Nestled at 760 m above sea level, this lake is famous for its clear, sparkling blue water set against a picturesque mountain backdrop. This is the largest lake in Taiwan and a traditional spot for newly-wed couples to take their honeymoon. It has also been a center of aboriginal life for thousands of years, with aboriginal people involved in its tourist industry since the 1930s.
When to visit
- Tourists descend on Sun Moon Lake over the weekends, and hotel room rates zoom up on Friday and Saturday nights. Visit during a weekday if you want to avoid crowds and get the best deals.
- During the Mid-Autumn Festival, Sun Moon Lake is the site of a massive swim — more than ten thousand swimmers plunge into the lake to swim 3 km across. Join the fun if you wish.
- Like many other locations in Taiwan, it can get very hot in the summertime, as well as having a higher number of tourists. Visit during the fall, winter, or spring if you prefer a more moderate temperature.
No trains go directly to Sun Moon Lake; the closest major station is Taichung, from where you will need to take a bus or taxi.
Some direct buses are available from Taichung or Taipei, but often it is more convenient to take a bus from Taichung to Puli, and transfer buses there for another the half hour ride to Sun Moon Lake. No buses travel directly from Hualien, though cars may be rented and driven through the picturesque Taroko Gorge with an international drivers license. The drive on the winding two-lane road takes approximately seven hours, although it is subject to frequent stops due to rockfalls.
- Green Transit Bus (Feng Jung Bus) – Running daily from Taipei MRT ZhongXiao FuXing Station (Taipei East Area, near SOGO department store, no 274, Fuxing east rd) and Sun Moon Lake. For timetable and other details, please contact ☏ (Taipei), or ☏ (Puli)
- Kuo-Kuang Bus (國光客運, formerly TaiChi Bus) – Four buses run daily from Taipei West Station (near Taipei Train Station) to Sun Moon Lake. ☏ (Taipei), or ☏ (Puli)
- Nan-Tou Bus (南投客運) – Running daily from Taichung Kan-Cheng Station (干城站) at Shuang-Shih Road (雙十路, near the railway station), High Speed Rail Taichung Station, Puli to Sun Moon Lake for NT$200 one way. For timetable and other details, visit their website or ☏ (Puli). You can also see a list of the bus stop locations.
- Renyou Bus (仁友客運) – Less frequent departures from Liouchuan East Road (柳川東路) near the railway station for NT$200 one-way and NT$350 for a return ticket.
- Kuo-Kuang buses from Taipei stop over in Chaoma station in Taichung.
Bus 6289 goes every hour, passing by Chungwa Telecom and Puli Distillery/Brewery. NT$60 from Puli, cheaper with Easycard. Otherwise, NT$50 with any bus (coming from Taipei or Taichung) along the highway by Puli, if you missed the local one from Puli.
You can get around by bus, car, scooter, bike or boat. A loop road more or less circles around the lake, although you'll need to get off the road to view the lake. The most direct way from one side of the lake to another is by boat.
- 1 Wenwu Temple (文武廟). The biggest temple on the northern bank of the lake.
- 2 Ci-en Pagoda (Ci'entang / 慈恩塔). 09:00-16:30. This Chinese style pagoda is a must and the best place to overview the lake. It's 46 m tall and was built by the Chiang Kai-shek in memory of his mother. It was completed in 1971 and sits on the hill southeast of the lake.
- 3 Ita Thao (伊達邵). The village of the Thao Aborigines, and also called Dehua village (德化社).
- 4 Lalu Island (拉魯島). In the middle of the lake. Lalu (lit. "Lake Island") is the name the Thao tribe, the original inhabitants of the area, gave to this sacred land, though it was changed to Guanghua (光華 or "Glorious China") during Chiang Kai-shek's rule of Taiwan. After 1999's September 21 earthquake the Taiwanese government, attempting to show greater respect and political awareness towards the Thao, reverted the island's name back to its original Lalu.
- Antique Assam tea farm (日月老茶廠) (north of the lake, on approach from Puli). 08:00-17:00.
- Rent a bicycle and ride around the lake. All around Shuishe Visitor Centre many rental shops can be found. The usual price is NT$200 per bicycle until the evening (NT$150 if you know how to bargain). It takes 4½-6 hr for a semi-fit person to ride the 30 km around the lake, including sightseeing.
- Take a boat tour around the lake. Most tours are a couple hours long and visit the above locations. Cost is about NT$300 per person.
- Paddle a rowboat. Strong rowers can get to the island in the middle of the lake. Rent boat and lifejackets from the piers at Yuchuch for NT$200 per hour, plus NT$200 security deposit.
Aboriginal handicrafts - mostly made out of wood or bamboo - are sold. In the Ita Thao village, many shops are aboriginal-owned.
- Jin Men Ah Ma Cha Ye Dan (金門阿嬤茶葉蛋) - Famous tea braised egg available at Xuan Guang Si pier.
- Shaw tribe traditional food - Available at Shui She Pier.
- Min Ren Hotel, No 138 Chungshan Rd, Shueishe (Just across the road from the Shueishe Visitor Center (or bus stop)), ☏ . The place is basic, and there's no lake view, but the beds are comfortable and every room has its own bathroom, AC and TV. NT$1,000 for twin or double room (NT$1,200 during weekends/holidays), breakfast not included.
- Sun Moon Lake Backpacker's Paradise (日月潭背包客天堂), No 4 Xiushui Lane , Yuchih Township (You can walk along Yuchih Street, and turn right at No.253 Yuchih Street. Then follow the direction to No. 4 Xiushui Lane.), ☏ , . The place provides basic and necessary equipments, and there's Wi-Fi access and hot water provided. NT$350 for one person and night.
- [dead link] Sun Moon Lake Hotel (水沙連大飯店), 5 Mingsheng St, ☏ . Yuchih Township. Rooms with lake view, dinner and breakfast included (limited choice buffet at night, Taiwanese-style breakfast).
- Harbor Resort Hotel, Yuchich Township, ☏ . 42-room hotel, on lake, with restaurant and sauna. Rooms are decent and location is good.
- Sun Moon Lake Teacher's Hostel. This is a very nice hostel, intended for credentialed teachers. Non teachers can also book rooms on a space available basis. Well located in Yuchuch. Rooms start at NT$2,200 midweek.
- Del Lago Hotel (大淶閣大飯店), 101, Jhongshan Rd, Yuchih Township, ☏ .
- The Lalu Hotel (涵碧樓), 142 Jungshing Road, Yuchih Township, ☏ . A five-star hotel in Sun Moon Lake Scenic Area.
- Fleur de Chine Hotel (雲品酒店), 23 Zhong Zheng Road, Yuchih Township, ☏ . A five-star resort on the Northern Peninsula of the Sun Moon Lake.
Departing from Sun Moon Lake
- There is a company with hourly bus service that stops directly at the Taichung high speed rail station – great if you're in a hurry to get back to Taipei. Tickets for this and most other buses are sold at the Sun Moon Lake Visitor's Centre in Shuishe.
- The last bus to Puli departs at 19:30, from where you can transit to a bus to Taichung.
- Those in a hurry can also take a taxi from either Sun Moon Lake or Puli to Taizhong. Cost is around NT$1,500 from Puli or NT$2,000 from Sun Moon Lake.
- Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village – A full out amusement park with rides and shows, all with an aboriginal theme. You can see elaborate cultural shows and enjoy the thrill rides. It is just north of the lake. Allow a full day to visit.
- Yushan – The highest mountain of Taiwan, in Nantou County, but also the name of the related National Park that lies in several other counties. South of Sun Moon Lake.
- Puli, Taichung, etc.
- Taroko Gorge – An impressive 19-km-long canyon in Hualien County, and the name, Taroko, means the "magnificent and splendid" in the language of Truku, the aboriginal tribe residing in the area. No public transportation crosses the island in a single day.
- Alishan – Literally "Mount Ali", is Taiwan's most-visited national park.