Climb the Ci-en Pagoda And See Syuentzang Temple On Sun Moon Lake

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One of the first stops on my tour around Taiwan was Sun Moon Lake and the Ci-en Pagoda (sometimes spelled Ci’en Pagoda). I had seen pictures of Sun Moon Lake (sometimes called Lalu Lake) but didn’t know anything about it (some things never change!)

I don’t remember a ton about our visit to Cien Pagoda and Syuentzang Temple but I do know that I really loved both.

Ci-en Pagoda on Sun Moon Lake

We started with a stop at Cien Pagoda where we took the short paved hiking trail to the top of the mountain. It wasn’t a super difficult hike as it’s short but it is uphill.

Once we made it to the top of the hill we then had to climb the nine stores to the top of the pagoda. It was nothing compared to the 768 spiral steps I climbed at the cathedral in Ulm, Germany!

At the top we were rewarded with stunning views of Sun Moon Lake below and the mountains all around us. It was truly beautiful and I would definitely go back.

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View from Cien Pagoda sun moon lake taiwan
View of Sun Moon Lake from Cien Pagoda

Ci-en Pagoda history

The Ci en Pagoda is one of the most prominent landmarks on Sun Moon Lake in central Taiwan.

It sits atop Shabalan Mountain, which is 654 meters high, and with it’s 46-meter height, it’s top comes out at a perfect 1000 meters above sea level.

It’s in a traditional Chinese style and is made up of nine stories. When you visit you can climb to the top for unbelievable views of Sun Moon Lake and surrounding mountains.

It was one of President Chiang Kai Shek’s favorite places to visit and the front building was used as his rest house.

Where is the Ci-en Pagoda?

The Ci en Pagoda is on the south shore of Sun Moon Lake in the Yuchi Township of Nantou County Taiwan. It is one of the most prominent features of Sun Moon Lake.

Cien Pagoda sun moon lake taiwan
Bell at the top of Cien Pagoda

Ci-en Pagoda Trail

There is a short 0.4 mile (700 meter) paved trail to get from the parking area to the Ci en Pagoda. It’s is mostly paved with some stairs and not to difficult. You will have too climb stairs in the pagoda, too.

Ci-en Pagoda entrance fee

There is no entrance fee for Ci en Pagoda.

Ci-en Pagoda opening hours

Ci en Pagoda is open from 9 AM to 4:30 PM daily.

Is the Ci-en Pagoda worth visiting?

Absolutely! While the pagoda itself is amazing, the views of Sun Moon Lake below and the surrounding mountains are absolutely beautiful.

Ci-en Pagoda FAQ

Have a question about Ci’en Pagoda? Maybe I answered it here! If not, ask in the comments and I’ll answer there!

How tall is the Ci-en Pagoda? 160 feet (46 meters)

How old is the Ci-en Pagoda? It was finished in 1971. I was expecting it to be way before that!

Who built the Ci-en Pagoda? Chiang Kai Shek!

Book a 5-day Taiwan highlights tour here!

Syuentzang Temple (Xuanzang Temple) on Sun Moon Lake

after finishing up over at Ci en Pagoda, we continued a short way down the road around Sun Moon Lake to Syuentzang Temple. I had never heard of this but ended up loving it.

There is a short walk from the parking area up to the temple on the Qinglong Mountain Trail. I have no recollection of this trail but it’s short and likely pretty easy.

I didn’t think we were able to into Xuanzang Temple when I was there but looking at my pictures, the doors were open.

So I either went in and didn’t take pictures (very possible) and just don’t remember that at all, or I just didn’t go in (also very possible).

As you walk up to the temple you walk through a beautiful white and orange gate to enter the temple grounds.

I think we were fairly limited on our time here as I remember spending most of it just right around the main building you see as you enter, but there is also a museum here.

Even though we didn’t have long here, I really liked it and would love to go back with a new appreciation for this kind of stop.

View from Xuanzang Temple Sun moon Lake Taiwan
View of Sun Moon Lake from Xuanzang Temple trailhead

Syuentzang Temple history

The Xuanzang Temple is a beautiful temple on Sun Moon Lake in Taiwan built in the Tang Dynasty architectural style.

The front of the temple faces Sun Moon Lake while the back faces Qinglong Mountain. It’s named after the Buddhist monk Xuangzang from the Tang Dynasty.

He was ordered by the emperor to bring the Buddhist scriptures back, which he did. He returned ten years later with 650 sutras of which he translated 75 sections with his disciples.

In WWII, his remains were stolen from Nanjing by the Japanese to be enshrined and worshiped at the Jion-ji temple in Japan

In 1955 his remains were brought to Xuanguang Temple on Sun Moon Lake before being brought to Xuanzang Temple when it was finished in 1965 where they remain today.

Where is Syuentzang Temple?

Xuanzang Temple is in the Yuchi Township of Nantou, Taiwan. It’s on the south side of the beautiful Sun Moon Lake.

It’s not right on the shore but up in the hills a bit. The temple is two minutes from Ci en Pagoda.

Xuanzang Temple Sun moon Lake Taiwan
Xuanzang Temple entrance gate

Qinglong Mountain Trail

The 0.34 mile (560 meters) Qinglong Mountain Trail starts at the Xuanguang Temple Wharf and takes you to Syuentzang Temple.

It’s an easy trail with some stairs and only takes a few minutes to get to the temple.

Syuentzang Temple entrance fee

There is no entrance fee for Xuanzang Temple.

Syuentzang Temple opening hours

I’ve seen that Syuentzang Temple is open from 5 AM to 5 PM daily (Sun Moon Lake Website) and 7:30 AM to 5 PM (Google). I would plan to go after 7:30 AM just to be on the safe side.

Can you visit Cien Pagoda and Syuentzang Temple in one day?

Yes! Neither stop takes too long and you could also visit Wen Wu Temple in the same days as Cien Pagoda and Syuentzang Temple.

Is Syuentzang Temple worth visiting?

Yes! While we didn’t go in, I really loved it here. The Xuanzang Temple was so beautiful and and the grounds were really nice. I would definitely recommend going if you’re visiting Sun Moon Lake.

Syuentzang Temple FAQs

Have a question about Xuanzang Temple? Maybe I answered it here! If not, ask in the comments and I’ll answer there!

How old is the Syuentzang Temple? It was finished in 1965.

Who built the Syuentzang Temple? Xuanzang Temple was built by Nantou County Government in honor of a prominent Buddhist monk, Hsuan-tsang.

Can you go in Syuentzang Temple? I believe so but we weren’t able to when I was there. I’m not sure why.

Book a 5-day Taiwan highlights tour here!

Where to stay in Sun Moon Lake

Hotel Del Lago – I stayed there and it was awesome! It’s right by the shore of Sun Moon Lake in Nantou. Some rooms even have balconies!

Sun Moon Lake Hotel– This one comes with breakfast and is also right on the shore of Sun Moon Lake in Nantou. You can enjoy fantastic views of the lake and mountains, and they even have a hot tub!

缽割貓點點 青旅 DianDian hostel – Check out this super cool-looking hostel in the Puli Township area of Nantou, near Sun Moon Lake. They even welcome pets!

See Moon B&B – This adorable B&B is located right in the heart of Nantou, on Sun Moon Lake. They offer breakfast too, and it looks really cute!

The Lalu, Sun Moon Lake – This place is stunning and modern. You’ll be treated to breathtaking views of the lake, and they even have a spa on-site!

What else is near Syuentzang Temple and Ci-en Pagoda?

  • Xuanguang Temple
  • Xuanguang Pier
  • Tutungzai Hiking Trail
  • Ita Thao Zhulu Market
  • Xiangshang Visitor Center
  • The Paper Dome

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Have you been to the Cien Pagoda or Xuanzang Temple?  What did you think of them? Do you want to go?  

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