Pagoda view of Sun Moon Lake
Sun Moon Lake is located in Central Taiwan, about two hours away via bus from Taichung. It’s the largest freshwater body in Taiwan, and boasts some of the most majestic scenery the country has to offer.
The lake itself is rather large, but buses run periodically around its perimeter, rendering transportation convenient. Ferries are also an ideal way to take in the scenery.
Sun Moon Lake features an Aboriginal Culture Village — a museum, village and amusement park rolled into one. Vendors hawk traditional rice wine as well as other handicrafts.
The lake also offers pleasant hiking trails, including the Maolanshan and the Shueisheshan trails. I visited the Cihen Pagoda, which is a short trek uphill and offers breathtaking views. The Xuanzang Temple, which has a Zenlike feel to it, is also worth noting. Both the pagoda and temple are surrounded by white rock, making the grounds appear as if they’re covered by snow.
A leisurely bike ride around the lake takes about four hours. (Bike rentals run about $2-3 an hour.)
For accommodation, I recommend the Sun Moon Lake Full House Resort Hotel, an eclectic bed and breakfast located just steps away from the lake. They also serve some of the best hot pot I’ve had on the island. Prices are somewhat steep on the weekend, but during the week the hotel offers significant discounts.
The tourist center offers several discount packages that combine bike and scooter rentals, bus passes, ferry tickets and entrance passes into the Aboriginal Culture Village.
If you’re looking to get away from the smog and noise of Taichung, Sun Moon Lake is an excellent option.