One of the most magical places in Taiwan I visited was Sun Moon Lake. Experiencing the best of Sun Moon Lake reminded me a lot of Annecy in France, or even my childhood trips to Lake Tahoe. This lake was different though — pagodas and temples towering over the still water seemed otherworldly. The lush forest surrounding the lake created an oasis far away from the business of the neighboring cities, giving it a peacefulness that I hadn’t expected.
Sun Moon Lake is a wonderful place and though it may seem small in size, there is plenty to do there.
A quick guide for experiencing the best of Sun Moon Lake
What to Know Before Visiting Sun Moon Lake
- The lake can easily be visited from Taipei or Taichung. There are plenty of tourist busses running daily into the lake.
- Once at the lake, you can get around by the “Around the Lake” bus which runs everyday to the main points around the lake. It’s good to note that the bus schedule typically ends around 6 pm, so be sure to plan accordingly.
- Taxis are very expensive in comparison to a normal taxi in Taipei.
- There are boat shuttles that run across the lake as well.
- I would recommend three nights here to truly enjoy the destination, hike, and see the sights.
Where to Stay in Sun Moon Lake
Accommodations range from budget to uber luxe on Sun Moon Lake. Here’s what I would recommend:
- The Lalu: This is the most prestigous hotel on the lake and incredibly beautiful. For its price point, it’s one of the nicest hotels I’ve seen when I stopped by for lunch. If you’re looking for a great view and incredible rooms, then this is the place for you.
- Fleur de Chine: Another wonderful luxury hotel with incredible views. The rooms are well priced and the hotel has plenty of food options.
- Lealea Garden Hotel: This is a mid-range hotel with a great location for exploring the lake. The rooms are correct and spacious. Lealea brand has many locations on the lake, so be sure to check which one you book.
Where to Eat in Sun Moon Lake
- February Coffee: Come here to grab a cup of coffee and a diverse menu.
- Minghu Restaurant: A good restaurant with set menu featuring local dishes.
- The Lake View Chinese Restaurant: This is the spot to be for an upscale lunch or dinner on the lake. It has incredible views and the food is very good for traditional fare. Be sure to reserve in advance here.
- Eau Cloud: Come here for dim sum with a view — be sure to reserve in advance.
- Sky Lounge: For sunset drinks, come here for an open view over the lake.
- Street food: You’ll find plenty of street food around the lake, like mochi, skewer food and dumplings. Generally speaking, it’s good to eat, just be sure it’s served hot and the water is boiling.
What to Do and See in Sun Moon Lake
- Rent bikes to go around the lake. There’s two main trails that go around the lake, east or west, and plenty of places to rent a bike for around 7-10$ a day.
- Take a scenic ride. With a gondola ride, you can soar to new heights over the lake. The view is beautiful and worth it for the trip alone.
- Stop by the Xiangshan Visitor Center and have a coffee
- Climb to the top of Ci’en Pagoda for sunset views. This was my favorite thing to do and made each of the 500 steps worth it.
- Explore the three iconic temples of Wenwu, Syuentzang, and Syuanguang.
- Take a boat ride across the lake from Ita Thao.
*Bon Traveler was welcomed as a guest of Taiwan Tourism Bureau. As always, all opinions are own.
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