Sun Moon Lake Wenwu Temple (文武廟)

 

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Address: 63, Zhongzheng Rd, Yuchi Township, Nantou County, Taiwan 555

How to get there: Wenwu Temple Bus Stop

Operating Hours:

Entrance Fee: NTD 0

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A wenwu temple is a temple that generates veneration for patron gods of civil (wen) and martial (wu) affairs. This temple has three separate halls: (1) for the first ancestor, Kanji, and the God of Literature, (2) Guan Gong, God of War, and Yue Fei, warrior God, and (3) Confucius.

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There are 365 steps leading to the rear hall of the temple which are also called the 365 Steps to Heaven. And for just NTD 100 you can buy an ornament, have it blessed, and say a wish. The temple is filled with ornaments like these.

The most impressive aspect of this temple, for me, was the craftsmanship. There are very intricate designs that depict the many beliefs of this temple’s patrons.

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At the rear hall, most tourists overlook this spot. It’s a great area to see the lake and the surroundings. It’s also even better during sunset.

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Ita Thao Pier (伊達邵)

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Address: Yidashao St, Yuchi Township, Nantou County, Taiwan 555

How to get there: Ita Thao Village Bus Stop

Operating Hours:

Entrance Fee:

The Thao people are one of the recognized indigenous people of Taiwan. A legend tells the story of how the Thao people came to live in this side of the lake.

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Now, the Ita Thao Pier is one of the bustling commercial (yes, at this rate it’s already commercial) parts of the Sun Moon Lake. It is also home to a lot of hotels and local restaurants. Good thing, too, we were about to have a late lunch.

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Sometimes, I get confused with the correct romanization of Ita Thao. There’s Yidashou or Ida Shou.

Near the Ita Thao Village is the Sun Moon Lake Ropeway which is your gateway to the Formosa Aboriginal Culture Village.

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There are so many good food to try and they are really enticing.

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These are deep-fried shrimp and dried fish.

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And tofu prepared in a number of ways.

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And gigantic squid filled with a lot of vegetables and meat.

If you want to go food tripping in the Sun Moon Lake area, Ita Thao Village is the place you have to go to.

Ci’en Pagoda (慈恩塔)

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Address: Zhongzheng Rd, Yuchi Township, Nantou County, Taiwan 555

How to get there: Xuangzang Temple Bus Stop + strong legs for a bit of a hike

Operating Hours: 9:00 AM -5:30 PM

Entrance Fee: NTD 0

The entrance to the Ci’en Pagoda is a little walk from Xuanzang Temple. It’s a little quiet because there’s not a lot of people who go here. If you don’t have a car, the road to the southern entrance (aka the foot of the climb) of the pagoda is a bit of an incline. You might as well prepare for it.

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The southern steps tell you that there are 500 steps separating the southern and northern entrances. Don’t worry, there are areas where you can rest in the case that you can’t make it in one go.

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Ci’en Pagoda is built in memory of Chiang Kai Shek’s mother. In the alignment of things, it is believed to be the heart of the dragon with the Xuanguang Temple as the mouth and the Xuanzang Temple as the head.

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Unfortunately, we weren’t able to go to the highest part of the pagoda because it was currently under maintenance.

Xuanzang Temple (玄奘寺)

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Address: 389號, Zhongzheng Rd, Yuchi Township, Nantou County, Taiwan 555

How to get there: Xuangzang Temple Bus Stop

Operating Hours: 5:00 AM – 6:00 PM

Entrance Fee: NTD 0

Xuanzang is a monk during the Tang Dynasty who is believed to travel to India learned from different masters of Buddhism and brought the original texts to China. Thus, providing great contribution in the spread of Buddhism to China.

Xuanzang is also the inspiration of the book, Journey to the West.

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To be honest, this wasn’t the place we were going for. We alighted the bus a stop too early. But, nonetheless, there was still good stuff about it. It isn’t as crowded. It’s as solemn as you’d want a temple to be. Save for some patrons, it was only us and three other foreigners making rounds.

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Since the temple is on higher ground, there’s a beautiful panorama of the lake below.

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Round-the-Lake Bus

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The easiest (and cheapest) way to go to places around the Sun Moon Lake is by riding the Round-the-Lake bus. You can buy a day pass for NTD 80. You can ride whenever, wherever.

TIP: Do not lose your ticket. You have to show it whenever you have to ride the bus.

This is the route the bus takes.

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TIP: Try to go to the farthest ones first. Buses to the Xuanguang Pier are rare.

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The bus has a route number of 6669 and has different schedules on weekdays, weekends, and the holiday. You can check out their schedule here.

TIP: It gets a little tricky if you’re going to the not necessarily famous places like hiking trails or the peacock garden especially if you don’t speak an ounce of Chinese. The bus doesn’t drop by the bus stop if passengers do not press the Stop button or if there are no passengers waiting for the bus.

Going to Sun Moon Lake

On our first day in Taiwan, we went straight to Sun Moon Lake in Nantou County.

Upon arrival at Taipei Taoyuan Airport and passing through immigration, you turn left and take the ‘walkalator’ to the basement. There you’ll see a Hi-Life convenience store on your right and a hallway to the left. You will also see a sign pointing you to the bus tickets counter.

Beside the counter for Kou Kang buses (bound for Taipei) is the counter for Ubus. Buy the ticket for the Taoyuan HSR station. It’s route 705 and costs NTD 30.

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At the HSR station, you can buy your ticket or claim your pre-purchased ticket.

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TIP: It’s good to avail of the HSR’s early bird rates. If you’re lucky, you can get a discount of as much 30%. To buy tickets online, you just have to go to this site. And if asked for an identification number, just input your passport number.

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Ride the train up to the Taichung HSR station.

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Make your way to Exit 5 of the station. It’s found on the basement. And, in the corner of Exit 5 is the Nantou Bus ticket counter. Here, you can buy your passes, round-trip tickets, or one-way tickets to the Sun Moon Lake. A one-way ticket to Sun Moon Lake costs NTD 189. Note that there are bus schedules that pass by the town of Puli and there is one that goes straight to Sun Moon Lake. If time isn’t of the essence, you can just take any bus. This is the schedule of their operations.

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Enjoy the view as you go through the central mountains of Taiwan. You will be dropped off at Shuishe Visitor Center. If you are not based in this area, you can either take the round-the-lake bus or a ferry to you home pier.