When you are in Taichung you should set of at least one day to go Sun Moon Lake. The lake is the largest in Taiwan and it is located in the mountains of Nantou area. It is possible to go on a day trip from T-life Hostel to the Sun Moon Lake.
Things to do
There is plenty of things to do in the area, where you can enjoy the beautiful sight of Sun Moon Lakes emerald blue water and the scenery mountains surrounding it.
Sun Moon Lake biking trail
Sun Moon Lake is famous for it’s biking trail, which should be one of the most beautiful trail in the world. You can choose to bike 30 km around the whole lake – but you will need biking gear and racer biker or mountain biker, or scooter. And you will have to bike on the narrow roads and not the biking lanes. If this sounds to sporty and dangerous, you can just do as most people and stick to the biking lanes. The biking lane is 6 km long so it will be 12 km with the return.
The biking lane runs just beside the lake and will take you to scenic areas such as the Moon Bay. The lane it self is steady only with a few small hills. If you as us want to save some time, you can rent a electrical bike. This will give you enough time to stop and take a lot of pictures without spending more than to 2-3 hours in total. The bike can go up to around 30 km/h, which makes it fun and easy to ride.
If you go to Sun Moon Lake with public transportation, the ferry is the easiest way to get around between the three piers Shuishe ( where you arrive with the bus), Ita Thao, Syuanguang. The ferry ride takes around 10 minutes to each Harbour and sails 2-3 times every hour. The ferry is worth the money as it gives you a beautiful and different view of the area.
The cable car
From Ita Thao you can take the cable car to the small aboriginal village on the other side of the mountain. The cable car costs 300 NT for a return ticket and the ride is 7 minutes. The ride itself is the main reason to take the cable car, as it offers you a stunning view over Sun Moon Lake. So if you want to see the lake from a different view but don’t have time for a hike, this is the best option.
The cable car is only a 10 minute walk away from the Ita Thao Pier. Just be aware that the last cable car goes down at 16:00. We made the mistake of taking a cable car up at 15:45 as we thought we would be able to go down after sunset. Sadly we had to return as soon as we got to the top.
Watch the sunset
If you want to watch the sunset, you should stay away from Shuishe and ItaThao. We went to both places but now of them offered a great view of the sunset. Too late we realized that the prime sunset watching spots are located at Cien Pagoda, Xuanzang temple and Xuanguang Temple, all at the Xuanguang Temple Pier.
Should I buy a Sun Moon Lake PASS?
Through Nantou bus you can buy different day passes for Sun Moon Lake together with the shuttle bus ticket. The packages ranges from 400 NT to 1100 NT and include different vouchers such as a 2-hour bike rent voucher, cable car tickets and ferry tickets.
We decide to do an independent trip and skip the Sun Moon Lake Pass, as we wasn’t sure what we wanted to do. And we didn’t want to wasted money on some voucher we might not use. Furthermore we knew that we will get a discount on the bus using our Yo-yo/easy card.
What we spent per person:
- Bus, 2 ways – 236 NT
- Full day Bike rental including day pass to the ferry – 400 nt
- Cable car 300 nt
- Total = 936 nt
With either you should choose the Pass or not depends on your plans. If you don’t know what you want to do, then it’s better just to skip the pass.
How to get there
To get to Sun Moon Lake by public transport you have to take the Sun Moon Lake shuttle bus from the Nantou Bus company. At the timetable it says that the bus leaves from Taichung Railway Station, but it doesn’t. We went to the railway station and wasted 1 hour trying to find the bus stop, even though we were with our Chinese speaking friend how could ask people for directions. After a while some one could finally tell us that the bus leave from Xing Dong Yin He Lu Zhan in front of Taichung Park. You can take bus 300 to 309 leaving from the Dong Hai Villa bus stop near T Life (10 min walk). The bus ride to Xing Dong He Lu Zhan takes around 40 min.
We would suggest you to take the first Sun Moon Lake shuttle bus if you want to get most out of your day in Sun Moon Lake. The bus leaves the Xing Dong Yin He Lu Zhan Bus stop at 07:48 and arrives at the Sun Moon Lake bus stop at 09:40.
If you decide to take the early bus, you should do as we did and take a Uber instead of the bus. The local buses in Taichung are very unreliable and takes a long time. We spent 480 NT in total on the 20 minute Uber ride, and it was worth it as it saved us a lot of time.