2016 has been my best year in terms of traveling, and I’ve yet to write anything about my 2016 trips. So let me start it off with our Taiwan trip last April 2016.
Taiwan, officially called the Republic of China (ROC), is a state in East Asia, with neighbors including China (west), Japan (northeast) and Philippines (south). It is around 4 hrs and 30 mins trip from Singapore Changi Airport to Taoyuan International Airport. We went there on the first weekend of April hoping to catch the tail end of the sakura/spring season.
Early Saturday morning, we took the red eye flight to Taiwan via Scoot. Once we arrived in Taoyuan International Airport, we took UBus 705 (N$30; S$1 = ~22N$) (found in Terminal 1) which took us to the HSR (High Speed Rail) Taoyuan Station.
Taiwan High Speed Rail (also known as THSR, HSR, or Gāotíe) is a high-speed rail line approximately 345KM in length running along the west coast of Taiwan from Taipei Main Station in the north to Kaohsiung in the south. Similar to Shinkansen of Japan, the HSR can reach speeds of up to 330 km/hr. There are 3 different seating sections: non-reserved (car 10-12), reserved and business class. There are automated ticket vending machines available in the stations, as well as counters. More information on traveling via Taiwan HSR here.
First Stop : SUN MOON LAKE
Sun Moon Lake is Taiwan’s largest lake and is located in the mountains of Nantou at the geographic center of Taiwan island. From Taoyuan HSR Station, we paid for a one-way ride (N$520; ~S$24) to Taichung Station which took about an hour via the bullet train.
Once we reached Taichung HSR station, we went to exit 5 to get bus tickets to Nantou. There you can find a counter where they sell different SUN MOON LAKE Passes. The rates for the different packages are found in this website. We bought the SUN MOON LAKE PASS (N$750) which includes the following: (*Note that the price differs each year, and for 2017, the same pass cost NT$720.)
|[Taichung-Sun Moon Lake] One-way bus ticket||NT 190|
|[Taichung-Puli] One-way bust ticket + [Puli-Sun Moon Lake] One-way bus ticket = [Taichung-Sun Moon Lake] One-way bus ticket||NT 190|
|*Puli includes National ChiNan Universtiy, Taomikeng (Paper Dome), Dayan and Antique Assam Tea Farm.|
|Sun Moon Lake Ropeway Round-trip Voucher||NT 300|
|Boat Voucher (Boat tours are available at the pier of Shueishe, Ita Thao and Xuanguang Temple.)||NT 300|
|Round-the-Lake Bus One Day Pass voucher||NT 80|
|Shuishe-Xiangshan Bus One-way voucher||NT 24|
The bus to SUN MOON Lake takes one and a half hours, and there was a stop somewhere in Puli although we were asleep the whole time so we didn’t bother with the Puli tour. By the time we reached Sun moon lake, it was almost lunch but was still a bit early to check in to the hotel so we asked the reception to leave our bags first then went back to Starbucks to relax for a while and drink some coffee :D. By the way, the view in Starbucks was amazing!
Sun Moon Lake consists of 3 piers: Shuishe, Xuanguang and Ita Thao, which is accessible by bus, boat or by riding a bike.
We went to Shuishe Visitor Center to avail of our boat tickets (which was unlimited for the day) and rode the boat to Ita Thao Pier. From there we walked around the area until we got to the Sun Moon Lake Station of the Sun Moon Lake Ropeway (Cable Car) which brought us to the Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village. By the time we reached the Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village, we were so tired so we decided against actually going in the village, and we weren’t too keen to pay for the entrance (NT$780) so we just rested a while and then took another cable car ride back to Sun Moon Lake station in Ita thao. If you have time though, you might wanna check it out because it’s actually a theme park (michelin starred!) and cultural park at the same time. After the ropeway, we walked to Sun Mook Lake Ropeway bus stop and boarded the round-the-lake bus 6669 to go back to Shuishe Visitor Center. After that, we decided to finally check-in at the hotel and get some rest. We went out at night and walked around the shops near Shuishe Pier and got some dinner at a nice cafe with the view of the lake at night.
The next day we had our breakfast in a hotel with the view of the lake (breakfast is included in our hotel accommodation), had our last look and fill of the lake then checked-out of the hotel to take the bus (bus 6739) that would take us to Alishan.
Note that we already purchased our bus tickets the previous day at their booth in Shuishe Visitors Center. Prior to that, I actually had to reserve the tickets first online then I was able to collect and pay for the tickets on that day. The details for ticket reservation can be found here. The one-way bus ticket to Alishan cost NT$319 in 2016 but according to the website, it is now NT$307/passenger one-way. There are 2 different time of departure and we choose the 9:00 am bus.
Next Stop, Alishan Mountain!
‘Til then! XOXO,