Just 64km away from Taichung (2 hours by bus) lies the unique and dramatic Sun Moon Lake.
The largest body water in Taiwan is also home to the Thao tribe, an aboriginal taiwanese tribe, and a tourist hotspot, mostly during Chinese New Year.
This area offers some accommodations for those who want to spend some days discovering this enormous lake and its surroundings. In our case, we spent a whole day enjoying this majestic place before coming back to Taichung.
First thing we did after getting off the bus that drove us to the lake, was to take a plan of the area at the tourism information office and to check which activities we could enjoy.
Following you can find some information about Sun Moon Lake attractions:
What to do in Sun Moon Lake
Sun Moon Lake Circular Walk
After grabbing a coffee at a local cafeteria we decided to explore one of the walking trails at Shueishe Pier (the main pier of the lake). We figured out that we could have a nice walk among nature and take some nice pictures of the clear turquoise waters.
On our way we found some local fishermen and a couple of adventurous who, like us, were enjoying an early morning walk.
Sun Moon Lake Shuttle Boat
The quickest way to discover this beautiful lake and its green mountains is to take one of the various ferries that you will find at the Shueishe pier.
Since there are many different ferry companies I recommend you to take a look at this website “Taiwan Sun Moon Lake Boats“. Here you can find all the information related to the different boat operators, their prices and schedules.
If you decide to take a boat tour you will be able to see and visit the following places:
Although Shueishe is the most tourist-oriented part of the lake, it is also a great area to have a nice walk, to enjoy nature and to visit some traditional places such as Longfeld Temple.
Ita Thao Pier
You can get off the boat at Ita Thai Pier and discover the old village of Thao tribe, the aboriginal taiwanese tribe. Here you can get lost among the narrow, colorful street and their food markets. If you want to try some traditional food and buy some souvenirs, this is a nice place to do it.
From the wharf you can enjoy an amazing view to the sun moon lake cable car.
From my point of view this is, by far, the most interesting spot in Sun Moon Lake.
Once you get off the boat you can enjoy a nice, an maybe crowded, walk until you reach Xuanguang Temple. This beautiful taiwanese temple was built to honor Xauanzang, a prestigious monk who devoted his whole life to promote Buddhist teachings and it is still one of must-go places for many visitors to Sun Moon Lake.
However, this is not the only temple created to honor Xuanzang. At the top of the mountain, visitors can discover one of the most magnificent temples I have ever seen: Master Xuanzang Memorial Hall.
To be honest, you can reach the temple either by walk or by bus/Car.
I highly recommend you to discover the trail on the mountain, surrounded by nature and wild animals (Do not worry, they are afraid of people, so they tend to hide when you make noise).
We decided to invest some time at Xuanguang and to walk up the mountain until Xuanzang Memorial Hall. Surrounded by nature, we did not find any other tourist on the way – which was a huge surprise for us.
The first image that comes to my mind when I think about the temple is the dramatic views that the visitor can enjoy from its esplanade.
The temple is also really special. On the first floor, it is easy to find solo monks praying on silence. On the second and third floor, the visitor can learn more about Xuanzang story and the importance of this monk who brought back the original Buddhist sacred texts to translate them himself. This journey took him twenty years and, since then, his contributions to the Buddhist community were innumerable.
Located in the middle of the lake, this tiny island was inhabited by Thao people. It is too small and fragile for tourists since it has been half disintegrated due to the building of a dam around 1930, as well as due to the 921-earthquake in 1999. However, you can have a great view of it from the boat.
You can dock the boat at either Shueishe, Xuanguang or Ita Thao Pier and get back when you are done with visiting each part of the lake.
Sun Moon Lake Bikepaths
At the very beginning I talked to you about the Circular Walk. If you prefer to ride a bike instead of having a walk, I recommend you to do not miss out this amazing bikeway that covers half of the lake and allows the visitor to enjoy great views as well as to take beautiful pictures.
Sun Moon Lake Ropeway
Sun Moon Lake Ropeway, with around 1.877 meters length, runs between Ita Thao Pier and Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village. The cable car travels over two mountains with altitudes around 1000 meters.
This ropeway is used as a public transport by locals, as well as a touristic attraction by foreigners ready to enjoy a dramatic view of the lake. The cable cars are designed with three different colors: red, yellow and blue, which represent the sun, the moon and the lake.
Have you ever been to Sun Moon Lake?
This lake is a beautiful area with a lot to offer. Cycling, having a nice walk around the lake, getting ourselves lost among the streets markets and discovering dramatic temples is a unique opportunity you should not miss. This place is stunning!
Enjoy your time at Sun Moon Lake and feel free to send me a photo via IG or Twitter. Share this post or comment below if you want to share your experience with us.
Next time we will travel to the colorful city of Kaohsiung. See you there!