Sun Moon Lake is somewhat close to Taichung via bus or car. It can take several hours to get there. So we left early in the morning to get tickets to take a bus there, only to find out, since it was a holiday weekend a lot of other people had the same plan, which resulted in us not arriving for an even longer amount of time.
We started at Shuishe Pier and got tickets for a boat, a hop on hop off style boat that made a couple of stops around the lake. We had to rush from where we bought the tickets (at the bus station drop off) and down to the pier, which was confusing. We kept trying to find a way down and getting lost. Eventually when we did find it we were a bit late and had to wait even longer.
The boats between stops were nice, with an indoor and outdoor seating for groups. Depending on the stop though, these could be vastly crowded or somewhat peacefully empty.
Our first stop was Xuanguang Temple (玄光寺), one of several temples around the lake. This temple is where relics that were the monk Xuanzang’s are held. Xuanzang being the monk believed to have inspired great works like “Journey to the West”. The temple tends to get a bit crowded, especially around the entrance and where delicious Assam tea eggs are sold. The temple is open from 5am until 9pm and is free. Tea eggs cost 13 TWD which is about 42 cents in USD.
Our last stop was Ita Thao Pier which was a bit of a foodie paradise.
We just walked through the main street snacking on anything and everything that our friend suggested which meant we pretty much ate our way around the pier. We got iced tea (the area is famous for its black tea or Assam tea), black tea rice cakes (like mochi), fried dough balls filled with vegetables, cabbage, glass noodles and mushrooms, fried wild boar burgers on pumpkin buns with egg, taro cake, and chocolate and black tea swirl soft serve ice cream cones. There were also other things to do around this pier but we didn’t have time. Things such as watching traditional performances performed by the Thao tribe, hiking, visiting other temples, or going on a ropeway. We went during a holiday so our time there was short and somewhat stressful, I would suggest spending a full day there, if not longer to enjoy all the little places around the lake and to get the most out of it while trying all the Assam tea flavored things. (If you like tea that is).