Taiwan's largest natural lake, Sun Moon Lake, sits at an altitude of 762m in the mountains of Nantou County, Yuchih Township in the center of Taiwan. It receives good weather all year-round, has accessible sights and tons of outdoor activities to offer, so it's not surprising it's one of Taiwan's most renowned tourist top hot spots. It is a beautiful alpine lake that's a popular Taiwan tourist attraction for visitors from all over the world all year round.
The enchanted lake is divided by the small Lalu Island. Lalu is a small island near the middle of the lake named Lalu. This small beautiful island used to be a popular place to get married. However, the massive 921 earthquake sunk most of the island and thus can't be visited today.
The eastern part of the lake is round like the sun and the western side is shaped like a crescent moon, therefore getting the popular name “Sun Moon Lake".
The water of Sun Moon Lake is clear, crystalline, emerald colored green . The natural beauty is enhanced by numerous cultural and historical sites and famous temples. Well-known both at home and abroad, the Sun Moon Lake Scenic Area has become a popular tourist destination for tour groups and individual travelers. This can be seen by the multiple 5 star/excellent lake view hotels that have been built in the past several years... .
The beauty of the lake can be appreciated from dawn to dusk through all four seasons. In the early morning the surface of the lake is covered by a thin veil of mist. When the sun rises over the towering mountains, the vapor misting lifts slowly to reveal the lake's true image, with the lakes surface reflecting images of the giant mountains. Consequently, viewers never tire of looking at in admiration and amazement. The Sun Moon Lake area is also home to one of Taiwan's 11 aboriginal tribes, the Thao.
One of the bests ways to soak up the beauty of the lake or the area is to rent a bicyle and ride around the road that circles the lake. The road is about 12 kms in distance and passes through villages, in front of temples and gives all different angled views of the lake.
A boat cruise is a very popular way to get views from the center of the lake. There are many boats leaving at many times for the 40 minute ride. Tickets are available at the dock.
The Sun Moon Lake Gondola has become a must do when visiting the lake. Trips to the top take about 20 minutes and the views are spectacular. At the top, visitors can enter the Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village which is part cultural village and part amusement park.Don't worry about the lines, they move quickly.
Sun Moon Lake is linked by a bike path that gives unmatched views on the lake and the surrounding majestic mountains. Riding an electric scooter 30km-long scenic road is the easiest way to experience the truly natural beauty of the area.
Rental charges for scooters:
1 hour NT$150
2 hours NT$300
A Day NT$ 500
You can find rental stores just behind the visitor center in Shuishe Village.
Renting a bicycle is also very enjoyable as there are plenty of cycling paths off the main road.
The bus station is located in this village. You can find a Starbucks, a visitor booth, 7-Elevens, many souvenir shops, and a place to lease bicycles. Just behind it on Ming Shen Rd, there is a small pedestrian cobble stone alley that is full of tasty , popular restaurants and snack stands. There's also a pier where locals and tourists alike will flock to and hang around day and night.
There is a trailhead for Mt. Maolan at the stone monument with a sign reading "Thao" at the aboriginal settlement behind Itashao Village.The trailhead is about 300 meters beyond Shuishe Village.
This is a basically low energy walk that will bring you to a weather observatory on Mt. Maolan Trail . This cool place was built in 1940 by the Japanese. The city of Puli can be seen from the top of the summit. The 3km trail is actually paved and goes on for 3 km weaving and winding through many pretty teaplantations.
Mt. Shuishe Trail is a lot harder hike on steep trail all the way to the summit. You will get spectacular views of Sun Moon lake if there is clear weather.
Mt. Maolan Trail - summit at 1020m- 3 hour hike round- trip
Mt. Shuishe Trail - summit at 2059m- 8 hours hike round-trip
Swimming is illegal in the lake except for the yearly Sun Moon Lake Swim.
Held annually in September, this amazing swim features over 10,000 competitive and leisure swimmers who start their swim in 3 different heats. Everyone must swim with a safety float but can do so at their own pace. The event draws participants from all over the world.
Nantou County's climate is ideally suited for flower cultivation. Flower growing takes a close second to tea cultivation in the county. The top three flowers grown are lilies, orchids, and roses. The cultivation area extends from Puli to Renai, Sinyi, Yuchih, and Jhushan, and of these, Yuchih is the most famous for its cultivation of all varieties of orchids. The numerous varieties of orchids to be found in their fields include Chinese orchids and dancing doll orchids. Dongguang flower area has the biggest concentration of Orchid flowers.
As you wind your way to Itashao, you can't miss this majestic beauty of a Daoist shrine perched on the mountainside and overlooking the pristine lake.
Wen Wu Temple is a very elaborate and ornate temple complex consisting of three halls. The forward hall is called The Water and Clouds Hall and contains a beautiful glimmering shrine dedicated to the god of scholars and literature. The middle hall, The Martial Sage Hall, is dedicated to Guan Gong, the god of war. The third is called, Da Cheng, which is dedicated to Confucius. It is open all year round.
This temple is dedicated to Xuan Zhuang. Xuan Zhuang was responsible for bringing many old scriptures that arrived from India and therfore furthering Buddhism enlightenment in China. His remains had finally come to rest here in 1965. Although not as impressive and elaborate as Wen Wu Temple, if you are after serenity, this temple is well worth a visit.
Former Taiwan president Chiang Kai-shek had Tsen Pagoda erected in memory and honor of his mother. The place is most quiet in late afternoon. It's located about 3km past Itashao, up in the mountains. As far as pagodas go, the architectural style is typically Chinese. There is also a small building at the base of the Ci En Pagoda that Chiang Kai Shek used during his many visits. One of the highlights of this attraction is the long 700 meter stair trek to the top. From the top of the pagoda, you can get a fantastic view and take pictures of the lake and surrounding area.
If you are interested in seeing the lake from a different point of view, boats can be chartered from the harbor in Ita Thao and Shui She (水社). Fares vary according to number of riders and boat type. On clear days, you can get a spectacular view of the waterfront and, albeit small, Lalu Island.
Just before entering Ita Thao, there is a tent-style campground where you can park your car and pitch a tent in a designated camping area. Showers are available. On the other side of Ita Thao, there is a cabin-style camping area where you can rent a very small cabin for a nominal fee.
There are lots of hotels and hostels (B&B) in Shuishe and Itashao. Teachers Hostel, in Shuishe is the cheapest at NT$500. Sun Moon Bay Campsite is another affordable option . It's located near the Youth Activity Center. The campsite has clean bathrooms and showers. NT$500/site.
Assam Black Tea
Sun Moon Lake Every year there are around a total of 1,870 hours of sunshine every year. Sun Moon Lake has a high temperature, with a large volume of rain throughout the year, and a high level of humidity. This makes it very similar to the Assam tea production area of India.
Taiwan's major Assam black tea produced in mass amounts at Sun Moon Lake is. In 1925, during the Japanese occupation, the Japanese imported tea seeds from Assam Province in India, and attempted to cultivate it in the Sun Moon Lake area's Yuchih Township with amazing results. Now it's most famous of Sun Moon Lake’s special teas. There are plenty of stands in all the villages selling the tea.
Enjoy the tea eggs near Shi Yin (石印) They are definately the best tea eggs you can find in Taiwan. The eggs are prepared with mushrooms and a special blend of spices and tea leaves.
Persimmons (above) are a popular fruit sold fresh or dried at Sun Moon Lake.
Sun Moon Lake is located in Yuchi Village, Nantou County. To get there, you need to take Highway 3 north or south, depending on where you are, to Highway 6. Going east on Highway 6 will take you through Caotun township (草屯鎮). Transfer to Provincial Highway 14 heading into Puli Township (埔里鎮) and then to Provincial Highway 21 out of Puli to Sun Moon Lake. There are plenty of signs along the way so finding your way shouldn't be any issue at all.
Buses to and From Sun Moon Lake:
From Taichung: during the week Renyou Bus Company has four direct buses , and six on weekends. NT$215, two hours.
From Taipei:Green Transit Buses leave hourly from Zhongxiao Fuxing MRT station (exit 4 - south side of Zhongxiao Rd). NT$350, 4.5hrs.
Nantou Bus Companyhas regular buses to Puli for NT$50.
Kuo Kuang Bus Timetable (Sun Moon Lake - Taipei)
Nantou Bus Timetable (Taichung - Sun Moon Lake)
Nantou Bus Timetable (Sun Moon Lake - Taichung
Ren Yeou Bus Timetable (Taichung - FACV - Sun Moon Lake)
Green Transit Bus Timetable (Puli - Sun Moon Lake - Shueili)
Green Transit Bus Timetable (Shueili - Sun Moon Lake - Puli)
Lake Surroundings Bus Timetable
Kuo-Kuang Bus (King Bus) Taipei station:886-2-23119893
Kuo-Kuang Bus (King Bus) Puli station: 886-49-2982131
From December 11, 2008, the bus from Taipei to Puli is at 8:00 am originally changed as the bus from Taipei to Sun Moon Lake at 8:00 am.
From December 11, 2008, the bus from Sun Moon Lake to Taipei is at 13:20.
Every Sat. Sun. Mon., there is one more bus from Sun Moon Lake - Taipei at 9:30.
Every Sat. Sun., there is one more bus from Taipei - Sun Moon Lake at 14:50.