Sun Moon Lake (日月潭)
Sun Moon Lake is Taiwan's largest natural lake and as such, it has become quite popular for both foreign and local visitors alike. The Sun Moon Lake area is home to one of Taiwan's 11 aboriginal tribes, the Thao.
Sun Moon Lake has a small island, Lalu, in the middle that used to be a popular place to get married; however, the 921 earthquake sunk most of the island.
Wen Wu Temple is open all year round. It is a very impressive and ornate temple complex consisting of three halls. The forward hall is called The Water and Clouds Hall and contains a shrine dedicated to the god of scholars and literature. The middle hall, The Martial Sage Hall, is dedicated to Guan Gong, the god of war. The third and final hall, Da Cheng, is dedicated to Confucius.
Former Taiwan president, Chiang Kai Shek, built the Ci En Pagoda in memory of his mother. As far as pagodas go, the architectural style is typically Chinese. There is also a small building at the base of the Ci En Pagoda that Chiang Kai Shek used during is visits. Perhaps one of the highlights of this attraction is the 700 meter stair climb to the top. From the top of the pagoda, you can get a great view of the lake and surrounding area.
This temple is dedicated to Xuan Zhuang. Xuan Zhuang was responsible for bringing many important scriptures from India and thus furthering Buddhist enlightenment in China. His remains finally came to rest here in 1965. Although not as impressive as Wen Wu Temple, if you are after serenity, this temple is well worth a visit.
- Boat Cruises - If you are interested in seeing the lake from a different point of view, boats can be chartered from the harbours in Ita Thao and Shui She (水社). Fares vary according to number of guests and boat type. On clear days, you can get a spectacular view of the waterfront and, albeit small, Lalu Island.
- Camping - Just before entering Ita Thao, there is a tent-style campground where you can park your car and pitch a tent in a designated area. Showers are available. On the other side of Ita Thao, there is a cabin-style camping area where you can rent a very small cabin.
- Bicycle and Motorized Bicycle Rides - Bicycles and electric bicycles can be rented in Yu Chi Township on Zhong Shan Rd. Ride along the Sun Moon Lake Bike Path to experience the natural beauty of the area.
- Gondola Ride - Soon to be completed, the cable car system will connect Sun Moon Lake with the Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village (九族文化村). Ticket prices are about NT$300 and the trip takes about 10-20 minutes.
- Sun Moon Lake Tea Eggs (茶葉蛋) - The local sausages (台灣香腸) across from Wen Wu Temple are very tasty but the tea eggs near Shi Yin (石印) are the best in Taiwan. Apparantly, they sell over 1000 eggs per day. The eggs are prepared with mushrooms and a special blend of tea leaves and spices.
Sun Moon Lake is located in Yuchi Village, Nantou County. To get there, you need to take Highway 3 north or south, depending on where you are, to Highway 6. Going east on Highway 6 will take you through Caotun township (草屯鎮). Transfer to Provincial Highway 14 heading into Puli Township (埔里鎮) and then to Provincial Highway 21 out of Puli to Sun Moon Lake. There are many signs along the way so finding your way shouldn't be a problem. Please refer to the map below for further information.
- The Government of Taiwan - Sun Moon Lake Official Website
- Wen Wu Temple - The History of Wen Wu Temple
- The China Post - Sun Moon Lake cable car system slated for July