Welcome back A2Y Travellers (Amy and Yasmine)! They previously wrote about photography in Taipei here. Now they’re sharing their photography experience at Sun Moon Lake and Green Island in Taiwan.
Sun Moon Lake
Photography at Sun Moon Lake
There are beautiful places to get shots of the sunrise from behind the mountains. Unfortunately we didn’t manage to get up in time! Nevertheless, head to Shueishe pier and turn right as you look at the lake. Follow the path and you will hit some great places to shoot the sunrise. It took us around 20 minutes to get to the position where we wanted to shoot.
Getting Around Sun Moon Lake
The best way to experience Sun Moon Lake for us was hiring a bike and cycling all the way around. It is also possible to ride the cable car and get a stunning view from up high, or taking boats across the lake.
Cycling around the lake took six hours, as there are many stops along the way, such as temples, fruit stalls, Ci En Pagoda, a few gardens, Shueishe Dam and the constant beautiful photo opportunities of the lake and the surrounding mountains. All of these are free and our only cost was renting the bikes. Note that we did not stop at the gardens. We used the company ‘Giant’ and hired two bikes for £8 for the entire day (until 6.30pm).
Around the lake there are toilets so no need to worry- they tend to be near the numerous temples and gardens. For example, there was one near the Ci En Pagoda and one near Wen Wu Temple. Again, western toilets are available.
Eating at Sun Moon Lake
Our favourite restaurant in the whole of Taiwan was at Sun Moon Lake, Sun Moon Restaurant. They offer delicious dishes, like steamed lake fish and cumin pork. All of them are reasonably priced. One rice bowl between us was enough, and they even give you free tea and pineapple slices to finish off your meal.
Accommodation at Sun Moon Lake
Accommodation is quite expensive here for Asia. We stayed at the Honeymoon Hotel for around £40 a night. Try booking in advance to secure a more reasonably priced accommodation. The Honeymoon Hotel was relatively basic, comfortable, clean and had good Wi-Fi, so it was great for us. However, breakfast was a voucher for Mos Burger, and there is a language barrier at reception if you don’t speak Chinese.
Getting There from Taipei
From Taipei, we headed towards Sun Moon Lake in Nantou. Taking the high speed rail from Taipei Station to HSR Taichung, we then took a bus to Sun Moon Lake. The whole journey was around 2 hours and cost £40 for the two of us. However, take note, if you plan on returning to Taipei or are following our route to Green Island, purchase a return ticket as you will have to return to this station (a lesson we learned the hard way).
Green Island, Taiwan
Why You Should Visit Green Island
We extremely recommend coming to this island off the southeast coast of Taiwan. You can do most things within only 2 or 3 days. The diving is incredible, and even the simplest thing of renting a scooter and driving around the whole island within an hour is just such a liberating experience.
Photography on Green Island
Even though it was peak season during our visit in August the island was still extremely quiet. There are so many good photography opportunities: a market, an abandoned prison, isolated beaches, caves, mountains, sunrise at the hot springs, and never-ending marine life. The diving is amazing here and it is comparable to diving in an aquarium tank, as the water is so clear.
The best way to get great shots on Green Island is to hire a scooter and ride around the island. If you have a driving license that is valid in Taiwan, a fuel powered scooter is available to hire. Otherwise, you can rent an electric scooter for less, and it does exactly the same job. Scooter hire is around £14 for 24 hours, and two of you can easily fit on it. The only entrance fee we had to pay was the 200 TWD per person for the hot springs.
Getting Around Green Island
The island itself is quite small, and most people rent scooters, so you are never too far away from toilets. Main attractions have them, for instance the temples, hot springs, etc. Again western toilets are always available.
Staying on Green Island
Staying at Sanasai Inn was great. The only downfall was that the dorms were slightly small. Otherwise, it was a perfect stay with great friendly staff, free toiletries, scooter hire, diving packages, free laundry facilities, free breakfast, and free harbour pick up. When a lightning bolt caused a power outage, one of the staff handed out free beers!
Eating on Green Island
Good places to eat include Mr. Hot Dogs for western food, and the amazing Monica’s Place for local food. We went to Monica’s for dinner three times, as we loved it so much. The pork fried rice was to die for and only costs £3 for a mountain of it.
Getting to Green Island from Sun Moon Lake
From Sun Moon Lake, you must travel around the Zhongyang mountain range situated directly in the middle of Taiwan. First, we headed back to HSR Taichung by bus, got a high speed rail to Zuoying Station and then hopped on a normal train to Taitung Station. The journey from Sun Moon Lake to Taitung cost £58 for the two of us and took about 7 hours, including connection times.
Take note that the last ferry leaves from Taitung for Green Island in the early afternoon. When we arrived at 17:30, all ferries and flights had finished, so we spent a night near Taitung Station. We stayed at a quaint place called Taitung XD B&B for £27 and left for Green Island in the morning.
The ferries are quite frequent during peak season (August) and if you are going in off-peak season, it’s best to contact a ferry company first. The ferry takes around 50 minutes and can be rough in bad weather. We took travel sickness tablets and slept to avoid the notorious sea sickness. If you really struggle, we suggest getting a flight instead, but this is pricey. The ferry cost us £44 for two return tickets. The first ferry is at 9.30am, with tickets going on sale at 8.20am.
You can get a bus from opposite the train station for 25 TWD pp and that gets you to the Fugang Fish Harbour, or you can pay around 100 TWD for two people to travel by taxi (we haggled). The bus journey takes around 20 to 30 minutes.
Summary of Transport from Sun Moon Lake to Green Island
- Sun Moon Lake to HSR Taichung by bus;
- High speed rail to Zuoying Station;
- Normal train to Taitung Station (Sun Moon Lake to Taitung – 7 hours);
- Ferry to Green Island (first ferry at 9:30am);
- Bus from ferry to Fugang Fish Harbor (25 minutes)
Overall, Taiwan is an incredible place to visit with so many unexpected charms. Beautiful landscapes, beaches, cityscapes, and cultural experiences- all of which have not been destroyed through reckless tourism- make Taiwan a must-see destination, so enjoy photographing Taiwan, and remember to leave nothing but footsteps.
Need More Information?
Get your Taiwan guidebook here! Rough Guide and Lonely Planet always have sample itineraries.
We are A2Y Travellers (Amy and Yasmine) – a couple from the UK who have set off to explore the world and vlog our experiences to share with everyone. We use our phones and our GoPro.
A2Y Travellers provide insight of beautiful places to see, show what it is like to travel in a relationship and generally share the world with people! We believe travel is such an important self-discovery experience; you learn so much about yourself and can better yourself learning about how other people live.
Check out our vlog at A2Y Travellers on YouTube for videos of beautiful Taiwan and many other countries, plus a few more bonus tips, such as Exact Budgets. Happy photographing!
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