Camping and Cycling around Sun Moon Lake

Note: The events of this post occurred directly after Camping at Wuling Park. 

The next portion of our spring break was to join our friends for some camping and cycling around Sun Moon Lake. We left Wuling park early Tuesday morning as we had a 4.5 hour drive ahead of us. The drive was windy and gorgeous. Parts of it were lush and green as are many parts of Taiwan, but we also discovered a new Taiwanese landscape that reminded us of the Okanagan region of British Columbia, Canada. Rolling mountains had a yellow tint to them with green shrubs. It was gorgeous!

Sun Moon Lake is one of the top tourist destinations of Taiwan, but since we were there mid week, and not during a local holiday it was not as crowded. We stayed at White Deer Camping located near the gondola. There were some pros and some cons to this spot. The biggest pro was the bakery /pizzeria, which was connected to the campground. We had dinner there the first night and the pizza was tasty and cheap. They kept giving us many samples of bread while we were waiting for our pizza. It was delicious and the service was great! We also treated ourselves to fresh baked bread in the mornings, which was not cheap (about 250 TWD), but it was lovely.  

The Campsite

The site itself, however, was disappointing. They had us stay in what felt like a parking lot, when there was a perfectly nicer looking camping area 20 feet away. My understanding was that this area was kept for weekends and holidays when it was busier.

Another downer was that the lakeside boardwalk was situated directly in front of us. People were constantly passing by and staring at us. Another blogger described it as being like “monkeys in a zoo.”  I often felt like we and our cute non-Taiwanese children, were the attraction rather than the lake.

Fishbowl Campground

Life at a campground 30 feet from an off-shore walkway…

Maybe it’s because I come from Canada, and Canadians are spoiled with nature, but I didn’t find Sun Moon Lake to be spectacular. I would describe it as pleasant. There are small towns around the lake, which are nice, but these are not much different from the rest of the small towns or villages in Taiwan. 

I’m glad we went during the month of March when it wasn’t too hot, otherwise the temptation to jump in this “no swimming allowed” lake would have been too much to bare.

Cycling around the lake

Negativity aside, we had a lovely time at Sun Moon Lake. We cycled around the lake in one day (here’s our Google Route), towing our children in the bike trailer. Our friends also towed their baby in a bike trailer. The cycling route was a mix of shared road and paths. Sometimes we were cycling directly at lake level passing by boats, fishermen, and aboriginal homes. Sometimes we were going through villages that offered tasty treats and tourist knickknacks. Other times we were cycling much higher on the road, getting an almost aerial view of the lake. For the most part, the elevation was completely manageable. I am not a hardcore cyclist, nor am I very fit at the moment, but I was able to make the ascents. 

Bike-Path Stairs

Yes, stairs, on a bike path…

I would say that there were two challenging aspects to this cycling path for us as a cycling family. One was that, despite this being a popular cycling destination, we didn’t find it to be well-marked. So there were many times when we were not clear on where to go.  The second challenge was that there were at least three steep stepped ramps (check out my photo to get a visual).

There was no way with our bike trailers that we could ride up these paths. And both hubbies towing the trailers were super fit!  During these ascents, I had to get off my bike, help push the trailer up and then go back for my bike. This was rather tiring!

That said, we wouldn’t be surprised to hear that in the near future, these areas become more cyclist friendly. It seemed like the area was being developed and this would make sense when we consider all the recent developments around the lake, such as the new boardwalk.

As a final thought, we went to Sun Moon Lake with the simple plan of cycling around the lake and camping. After our ill prepared stay at Wuling Farm, this simplicity and warmer weather was welcomed. That said, I left feeling like I could have explored a lot more. I would have enjoyed driving around some more and exploring local hikes, bike rides and villages.

 

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