Lonely Planet Writer

Instagram-worthy 'sea of red lotuses' in full bloom in Thailand

Photo enthusiasts rejoice: the Red Lotus Sea in Udon Thani, Thailand is in full bloom and ready for its serenely beautiful close-up. From mid-December every year the lotus petals open and cover large sections of the freshwater lake, dotting the surface with various hues of red until the end of February. Travellers can hire a boat for a better look, with the best views available before 11am when lotuses are fully open.

The sea of red lotus at Nong Han Lake national park, Udon Thani, Thailand Image by kampee patisena/Getty Images

Visitors can opt for larger boats to accommodate bigger groups or smaller canoes offer a more intimate tour through the lotus blooms. Birds, fish and other aquatic life complete the scene. A nearby restaurant continues the theme, providing lotus stem dishes that highlight the location’s seasonal main attraction. Lotuses thrive in aquatic environments typically rooted at the bottom of a body of water and grow to an average height of 1.5 metres. The flowers on the surface of the Red Lotus Sea average two metres high in relation to the lake’s depth.

Fisherman with net at sunset. Image by 500PX

Though the annual bloom in this northeast province draws in tourists in its own right, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is also offering discounted lake tours to encourage more weekday visits. To redeem a 50% discount on a half-day tour, present a Thai AirAsia boarding pass. The offer is valid until 28 February 2018. Those visiting in January can also enjoy the Red Lotus Sea Festival. The lake can be reached by car via Highway 22 from Udon Thani town.

Want more to satiate your flora fix in Udon Thani? The ‘dancing orchids’ at the Udon Sunshine Orchid Farm are most active this time of year, too. Stop by to sing to the orchids and have a blooming good time.

By Tanya Parker