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Sun Moon Lake is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Taiwan and should definitely be included on your Taiwan itinerary. Taking a small group tour to Sun Moon Lake allows you to get there and explore the lake with worrying about the logistics or finding a hotel (which often sell out on long weekends).
Below I will compare Sun Moon Lake tour options provided by Klook, my most recommended website for tours, tickets, and other activities in Taiwan. In the original version of this article, I also covered tours by GetYourGuide, but all of these were canceled during COVID. I’ve also recently added some tours by KKDay, Taiwan’s version of Klook.
To be 100% transparent, I have never taken a tour to Sun Moon Lake. I usually travel independently, and in my super detailed Sun Moon Lake guide and my free Taiwan Travel Planning Group, I tell you exactly how to do it all by yourself.
But for those who prefer a Sun Moon Lake tour, I will analyze a few well-reviewed Sun Moon Lake tours, as someone who has been to Sun Moon Lake 6 times in 10 years, to help you make a quick and simple decision on which one is best for you.
Make sure to also check out my other articles when you are planning what to do in Taichung, how to plan your Taichung itinerary, and the best Taichung day trip ideas.
If you are looking for a more serious, multi-day, professional tour of Taiwan, feel free to contact me and I can recommend the most suitable local tour operator for your needs.
Sun Moon Lake Passes & DIY Options
Besides tours, another option you can consider is to get a Sun Moon Lake Pass. In this way, you can travel independently, but enjoy the convenience of having your bus tickets, boat tickets, bicycle rental, Sun Moon Lake ropeway, and more pre-paid. This allows you to avoid the hassle of figuring out all those things once you get to Sun Moon Lake. Moreover, the pass saves you money! On the downside, the passes (and what each one includes and doesn’t include) are a little complicated. So for some people, they aren’t worth the trouble.
Even if you decide to do it all on your own and forget about the SML passes or taking a tour, you can still save money by getting this boat, bike, and Sun Moon Lake ropeway pass. As the name suggests, it includes boat ride across the lake, bike rental, and a ride on the Sun Moon Lake Ropeway (cable car), all for quite a bit cheaper than if you go each item individually. You just have to figure out how to get to SML on your own.
Similarly, the boat hop-on-hop off deal gives you unlimited boat rides on the lake for cheaper than what you would pay there. Find out how to plan your boat rides around the lake in my Sun Moon Lake travel guide.
Finally, for a completely different (and more serene) way to experience Sun Moon Lake, you can consider Stand Up Paddleboarding on Sun Moon Lake.
Why I Recommend Klook
I regularly recommend the Hong Kong-based Klook for various tours and activities all over Taiwan. Although I haven’t done their SML tours (because I prefer to visit SML on my own), I have done other Klook tours and activities. They are usually quite convenient and you can save a lot of money. Their site is a kind of a one-stop-shop for all kinds of travel services across the country. I’ve also gotten positive feedback and read all the reviews of their SML lake tours.
Klook is particularly popular among Asian visitors to Taiwan, who are perhaps familiar with it from their own country. Although Taiwan has KKDay, and it often offers even more choices than Klook, I find that overall the KKday pages often have poor English (or little no no English at all). The Klook pages have better English, more pictures, and more detailed descriptions, and this is why I prefer them.
Below, I will however recommend one KKDay tour simply because Klook doesn’t have that one.
If you sign up for Klook with my referral link, you’ll kind NT$100 off your first booking, including any of the Sun Moon Lake tours I recommend in this article.
For some examples of useful Klook deals for Sun Moon Lake, you can pre-book your High Speed Rail Ticket from Taipei to Taichung at a reduced rate.
You can also use Klook to arrange a private transfer Taipei or Taichung to Sun Moon Lake. You can also arrange private or shared transfer from Sun Moon Lake to Cingjing Farm.
Sun Moon Lake Tours from Taichung
For semi-independent travelers, or people who want to have a more complete experience of Sun Moon Lake specifically, I think that the tours offered from Taichung are better than those from Taipei. Most of the Taipei to Sun Moon Lake tours were canceled during COVID, anyways. From Taichung, the options are better, and you’ll get more time at the lake.
It’s very easy to get to Taichung on your own by HSR, bus, or regular train. The following tours include pickup from your hotel or various locations in Taichung.
The first is best for adventure, second is more relaxed but comprehensive, and the last one is for theme park (or cherry blossom) lovers.
Klook’s “Sun Moon Lake Adventure Tour” (Top Choice)
On the Sun Moon Lake Adventure One Day Tour, you get to have more exciting experiences at Sun Moon Lake, include cycling, boat riding, and riding the Sun Moon Lake Ropeway (cable car), which offers incredible views from far above the lake.
The tour starts with a pickup from one of three locations in Taichung (Miyahara Ice Cream near Taichung Station, Taichung HSR station, or Feng Chia Night Market). The pickups and drive to the lake take about 90 minutes. Arriving at Sun Moon Lake, you go mountain biking (keep in mind that SML has been called one of the world’s best cycling destinations!)
After an aboriginal lunch, you take a boat ride across the lake, ride the famous Sun Moon Lake Ropeway (cable car), and finally visit Wenwu Temple, the most beautiful temple on the lake.
The same tour is offered here on KKDay, but you may find that it is slightly cheaper.
You get to cycle, ride a boat, and take the gondola all in one day.
Option for English (or Japanese) guide at no extra charge.
Convenient pickup and drop off in Taichung.
You don’t get to visit quite as many places as the next tour.
Klook’s “Day at Sun Moon Lake” tour
For the Day at Sun Moon Lake Tour, starting at your hotel or the train or HSR station in Taichung, you drive to Sun Moon Lake in a van (there may be other guests, or could be just you).
You start with an easy hike on Shuiwatou Trail (Water Frog Head trail), which takes you through a bamboo forest right down to the lake. Then you visit beautifully designed Xiangshan Visitor’s Center before taking a 1-hour boat ride on the lake. Heads up that it can be very hot in summer in Taiwan, even at higher altitude Sun Moon Lake, so wear adequate protection!
You get to visit the aboriginal village of Ita Thao (my favorite place to stay on Sun Moon Lake), as well as the famous sights of Xuanguang (Syuanguang) Temple, Ci En Pagoda, and Wenwu Temple (learn about these sights in my Sun Moon Lake article). The exact program may vary slightly.
More individual stops that first tour.
More relaxing and suitable for kids/elderly (i.e. fewer adventure activities).
Will even pick you up from your hotel in Taichung.
Guide is Chinese speaking only.
Must pay extra NT900 for an English speaking guide (in my opinion, you don’t really need it to enjoy the sights).
Sun Moon Ropeway (Cable Car) not included.
Klook’s “Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village” tour
Are you into amusement parks? Then the Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village Day Trip may be for you. The Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village is a combination of aboriginal culture village, with aboriginal songs, dance, and costumes, and amusement park with wild rides. It is one of the most popular theme parks in Taiwan.
Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village is also famous for cherry blossom viewing in late winter, usually late February to early March (the exact dates vary by year).
After pick-up in Taichung, you go directly to the Sun Moon Lake Ropeway on the lake shore, which offers incredible views of the lake as you go up. When you get to the top, unlike the adventure tour above, you will get to ride a second gondola, which goes down the backside of the mountain to the theme park.
After visiting the theme park, you’ll have one more stop, which is the beautiful Wenwu Temple overlooking the lake.
Great for theme park lovers.
Fast and convenient way to enjoy some great Sun Moon Lake views.
English, Japanese, or Chinese speaking guide at no extra cost.
Also includes Wenwu Temple, the most beautiful temple/view of Sun Moon Lake.
Good deal, considering normal tickets to the theme park (NT850) are more than half of the total tour price.
Not much time spent beside Sun Moon Lake. Most of the time is in the theme park.
Doesn’t include any sights around the lake besides Wenwu Temple.
Not an “authentic” aboriginal experience and not one of the best amusement parks in Taiwan (in my opinion).
Lunch not included.
Sun Moon Lake and Cingjing Farm Tour
Sun Moon Lake and Cingjing Farm are two of the most famous day trips from Taichung. So why not combine them into one single day trip with this tour offered by KKDay? Cingjing Farm is a European-style farm and mountain resort village. You can enjoy the high mountain views, see real farm animals, and European-style buildings.
The tour includes pickup from various points in Taichung, drive to Sun Moon Lake (60-90 minutes) in a car or minivan, boat ride on the lake, drive to Cingjing Farm (60-90 minutes), visit the farm, then drive back to Taichung (60-90 min).
As you can imagine from the above description, there is quite a bit of driving and the day tour is long (around 10 hours total). But if you want to be efficient or have little time on your trip, you can check off these two famous Nantou attractions in a single day.
Visit both SML and Cingjing in a single day (usually requires multiple days).
Don’t need to worry about complicated transportation between these two famous attractions, or walking up the steep highway between sights at Cingjing.
Lots of driving in one day.
The KKDay page doesn’t give too many details about what you will see and do at each place.
Lunch and Cingjing entrance ticket fees not included.
Not clear whether guide speaks English.
Full Taiwan Tour that Include Sun Moon Lake
Sun Moon Lake is included on another popular GetYourGuide tour choice: this Best of Taiwan 5-Day Tour, also by coach and arranged by the same local tour company as above.
It’s actually amazing how much of Taiwan they can cram into five days on this tour. If you only have five days in Taiwan and want to see it all (not counting Taipei), this is your choice.
I’m actually impressed with the price of this tour, considering that all the hotels are 5-star, and these include some of Taiwan’s most famous and opulent hotels, such as the Fleur de Chine Sun Moon Lake and Silks Place Taroko.
The tour stops include: Sun Moon Lake, Fo Guang Shan (the largest monastery and biggest Buddha in Taiwan, Kaohsiung, Kenting (the beach resort at the southern end of Taiwan), remote Taitung in the southeast, the stunning East Coast of Taiwan, Hualien, and Taroko Gorge.
5.0 star rating based on 15 reviews.
See many of the most famous places in Taiwan in only five days.
Amazing value for money, especially considering the excellent accommodations.
It’s a bus tour.
Doesn’t go to Alishan, one of Taiwan’s top attractions.
You would spend quite a bit of time on the road. I estimate three hours or more per day.
Everywhere you go, you see the most famous (but also most “touristy”) places.
For Sun Moon Lake: you only see three sights: Wenwu Temple, Holy Monk Shrine, and Ci En Pagoda. They are three main sights of Sun Moon Lake, but you really get the “tourist” version of Sun Moon Lake.
There’s no boat ride or stop in aboriginal Ita Thao village.
Looking for quirkier attractions in Taiwan? Check out Rainbow Village in Taichung or Monster Village in Xitou!
I hope I’ve helped you find a good Sun Moon Lake tour! If you have any questions or experiences you’d like to share, but do so in the comments below!
I never travel without a guidebook! I recommend these:
8 thoughts on “The Best Sun Moon Lake Tours According to Taiwan Travel Expert”
14th Oct to 19th October
My parents who are 55 and 65 hate long hours driving so have opted for express train and hiring local private tour on arrival at the locations:
How does this sound?
14th sightseeing Taipei
15th morning –
Leave by train to Taroko
Visit Taroko National Park
Visit the trails
Good at Hualien city
15th night (Stay at Hualien or Taroko)
Chill & return 16th to Taipei
Sightseeing Taipei & nightmarkets
take train to Taichung & tour to sun moon lake
Stay overnight at Sun Moon Lake
Return to to Taipei
19th morning – Taipei
19th afternoon – airport
Hi Kimmy, and thanks for reading!
I think your 15th day sounds too busy. Most people spend a full day to visit Taroko, especially if you want to include Qingshui Cliffs and hiking trails.
Even if you take the morning train, you will arrive and need to check into hotel, eat lunch. So you will only have one afternoon to visit the Gorge. It’s possible, but you won’t be able to see every part of the gorge.
There’s not really much to see in Hualien City. To maximize your time, maybe you can stay in Xincheng directly in Taroko Gorge (but the hotels are more expensive). Then maybe you can see some parts on 15th afternoon, and some on 16th morning.
The rest of your plan sounds good! A little busy, but I think it’s doable.
Can we be picked up from our hotel in Taipei to go to sun moon lake for a day tou
Yes, some of the tours will pick you up at your hotel! For example, the “Day at Sun Moon Lake Tour” I described in this article. You can copy and paste this link:
Have you got any review or feedback about this tour https://www.tripadvisor.com.au/AttractionProductReview-g13808515-d19349817-Chartered_Sun_Moon_Lake_Tour-Xinyi_District_Taipei.html
We.re thinking on using their service, but not sure if it is worth the money.
Hi Andreas, I haven’t personally used this tour company or even heard of them, so I’m afraid I can’t offer any additional info or feedback better than the reviews already on TripAdvisor. Please note, the tour includes a stop at Rainbow Village, but Rainbow Village is currently closed and not expected to reopen until Jan 2023 or later. They have not updated their website to include this important information (Rainbow Village has been closed for many months), so that’s one thing to consider…
Hi Nick, love your blog on Taiwan 🙂
Would you have any recommendation for private yacht hires at SML?
Unfortunately I’m not aware of any. Perhaps you could contact one of the major hotels on the lake such as Fleur de Chine and they might know!