Nong Han Kumphawapi
Imagine rowing your boat through a sea of floating lotus flowers that expand as far as the eye can see. Possible if you visit to one of the world’s strangest lakes (according to CNN) in Isan, Northeastern Thailand.
The Sea of Red Lotuses, or the Lake of Red Water Lilies or what local people call “Nong Han Kumphawapi Lake, occupies 20,000 rai (32 Million m2) 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 and lily flowers sprout and completely transform the surface of Lake Nong Harn into a romantic dreamlike lake.
Various Media claim the red lotus sea is best witnessed in the cool season from November to February, however in this period only the waterlilies are blooming. The real lotus (family of pink, purple, white ones) blooming starts only AFTER the cool season and continues till approx October. So a visit to Nong Han Kumphawapi can be done all year around and in my opinion is most beautifull after cool season.
The perfect time to see the beautiful lotuses and lilies in full blooming is in the morning from 6am to 11am when the flowers are fully opened, revealing their vibrant, pink (not red, despite the name) or the pure white color. Tourists can take a boat tour for sightseeing around the lake all day.
There are 2 marines to get into a boat; the one at West side is easiest accessible from Udon Thani and is the "commercial" one where typically most tourist go. Here you have boat tours of approx 1 hour over the west part of the lake mainly where basicly only the waterlilies are. The marine is very busy in cool season with risk of waiting the next available boat and you most likely need to share boat with others. There are plenty of food and drink stalls to overcome the waiting time. After your boat tour the drop off point is few hunderd meters away from the boarding area and to get back to your car you need to go over the permanent market with food, drinks and souveniers.
The other marine, located at the North-East side, is less know but the one we strongly recommend; we have estabslished a nice relationship with owner Sarkhon enabling us to call in prior arriving, avoiding waiting times in high season. There are no coffee shops or foodstalls, however few hunderd meters before arrival at marine, you can get drinks, snacks etc in the village we drive through; make sure you carry at least 2 bottles of water a person with you !!!! The biggest advantage of this marine is that boat tours are not standard routes and due to location the start and end of the tour goes through area with many homes of birds between large surfaces full with various Lotus-families. Even the rare white Hawk and Eagle house here among a wide variety of other, often colorful birds. Sarkhon's marine boat tours have no time limit; they stop when you like resulting a full tour can take upto 3 hours. You pay THB 800,- for a large boat (approx 6 people) or THB 400,- for a "2 person only" small boat. Note that small boats only are in use during cool season. We understand that for some guests 3 hours can be too long (eg when with kids); no worry, even an hour or 1.5 hour tour is possible against discounted price. It is flexible and individuel, hence the reason we recommend to use this marine over the other one.
A visit of Nong Han Kumphawapi Lake can be perfectly combined with other sightseeing places or a shopping experience in Udon Thani. Alternative is to combine it with arriving or departing from Resotel Baan Sanook on route Udon Thani Airport or trainstation. Ask you host for details.
(Credit to Gerhard Veer for some pictures used)