Looking for somewhere new to take your love, but don’t have the time (or cash) for a long haul flight to Paris or Fiji? Then consider the beautiful Sun Moon Lake in Nantou county, Taiwan. An aquamarine lake rimmed by misty blue mountains and forests, it’s hard to find a prettier place on Earth, and with a name like Sun Moon Lake, this site seems made for romance. To top it off, getting there is easy – China Airlines flies twice a day direct to Taipei from Singapore, and there are buses to take you straight there from Taipei.
Its name is rumoured to come from the shape of the lake, with one side forming a crescent moon and the other a sun. Whether the shape of the lake has changed over time and earthquakes, there isn’t much celestial resemblance in the lake’s geography today, but it does look like heaven on earth. If it’s name makes you think of rays of sun shining through the surrounding mountains, or the moon glistening on it’s reflective surface, you wouldn’t be far wrong. For a romantic getaway with your partner, here’s our guide to a trip to Sun Moon Lake.
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Take a boat trip on the lake
The first thing you should do once checked into your hotel at Shuishe Village – the main town that services visitors to Sun Moon Lake – is head to the Shuishe pier, where you can hop on a boat tour around the lake. This tour which will cost you NT$3-400, or if you’re craving some time alone together (and know your way around a pair of oars), rent a boat (~NT$200) and you both can take turn rowing around the blue-green waters of the lake. Try not to capsize, but if you do, at least it’ll be a good story to tell the grandkids!
In the middle of the lake is Lalu Island. This small island used to be much bigger, separating the lake into the crescent moon and sun-like parts of its name. However, two events caused the island’s size to shrink, that being the construction of a dam in the 1930s which raised the water level in the lake and the 921 earthquake in 1999, which unfortunately also destroyed the pavilion on the island.
Lalu Island is sacred to the Thao people, an indigenous tribe native to the area around the Sun Moon Lake. However, though tourists aren’t allowed on the island as a sign of respect to the Thao people, boat tours on the water bring you close enough to see the island.
Explore around the lake
They say challenges bring people together, so why not challenge you and your partner to a 3 hour bike trail around the lake. Voted one of the best cycling trails in the world by CNN, the trail takes you through the gorgeous flora and fauna that surrounds the lake and is truly lovely. If you time your trip to arrive in early spring, you can even catch the cherry blossoms that bloom around this mirror-like lake. Rent a bike from the Shiushe village, and opt for tandem bikes just to give it that extra lovey-dovey touch.
Visit the temples
There are also several walking trails around the lake and it’s surrounding national park, in case you want to take things a little slower.
Some, such as the Ci-en trail, lead to places of interest as well. In this case, the Ci-en trail leads to the Ci-en Pagoda, a 46-metre tall pagoda built by Chiang Kai-Shek in memory of his mother. Build great memories of your own together as you make you way up the pagoda, which has a bell you can ring at the top together. Be careful though, the large bell is loud, and going deaf probably isn’t among one of the memories you want to take away with you!
Another temple that is worth a visit in the Sun Moon Lake district is the Wenwu temple.
When the Japanese occupied Taiwan, they built a dam to generate electricity, causing the water level in the lake to rise and threatening to drown two other temples, the Longfeng Temple and Ihuatang of Shuishotsun. Wenwu Temple was built as a combination of the former two temples. The Wenwu temple was then rebuilt after WWII make it grander in the style of a Chinese palace – and it certainly lives up to this reputation. The temple has stunning views of the lake and the mountains, and also gives a nice peek into the history of Taiwan and the Sun Moon Lake.
When to go there
Sun Moon lake is a popular getaway for Taiwanese and Chinese tourists alike, and hotel room rates can get rather pricey over the weekend. Furthermore, during the Mid-Autumn Festival, a big swimming race is held where hundreds participate. Keep that in mind when booking your holiday, and if you want to enjoy some alone time with your love without getting trampled by other couples, avoid those periods and fly down on a weekday. Take a direct bus to Sun Moon Lake from Taipei or Taichung, and you’ll end up right at the Shiushe Visitor’s Centre.
China Airlines flies twice a day direct to Taipei from Singapore and twice a week to Kaohsiung from Singapore, also a direct flight. You can search your flight and book directly only at www.china-airlines.com. If you prefer a package deal, you can also take a look at China Airlines’ Dynasty Packages for free & easy tours to Taiwan.
This article is supported by China Airlines and the Taiwan Tourism Board.