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Sun Moon Lake

Daydreaming at Sun Moon Lake
Sun Moon Lake is Taiwan's largest fresh water lake. When I lived in Nantou County, central Taiwan, I would often ride my scooter to Sun Moon Lake for a bit of fresh air and reflection.

One day I drove to the lake and traveled up a hill to the Ci-en Pagoda. Parking my bike, I climbed to the top of the pagoda and gazed out at the misty lake, which seemed magical in that moment. Many legends surround Sun Moon Lake, including the one which says the lake was once inhabited by two dragons. These dragons used the sun and moon as toys, causing the world to fall into darkness. Eventually a young couple came and defeated the dragons, brining light back into the world.

Sun Moon Lake is one of the most peaceful places I've ever visited.

Taste Taiwan's Famous Black Tea
Taiwan's scenic Sun Moon Lake is the ancestral home of the Thao tribe. With tranquil waters surrounded by rolling green mountains, this area is rich in Taiwanese history.
Ita Thao village is a popular shopping destination, easily accessible by boat from any part of the lake. Here visitors can shop and eat to their heart's delight—souvenir shops, street food stands, and bubble tea vendors line both sides of the street.
Be sure to try a traditional tea tasting at one of the many tea shops. Sun Moon Lake is famous for its Assam black tea, which is full-flavored and dark auburn in color, with a sweet, fruity aroma. The lake's warm temperatures, high humidity, and heavy rainfall are ideal for cultivating the leaves. The tradition and rituals of serving and pouring the tea are just as enjoyable as drinking it, and all are an important part of Taiwanese culture.   

AFAR Ambassador Charissa Fay traveled to Taiwan as a guest of the Taiwan Tourism Bureau.

Pristine Sun Moon Lake
Picture a hike through dense mist-filled woods, following a trail until suddenly the foliage parts and you're left with a vista of an incredibly peaceful and beautiful lake.

Sun Moon Lake, in central Taiwan, is the perfect place to see the natural beauty the island has to offer. The area's numerous hiking and cycling possibilities make it particularly attractive to those looking to escape the bustling city life and if the views aren't relaxing enough the hot-spring spas at the Fleur De Chine Hotel will have you close to comatose.

The lake is about a three hour trip from Taipei and buses can take you to the Sun Moon Lake - Shueishe Visitors Center via Taipei West Bus Station Terminal for roughly NT $460 (For more information on routes and pricing visit - http://www.sunmoonlake.gov.tw/English/TravelInfoEng/BusInfo/TaipeiToSML.htm#).

Colin Roohan traveled to Taiwan courtesy of Taiwan Tourism, Ritz Tours, and Eva Air. His highlights are part of AFAR's partnership with The United States Tour Operator Association (USTOA), whose members provide travelers with unparalleled access, insider knowledge, peace-of-mind, value and freedom to enjoy destinations across the entire globe. See more about Colin’s trip at the USTOA blog - http://ustoa.com/blog/category/afar/

watch the sun rise over sun moon lake.
Pictures don't do Sun Moon Lake justice. A beautiful lake nestled in the mountains of Taichung, Sun Moon Lake is a great place to relax and enjoy the view, or if you're the adventurous type, rent a bike and bike around the lake.

With several hotels situated right on the lake, it's easy to see the morning sun reflect off the lake from the comfort of your own hotel room. Or, if you're looking for more cost-friendly accommodations, stay at a local hostel, then get up and watch the sky change colors from the path around the lake.

bike around sun moon lake.
If you're feeling up to a challenge, grab a bike and bike around Sun Moon Lake, Taiwan's largest lake. There are several bike shops in town that rent bikes, or, if you're lucky, some hotels rent bikes to patrons for free (bikes are rented on a first come first serve basis).

The 29-kilometer bike ride can be completed by any person in decent shape. While there may be quite a bit of up hill, there isn't anything too steep, or at least too steep for too long. Certain parts of the bike path are clearly marked or very obvious that it is a bike path, while others are simply sharing the road with cars.

There are several temples along the path. Be sure to stop, as many of them have spectacular views of the lake.

Sun Moon Lake National Scenic Area, Nantou County, Taiwan