Nan Tou

  • Located in central Taiwan in Nantou County, the island's most famous lake, Sun Moon Lake, offers beautiful and bucolic landscapes worthy of a Chinese engraving, surrounded by mountains covered in bamboo forests and cherry blossoms: a magical atmosphere. The calm and clear waters of Taiwan's largest lake (3 mi▓), reflect the surrounding mountains whose peaks are shrouded in a mysterious mist. The western ...
    ę Yali Shi / 123RF
Amy Adejokun
Amy Adejokun Expert destination Ta´wan

Located in central Taiwan in Nantou County, the island's most famous lake, Sun Moon Lake, offers beautiful and bucolic landscapes worthy of a Chinese engraving, surrounded by mountains covered in bamboo forests and cherry blossoms: a magical atmosphere. The calm and clear waters of Taiwan's largest lake (3 mi▓), reflect the surrounding mountains whose peaks are shrouded in a mysterious mist. The western part of the lake looks like a crescent moon and its eastern part is round like the sun, hence its poetic name. Dotted with fishing nets, temples and pagodas, the banks of this lake in Nantou County, 750 meters above sea level, are home to the Lalu Sun Moon Lake, one of the jewels of the Taiwanese hotel industry, but also The Sun Moon Lake hotel and the Fleur de Chine. In the middle of the lake, the secret island of Lalu, where Tchang Kai Shek liked to meditate and enjoy his breakfast is closed to public. Only the natives of the Thao tribe use it occasionally for ceremonies. To discover these treasures, there's nothing like taking the Taiwanese high speed train, the HSR (High Speed Rail). Designed with Japanese technology, this train makes our trains seem old-fashioned, running at over 180mph without any noise or vibration, and with comfortable and spacious cars. Departing from the capital Taipei, you can reach Taichung, the country's third largest city, in only 49 minutes, from where you can set off to Sun Moon Lake.

Nan Tou: what to do?

Hiking trails surround the lake and lead to many treasures (temples, pagodas etc.). You can also cycle around the lake (18.6 mi) or take a boat ride. Thanks to the day pass system, you can take any boat in the same way you would a bus and get from one point to another on the lake. There are three boat stops: Shueishe, the main village with small port facing the Lalu Island, Syuanguang, where you can visit temples and pagodas in the bamboo forest, and Xidashao, an aboriginal village which is also the starting point of the famous cable car. The blue (like the lake), red (like the sun) and yellow (like the moon) cabins cross the spectacular landscape for a mile and drop you off in 10 minutes at 1,000 meters above sea level at the Aboriginal Culture Village, a reconstruction of a traditional aboriginal village. The accurate reconstructions (chief's hut, a fishing canoe, a totem, characters, performances, dances, etc...) allow you to get an idea of the ancient aborigine way of life. A sightseeing minibus takes you on a tour of the site. From here, a second cable car takes you to an amusement park.

The Tsen Padoga built by Tchang Kai Shek in memory of his mother or even the Confucian Wen Wu Temple with its beautiful yellow glazed roofs. 365 steps lead from the temple to the shores of the lake: Each step has been inscribed with the name of a famous person born on the day of the corresponding year. Look to see who was born the same day as you!

  • The superb natural setting.
  • The cultural wealth (pagodas and temples, etc.).
  • The attraction park and the adjoining aboriginal village.
  • The bucolic landscapes worthy of a Chinese engraving.
  • The lake surrounded by mountains covered with bamboo forests and cherry blossoms: a magical atmosphere.
  • The natural hot springs.
  • The lack of charm of the buildings constructed around the lake.
  • The over-touristy feel to the aboriginal village.
  • The very loud music on the boats.
  • The lake is rarely in the sunshine.

Reminders

If you come from Taipei, take the HSR (High Speed Rail), Taiwan's high speed train; it is more comfortable and convenient than an airplane or a car! Designed with Japanese technology, this train makes our trains seem old-fashioned, running at over 180mph without any noise or vibration, and with comfortable and spacious cars. Departing from the capital Taipei, you can reach Taichung, the country's third largest city, in only 49 minutes, from where you can set off to Sun Moon Lake.

To avoid

It is forbidden to go to the secret island of Lalu, in the centre of the lake. The local Aboriginal tribe of Thao are the only ones allowed on the island for their ceremonies. This secret island was once where Tchang Kai Chek liked to have his breakfast?

Nan Tou: what to eat?

Taiwanese cuisine is one of the great things about this destination, as it is one of the world's finest and richest, combining influences from all Asian cuisines. The bravest can try stinky tofu, salted egg ice cream and century eggs, which can be found everywhere on the shores of the lake. Take part in a tea ceremony - an unmissable experience in Taiwan. The hills around the lake are covered with tea plantations. It is the only region in Taiwan that produces Assam tea, a variety imported from India and introduced to the island by the Japanese in 1925. This black tea has become a speciality of the Sun Moon Lake region, as have the fish that are caught in the lake.

Nan Tou: what to buy?

A trip to Taiwan is the perfect opportunity to bring back some of the most famous teas in the world, as well as the tea sets that goes with them.

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