“Sonhos cor-de-rosa”, he said. It is the Portuguese translation for “sweet dreams” and, literally, it means “pink dreams”. A wish that peace and beauty takes over your mind and you let go of reality: and so I did.
There I was, on my last day in Thailand, floating on board a blue long tail wooden boat surrounded by “pink peacefulness.”
This rather unusual lake is located 50km south of Udon Thani in Northeast Thailand. It holds a special “pink dream” which can be seen every early morning from December to February, the Red Lotus Sea (Talay But Daeng).
Don’t be mistaken by the name, it isn’t red, it isn’t lotus flower and it isn’t an actual sea. These are pink water lilies that take over the Nong Han Kumphawapi Lake.
As the sun rises in the sky the first rays reach the lake and the flowers begin to open up one by one, unveiling the pink inside.
For as far as my eyes could see the lake was tainted pink. Birds quickly arrived and began to dance their way through the flowers. Just like a celebration of love they were attracted to each other.
An hour had passed and soon the flowers would begin to close again, a way of protecting themselves from the heat awaiting the next sunrise; another early dream.
My Thai boat driver, who communicated only in smiles and gentle nods of his head, stood holding a long wood stick that he used to gently turn the boat around by dipping it in the water and pressing against the bottom of the lake. We began making our way out.
We began to speed up and as we did, cold water began to splash up, it was time to awaken from this dream. It was time to say goodbye to Thailand and face real life, which wasn’t so pink anymore.
When to go?
This magical aquatic garden showcases its beauty during the colder months, from early December to the end of February.
The best time of the day to see the flowers in bloom is between 6 and 11am. After these times, the flowers close to protect themselves from the midday heat.
How to get here?
Udon Thani is the closest city and it has an airport that operates multiple daily flights to/from Bangkok and other Thai cities.
The Red Lotus Lake is located an hour drive from Udon Thani. Ban Diam is the side of the lake where you can get a boat (with a driver) to explore and see the flowers. Boat rides take between 45min to 1h30m. They have an organised system where at the pier you pay for the boat you want and they allocate you a driver.
To get to Ban Diam, you can rent a car, a motorbike or hire your own private taxi for the day.
I flew from Chiang Mai with Nok Air, hoping to rent a car at the airport. However when I arrived late at night, all cars were taken and I ended up arranging with a taxi driver a fixed price to pick me up the next day at 6am.
If you plan to stay longer in Udon Thani, you can always rent a motorbike or a car and drive to Ban Diam during the day, spend a night in one of the nearby hotels and visit the lake for sunrise. This is what I had planned to do if only I had more time in dreamy Thailand.
Where to stay?
(click the name to follow to booking website)
Stay in Ban Diam (near the Red Lotus Sea):
Graham & Donlay Homestay – Perfect for one night stay and still stay on a budget.
Gecko Village – Offers private villas in a relaxing atmosphere, with swimming pool and all 3 meals included!
Stay in Udon Thani:
The Siri Place – A very clean and modern hotel, only a short drive from the airport. A good option if, like me, you are only staying one night and don’t mind staying away from the city centre.
Oldie and Sleepy Hostel – (recommendation from a friend) A hostel that only offers dorms, but very well located and very good atmosphere.