Eat, Drink, Stay & Ride: A Cyclists Guide to Sun Moon Lake, Taiwan
When you think about Taiwan, your first thought is usually about booming manufacturing businesses that call the island home. And, yes, the nation has many exports and the factories that produce these products make up a large part of Taiwan. Giant, the brother brand to Liv and the largest bicycle manufacturer in the world, calls Taiwan home. But, many people don’t realize this island, formerly known as Formosa, boasts beautiful beaches in the south, mountain peaks that rise nearly 13,000 feet (3,952 meters) above sea level and lush jungles.
Amy Stanfield and Janette Sherman, US citizens that work for Liv Cycling on their global team, travel to Taiwan about four times per year. Giant’s main headquarters is in the Dajia District in Taichung City, located in the middle of the island about 90 mins south by car from the island’s capital city of Taipei.
On a recent visit to Taiwan, Janette and Amy took a day to escape to the beautiful mountains around Sun Moon Lake, the largest body of water in Taiwan. It is only a 2 hour drive outside of Taichung and is a gorgeous place to visit. Although many people visit Sun Moon Lake to enjoy the vistas and a walk along the water, there are bike adventures to be had as well! Here is your guide to visiting one of Taiwan’s many gems by bike from Janette and Amy:
Stay in Taichung
Although there are many great options to stay at Sun Moon Lake, our travels required us to be located in the city. The Hotel Tempus in Taichung is the perfect place to stay in one of the city’s most distinctive neighborhoods. Whether you are looking for a room for the whole family, a get-away for two or resort elements and spa amenities, the Tempus has you covered.
How to Get to Sun Moon Lake
We stepped out of the hotel at 6:00 am to meet our driver, Mr. Lin, who would take us to Sun Moon Lake for a full day of cycling. If you do not have a driver, renting a car is not difficult. Set your GPS to bring you to the first stop on your journey: Giant Sun Moon Lake, 1F, No.163, Zhongshan Rd., Yuchih Township, Nantou County. The Renyou Bus also runs daily from the Taichung station to Sun Moon Lake.
Get a Bike
Of course, our day was all was all about the bike ride. Giant Sun Moon Lake Bike Rental Shop was there to hook us up with everything we needed. Call ahead to reserve a bike in your size and when you arrive, the bike will be ready to go! A very friendly staff will get you outfitted for a tour around the lake—from gear to bike, maps and snacks. We both hopped on Liv Avails and headed out on the ride.
The route we chose was touted as one of the “10 Most Breathtaking Cycling Routes in the World” by CNN, a loop that would take us around the lake in about 29 km (18 miles). As we started out on our journey, the mist was hanging on our eyelashes and the lake was calm and glassy. The elevation at Sun Moon Lake is only 748 meters (2,454 feet), so everything is lush and green. There are massive trees with huge prehistoric-looking leaves. As we both call Southern California home, the tropical environment full of vegetation was stunning. We might have stopped a few too many times along our ride to document the scenery with a photo, but we couldn’t help ourselves!
As we rode around the lake, we would climb for 5 minutes and then the road would even out to a mellow grade. It is totally doable for a first-timer and still very enjoyable for an experienced rider. The road was in great shape as well, allowing you to focus on the scenery instead of worrying about hitting a pothole!
There are many temples along the way, often times with ceremonies going on. We happened to be there during the Moon Festival also known as the Mid-Autumn Festival – a time when the locals gather and give thanks, pray and have barbeques with family and friends – of course, there are fireworks. We stopped at the WenWu Temple to watch a very colorful ceremony and to take in the views.
Back on the bike, we continued on with our eyes wide from the amazing natural beauty of the place. As we pedaled, we came upon a more rural portion of the lake where there is a small farming community. Even though Taiwan is very modern, there are many communities where people still live as local farmers, and this was a great example of that. We loved seeing the way they ingeniously grew squash to keep it off the wet ground.
A portion of the ride is on the Yuetan Bike Path. At times the bike path can be crowded, so make sure to pay attention and ride responsibly. While we were riding we came across a couple taking their wedding photos. No doubt, the area is a popular destination for a wedding.
The ride took us a few hours, not because it is difficult, but we kept stopping to enjoy the views, buy snacks from the locals and to take photos of all the interesting things we were seeing.
When we arrived back at the Giant store, we were a bit wet from the light rain that had started. They were very kind in letting us change and get warm. We even received certificates of completion for our ride!
Take a Boat Tour
After changing from our ride we ventured down to the boat docks right in front of the store and took a boat tour around the lake, touring temples and local streets were there were plenty of places shop and eat. It isn’t hard to find great places to eat like a local or make new friends.
Finish the Day with Tea
The rain had started to come down fairly hard by the time the boat pulled back into the dock, so we decided to go for afternoon tea and some chicken soup at the Fleur de Chine Hotel. It was lovely to finish the day by getting warm and watching the rain fall on the beautiful lake.
Get out there and go on a bike adventure! Check out our other travel guides from some of our favorite places. Where do you want us to go next? Let us know on Facebook and Twitter