Taiwan Solo Travel: Sun Moon Lake

Wednesday, January 18, 2017


My first day in Taiwan was a little bit kind of adventure, don't you think? And just when I thought that I had enough of it from the miscommunication in Cingjing Farm, the real challenge started as soon as I arrived at the guest house. I zone out for a couple of seconds analyzing whether I enter the same room, I left earlier or if I just step out on an ice plant. Warning: Don’t leave your windows and screen door open, make sure to close them tightly before you leave. Weather in Cingjing is tricky; do not repeat the same mistakes I did. Never. I rush into bed and turned on the electric blanket. For half an hour I was just there, under the warmth of a thick mattress lost in between the thoughts about home and braving the cold.

Just when I barely get enough courage to leave the comfort zone, I quickly get the clothes from my luggage, run into the comfort room as if racing a marathon and face the cold burning water; sadly, I found no heater (face palm). Whatever happened after that, I’ll leave it to your imagination.

A glorious morning in Cingjing, the view from the balcony.


The night ended bittersweet, but left me with unforgettable lessons, experiences, and memories from the entire trip. I slept comfortably amidst the cold and woke up later than scheduled ready for new adventures.

Day 2 and 3: Sun Moon Lake

Sun Moon Lake was originally the home of the Thao tribe and is considered as the largest body of water in Taiwan. The east side of the lake is round, like the sun, while the west side is long and narrow, like a crescent moon, hence the name. The turquoise water set against a picturesque mountain backdrop entices both local and tourist to stay here over the weekend and holidays. Visit during a weekday if you want to avoid crowds and get the best deals.


How to get there:
No trains go directly to Sun Moon Lake; the closest major station is Taichung, from where you will need to take a bus or taxi.

From Taipei: You can ride an HSR to Taichung Station. Exit 5 from HSR station takes you straight into a tourist information where you can find ladies selling tickets for the Nantou bus. The company also sells a coupon set in NT$390, NT$720 and NT$1060 here.

From Cingjing Farm: Exit from Bowang Village (if from Julie's Skyhill Guesthouse) or head of the bus stops along Cingjing Farm and wait for a Nantou Bus going to Puli (tickets at around NT$115, pay through the driver). Transfer from Puli Station and board Bus 6668 or 6670 going to Sun Moon Lake. The ride is about 30mins which cost around NT$59 one-way.

There are three piers around Sun Moon Lake, Shuishe, Ita Thao and Syuanguang Pier where you can get around by bus, car, scooter, bike or boat. If arriving by bus you will most likely enter from the north side of the lake and be dropped at Shuishe Pier. Please be mindful that local bus around the lake stops at 5:30 PM, so be sure to get there before 5:00 PM or you'll be forced to walk or take a taxi (costly) especially if your accommodation is at the opposite side of the lake over 10KM away.

Street near the bus stops. You have to walk this way to reach the Yue Lake Backpackers hostel.

The view of Shuishe Pier from afar...

When you visit during a week day...less crowd 

I arrived at Sun Moon Lake at around 11 in the afternoon. The bus stopped at the front of a Police/Fire Station near the Delight Mall in Shuishe Pier and a guy in presumably late 20's approached me. Young lady, where are you heading? It seems that he found me lost and struggling with my heavy luggage. The man speaks English fluently so I assumed that he's a tourist representative in the area. I am looking for Yue Lake Backpacker's, the place where I'll stay. He quickly points me in the direction of the hostel and tell that it would take about 10 to 15 minutes walk. He then suggested that it might be too early to check-in and lockers are available for rent, but I politely refuse the offer as I prefer to head directly to the hostel and take a quick rest.

You'll find these wooden trails around the lake specially between Shuishe and Xiangshan Visitor Center where you can choose to walk or rent bikes while enjoying the view...

(Left) Beautiful cycling path (Right) Inhale...exhale...

I don't know what I was thinking that day. Maybe I was too stubborn or shy to rent a bike; my biking skills is not good though. I was just following the couple before me, but before I realize it, I was walking for non-stop and reached half of the trail to Xiangxhan Visitor Center (which was supposed to be a cycling trail). I decided to walk amidst exhaustion hoping that maybe I could ride a bus back to Shuishe if I reach  Xiangshan.

I think it's too early for Fall? I wonder how this trees looks like in full bloom...


I looked for the information center and asked the staff about the bus, unfortunately, we weren't able to communicate well but instead handed me the bus schedules. I found the bus stop outside the building and waited for about 20 minutes. At around 4:00 PM, people are starting to go home with their cars. I was planning to hitchhike again, but I was determined to wait for the bus. Another 20 minutes passed, the place is getting dim and foggy so I decided to just walk back again...

Lesson: Rent a bike!

Just kidding. You see, traveling is not always pretty but those failing moments are what makes the journey memorable. And besides, I was accompanied by a friendly stray dog on my way home, so I never felt so alone.  Though my legs are shaking and I'm out of breath, God always sends someone, or a dog to comfort me. (:

Next time, I will definitely ride a bike...

Flowers.. flowers everywhere.. 

After almost 1 hour and half of non-stop walking (one-way), it's time to reward myself. Ice cream! (NT$40) I also bought a Strawberry Milk Drink and Chocolate Cake both at NT$25 each. 

The view from Sun Moon Lake 7Eleven

Peaceful night near Shuishe Pier...


If you are heading to Alishan after your trip in Sun Moon Lake, it is recommended that you stay near Shuishe. Yuanlin Bus Route 6739 offers direct transportation from SML v's Alishan and you have to wait outside Delight Mall before 8:00 or 9:00 in the morning. It is also advisable to buy your tickets ahead of time, at least one day before your planned date as it gets packed easily especially on peak seasons.

Second day in Sun Moon Lake...can you see the man with a fishing rod?


I have to say that I had the most comfortable stay in Sun Moon Lake from my 10-days journey in Taiwan. I could literally just stay in bed if I want to. Two thumbs up for Yue Lake Backpackers. :)

Early morning walks along Shuishe Pier... In Taiwan, I observed that most stores are still close at around 8:00 in the morning and they close early at around 5 or 6 in the afternoon. Buy everything you need ahead of time or make sure they're available in 7Eleven.


I bought the round-the-lake-bus voucher near the Delight Mall for NT$80. This will give you a one-day unlimited access to different stops in Sun Moon Lake; just present your ticket to the bus drivers.

Road in Sun Moon Lake in front of the Wenwu Temple...


Never leave Sun Moon Lake without visiting Wenwu Temple. I never expected this one to be grand and majestic. The details from the temple is amazing and the view from the top is simply breathtaking. I wish I could have spend more time here (I actually did more than planned).


Look at the details... Wenwu  temple was rebuilt in 1969 after the handover of Taiwan from Japan to China and was actually inspired by palaces in China. No wonder why it's grand.

I wish someone could  explain to me why there are tiny figures of dragons in line on the roof of the temple... 

On top of Wenwu Temple


If you have a whole day just around Sun Moon Lake, I will suggest that you visit Cien Pagoda and Syuentzang Temple too to maximize your round-the-lake-bus voucher. I wasn't able to visit these places since I have very limited time that day. I need to go straightly to Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village, a huge amusement park in Taiwan inspired by traditional tribal lifestyle (I'll write about this in the next post).

(Left) Taiwanese love scooters and motorcycles, you'll see different styles and variations just like this panda scooter everywhere especially in Taipei. (Right) Deep-fried mushroom, anyone?

Ita Thao Visitor Center

Lovely neighborhood...

Ita Thao night market...

(Left) Egg Tart for NT$25!  (Right) Scallion Pancake (around NT$60)

To sum up, I think 2 to 3 days is enough to visit Sun Moon Lake. I'm really glad that I included this in my itinerary and If I have a chance to go back, I will do it again and do more research so I won't get lost :D  Thanks for reading, till the next post...

You Might Also Like