After two wonderful nights at Jiufen, we were ready for our next destination – Sun Moon Lake (日月潭). Again, we relied on public transportation. Public transportation in Taiwan is typically a hub-and-spoke model where the main cities / towns are connected via trains (i.e. hub) and local buses are available from the train station to bring you to your final destination (i.e. spoke). In other words, it’s usually a two-step process if you are crossing over to another town. Hence from Jiufen, we had to take a train from Ruifang to Taipei and changed onto a HSR (High Speed Rail) to Taichung, and then followed by a Nantou bus directly to Sun Moon Lake. We took an additional step of HSR, instead of train all the way, so as to cut short the traveling time. The good news is that all the inter-connecting rides are housed under the same roof, i.e, we didn’t have to leave the station in order to catch another train or bus. Even at Taichung HSR station, we just had to follow the signage and it led us to the Nantou Bus (南投客運) terminal, which is located at the basement of the HSR station.
The Nantou bus schedule on the left is obtained from the bus company on 8 December 2011 and do note that it may have changed by the time you were reading this. (You can get the latest from the link at the end of this post.) Nevertheless, you can see that the buses depart TaiChung HSR station quite regularly and for your convenience, I have also highlighted the timing for TaiChung HSR station in yellow. 😉
Now, I can’t recall the exact fare but I believe it was about NT$180 per person per trip. At our time of travel, the ticketing office at the bus station was also selling a combo value pass, which included admission to Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village (九族文化村), cable car ride, ferry ride, all day pass for the round-lake bus and some other stuff such as free ice-cream and postcards. Since we planned to do most of the activities anyway, buying the combo pass was a no-brainer. However, if you are not going to do everything, then do your homework (i.e. check out the prices for the various activities) and math and decide if the combo is cheaper for you. I am not sure if this combo pass is available by the time you are reading this but there’s no harm in checking with the ticketing office at the bus terminal.
The bus journey was about 1.5 hours and it was late in the evening by the time I reached Sun Moon Lake. Knowing that public transportation is a problem after 6pm, I deliberately chose a hotel that is close to the Visitor’s Centre, i.e. where the bus stops. There are quite a few choices available actually and we finally decided on Harbour Resort (碼頭休閒飯店水社码头) for its lake view and proximity to the Visitor’s Centre.
Location-wise, this hotel would have scored easily a four-out-of-five stars. It’s right besides Shui She Harbour (水社码头) and just 5 minutes walk from the Visitor’s Centre (where the bus stop is). So regardless of which transport mode (cruise or bus), it’s very convenient. It’s also useful for you to know that Sun Moon Lake area is also very quiet at night and there isn’t much that one can do. Luckily for us, there are a few shops and restaurants in the vicinity of the hotel; not a lot but good enough.
Below are some photos of the shopping area around the hotel and the restaurant (below right) just beside the hotel serves very nice dinner. A boatman recommended it to us on our second day and it was indeed very good.
We also tried the restaurant below (right) on our first night but we didn’t really like the food. Sun Moon Lake is famous for “President Fish” (總統魚) and almost every restaurant would serve this dish. Try it if you haven’t cos that’s probably the last time you will (ever) order one again. LOL.
Below are some of the dishes we had at the restaurants for your reference. My advice is to avoid the “President Fish” as it has too much tiny bones. We also didn’t like the way the chicken was prepared. It was served cold and more importantly, the meat was too tough for chewing. The deep fried shrimps was nice but it was too salty for some of us. Anyway, I shall let the photos do the talking …
View-wise, I think we got a very good room with a good view of the lake. There are different room types available and we chose the one with lake view as I was prepared to shoot sunrise from the balcony of my room. But unfortunately, the weather wasn’t kind to me and it was too foggy.
Everything else about Harbour Resort was perfect, except for its breakfast. Although we stayed in this hotel for 2 nights, the breakfast was always the same – porridge. I suspect the menu doesn’t change at all …
Oh yes, there is also a water fountain light show at the harbour and I believe it runs twice a night, on the hour mark. Don’t expect too much from the (free) show though.
Here are the views of the harbour at night, including the water fountain light show, which is just at the pier.
Useful Information – General:
- Taiwan HSR Train Schedule and Booking
- Nantou Bus Schedule (To Sun Moon Lake)
- Harbour Resort (碼頭休閒飯店水社码头)