Located in central Taiwan, Sun Moon Lake is one of the only natural lakes in the country. It’s also the largest and arguably the most beautiful. Lalu Island divides the lake in two, with one part resembling a moon and the other a sun, hence its name. Natural beauty aside, the lake has an aboriginal history dating back thousands of years.
Sun Moon Lake offers myriad opportunities for outdoor recreation, making it a popular day trip from Taipei. A biking and hiking trail encircles the lake, while boat tours affords views of the many temples, pagodas, and aboriginal villages on its shores. The Sun Moon Lake Ropeway, the longest and highest aerial tramway in Taiwan, gives visitors a bird’s eye view of the area while transporting them across the lake.
To get a taste of the area’s ancient aboriginal culture, catch a performance at the Naruwan Theater or Culture Square. Multi-day tours around Taiwan often stop at the lake, as well as Taroko Gorge, Kaohsiung, and Puli.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Sun Moon Lake National Scenic Area is a must-visit for outdoor enthusiasts, adventure travelers, and day-trippers.
- Don’t forget to bring sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat to protect yourself from the bright sun out on the water.
- It’s a good idea to bring an umbrella or rain jacket, particularly during the rainy season (May to September) in summer.
- Sun Moon Lake day trips from Taipei generally last upwards of nine hours. Multi-day tours range from two to five days.
- Most guided tours include hotel pickup and drop-off in Taipei.
How to Get There
The easiest and most convenient way to get to Sun Moon Lake is on a guided tour from Taipei. The nearest major train station to Sun Moon Lake is Taichung Station. To get to the lake independently, you’ll need to take a bus or taxi from Taipei, Taichung, Alishan, or Puli.
When to Get There
As one of the most popular day trips from Taipei, Sun Moon Lake gets very busy on weekends and national holidays. For the best balance of good weather and fewer crowds, plan to visit on a weekday between September and April.
Attractions on Sun Moon Lake
Sun Moon Lake is the site of several notable attractions, many of them included on boat tours. Wenwu Temple, one of the largest temples in the area, sits on the northern bank of the lake and provides an excellent example of Chinese palace architecture. The 151-foot-tall (46-meter-tall) Chinese-style Ci-en Pagoda, build by Chiang Kai-shek, sits atop a hill just southwest of the lake. Those interested in aboriginal culture should visit Ita Thao to learn more about the Thao culture.