Sun Moon Lake: Which Tour is Best for You?

Sun Moon Lake in Nantou County is one of the most iconic places to visit in Central Taiwan. What makes it one of the top destinations in Taiwan is the lake’s impressive shape and surrounding it mountains. And it really is as beautiful as the postcards from Taiwan make it look. You can’t go to Taiwan and miss out on a day trip to Nantou County to check it out.

Visiting Sun Moon Lake on a Tour Package

We chose to visit Sun Moon Lake on a day-trip pass we bought upon our arrival there. Little agencies by the bus station and by the pier offer them in many different combos depending on what you’re looking for. You can get a pass to go around Sun Moon Lake for as cheap as 400 NT$. It all depends on where you’re coming from and what you want to do in the area.

We came to Sun Moon Lake from Puli on a Sun Moon Lake shuttle bus. We paid for the bus trip with our Easy Card so there was no hassle with buying tickets in advance.

The Sun Moon Lake Shuttle Bus dropped us off by Shueishe Bus Stop. There we bought our day pass for Sun Moon Lake and walked to the pier.

Sun Moon Lake by boat

The tour gives you a day pass on boat trips on selected boats around the lake. There is a couple of boat companies so make sure you ask the travel agent which boat company is the one you paid for. Ask them to give you a leaflet with boat times around Sun Moon Lake as well.

Sun Moon Lake 1
Your pass technically includes a round-trip around the lake in three stops, but the pier workers only check if you have a stamp on your hand. Because of that, you can go back and forth around the lake as many times as you want. (In case somebody is wondering how many trips it will take for them to take the best possible photo with the gorgeous Sun Moon Lake in the background to post on their Instagram.)

The boats actually go every 20-30 minutes, so it’s not like you have to plan your whole day around their timetable. You need to remember, however, that sometimes the boats get full on busy days and you need to wait for the next one. Equally, they tend to leave early if they get full before the scheduled departure time.

Boat Tour around Sun Moon Lake

Our first stop on the lake was Xuanguang Temple Pier. There you can walk up to reach the Xanguang Temple and take some gorgeous photos of Sun Moon Lake. Many Chinese tourists would actually queue to take photos there. There are a few vendors selling local products such as mosquito repellents and herbal ointments. We didn’t spend a lot of time there though as we were more excited for the next stop.
Sun Moon Lake 6
Another short trip across the lake took us to the Ita Thao Pier, also known as Yidashao Pier. You will most certainly spend a good couple of hours in this area.

There’s a lot of little souvenir shops and food stalls around. If you’d like more than a snack, you can have lunch at one of the restaurants with a view of Sun Moon Lake. You can buy a lot of different kinds of local products from vendors there. Try regional tea, honey, ice cream or medicinal products.

A 15-minute walk from Ita Thao Pier is the Sun Moon Lake Ropeway Station. It was our favourite part of the trip to Sun Moon Lake.

Sun Moon Lake Ropeway Station

The cable car is quite modern and the views really spectacular. The trip is around 15 minutes long one-way. Make sure to choose a crystal cabin rather than regular. There’s no extra fee for a crystal cabin and it allows you to see what’s underneath. It’s not as scary as it sounds, I promise!

The cable car takes you over to the Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village, a local theme park. The ticket is around 600 NT$ and was not included in our tour package. There are a few shops on the cable car station you can check out, however, if you’re not interested, you can just take a return cabin back to the Sun Moon Lake Ropeway Station.

The views from the cable car? Totally worth it!

We were really impressed with the views of Sun Moon Lake from the cable car. Lucky enough, the weather was constantly changing on the day we visited Sun Moon Lake, so on the way to the Aboriginal Village the weather was calm and sunny, but then it started raining on our way back. The area looked soo mysterious, like on a set of a tv show.

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After our return to the Sun Moon Lake Station, we went to the food court and ordered a cup of hot Alishan tea and a slice of cake to recharge before heading back to Ita Thao Pier.

As it was almost the hour of the last boats back to the Shueishe Pier, we decided to slowly walk back to Ita Thao Pier.

What is the best option for you?

We ended up not using the Shioshe – Xiangshan Bus or the Round-the-Lake Bus that was a part of our pass. But there was no need for that as the boat trips and the cable car are enough to get amazing views of Sun Moon Lake. At the end of the day, it saved us money anyway, rather than if we bought the boat and the cable car separately.

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At the end of this post, you can check out more tours and packages around Sun Moon Lake from Taichung or to Alishan, depending on what’s your itinerary. The bigger pass you’ll take, the more money you’ll save.

Where to stay near Sun Moon Lake?

Sun Moon Lake gets really crowded, especially on national holidays or weekends. A lot of Chinese tourists book hotels in advance, so if you do want to stay in Sun Moon Lake, make sure to schedule the date early.

One night is certainly enough as I suppose that the main reason to stay by the lake is so that you get a chance to see the sunset or sunrise in the area. We were told it’s a truly spectacular experience, but very dependent on the current weather.

The prices of hotels by Sun Moon Lake are about 30% higher over weekends, so make sure to expect that. We would definitely recommend going there on a weekday though to avoid crowds and actually enjoy the time spent there. Not much fun when you have to queue to take a photo.

The best accommodation around Sun Moon Lake (with lake view):

Blue Sky Bay B&B on Agoda or Booking.com
Ming Yue Hu Hotel on Agoda or Booking.com
Harbor Resort Hotel on Agoda or Booking.com

Budget alternative?
Stay in Puli (30 minutes bus ride from Sun Moon Lake)

Puli is a little town in Nantou County with a handful of hotels and not many attractions to see. But it’s a good place to stay if you want to be nearby Sun Moon Lake and you’re looking for budget accommodation options.

If you stay in Puli, we’d recommend checking out the evening food market. The dumplings there are to die for! A quirky thing about Puli is that you can climb up a hill and visit the Geographical Center of Taiwan.

From there, you can easily catch a Shuttle Bus to Sun Moon Lake and pay with Easy Card.

Budget accommodation in Puli:

I-Puli Hostel on Agoda or Booking.com

You may also like: River Kwai Jungle Raft Hotel: A must-stay in Kanchanaburi, Thailand

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Detailed tours and packages available for Sun Moon Lake in 2018:

You can book in various travel agencies or bus ticket companies in Taichung, Puli or in Sun Moon Lake.

1-Day Passes for Sun Moon Lake:

400 NT$ 1-Day Tour Pass includes:
Sun Moon Lake Ropeway (Cable Car) Ticket
Round-the-Lake Bus
Shioshe – Xiangshan Bus
Boat Voucher (round-trip route around the lake for specific boats)
Bike Rental Coupon
Shopping Discount Coupon

730 NT$ Pass 1-Day Tour Pass from Taichung includes:
Round-Trip Bus from Taichung to Sun Moon Lake
Sun Moon Lake Ropeway (Cable Car) Ticket
Round-the-Lake Bus
Shioshe – Xiangshan Bus
Boat Voucher (round-trip route around the lake for specific boats)
Bike Rental Coupon
Shopping Discount Coupon

1100 NT$ 1-Day Tour Pass from Taichung includes:
Round-Trip Bus from Taichung to Sun Moon Lake
Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village Ticket
Sun Moon Lake Ropeway (Cable Car) Ticket
Round-the-Lake Bus
Shioshe – Xiangshan Bus
Boat Voucher (round-trip route around the lake for specific boats)
Bike Rental Coupon
Shopping Discount Coupon

620 NT$ 1-Day Tour Pass from Taichung includes:
Round-Trip Bus from Taichung to Sun Moon Lake
Round-the-Lake Bus
Shioshe – Xiangshan Bus
Boat Voucher (round-trip route around the lake for specific boats)
Bike Rental Voucher
Shopping Discount Coupon
Sun Moon Lake Ropeway Ticker NOT INCLUDED in this package

Taichung – Puli – Songgang – Qingjing Farm Bus Pass

610 NT$ Quingjing Farm Bus Pass includes:
Round-Trip Bus from Taichung to Puli
Round-Trip Bus from Puli to Songgang
One Way Bus from Cingjing Guest House to Green Green Grassland
Green Green Grassland Admission Ticket
Qingjing Sky Walk

Puli – Songgang – Qingjing Farm Bus Pass

250 NT$ Quingjing Farm Bus Pass includes:
Round-Trip Bus from Puli to Songgang
One Way Bus from Cingjing Guest House to Green Green Grassland
Green Green Grassland Admission Ticket
Qingjing Sky Walk
Shopping Discount Coupon

Taichung – Xitou

420 NT$ Xitou Bus Pass includes:
Round-Trip Bus from Taichung to Xitou
Xitou Nature Education Area Admission Ticket
Shopping Discount Coupon

630 NT$ Sun Moon Lake – Xitou Bus Pass includes:
Bus from Taichung to Sun Moon Lake (one way)
Local Bus from Sun Moon Lake to Xitou (one way)
Bus from Xitou to Taichung (one way)
Xitou Nature Education Area Admission Ticket
20 NT$ Sopping Discount Coupon

Taichung – Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village

950 NT$ Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village 1-Day Tour includes:
Round-Trip Bus from Taichung to Sun Moon Lake
Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village Admission Ticket

Taichung – Sun Moon Lake – Alishan Bus Pass

450 NT$ Bus Pass includes:
Bus from Taichung to Sun Moon Lake (one way)
Bus from Sun Moon Lake to Alishan (one way)
20 NT$ Discount Voucher
Alishan National Forest Recreation Area Coupon

Don’t miss out on such a great place when you visit Taiwan! It was definitely one of the biggest highlights of our trip here. It’s absolutely stunning and breathtaking to see the lake from the cable car or from the boat. Local people there are friendly and want to talk to you all the time. Considering how busy this place is, it shouldn’t be really such a surprise that accommodation is a bit pricier than everywhere else. At the end of the day, it’s the experience that counts, right? Enjoy your trip!

Have you been to Sun Moon Lake recently? Share your thoughts with us! And if you have any questions about your itinerary for Taiwan, we’d love to help, so ask away in the comments below.

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Sun Moon Lake Pinterest Pin

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