Sun Moon Lake (日月潭; Rìyuè Tán) is on the itinerary of every Chinese group tour to Taiwan, so expect hordes of tourists year-round. But do not be deterred by the crowds – at an altitude of 762m, this largest body of fresh water in Taiwan is one of the island’s most lovely natural vistas. While boating is popular, hiking and biking allow you to get off the beaten path while staying on the tourist trail.
Sun Moon Lake is part of the 90-sq-km Sun Moon Lake National Scenic Area under the control of the central government. Accommodation is more than plentiful, with the majority of hotels centred in Shueishe Village (水社村) and Itashao (伊達邵). Itashao is not the quiet backwater it once was, though the strong presence of the Thao (the area's original inhabitants) is a very obvious contrast to the predominantly Taiwanese atmosphere at Shueishe.