It’s pushing 40 degrees, a drone is buzzing overhead and you are trying to stand up in a rickety wooden boat, surrounded by blooming lotuses. This may not be your normal day in Thailand, but it’s the main draw at the Red Lotus Floating Market.
Flung out in Nakhon Pathom province, some 60km from Bangkok, Red Lotus Floating Market is on the outer reaches of day trip territory, but is worthwhile for its unique lake experience.
Exploring Red Lotus Floating Market
Like many Thai floating markets, Red Lotus Floating Market is nothing of the sort. It’s a collection of stalls set around a large lake full of the famed red lotuses from which it takes its name.
Especially during Covid, it’s extremely quiet and makes a peaceful first impression.
After a long drive we made a beeline for the Red Lotus cafe to the right of the entrance, where you can sit on the edge of the lake and enjoy a drink and a snack.
The speciality is Miang Gleeb Bua, a version of Miang Kham but using lotus leaves.
It’s essentially a build-your-own mini wrap of peanuts, chilli, ginger and a few other condiments and sauces wrapped up in a lotus leaf. For 129 baht it’s a rather pretty little snack!
Also good we’re the fried lotus leaves, but we also had a pretty dreadful chicken cashew nut dish so maybe stick to the specials and a drink or two while enjoying the peaceful surroundings.
As a former member of the Young Ornithologist Club of Britain (age 6-8), where I once won a large poster of a kestrel using my keen avian knowledge, it was fun to see a wide range of birds around the lake. God knows what they were, we never got taught Thai birds at the YOC. I think one was a grebe. Anyway, nice birds.
The rest of the market was a sad sight and a reflection of Thailand after a year with no tourism. I’m certain it will be lovely if and when the country opens up again, but for now there aren’t many stalls open unfortunately.
On the water
The main draw of Red Lotus Floating Market remains undiminished – the best part of this trip is the time spent out on the water.
The setup is extremely cheap, your boat ride costs 100 baht per person and then the accompanying drone photo shoot is 40 baht for one or 300 baht for about 40. Obviously the 300 baht option is the one to go for. NB that’s for the whole group not per person.
You can also rent colourful umbrellas for 20 baht and even full Thai costume if that floats your boat.
The boats look wobbly but after just a short bout of crying you’ll bravely climb aboard with very few troubling lurches.
Boats could probably fit 6 people, we had 4. Your cheerful boatman will punt you around the lake for you to enjoy the unique scenery of the blooming flowers.
According to our guide, the different varieties of lotus at Red Lotus Floating Market open at different times of day, hence some are open and some closed. If you come in the morning, most or all will he open for the best effect. Whenever you come though, it’s really very pretty.
After enjoying the surroundings for a bit, your friendly neighbourhood drone will buzz out from the pier for your photoshoot. Your guide will call out various poses, quite how well you execute them will vary from person to person…as you can see the end result is a lot of fun and will make for a superb album cover when you start that indie band.
Here are a few more snaps that we had during our trip. There are a lot of arms involved.
You also get bonus ‘infinte loop’ points for getting a picture of you taking a picture of the drone taking a picture you taking a picture of the drone.
Once back on dry land, the drone operator will airdrop or message you the pics for your continued amusement.
All in all the uniqueness and setting of the lake, the lotuses and the comedy drone photoshoot made the trip worthwhile.
Getting to Red Lotus Floating Market from Bangkok is a bit of a trek but it’s still easily doable. We set out around 10am and were back by 3pm.
You could extend out the trip perhaps with a visit to Wat Lam Phaya Floating Market nearby – especially with your own car.
Getting to Red Lotus Floating Market
Life is about the journey, apparently. Unfortunately, the journey to Red Lotus Floating Market is pretty bland, spiced up only by the comedy driving and road design which are a staple of Bangkok and surroundings.
There are many tours to Red Lotus Floating Market from about 1400 THB per head which is decent value.
We opted to make a bit more of a day and rent a car. Car rental in Bangkok is ridiculously cheap. Ours from a nearby Hertz desk cost 440 THB for the day and 270 THB in fuel. Renting a car gives you a little more freedom to keep your own timings and we found it a bit more relaxing than having a driver for some reason.
If you are driving, Red Lotus Floating Market is listed on Google Maps and the directions are sound. Expect around 1hr15 to 1hr45 from downtown depending on traffic.
Once you get to Bang Len there is one signpost for the market, but be aware that the turn in is basically blind right after a petrol station and small bridge.
After this, you follow a narrow road for a couple of minutes, U Turn and then drop in to plenty of parking at the market itself.
I’d advise to get to Red Lotus Floating Market early, before 11am, if you can to see the best of the flowers and avoid the crushing midday heat. Of course be sure to bring suncream and water!
We were told the best time of year is February to April for the lotuses being in bloom, but looking at other reviews there seem to be some all year round. We went in late March and it was in full swing.
We felt Red Lotus Floating Market is worth the trip for the lake part alone. As the market hopefully picks up when more visitors can come, this will be a really excellent day trip from Bangkok.