last about an hour, and will see you visit the most beautiful reaches of the proverbial sea. As far as cost, it will vary based on your bargaining skills: My friend Dora and I paid around 150 THB per person, but I’ve seen less savvy travelers shell out 500 baht each.


When to Visit the Red Lotus Sea

Whether you refer to it as “Red Lotus Lake” or the “Red Lotus Sea,” a standard set of rules applies if you want to enjoy the Red Lotus Sea to the fullest. Namely, you must visit during the winter months (which, for what it’s worth, are actually pretty cold in this part of Thailand)—January and February are best. As I mentioned earlier, you’ll need to arrive early in the morning, since this is when lotus blossoms open.

How to Get to the Red Lotus Sea

The only realistic way to reach Thailand’s Red Lotus Lake from Udon Thani is to take a private taxi from your hotel, as I mentioned above. If your front desk attendant doesn’t know where you want to go (unlikely), simply show him this text:

Talay Bua Daeng (ทะเลบัวแดง in Thai—literally “Red Lotus Sea”)

As far as how to get to Udon Thani, you’ve got a few options. Night and day trains run from Bangkok, which enjoys service to UTH from both BKK and DMK airports. Likewise, you can fly to Udon Thani from Chiang Mai or Phuket, or travel overland from Vientiane, the capital of Laos.

The Bottom Line

It’s possible you didn’t know the name of Thailand Red Lotus Sea, officially or otherwise, before happening upon this blog. Whatever the case, you’re certainly in the right place! If you don’t mind flying to the city of Udon Thani, waking up at the crack of dawn, haggling for a boat ride and potentially speaking in Thai to get around, Thailand’s most surreal place of beauty is an easy place to visit.

About The Author

is the author of 847 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!


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{ 21 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 ????

Robert Schrader November 27, 2017 at 6:23 pm

Was that the price they offered you, or did you have to bargain?

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