The Sun Moon Lake is the largest body of water within Taiwan.  You can make a day trip to Sun Moon Lake from Taichung or even Taipei.  In this installment of our Taiwan Travel Guide series, we share our wonderful experience of visiting the Sun Moon Lake and what to see in this world-renowned destination.

Sun Moon Lake Taiwan Blog

The Sun Moon Lake is so-named because the eastern part is sun-shaped, while the western part resembles a crescent moon.  It is one of the most visited attractions in Taiwan. Today, we are privileged to make a one-day trip to this beautiful lake.

Sun Moon Lake scenery
The natural beauty of the Sun Moon Lake as seen on the Sun Moon Lake ferry

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Getting to Sun Moon Lake from Taichung

It is best if you have the time to spend a night at the Sun Moon Lake.

But if you don’t, the Sun Moon Lake can still be experienced as a day trip. However, a bit of planning is required if you intend to cover the best attractions within a day.

For our DIY day trip, we bought a Sun Moon Lake pass at the Taichung HSR station.  This includes return bus tickets from Taichung to Sun Moon Lake, tickets for the ferry ride, cable car, and round-the-lake bus.

Sun Moon Lake Pass
The Sun Moon Lake pass offers fantastic value if you are plan to cover the best of Sun Moon Lake within a day

Discover Book Travel Tip:

Want to make the Sun Moon Lake a day trip from Taipei?  You only need to take the HSR from Taipei to Taichung and then follow the directions on how to get to the Sun Moon Lake from Taichung.  To make your travel more convenient, consider an organized day trip to the Sun Moon Lake.

Sun Moon Lake Ferry

Our Sun Moon Lake pass includes a ferry ride from Shuishe Pier to Ita Thao Pier.

There are 4 stops along this ferry route:

  1. Shuishe which is closest to where the buses from Taichung stop at;
  2. Lalu Island;
  3. Xuanguang Temple and
  4. Ita Thao Pier.

Ita Thao Pier is next to Ita Thao Shopping Street and the Sun Moon Lake Ropeway.

Shuishe Pier at Sun Moon Lake
Shuishe Pier at Sun Moon Lake. Those without a Sun Moon Lake pass can still purchase ferry tickets at Shuishe Pier

It was not indicated on the pass which ferry we were supposed to take. We only managed to identify the correct ferry by comparing the photo on the pass with those at the pier.

Sun Moon Lake Ferry
The ferry operator that is included in our Sun Moon Lake Pass is Sun Moon Star

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The Ferry Journey

The ferry operates at a frequency of 20 minutes and there are both outdoor and indoor seats on the ferry.   Soon after we left Shuishe Pier, visibility decreased so greatly that the ferry had to suspend operations.  Passengers were given the option of alighting at the next stop and continue on by bus.  Otherwise, we were to wait on board until the ferry resumes operations.

Weather Conditions on Sun Moon Lake
One of the best things to do at the Sun Moon Lake is to take a ferry ride across the lake. The ferry runs frequently but ferry operators will have to suspend operations during inclement weather for safety reasons.

All the passengers on the ferry soon left one after another, leaving only Tommy and myself on board.  Just after the last passenger left, the ferry resumed operations, and we had the entire ferry to ourselves!!

Ferry across Sun Moon Lake
We continued with the ferry journey on what feels like a private charter

Discover Book Travel Recommends:

To save time and money, you may want to consider a three-day tour of Taiwan’s top attractions: Alishan, Sun Moon Lake, and Cingjing Farm. Wander through ancient forests and and pastoral landscapes. Enjoy stunning views of the country’s largest body of water. Click here for more information.

Ita Thao Pier

Our destination was the Ita Thao Pier.  This was where we will continue on with the scenic Sun Moon Lake Ropeway.

Ita Thao Pier on Sun Moon Lake
Approaching Ita Thao Pier. The Ita Thao Pier is the gateway to the best things you can do at Sun Moon Lake

We were charmed by this series of cute frogs lined up along the walkway to welcome visitors.

Attractions at Ita Thao Pier on Sun Moon Lake
Do not miss out on this series of frogs at Ita Thao Pier

Ita Thao Visitor Centre is located at its pier and is where ferry tickets are sold.

Ferry ticketing booths at Ita Thao Visitor Centre
Ferry ticketing booths at Ita Thao Visitor Centre

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Ita Thao Shopping Street (伊達紹商店街)

One of the best things to do at Sun Moon Lake is to visit Ita Shao Shopping Street.  This is the place where the best food and shopping is.  However, our priority now is to get to the Sun Moon Lake Ropeway for a scenic cable car ride up to the Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village (九族文化村).

Ita Thao Shopping Street
The bustling Ita Shao Shopping Street is where you get the best food and shopping at the Sun Moon Lake

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Ita Thao Lakeside Trail

From the Ita Thao Pier, we could see the cable cars of the Sun Moon Lake Ropeway in the distance.

Signage to Sun Moon Lake Ropeway
The signages at Ita Thao will point you towards the Sun Moon Lake Ropeway

The Sun Moon Lake Ropeway was around a kilometre away from the pier.  It is connected to the pier via the Ita Thao Lakeside Trail.  This trail is a nice scenic, quiet and easy walk which we enjoyed thoroughly.

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Sun Moon Lake Ropeway

The benefit of getting the Sun Moon Lake pass – no need to join the queue for tickets!

Sun Moon Lake Ropeway Station
The Sun Moon Lake Ropeway Station

As with our experience with the Maokong Gondola in Taipei, there are 2 kinds of cable car cabins that you can choose from – the Crystal Cabins are the ones that comes with glass bottoms, and the regular ones are the ones with a solid floor.

Sun Moon Lake Ropeway - types of cabins
Be sure to join the right queue for the different cabins at the Sun Moon Lake Ropeway

There are 4 colors for the cable cars – orange, blue, yellow and green.   Only the green ones are the glass-bottomed ones.  The operating policy is to make you share cabins if the queue gets too long.  So if you don’t want that to happen, be there earlier before the crowds come!

Sun Moon Lake Ropeway Cable Cars
Only the green cabins are the glass bottomed ones

The benefits of a glass-bottomed cabin.  It is a thrilling ride as we have a feel of exactly how high up we were.

Glass-bottomed cabin on the Sun Moon Lake Ropewa
A glass-bottomed cabin on the Sun Moon Lake Ropeway is highly recommended

The fantastic views of Sun Moon Lake from the top. It makes this cable car ride well worth the time and money.

View of Sun Moon Lake from the Ropeway
The view of Sun Moon Lake from the Ropeway

The Sun Moon Lake Ropeway brings visitors up and across the mountains to the Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village (九族文化村).   The Village is the one and only stop on the ropeway.

Journey on Sun Moon Lake Ropeway
Transverse across the mountains to get to the Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village. Here, conditions could get so misty that visibility is greatly reduced

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Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village (九族文化村)

The Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village houses the largest outdoor museum in Taiwan and displays the traditional homes and architecture of Taiwanese nine principal aborigine tribes.  Here, there are also traditional performances by native aborigines and traditional aboriginal delicacies.  What’s most interesting though, is that it also houses an amusement isle with some interesting rides.

Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village
The Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village as seen from the Sun Moon Lake Ropeway

Tommy had been to the Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village before, so we had no intention to visit it again.  In addition, there’s an admission charge.  Regardless of whether you want to visit the Culture Village, all passengers have to alight at the station and transfer to another cable car for the trip down the mountain.

Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village - Admission Tickets
Admission tickets are required for entrance into the Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village

We went down taking exactly the same ropeway route that we came up in.  There were a lot of tourists at the station, and we were just glad to be ahead of them.

Ride on Sun Moon Lake Ropeway
There’s only one route for the Sun Moon Lake Ropeway, so you’ll be seeing the same things again. The ride down is as scenic as the way up

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Next Stop – Ita Thao Shopping Street

Next stop for us will be the Ita Thao Shopping Street.  This is the best place to eat and shop at the Sun Moon Lake.  Stay tuned!

Discover Book Travel Recommends:

To save time and money, you may want to consider a three-day tour of Taiwan’s top attractions: Alishan, Sun Moon Lake, and Cingjing Farm. Wander through ancient forests and and pastoral landscapes. Enjoy stunning views of the country’s largest body of water. Click here for more information.

We hope you find this article useful in your trip planning.  We love to hear from you.  Please drop us your comments in the comments box below.

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