This Saturday morning we woke up to a bright, beautiful blue sky. So, we packed our bags and headed out of the city. Our destination: Sun Moon Lake.
Sun Moon Lake is a favorite destination of tourists visiting Taiwan. It’s listed as the number one thing to see in this tiny but diverse country by many sources. Located in the center of Taiwan, it’s green waters are surrounded by mountains and aboriginal culture.
To get to Sun Moon Lake, take a bus, the HSR, or a slow train to Taichung. Then, board a Nantou Bus to the lake. These buses leave pretty much hourly for most of the day and cost about $200NT each way. The length of the journey is about 2 hours.
At the Taichung HSR stop and other stops for the Nantou Bus, you can buy a package deal for $660NT that includes rountrip Taichung to Sun Moon Lake bus tickets, boat tickets, a cable car ticket, an around-the-lake bus ticket, and discounted bike rental. If you want to do at least two of these things, I recommend you buy the package.
Once we arrived at the lake, we found accommodation easily. Many sources state that on weekends in the summer, one may struggle to find hotel rooms. The first hotel we approached had a room for $1200NT, which we accepted. This was the Min Ren Hotel across from the bus station.
At Sun Moon Lake, you can take ferry boats between three docks. These are the town of Shueshi, the town of Ita Thao, and the temple at Syuanguang. Ita Thao is the home of Thao culture, but as we soon discovered only 20% of the inhabitants are aboriginal people. The Syuanguang temple was so crowded that its beauty felt somewhat diminished. In my opinion, the boats are the best way to see the lake. However, the lake is now so crowded with ferry boats that it no longer offers the scenic views I’m sure it once did. A round trip ticket will set you back $300NT, but this is included in the package mentioned above.
Another option for lake viewing are the cable cars. These are operated by the Aboriginal Cultural Park located nearby. The cars will take you up and over a mountain before depositing you on the other side and at the entrance to the park. While the view from the cars is wonderful, I felt disappointed that there was no place to exit the cable cars and view the lake. The price for a ride in the cable cars is $300NT, but you can get a discount if you also buy park tickets. Once again, this is also included in the package mentioned above.
The last way to see the lake is by around-the-lake bus rides. This bus goes to the same stops as the ferry boats, but stops at other points of interest in between. These include the Wenwu Temple, the Ci En Pagoda, and various hiking trails. An all-day pass costs $80NT, but is also included in the $660NT package.
I would hesitate to include Sun Moon Lake on the lists of must-sees in Taiwan. However, if you have extra time and are not from a region with abundant lakes, go and see Sun Moon Lake.