Hey guys, how’s your summer going? Is anybody else relieved that the humidity is slowly but surely starting to die down? Just me?
In my two visits to Taiwan, I’ve dipped my toes into several areas outside of Taipei proper. Yilan. Yangmingshan. And for today’s topic, Sun Moon Lake.
Sun Moon Lake is up in and surrounded by mountains, giving you something pretty to look at no matter which direction you choose. The best way to get there is to get a bus from Taichung Station. (How you get to Taichung is up to you– we opted for the Taiwanese bullet train from Taipei Station, but you can get a bus down if you want to save a bit of cash.) We left Taipei station at around 9:00 AM and arrived at the lake a total of three hours later. It’s best to get in during the day, as all the boats and buses shut down by 5:30 PM.
There are multiple piers around the water, all with their own unique activities, hotels, restaurants, etc., so it would behoove you to get a day pass for the boats to see everything. You can often get this day pass at your
hotel if you book in advance, so you may want to make sure you get to your hotel even before check-in time so you can grab that pass.
About the boats: when you approach the pier, you’ll see several people in different uniforms all standing in wait. As soon as they see you wanting to check out the boats, they’ll approach you and offer to let you ride their boats that day. Once you’ve accepted a particular company’s offer, they’ll stamp your hand with a particular pattern and color. Try not to let this wash off, as you need to show it when you board the boats! But once you have it, you can board any of that company’s boats all day, as much as you like. Look for the uniforms, NOT the boats, as one company will operate multiple types of boats but will always have the same outfit on.
Boat rides are generally around 10 minutes a time, and occur fairly frequently. Each company is unique. We went with a group that was known for telling funny stories (albeit in Chinese).
There are bikes to rent, boats to ride, temples to visit, tea eggs to consume (famous in the area), noodles to slurp (actually, don’t slurp in Taiwan), mountains to hike, and cable cars with which you can overlook the lake. But what really interested us was waking up to see the sunrise over the lake.
We arranged our sunrise viewing with our hotel, and woke up at 4AM the next day. (Absolutely brutal, as both of us are night owls). At 4:30 sharp we headed to the lake and walked along until we hit what was apparently a good spot to view things from. We waited in silence for a good 20 minutes or so. Then, the magic started.
But we didn’t merely go out to see the sunrise; our hotel owner then took us on a hike up a mountain to see the layer of clouds over the lake, similar to what I once saw in Takeda Ruins. Hm. Remind me to write about that.
Back on topic! We hiked up a reasonably steep hill for about an hour, and by 6AM had not only seen the sunrise, but climbed a mountain. Not bad for some night owls, eh?
After which, we headed alllll the waaaaay baaaaaack dooooown to our hotel, where we were treated to a complimentary breakfast.
I highly recommend Sun Moon Lake. It can get very crowded during the weekend and, no doubt, during major holidays. However, if you opt to go in the middle of the week/on the off-season, you won’t be disappointed with the views or the activities.
Have you visited Sun Moon Lake? What’s a place you recommend someone visit?
Keep an eye out for our next adventure: Formosa Aboriginal Culture Village!