You don’t need to travel far from Hua Hin to find an amazing day out, whatever your age.
Whether you’re into natural wonders, water parks, shopping or the beach, there’s something to fit your brief.
Located just a 45 minute drive from Hua Hin is the beautiful coastal town of Sam Roi Yot, also known as the “Three Hundred Peaks”, which is home to the Khao Sam Roi Yot Park.
The park was Thailand’s first coastal national park with the park’s mountainous scenery a real stand out.
The park is packed with natural wonders and noteworthy things to see and do.
But one of its most notable attractions is Thung Sam Roi Yot – a wetland or picturesque body of water surrounded by lush greenery and mountains.
At certain times of the year the wetlands, which have been designated as a world wetland by Ramsar due to its diverse natural environment, are home to beautiful blooming lotus flowers and water lilies.
The lotus flower is highly significant in Thai culture and is widely considered a symbol of purity, enlightenment, and self-regeneration.
The flower is revered in Buddhism, which is the dominant religion in Thailand, and is often depicted in Buddhist art and used as a decorative element in Buddhist temples.
The lotus is also seen as a symbol of the Thai people, representing the country’s strength and resilience in the face of adversity.
The first of the season’s lotus flowers begin to bloom from early January to the end of March, with February and March typically when the lotus flowers are at their most stunning.
The bloom sees the aquatic flowers bring a vibrant pink carpet of colour to the lake, against the spectacular limestone mountains that stand prominently behind it.
The wetland is home to an abundance of wildlife, including various species of birds, fish, and reptiles, making it a popular destination for bird-watching and wildlife photography.
In addition to the lotus flowers, there are other aquatic plants and a birding site which is home to more than 300 species of waterfowl, including teal, egret, red herons, and purple swamp-hen, which can be seen all year round.
The best way to experience the wetlands and enjoy the peaceful and serene atmosphere, as well as to take in the stunning scenery, is to hire a boat.
Boats (complete with guide) can be rented from various points around the wetland, with the most popular place for boat rental being the Bueng Bua Nature Education Center.
However, another excellent location from where to hire boat is from the Chom Thung Pier at the Koh Phai camping site (ท่าเรือชมทุ่ง เกาะไผ่แคมป์ปิ้ง – Google Maps location).
Tourists can rent a long-tail boat from the pier for 600 baht per boat, which seats 4 to 5 people and takes over an hour to travel around the wetland, enabling visitors to explore the area and take in the stunning views from the water of the surrounding mountains and lotus flowers.
The boat tour includes stops at other locations on or around the lake, and you will also visit a hidden cave that features ‘kissing rocks’ and a remote temple which includes centuries old Buddha statues hand carved out of local stone.
The long tail boats are operated by members of the local community as part of a dedicated tourism project which aims to create economic and social benefits for the local community while also preserving the culture and environment of the local area.
The focus of the project is on sustainable and responsible tourism practices that support the long-term well-being of the local community.
The boat operators have knowledge of the history of Thung Sam Roi Yot and can even offer advice on the locations on the lake where you can take the best photographs.
The best time to take a boat trip is either early in the morning (from 6am) or during late afternoon.
The early morning trips offer you the chance to witness the sunrise above mountains, while in the late afternoon offers stunning views as the sunsets in the opposite direction.
Once night falls the area teems with fireflies, the boat operators claiming that this is one of the best locations in Thailand to witness fireflies.
A conservation success story
The wetlands at Sam Roi Yot have been a real success story of conservation.
For more than a decade, the wetlands were completely dry and the flowers had stopped growing at the popular natural lotus pond.
No-one has been able to pinpoint exactly why. However, officials suspected an increase in salt levels in the swamp had stopped the flowers from growing.
In recent years, officials tried to clean up the park and have since been rewarded with an annual sea of pink flowers.
Officials worked with local shrimp farmers to help reduce the salinity of the water in their farm pools before it was released into local water sources.
Then in 2015, the lotus flowers started to grow in the pond once more, helping the park to become an attraction for tourists and locals.
If you are looking for a day trip amongst nature within easy reach of Hua Hin and want to witness the beautiful blooming lotus flowers, this is the place to go.
Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/ctruN7BU89szhQRX9
Info and booking: ทุ่งบัวบาน คนสามร้อยยอด -ท่าเรือชมทุ่ง
All pictures: Patrick Jacobs