Sun Moon Lake
When people speak about Taiwan, many assume it is somewhere near Thailand if not Thailand itself without actually realising how different and unique that little island off the eastern cost of China is. Taiwan is
When people speak about Taiwan, many assume it is somewhere near Thailand if not Thailand itself without actually realising how different and unique that little island off the eastern cost of China is. Taiwan is a country of mixed cultures that is rich in history and Far East heritage matched by none. While Taipei is the first place to visit when in Taiwan, we were looking for something more tranquil, relaxing, peaceful and special to share with the readers; this is where we came to the shore of the Sun Moon Lake – a hidden paradise high up in the mountains of the Nantou County in central Taiwan.
Nestled in the mountains of the heart of Taiwan, the Sun Moon Lake is the biggest fresh-water lake on the island and is the home to a multitude of attractions for those looking for a romantic getaway or a holistic rejuvenating experience. The lake gets its name from its distinctive shape- the rounded Eastern section is said to resemble the sun while the narrow Western extremity-the moon. One is often eager to take a boat ride on the calm waters of the lake, which is possible all year around. Having been surrounded and protected by the mountains, Sun Moon Lake is known for its cool breezes in summer and moderate temperatures in winter.
There is a 30km walkway that’s been built for the pedestrians and cyclists which is perfect for a morning jog or an afternoon walk around the lake. Due to its fair share of rain, the Sun Moon Lake is often covered in morning mist or evening fog creating a gorgeous and mysterious atmosphere.
One thing about Taiwan and the Sun Moon Lake is bikes are the best way to get around; with a low cost rentals and the trekking tracks around the lake, visitors and residents are welcome to get anywhere around the area with the minimum effort while marvelling at the gorgeous nature. Delight Mall or Shuishe Visitor Centre is the perfect place to get the bike you need as well catch a local or tour buses.
When it comes to accommodation, there are many hotels and bed-and-breakfast options with incredible lake views available. A quick search online would give you plenty of options to choose from four or five-star hotels as well as more budget options in the area.
Many couples come here to get married or spend their honeymoon as the natural surroundings of the lake with its emerald green waters and gorgeous mountains provide an unforgettable experience for those in love. Whether it is the misty lake views in the morning as the sun touches the water, or the charming sunset with glittering shimmers sparkling all around you- the Sun Moon Lake is a retreat like no other.
Should you want to surprise your other half with a truly-magical sight- a dance of fireflies. Fireflies are becoming more and more rare and precious. Some people may never have personally seen or encountered these beautiful creatures. Every year during the early Spring nights, twinkles of fluorescent lights can be seen all over the river valleys of this national scenic area. The lithe fireflies dancing in the wind are a rare sight. The lifespan of a firefly is very short, and with this in mind, the administration sponsors a “Valley Firefly Appreciation” activity, in the hope that the visitors will take advantage of the ten or so days of the firefly season. The best location to watch this natural wonder is on the way from Tou 63 Township Road and around Tan-tan Church.
For those looking for spiritual education and appreciation of other cultures, there are many Buddhist temples that are full of shrines to different Buddhist gods. One of the most notable is the Tsen Pagoda – a temple that was built by Chiang Kai-shek in honour of his mother, which can be seen from various locations at the lake, standing tall on a mountain like a jewel sparkling in the dark sky of the night.
If you are an adventurous kind and look for a bit of a thrill on every trip, there is a an amazing Cable Car which is stretched through two mountaintops hanging over 1000 m above the lake providing a bird’s eye view of the area while connecting to the Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village – a theme park dedicated to the heritage village of the local Aborigine tribes. We must say, while the activity is breathtaking and the views are unmatched, this is not for the faint hearted visitors and, at times, we did feel a little bit overwhelmed by the height and the magnitude of the mountains that surrounded us.
At the end of our trip we felt surprised, to say the least. Taiwan, as a country, is not as advertised to the Gulf region as its neighbours, which is a bit of a disappointment as the country is an absolute gem to visit. The Sun Moon Lake is a magical place to stay at; the nature is one of a kind, the people are kind and very hospitable to the foreigners, the history is rich while the activities are far too many to cover in one trip. While we did not share much about the city culture in this feature, we definitely recommend to check what Taiwan has got to offer as it is, most definitely, the best secret Asia has got to offer.