Top Things to Do in Sun Moon Lake

Top Things to Do in Sun Moon Lake

Located 762 metres above sea level is the famous Sun Moon Lake in Taichung, Taiwan.

Just two hours from Taichung is Taiwan’s most famous body of water, the picturesque Sun Moon Lake. It is situated almost 800m above sea level and derives its name from looking part new moon, and part sun.

If you have the good luck to explore Taiwan’s largest lake, read on to find out what are the top unmissable things to do there!

1. Tour around Sun Moon Lake by ferry or bike

The best way to explore Sun Moon Lake is by touring its perimeters. One way of doing so is by bike, available for daily rental at many of the bike shops around the lake.

In fact, Sun Moon Lake has been named as one of the best places in the world to cycle. With an extensive number of well-paved paths and bike shops located all around the lake, renting and riding a bike is the number one activity to do in Sun Moon Lake. 

Image credit: Jassie Ni

For those who have less time and energy to spare, consider taking the ferry. The ferry service at Sun Moon Lake operates from these three terminals: Shuishe, Ita Thao and Xuanguang. For 100 Taiwan dollars, you can take a single ferry ride across the lake from any of the terminals. There is also a round-trip ticket that allows visitors to ride the ferry from each of the terminals, effectively making it a ferry tour around the lake.

While there is a bus service that goes around the lake, we recommend that you have a go on at least one of the ferry rides – after all, you are right next to Taiwan’s most famous lake. The ferry service around Sun Moon Lake ends around 5.30pm, so perhaps you can consider renting a bike after taking the ferry for the complete Sun Moon Lake experience.

2. Sun Moon Lake Ropeway and Formosan Aboriginal Cultural Village

Image credit: lienyuan lee

Another must-visit attraction in Sun Moon Lake is the ropeway, which starts near Ita Thao ferry terminal and ends at the entrance of the Formosan Aboriginal Cultural Village. 

The 7-minute ropeway ride offers stunning views of Sun Moon Lake along with the surrounding mountain ranges. A round-trip ride on the ropeway costs 300 Taiwan dollars, and there is the option of taking a normal cabin or the crystal cabin with see-through flooring.

things to do in sun moon lake

Image credit: Abasaa

There is also a combined ticket for unlimited rides on the Sun Moon Lake ropeway and entrance to the Formosan Aboriginal Cultural Village. Do not be fooled by its name; the cultural village is more than just a village. Besides the aboriginal area, there is a large European-style garden and even an amusement park within the premises. In fact, the area is so big that there is a cable car for guests to move from one end of the park to the other. You could spend a whole day inside this place and not have time to see everything there is to offer!

3. Temple hopping: Xuanguang Temple, Wenwu Temple, and many more

Some of the most famous attractions in the Sun Moon Lake region include temples that have been there for decades, rebuilt by the government to improve tourism in the area. Each of these temples offers a bird’s eye view of Sun Moon Lake itself.

Image credit: M. Weitzel

The most famous of these temples include Xuanguang Temple and Wenwu Temple. Xuanguang Temple houses relics from the Buddhist monk Xuanzang, who was sent to India to seek Buddhist scriptures by order of the Tang emperor. For those not familiar with him, perhaps you might know the famous novel “Journey To The West”, inspired by the travels of Xuanzang. Nevertheless, a 560 metre trail leads from the Xuanguang ferry terminal to the temple grounds, allowing tourists to reach the temple easily. Besides the view of the lake from the temple, there is a famous stall selling tea eggs brewed in local Assam tea. 

Image credit: David Stanley

Located further down from Xuanguang Temple is Cien Pagoda. Built by Chiang Kai Shek in memory of his mother, the pagoda is situated 954 metres above sea level and can be reached via a 700 metre trail from Xuanguang Temple. Visitors can climb the nine stories to reach the top of the pagoda, which provides the best views of Sun Moon Lake in the region.

Image credit: Prompasit Ketudat

Wenwu Temple is another well-known temple in the Sun Moon Lake region. Before the road adjacent to the temple was built, pilgrims had to take a boat to the dock and take the 366 steps to the temple grounds. Now the temple has become more accessible to visitors, but the steps still remain and are carved with the birthdays of celebrities, with each step representing a day in the leap year.

4. Try out some assam black tea

Image credit: Princess Tea Manor

Besides the large lake that most visitors spend their trip at, Sun Moon Lake is also known as Taiwan’s largest producer of Assam black tea. Assam black tea was brought in by the Japanese to reduce reliance on British imports of black tea. Apparently, the surrounding region provides the best conditions for the cultivation of Assam tea leaves. This means that the black tea from Sun Moon Lake is definitely the best in the country.

things to do in sun moon lake

Image credit: Chester Tea

One of the remaining tea plantations open for visitors is the Sun Moon Lake Antique Assam Tea Farm. Located a short distance from the lake region, the tea farm is a plantation and boutique combined into one. A guided tour of the tea plantation is available, but must be booked beforehand. For those with less time to spend, there is a tea boutique for you to sample and buy Assam black tea direct from the plantation.

5. See cherry blossoms (seasonal)

things to do in sun moon lake

Image credit: Apple Vacation

For those who are unable to visit Japan to see the cherry blossoms, Taiwan also has areas where visitors can admire the flowers. One of these places is Sun Moon Lake. Around the period of mid February to early March, the flowers reach the peak of its bloom, attracting throngs of visitors to the region. The bright pink flowers complement the surrounding backdrop of Sun Moon Lake, as visitors bike around the lake in search of the most beautiful spots for a picnic under the blossoms.

For those who are unable to go overseas during Japan’s cherry blossom viewing period, why not head down to see the beautiful flowers in Sun Moon Lake? For those who have seen the blossoms in Japan, fret not; there is more to do in Sun Moon Lake than looking at flowers. There are plenty to do in Sun Moon Lake for all kinds of visitors, be it a relaxing day at the lake or an intense day of hiking!

About Author

Lucas Neo

Lucas is always at home researching for his next travel destination. When he’s not doing that, he’s most likely heading to the airport to catch a flight to an exciting location. Lucas enjoys wandering around and exploring beautiful attractions, but he never turns down a spot of retail therapy too.


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