After a very short night we had to get up to reach one of the first buses to the lake.
The Sun Moon Lake is the largest, natural body of water in Taiwan. It is situated near Taichung in the inner part of the country and can just be reached by bus. Starting in Taichung (LuChuan E. Street which is parallel to the train station) there are several buses each day for NT$150 per ride. It takes you about two hours to reach the only city at the lake called Shuishe Town (水社). The climate is way more convenient up there and about 90% of the Taiwanese married couples spend their honeymoon or even marry at the lake.
After about 1.5 hours bus ride we reached the new entertainment park “Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village” at the lake. For NT$500-700 you can see a aboriginal village and have fun with roller coasters. A cable-way brings you directly from the park to the lake.
We decided not to go in but left the bus because we thought this is already the and station. After a short look around we mentioned that the lake was way more far away as we expected. A very nice employee from the park immediately organized us a taxi and told us for NT$400 we would be at the lake. We considered a ride of at least 30 to 45 minutes for this prize. Well, this is happening to you if you do not speak the language of a country: After about 15min we reached our destiny and the cap driver earned a lot of money. – Till now the most expensive taxi I have been taken in Taiwan!
The new information centre of the Sun Moon Lake is in front of the bus station in Shuishe Town (水社). They are very nice and provide you with maps, guides and time tables. – Most of them speak English.
Around the lake are several very nice hiking tracks as well as biking lanes, but most of the tourists go for a boat ride to see the landscape (NT$300 for one day ticket / NT$100 for one way ticket).
We took a short track around a small half-island and enjoyed it not to be surrounded by hundreds of mainly Chinese tourists. The local people are very obtrusively and always try to sell you something or get you on a boat. The prices for food and accommodation are the highest in comparison to the rest of the country. For lunch or dinner you have to calculate at least NT$600!
Beside the touristy places country-clubs and a camping park are situated at the lake. The upper 10.000 of Taiwan even started to have their own yachts at the lake.
Sights at the lake:
Several temples and the above mentioned entertainment park are the main attraction of this area.
TzuEn Ta Pagoda
With its nine levels and 4 meters of height it is the highest in Taiwan. It is part of the HsuangChuang Temple and is situated about half a kilometre above the temple.
The harbour of Shuishe Town (水社) is located on the opposite side of the information centre. you have to enter a new gift shop and walk through it. The tickets are sold directly at the gate and by people who start asking you when you come closer.
Tickets: NT$300 for one day or NT$100 for one way
If you have seen several places in Asia the temples are not that fascinating any more. A lot of Taiwanese people told me not to got to the lake cause it is way to crowded and it is not that special. I can just say “Jes, that’s true!” The lake is nice but there a lot of way more interesting places in this country than the Sun Moon Lake. The nature is nice up there but it can be visited at other places without herds of people walking around and it annoys me when people push me all the time to buy something. You get the feeling of being at a fake market in China!