🚙 Nantou | Best Way from Sun Moon Lake to Hualien

Hello ,

This Sunday my friend and I wish to go to Sun Moon Lake from Taipei early in the morning, at around 3-4 p.m we wish to head for Hualien.
What is the best way to get there ? Is there any way to do it through Central Taiwan without going through Taipei or Kaohsiung?As far as I know there is no direct bus going from Sun Moon Lake (Nantou) to Hualien?
We are in Taiwan only for 6 days. We plan to spend 2 days in Taipei 4 days somewhere outside.
Should we bother going to Sun Moon Lake or is better to head from Taipei straight to Hualien ?

Any feedback is welcome!!

Skip SML unless you have never seen a pretty lake before. It is beautiful on a clear sunny day but hardly a must-see on a 6 day tour of Taiwan. Think of it as something the local tourism board likes to tout. But even the Chinese tourists who started coming here in the summer don’t see it as an essential part of a visit here.

You’re best bet for seeing the best of Taiwan is to rent your own car. Drive from Taipei down the east coast and take the South Cross Island Hwy back to the west side, and then up the No 3 to Taipei.

The South Cross Island Highway is a MUST see along with the east coast.

Stop off along the way back in LuGang (Chung Hwa county). Nice little town with some old (by Taiwanese standards) temples.

I usually charter a helicopter for a trip to Hualien. Much less painful than navigating traffic and quicker. You also get a nice view. Only 95000NT$ from Taipei county. Takes about 20 minutes. Might be a little more expensive from Taipei, but well worth it and very affordable.

Is there any way to do this via bus if not train? No funds to rent a car & zero desire to attempt a scooter ride through Taipei… I suppose one of those mini folding bikes might work…? What if I just set off walking? Are there shoulders wide enough not to get smashed to bits?


Some foreign engineers earn around NT$300,000 per month, and that excludes a NT$50,000+ housing subsidy, a NT$3,000 daily expense allowance, and a company car. So, I guess for some chartering a chopper at NT$95,000 is quite affordable.

Thank you everyone for your advice. I think we wouldn’t go to Sun Moon Lake this time,we’d rather head directly to Hualien. Rent a car or a scooter down there and go along the east coast.
If we decide to rent a car or a scooter in Taipei, where would you recommend to do it?In the airport ,the easiest way, or can I do it anywhere in Old Town area?(I stay near Guting station).

You wouldn’t want to ride a scooter along the east coast hwy to Hualian if you’ve never driven in Taiwan before. Beautiful but bad driving conditions (after Hualien it is fine). I recommend taking the train to Hualien and renting a car there. See if you can’t drop it off in Taipei or another city on the west coast or even one of the High Speed Rail stations so you can avoid having to drive in the cities.

Guting is not the old town area, btw.

The Central Cross Mountain Highway, which you’d have to take from Sun Moon Lake to Hualian, has VERY pretty high mountain scenery, the highest car park of Taiwan (at 3275m) and Taroko Gorge as a final highlight. I took it twice and would do it again.
Unfortunately, there is no public transport, as far as I know. Some crazy people do it by scooter, but I wouldn’t recommend that. The road is quite crowded on weekends between Puli and the top (Hehuanshan) and again in the gorge.

Have a nice trip,


Oh, the trip from Sun Moon Lake to Hualien takes at least 6 hours - and you WANT to see the scenery!
So it’s better not to start in the afternoon.


And “for some”, being a space tourist on a trip to the International Space Station is affordable too, so it seems…

Has anyone driven that road in recent years and has any experience to share?

Which one, Hwy 14? Pretty common. One of the best-known mountain highways in Taiwan. Our last time was like 2.5 years ago, we had a superb evening sky at Wuling.

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Highway 14 is only to Renai according to Wikipedia, not all the way to Hualien, right?

I just wanted to check whether people would recommend driving between Hualien and Renai these days or if there are any hazards to be aware about these days (i.e. frequent road closures on rainy days, traffic congestion, …).

So far, I have visited Taroko once with a 1-day guided bus tour from and to Hualien, but I am thinking about driving with my parents to Hualien and then to the Sun Moon Lake when they come to visit Taiwan next month.

So I’d book one night in Hualien, plan a full day for the drive to the Sun Moon Lake (and visiting the Taroko Gorge on the way) and then maybe another two days there.

Just not fully sure what to expect on that drive - other than to plan plenty of time apparently.

Of course, you have to take Hwy 8 from Hualien/Taroko, then switch to the 14a (甲) at Dayuling and the 14 at Ren’ai. You probably won’t even notice when that happens.

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Beware of road closures. The road is often under repair due to its fragility. They’ll post the opening/closing hours beforehand if they do close it down. You don’t want to be stuck at 3,000 meters with nothing to do for hours.

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