I fell in love with Sun Moon Lake. Twice.
The largest freshwater lake in Taiwan is situated in Nantou country and is divided by the tiny island called Lalu island, a place of ancestral worship of the Thao aboriginal tribe.
The eastern part of the lake is round like a sun, on the other hand the western part is shaped like a crescent. Thus the name “Sun Moon Lake”.
I stayed in Puli township and from there I could take the bus to Sun Moon Lake. If you want to travel from Taichung to the lake you have to take either the bus or a taxi. Direct buses are available.
If you are touring in a group, it might be easier just to take the taxi to get around Sun Moon Lake.
If you take the bus from Puli to Sun Moon Lake it is a beautiful ride.
My excitement started at this point.
The bus drops you off at Shueishe Visitor Center, the area offers plenty of restaurants and bike rental stores lining up along the streets.
Now you have many options how to explore Sun Moon Lake.
You can get around by car, bike, scooter or boat. A boat tour is ideal to explore and the price for an adult ticket cost TWD 100 (3$) for a single way.
You can purchase the tickets at Shueishe or Ita Thao pier.
All boats will dock at three different piers – Ita Thao Pier, Shuishe Pier and Syuanguang Pier. You can stop at each place and hop back on the boat whenever you want. But check the boat schedule, when I went there the running hours would stop at 5 pm.
Or you can be as crazy as I am and walk the whole lake by foot.
Just for your information: The length of the round-the-lake road is about 33 km (20,5 miles).
I started with a huge motivation and enthusiasm. I STARTED.
The first three hours of my walk was such a delight. I have to admit, I am a person who is very good at spending time with myself.
I listened on the second half of my way to music and felt like this “pure-happiness-feeling” again, which unfortunately I can’t share with you.
But let’s say like this, it is like eating ice-cream, dark chocolate, pizza, french fries and my mum’s cooked food all together at once without getting fat while you are flying in the air like superman.
Bad allegory but so what.
I literally felt like it was the best decision for me to walk by foot. After one hour I lost time and space.
Unsurprisingly, Sun Moon Lake is a very popular honeymoon destination.
The scenery is breath-taking, tranquil and the turquoise water complemented the lush vegetation of the lake.
Okay, I have to admit I could not resist taking photos of this spot like any other tourist. But the mass tourism can annoy you at some points.
On the way you can stop by some temples. Like this one:
Xuanzang was a famous chinese Buddhist monk, who was sent away to India by the Tang Emperor to seek for scriptures.
After 17 years he returned and brought back a huge amount of sutras with him, some of them he even translated.
Later his seventeen-year overland journey to India provided the inspiration for one of the greatest classical novels of Chinese literature –
Journey to the West, written by Wu Cheng’en during the Ming Dynasty. But the temple is not as remarkable as the novel.
At dusk I was so scared to miss my bus back to Puli so I stopped somewhere between Peacock Garden and We Wu Temple.
I guess to walk in the dark around the lake is not really what I desire, no matter how much I like Sun Moon Lake, sorry.
I put my thumbs up, 3 cars passed by and the fourth car was a taxi.
Inside, a Malaysian family who visited Sun Moon Lake just like me.
I explained them my situation and that I would be grateful if they could just drop me off at the bus station. But instead of it they drove me directly to Puli. Their sincerity is truly genuine.
The second time I came back to Sun Moon Lake with Wei’s family (he was my hitchhiking host before). This time I got on the Sun Moon Lake Ropeway, it is the best way to have a beautiful panorama view over Sun Moon Lake – only during good weather conditions!
Sun Moon Lake is one of the renowned tourist destination in Taiwan, nowadays it is very commercialized but great for an escape from the big cities. If you walk around the lake like me I can almost promise nobody will bother you and you have some spots all by yourself.
Rather stay one night in Sun Moon Lake to experience its real beauty from dawn till dusk.