Ni Hao Taiwan: Day 2 – Sun Moon Lake (日月潭)

Wake me up when Sunday ends, for Day 2 was an early morning (yawn!!) journey from Taipei to Sun Moon Lake (SML). With only one day to spend at Sun Moon Lake, I wanted to arrive there before noon … so this means leaving Taipei by 8am latest. We could either go by bus directly to SML (4 hours) or HSR train to Taichung + continue with bus to SML (<3 hours). No trains go directly to Sun Moon Lake (SML); we had to travel to Taichung first. Besides that I do like choo choo train better than bus, traveling via bus takes longer … so we choo-chooed our way there …

Day 2

Taipei HSR → Taichung HSR → Sun Moon Lake (by Taiwan Tourist Shuttle’s TaiChung)

I was really apprehensive about our trip to Sun Moon Lake … No doubt that it is beautiful, yada, yada … but, it is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Taiwan, by both local Taiwanese and tourists. It screams CROWD, and NOISE. I had to remind myself that it’s not about the destination: it’s about the journey .. and hey, I did enjoy myself somehow.

Getting to Sun Moon Lake

Taipei

One week before our trip, we bought and paid for our train tickets online here on Taiwan HSR website. We booked ourselves into the 07:46 HSR (High Speed Rail) train from Taipei to Taichung, 1 hour ride arriving at 08:46. We paid NT$ 630 per pax for standard reserved seat, after 10% Early Bird Discount – savings of NT$ 70 per ticket. The earlier you book, the higher the discount …

Info on LED screen

Since we have collected our train tickets the night before, we proceeded straight to the platform. Kudos to Taiwanese for getting signages in order – we Malaysians need to learn from them. Southbound trains heading to Zuo-Ying (左營) depart from Platform 1. Platform 1 has 2 sides: 1A and 1B , and the train numbers are clearly indicated on the LED screen at the platform. Check your train number and wait accordingly at the correct side of the platform. Averagely, there are trains every 10-15 minutes.

LED info
LED info

There is also train info on display outside the train. Our tickets are reserved seats, as Early bird tickets have to be either standard or business car. Otherwise, just arrive early to secure a seat in non-reserved carriages – Carriage #10-12 on every train are unreserved seating cars.

Our train is here

Our train arrived 3 minutes before scheduled departure time – punctuality is priceless, now perhaps I should consider relocating to Taiwan.

Direction for seat numbers also indicated, blimey

They even tell you whether to go straight, turn left or right to get to your seats. I’m head over heels in love with Taiwan!

Spacious seat

Spacious and comfortable seat, and clean … what is there not to like? They also have push carts selling food and drinks inside the train …. me likey!

Taichung

08:46 and we arrived at Taichung HSR Station on the dot. Efficiency and me go well together .. W00t!!

Exit 5/6 for bus
Exit 5 for Sun Moon Lake

After we exit from ticket gate, follow exit 5/6 to bus station, and 5 for Sun Moon Lake. And that was a no sweat chop-chop less than 5 minutes to the bus, if you are fast!

NanTou Bus Counter
Taiwan Tourist Shuttle’s TaiChung – Sun Moon Lake
Spacious bus


Here are the 2 bus options from Taichung HSR:

  • Taiwan Tourist Shuttle’s TaiChung – Sun Moon Lake route, operated by Nan Tou Bus Transportation Company (南投汽車客運股份有限公司): frequency every 20 minutes, takes 1 hour 20 minutes, NT$ 190
  • There is another TaiChung – Sun Moon Lake Route operated by Nan Tou Bus Transportation Company that will stop at Puli (埔里) interchange, : frequency every 30 minutes, takes 1 hour 30 minutes,  NT$ 190

Bus’ schedule can be viewed here.

Accommodation

Accommodation is concentrated in Shuishe 水社 and and Itashaon 伊达邵. Shuishe is the transportation hub; it makes sense for us to stay here since we only have one night at SML, leaving early morning the following day. 

The bus stop at Shuishe is just across from Delight Mall (formerly Shuishe Visitor Center) at Zhongshan road. Walk up the road and Love Home Garden Inn is less than 5 minutes walk. Since check-in is at 3PM, we store our luggages there .. and head out to explore SML.

Love Home Garden Inn

Love Home Garden Inn (日月潭愛之屋旅店庭園館)
No. 196, Zhongshan Road, Yuchi, 55541, Taiwan 中山路196, 魚池, 55541
Tel: +886 492856528
Website: http://love-home.okgo.tw/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/home.love.391

SML SanGeYu Hostel

If you have more than one night at Sun Moon Lake, do check out SanGeYu Hostel at Taoshe on Airbnb platform. And if you’re new to Airbnb, here is my Airbnb referral code www.airbnb.com/c/ykoh23.

Read more about my stay at Sun Moon Lake here.

Left Luggage

Shuishe and Itashao Visitor Center

It is possible to store luggage FOC at both Shuishe and Itashao Visitor Center, from 9AM-4:30PM, but we use neither.

Our SML itinerary

Shuishe → Syuangguang (by boat) → Itashao (by boat)→ Shuishe

There are many ways to explore SML: bus, boat, bicycle. We did the boat-way covering Syuangguang and Itashao. If I were to redo the itinerary, I would definitely skip Syuangguang and the boat. And .. cycle from Shuishe to Itashao, then bus back to Shuishe.

Bicycle rental

Many bicycle rental shops
Merida

Bicycle rental shops are everywhere .. Merida (美利達愛騎自行車租賃店) comes highly recommended by a blogger here, and they have branches at both Shuishe and Itashao .. so, it’s possible to rent the bicycle at Shuishe and return at Itashao. 2014’s rate: 5 hours package with 2 ferry tickets (from Itashao to Shuishe Pier) @ NT1,000 and 2016’s rate of 2 hours rental @ NT$ 200 here.

Boat

We got out (discounted) boat tickets here
Green Lake Recreations schedule

The approved boat fare is NT$100 per stage and NT$300 for the entire lake. We were approached by Green Lake Recreations staff outside Delight Mall – telling us that they have discounted tickets usually bundled with hotel, or something like that. We paid NT$ 250 group/student tickets, so a savings of NT$ 50 per person. I read in a blog that a family paid NT$ 100, so long they dine at a restaurant.

Green Lake Recreations boat
Shuishe pier
Syuangguang pier
Itashao pier

We took the boat from Shuishe Pier 水社码头 to Syuanguang Pier 玄光码头 and then Itashao Pier 伊达邵码头, and Itashao back to Shuishe. We skipped the cable car at Itashao to Wenwu Temple.

1st stop: Syuangguang Pier – Syuanguang Temple (玄光寺)

People coming down from Syuangguang Temple …

Arriving at Syuangguang Pier, we saw many, many people … Heading to Syuanguang Temple, more were coming down. NOT a good sign, and I silently remind myself to be patient …

Is it necessary for so many cameras, so many photos?

So this is the photo spot that I read about … so popular that there is a queue line, blimey.  One group of 3-4 people’s turn. They took a group shot, and then another one with A&B, then another one with B&C, and so on and so forth. Is it really necessary?

.. for this SML rock picture?

And what’s the big fuss, you ask? Well … it is a rock written with Sun Moon Lake (日月潭). Now, isn’t that an obligatory holiday photo? And no, I wasn’t part of the hoo-haa.

Jin Men Grandma’s Tea Egg 金盆阿嫲香菇茶叶蛋

They sell only one thing: tea egg
The Grandma of Jin Men Grandma’s Tea Egg
The tea egg

Since we had to wait for boat at Syuangguang Pier, I did the touristy thing by getting a herbal tea egg (NT$ 10?) from the legendary Jin Men Grandma’s Tea Egg 金盆阿嫲香菇茶叶蛋 (Jīn pén ā ma xiānggū cháyè dàn). In her 80s, she must have sold billion of tea eggs. The eggs are flavored with Assam tea leaves (SML is Taiwan’s major Assam black tea production area), mushroom and spices. Herbal tea eggs are nothing new to Malaysians. I do like my herbal tea egg, and it does tastes good, but just good ..

Itashao for food

2nd stop: Itashao – Itashao Village

Itashao food is definitely one of the highlights of this trip .. yumz.

Stuffed chicken wing with glutinous rice (雞翅包邵族飯)

Stuffed chicken wing with glutinous rice – my fav!

There is another stall that is more popular -but since we already bought our chicken wings here, we gave the other stall a miss.

Stuffed chicken wing with glutinous rice
Stuffed chicken wing with glutinous rice
Stuffed chicken wing with glutinous rice

Chicken wings stuffed with glutinous rice is my #1 fav at Itashao Village, that I was looking for it back in Taipei … but no hope 🙁

Making my own stuffed chicken wings

… so in love with it, that I tried making it back home.

My nowhere-near to the original stuffed chicken wings

 

Alishan wasabi pepper

 

Not too bad, but nowhere near

Tada … plus additional wasabi pepper from Alishan.

Deep-fried bun

Deep-fried bun – his fav
Deep-fried bun – chili sauce on top

This deep-fried bun is really, really good. Writing this blog, I read in a blog that there are 2 types of buns – shitake mushroom (香菇包) and cabbage (高麗菜包) bun (NT$ 40). Everything is in Chinese, and bf ended up with the cabbage version .. and that was a bomb. We topped it up with chili sauce – it was such a messy-dripping-everywhere snack, but I would do it all over again.

Assam tea

Long queue for the assam tea
Assam tea

Such a long queue for tea! Bf said ok to try, so long he’s not the one in the line … so I joined the queue when it was a relatively short queue. Assam tea (NT$ 40) was just okay lah.

Assam tea ice cream

Assam tea ice cream

Now, this is a rather good buy … I like this better than the long-queue assam tea.

Spiral Thao mochi

Spiral Thao Mochi
Spiral Thao Mochi

Many people were eating this .. so we bought one … so-so only lah.

Pork roll

Pork roll

It looks better than it tastes. ‘Nuff said.

Back at Shuishe ..

85 °C Bakery Cafe

85 °C Bakery Cafe
Sweet Potato Latte & Pineapple Cake

85 °C is conveniently located right next to the Tourist Information Centre. The sweet potato on a poster had me. And I said to bf, only if it’s sweet potato, but it is a Sweet Potato Latte .. and I still wanted it. Well … luckily bf was patient enough to tolerate my ‘change of mind’. He said it’s probably some sweet potato syrup added to latte. But it’s a Sweet Potato latte #onlyinTaiwan.

Ming Hu Restaurant (明湖老餐厅)

Ming Hu Restaurant

明湖老餐厅 = Ming Hu “Lao Chan Ting” = Ming Hu Old Restaurant. 

Dinner was at Ming Hu Restaurant, located near Shueishe Pier. The restaurant was packed, so we thought that it must be good. Walking in 6pm+, we were told that it’s full house and to come back at 7pm.

NT$ 500 set meal
The President fish

NT$ 500 set meal comes with 3 dishes and 1 soup – I thought that the price is rather decent for a touristy town and the portion is generous. It comes with a steamed President fish, stir-fry mushroom, a vege and a dried lily flower soup + rice and fruits. I read that the President fish is rather bony, but it was not too bad.

NT$ 800 set meal – 4 dishes + 1 soup; NT$ 1,200 – 5 dishes + 1 soup; NT$ 1,800 – 6 dishes + 1 soup

Ming Hu Restaurant (明湖老餐厅)
15, Lishui Street, Taiwan, Nantou County, Yuchi Township, 水社村名勝街15號
Tel: 049-285 5228
Business hours: Daily 11AM–2PM, 5–8PM
Facebook here.
 
Good Night Taiwan

Stay tuned for Day 3 …

Notyourtypicaltourist

Travel opens up a whole new world, which is cliche but true. I am a strong advocate for independent and solo travel. I was born and raised in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia but now live in Bangkok, Thailand, resulted from a chance encounter in 2009 with my why-are-you-Thai bf. I am now split between two countries. One country for my bf, another for the family, for the occasional weekend together.

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