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Are you thinking about adding the Sun Moon Lake to your Taiwan Itinerary?
At Taiwan’s largest lake you can enjoy beautiful sunrises and sunsets, awesome hiking trails and one of the best place to see cherry blossoms in the world.
Add the Sun Moon Lake to your Taiwan itinerary and experience one of world’s most scenic landscapes!
17 Fun Things To Do at Sun Moon Lake (Itinerary Ideas)
- Boat Tours
- Lalu Island
- Paper Dome
- Ci En Pagoda
- Owl Sculptures
- Wenwu Temple
- Xuanguang Temple
- Xuanzang Temple
- Shuili Snake Kiln
- Antique Assam Tea Farm
- Sun Moon Lake Ropeway
- Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village
- Sun Moon Lake Cherry Blossom Festival
- Nantou Checheng Wood Exhibition Hall
- Best Hotels at Sun Moon Lake
Before we look at the things to do at Sun Moon Lake, it might be a good idea to brush up on some basic facts.
SUN MOON LAKE AT A GLANCE
With its stunning scenery the Sun Moon Lake is definitely a must-see attraction!
The lake is located in Yuchi Township, Nantou County, Taiwan.
And, its current shape is man-made.
Under Japanese rule, a dam was constructed at Sun Moon Lake, resulting in its current shape: its east side resembles a sun, its west side a moon.
What to do at Sun Moon Lake?
In this guide, we’ll explore 17 fun things to do at Sun Moon Lake.
We hope that this gives you enough inspirations to fill up your Sun Moon Lake itinerary!
BEST TIME TO VISIT THE SUN MOON LAKE
The best time to visit the Sun Moon Lake is in spring, as the weather is pleasant and mild.
Spring in Taiwan is from March until May.
During this season, the average highs are between 19ºC and 27ºC, and average lows are between 15ºC and 22ºC.
Added benefit of spending spring at the Sun Moon Lake?
You can marvel at the blooming landscapes full of lush and exotic flowers and plants!
If you want to take a deep dive into the weather data, head over to the website of the Central Weather Bureau.
HOW TO GET TO THE SUN MOON LAKE
The closest major station is Taichung Main Station – approx. 75 km from the Sun Moon Lake.
As there are no direct train connections, here are the best ways how to get to the Sun Moon Lake:
Traveling from Taipei to Sun Moon Lake
- Self-Driving: The 249 km from Taipei to Sun Moon Lake will take you about 3 hours. Attention: This route has tolls.
- Taxi / Uber: An Uber ride from Taipei to Sun Moon Lake takes up to 3 hours and will cost you about US$ 175.
- Bus: Take the HSR from Taipei to Taichung and transfer to the Nantou Bus service heading to Xiangshan Vistor Center. You don’t need to transfer anywhere along the way. For more information on the shuttle bus service, visit the website of Nantou Bus.
Traveling from Hualien to Sun Moon Lake
- Self-Driving: The 198 km from Hualien to Sun Moon Lake will take you about 5 hours. Attention: This route has tolls.
- Taxi / Uber: An Uber ride from Hualien to Sun Moon Lake would takes up to 5 hours. But, Uber doesn’t service Hualien County as of now.
- Bus: Take a train from Hualien Station to Taipei Main Station. Then take the HSR from Taipei to Taichung and transfer to the Nantou Bus service heading to Xiangshan Vistor Center. You don’t need to transfer anywhere along the way. For more information on the shuttle bus service, visit the website of Nantou Bus.
Traveling from Kaohsiung to Sun Moon Lake
- Self-Driving: The 203 km from Kaohsiung to Sun Moon Lake will take you about 2.5 hours. Attention: This route has tolls.
- Taxi / Uber: An Uber ride from Kaohsiung to Sun Moon Lake takes up to 3 hours and will cost you about US$ 158.
- Bus: You can take a bus from Kaohsiung Main Station to Taichung Main Station. Or, you can take the HSR from Kaohsiung to Taichung. Here you can transfer to the Nantou Bus service heading to Xiangshan Vistor Center. You don’t need to transfer anywhere along the way. For more information on the shuttle bus service, visit the website of Nantou Bus.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s jump right in and explore the fun things to do at the Sun Moon Lake!
Hiking is a great way to explore the sceneries and the natural beauty surrounding the Sun Moon Lake.
The hiking trails around the Sun Moon Lake also give you ample opportunities to undertake some sunrise or sunset watching.
Check out our list of the most amazing hiking trails:
- Shuiwatou Trail
- Songbolun Trail
- Shueiuatou Trail
- Houjianshan Trail
- Neihu Mountain Trail
- Maolan MountainTrail
- Shuishe Lakeside Walk
- Shuishe Great Mountain Nature Trail
So, you have no excuses.
Strap on those boots and go on a hiking adventure!
After all: a walk in nature walks the soul back home.
Cycling is another great way to explore the Sun Moon Lake.
There are many bike paths around the lake, but Yuetan Bike Path is arguably the most charming one.
The Yuetan Bike Path is also referred to as the “Moon Lake” section of the Sun Moon Lake Cycling route.
The path is 4 km long and has an estimated cycling time of 40 minutes.
All bike paths will lead you across the lake’s sparkling turquoise waters, lush flora and wildlife – giving you a truly scenic experience!
There are many shops where you can rent a bike.
Here are a few:
For more cycling information, visit the website of the Sun Moon Lake National Scenic Area Administration.
What better way to experience the marvelous sunrise and sunset views of the Sun Moon Lake while on a boat tour?
The lake has three docks: Xuan Guang Wharf, Itashao Pier and Shuishe Pier. Also, there are five operators with different fleets.
Undertake some hop on hop off tours while enjoying the picturesque cruising experiences!
For more information, visit the website of the Sun Moon Lake National Scenic Area Administration.
If you are feeling adventurous, you can also undertake kayak and canoe journeys on the Sun Moon Lake.
This is the perfect way to bask in some fresh air and enjoy some tranquil and peaceful moments!
Lalu Island lies at the center of the Sun Moon Lake.
Originally, the island was much bigger, but in 1999 a portion of it sank during the 921 earthquake.
Today, Lalu Island is considered to be a sacred ground for the Thao tribe.
To make you aware of this, a marble statue of a deer – stemming from a Thao legend – can be found on the island.
You can’t visit Lalu Island, but you can learn about the Thao tribe along the tracks surrounding Sun Moon Lake!
The Paper Dome is held up by 58 paper columns!
The message that is wishes to convey: even materials as soft as paper can hold up a building.
The Paper Dome was designed by Japanese architect Shigeru Ban in 1995 as a makeshift church.
After 10 years, the church should have been torn down and replaced by a permanent building.
Fortunately, it was relocating to Nantou County in Taiwan instead.
Make sure to check out the Paper Dome to learn more about this architectural masterpiece!
CI EN PAGODA
Shabalan Mountain is home to one of the most iconic landmarks of the Sun Moon Lake: Ci En Pagoda.
The Ci En Pagoda was constructed as a memory to the late mother of President Chiang Kai-shek.
The structure was completed in 1971, has 12 floors in total and stands at 46 m (151 ft).
This makes the Ci En Pagoda an ideal place to admire panoramic sunset and sunrise views of the Sun Moon Lake.
You can reach the structure by means of the Tsen Pagoda Hiking Trail, home to black-winged fireflies (April – May) and mountain fireflies (October – November).
To be honest: it doesn’t get more romantic than that!
The aboriginal Thao people consider owls to be sacred.
That’s why you’ll find many statues and sculptures of owls in the surroundings of Sun Moon Lake.
The most famous owl sculptures can be found in the public garden of the Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village (you’ll find more detail further below).
The three giant owl sculptures are overgrown with colorful flowers and are definitely pretty to look at!
No wonder that pictures of them have been widely shared on both Flickr and Pinterest.
If you want to get a sight of these adorable statues, make sure to include the Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village in your Sun Moon Lake itinerary!
In 1919, Yihua Hall and Longfeng Temple where torn down and consolidated into one building: Wenwu Temple.
In the past, one had to paddle across the Sun Moon Lake and climb a very steep flight of stairs to visit Wenwu Temple.
Back then, these steps where referred to as the “Stairway to Heaven”. Now, they are known as the “Year of Steps at Wenwu Temple”.
Interestingly, the flight of stairs boasts 366 steps. These symbolize the 366 days in a year – including an extra day for each leap year.
The hike up to Wenwu Temple is absolutely worth it. When reaching the top, you can take in breathtaking sunset views of the Sun Moon Lake!
By the way, there are no entrance fees and the temple is always open.
Xuanguang Temple is accessible by a pier that is also the starting point of the Qinglong Mountain Trail /Pilgrim Path.
The Pilgrim Path leads you from the Xuanguang Temple all the way up to the Xuanzang Temple.
Xuanguang Temple was built in 1955 and was the original resting place of Xuanzang, a Buddhist monk.
At the entrance of the temple you’ll also find a tea egg stall that has been there for more than 50 years!
Visit the Xuanguang Temple to explore the rich history of Buddhism while snacking on some tea eggs and enjoying scenic views of Sun Moon Lake!
The opening times are from 5:00 am – 9:00 pm and no entrance fees are charged.
Xuanzang Temple was established in 1965 and is located on a hill named “Qinglong”.
In 1965, the relics of the Buddhist monk Xuanzang where relocated here.
The Buddhist monk is well known for his pilgrimage to India, where he collected sacred Sanskrit scriptures of Buddhism.
Xuanzang’s work is rather noteworthy, as his translations include some of the most important Mahayana scriptures.
So, if you want to learn more about Xuanzang’s journey to the west, the Xuanzang Temple is your go-to place!
The opening times are from 5:00 am – 6:00 pm and no entrance fees are charged.
More Fun Things to Do at Sun Moon Lake (Itinerary Ideas)
SHUILI SNAKE KILN
Shuili Snake Kiln is a ceramics cultural park that was completed in 1927.
The term “kiln” refers to a type of oven that bakes pottery products. Having said that, the term “snake” might be a bit misleading though.
It refers to the 30 m long kiln of the park, which bears a resemblance to a wriggling snake.
The wood-fired kiln is the oldest one in in Taiwan. It also produced the tallest kiln work in the world – a 6.6 m (21,65 ft) pot!
Today, the park’s potters sell their works the best hotels in Taiwan and offer family-friendly pottery classes.
The opening times of the Shuili Snake Kiln are 8:00 am – 5:30 pm and the entrance fees are inexpensive.
ANTIQUE ASSAM TEA FARM
The Antique Assam Tea Farm is located in the Yuchi Township, and as the name illustrates, the specialty here is Assam black tea.
In its heyday, the Antique Assam Tea Farm employed over 200 workers.
In 2003, however, the farm had to be shut down due to economic reasons.
Yet, a handful of workers remained, growing organic Assam tea and turning the farm into a tourist attraction.
Now, the Antique Assam Tea Farm even boasts a boutique where you can sample treats like the famous No. 18 / Taiwan 18 tea!
There are no admission fees and the opening times are 8:00 am – 5 pm.
SUN MOON LAKE ROPEWAY
The Sun Moon Lake Ropeway connects Sun Moon Lake and the Formosan Aboriginal Cultural Village.
The solar and hydro-electric powered cable cars are painted red, yellow and blue to symbolize the sun, moon and lake respectively.
The gondola ride from Sun Moon Lake to the Formosan Aboriginal Cultural Village takes 7 minutes.
The cable car service is not simply a means of transportation as the scenic journey provides you with spectacular views of the Sun Moon Lake!
The ticket price per person is around US$ 10. And the opening times are 10:30 am – 16:00 pm (Mon-Fri); and 10:00 am – 16:30 (Sat-Sun).
For more information, visit the official website of the Sun Moon Lake Ropeway.
FORMOSAN ABORIGINAL CULTURE VILLAGE
If you’re looking for something entertaining and educational to do, visit the Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village.
As the name states, the main aim of the park is to educate visitors about the aboriginal culture in Taiwan.
Established in 1986 and styled as an amusement park, the Formosa Aboriginal Culture Village definitely does this in a fun way!
The 62 hectares park is not only home to Taiwan’s tallest free-fall ride and bell tower, it also boasts 5 five theme parks:
- Aboriginal Villages
- Amusement Isle
- Ti Ka Er Rainforest
- Aladdin Plaza
- European Gardens
The Formosa Aboriginal Culture Village is also home to more than 2,000 cherry trees!
That’s why we recommend visiting the park during the Cherry Blossom Festival from early February to mid-March.
For more information about the opening times and entrance fees, visit the website of the Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village.
SUN MOON LAKE CHERRY BLOSSOM FESTIVAL
Japan and Korea are the only places to see cherry blossoms, right?
If you think that, you have obviously never been to the annual Sun Moon Lake Cherry Blossom Festival (Sakura Festival)!
It takes place from early February to mid-March in the Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village.
It’s the largest cherry blossom event in Taiwan and is considered to be one of the best places to see cherry blossoms in the world.
When walking along Cherry Blossom Avenue during the Sun Moon Lake Cherry Blossom Festival it’s easy to understand why.
Head over to the website of the Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village for more information about the festival.
NANTOU CHECHENG WOOD EXHIBITION HALL
Under Japanese rule, the Nantou Checheng Wood Exhibition Hall used to be home to a wood manufacturing company.
Today, the museum displays Taiwan’s history of wood manufacturing.
In order to combine the past and the future, the Nantou Checheng Wood Exhibition Hall has been restored using both wood and steel.
The museum even offers DIY courses in which you can create some wooden handicrafts of your own.
If your fingers are all thumbs, there are plenty of souvenirs to choose from. We definitely recommend checking out the postcards made out of cypress wood!
The opening times of the Nantou Checheng Wood Exhibition Hall are 9:30 am – 5:00 pm (Mon-Fri) and 9:30 am to 5:30 pm (Sat-Sun), and the admission is free.
BEST HOTELS AT SUN MOON LAKE
If you are looking for where to stay at Sun Moon Lake, we got you covered.
Below you will find a list of accommodations, including our favorite hotels at Sun Moon Lake!
The Lalu Hotel is truly a historic site.
In 1923, the Japanese Crown Prince Hirohito turned the site into his official residence. And in 1949, President Chiang Kai-Shek used the site to entertain foreign heads of state.
Today, the Lalu Hotel features a Zen architecture, elegant suites with large bay windows, and a spa with probably the best view of the Sun Moon Lake.
If you want to spend your time at the Sun Moon Lake in style, Fleur de Chine is the place to be.
Every corner of the hotel is infused with the beauty of Sun Moon Lake and the rooms are fitted with French window offering views of the scenic landscapes.
Also, the hydrotherapy hot spring area and the Qi Shiseido Salon & Spa give you ample opportunities to kick back and relax.
Located in the busiest area of Sun Moon Lake, Hotel Del Lago is the perfect place to stay if you love the hustle and bustle.
The bright rooms overlook the lake and when you pop out, the hiking trails and boat tours are right there.
The hotel also offers free bicycle usage and hosts a Starbucks, making it the perfect paradise if you are a hipster at heart.
The LeaLea Garden Hotel – Moon Lake pays homage to the aboriginal Thao people of Sun Moon Lake.
The interior of the hotel is beautifully decorated with unique totems and aboriginal features, creating somewhat of a Bali vibe.
The rooms offer awe-inspiring lake views and you can relax in the indoor spa, pool and sauna. And if you are feeling adventurous, check out the karaoke lounge!
Cat lovers listen up!
Doris Home is a cat-themed boutique B&B that offers 8 rooms. Finding Doris Home is somewhat of an adventure though, as it is tucked away in a small alleyway.
The ultra-modern rooms are not only super cozy, they also feature Eco-friendly principles.
You’ll also find free coffee and tea in the shared lounge at Doris Home, which is also a good place to meet other Sun Moon Lake travelers!
The Qingjing Guest House is located on Qingjing Farm.
Qingjing Farm is also known as “Foggy Eden” and features ecological attractions like Green Green Grasslands, Small Swiss Garden, 487-Steps Trail and Shoushan Park Ecological Area.
If you want to take in the charm of Taiwan’s untouched nature, Qingjing Guest House is the perfect retreat for you!
And there you have it: our tips on fun things to do at Sun Moon Lake!
We hope we were able to inspire you.
Now, finalize your Sun Moon Lake itinerary and look forward to those scenic moments!
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