Yes, that’s right, while Sun Moon Lake was a natural lake at one time its current shape and depth is a result of a dam constructed back in 1931 when Taiwan was under Japanese rule. This made the lake the largest body of water on the island and changed its shape significantly.
The area was once tribal lands, and as such there are many legends surrounding the lake. The island at the middle of the lake is said to have once split the lake into two distinct sections; one of which resembled a sun while the other a moon. This island is known as Lalu island, and although it is mostly submerged underwater, it is now officially recognized as tribal lands.
On the shores of Sun Moon Lake, there’s a gondola station that takes day trippers up over the mountain to an aboriginal theme park. Here visitors can learn all there is to know about the area and the Thao tribe who still inhabit the valley and the countryside surrounding the lake.
There are many cycle paths that wind their way around the lake’s shore and renting a bike to explore the lake is a must for many visitors. In fact, the views are so amazing that CNN listed the cycle paths around the lake as one of the most breathtaking cycle routes in the world.
The exclusive Lalu Hotel was once the lakeside residence of former military leader and president Chiang Kai-shek. This was where the former dictator used to come to entertain visiting dignitaries, and the hotel retains some artifacts from that time. The property has been completely redeveloped and is now a 5-star resort and rather expensive, to say the least.
A lakeside walkway that runs by the Lalu Hotel takes visitors past the old boathouse of the former president. It’s an interesting place to find something so historic that has been left to the elements. Further along the walk, there’s also a small park with a pavilion – a nice spot to sit and relax.
Each year, thousands of swimmers take to the lake to swim across it. Anyone who has visited the lake will understand that this is no mean feat and yet it’s a hugely popular event with upwards of 10,000 participants each year.
In early spring of each year, the cherry blossoms come into bloom, and the lakeside is awash with color. Many of the walkways and cycle paths are lined by these blossoming trees making for a spectacular setting for holiday snaps.