How to Book Taichung to Sun Moon Lake Bus Tickets Online

How to take the bus from Taichung to Sun Moon Lake

One of the most popular bus routes among visitors to Taiwan is Taichung to Sun Moon Lake (and Sun Moon Lake back to Taichung).

Because of the high demand for this bus, there is often a long line. At peak times, some passengers won’t be able to get on. For those who swipe EasyCard or buy bus tickets on Klook, it will be first-come-first-served.

Only those who book their Taichung to Sun Moon Lake bus tickets online will have reserved seats. In this article, I will give step-by-step instructions for doing exactly that. I’ve personally tested this system to make sure it works.

Taichung to Sun Moon Lake Bus Info

Aerial view of Sun Moon Lake surrounded by forests
Beautiful Sun Moon Lake
  • For the Taichung Sun Moon Lake bus timetable, click here.
  • You can only reserve seats from Gancheng Station Nantou Bus Company (here one block north of Taichung train station in the city center) or Taichung HSR station to Sun Moon Lake, or from SML back to those two stations.
  • Reservations can be made up to two weeks in advance. You can book 1-4 seats at a time. For a return trip, you’ll need to make two separate bookings. Seats can’t be booked for Lunar New Year or some major long weekends.
  • Remember that kids age 0-5 ride free but won’t get a seat. Kids aged 6-12 can book discounted tickets (50% off, I’ll show how below) and will get a seat.

Steps to Buy Bus Tickets from Taichung to Sun Moon Lake

In order to reserve seats on the bus from Taichung to Sun Moon Lake (or Sun Moon Lake to Taichung), you’ll need to

  • Sign up for an account on the bus company website
  • Book your seats and receive a QR code
  • Take that QR code to the counter at the station and pay at least 20 minutes before the departure time.

Here are each of those steps in detail:

Step 1: Sign up for Nantou Bus Company Membership

Before you can book bus tickets to Sun Moon Lake, you need to register an account on the Nantou bus company website.

A screenshot of the Nantou Bus Company website homepage, with an image of Sun Moon Lake, and "profile" selected at the top right.
Nantou Bus Company Homepage

Go to the Nantou Bus Company homepage. Click the globe icon at the top right and change the language to English (simplified Chinese, Japanese, and Korean are also available).

Then click the person icon (Login), as highlighted at the top-right corner in the above screenshot.

Screenshot of a login page, with option to key in accoiunt and password, Login with Facebook, or the word "Join" circled in green
Click “Join” to create an account.

In the subsequent pop-up, click “Join”, as circled in green in the above screenshot.

Screenshot of a sign up page, with spaces to add email, password, and so on.
Key in your personal info

Next, you’ll need to fill in the above form. I suggest you use your name as it appears in your passport.

For the password, even though it doesn’t mention this, you will need to use a combination of at least 3 of the following: lower case letter, upper case letter, number, and/or special character.

After you agree to the terms and click “Submit”, you’ll receive an email. Open the email and click the blue link in it to verify your email.

Step 2: Login and Reserve Bus Seats

Once you click the link in the email, your email will be verified, and it should redirect you to the login screen. If it doesn’t, go back to the homepage and click the person icon.

Screenshot of a website with white background and two boxes, one of the left indicating bus tickets from Taichung to Sun Moon Lake, and one of the right showing the reverse, with lots of Mandarin words on them explaining how they work.
Taichung to SML (left) and SML to Taichung (right)

Log in to your account using your email and the password you created when signing up. Then scroll down to see the two options for Sun Moon Lake tickets (see above screenshot).

The one on the left says 干城 (Gancheng) to 高鐵 (HSR) to 日月潭 (Sun Moon Lake). The one on the right says the opposite (Sun Moon Lake to Taichung HSR or Gancheng Station).

Click whichever one you want to purchase. Alternatively, you can click here to go to the Taichung to Sun Moon Lake ticket page or click here to go to the Sun Moon Lake to Taichung ticket page.

Screenshot of a webpage for booking bus ticket from Taichung to Sun Moon Lake, with lots of instructions in Mandarin
Taichung to Sun Moon Lake bus ticket booking page

Above, I’ve clicked the option for buying a bus ticket from Taichung (Gancheng or HSR) to Sun Moon Lake.

All those Mandarin words highlighted in red are the instructions for how to reserve your seats. Annoyingly, they’ve posted it as an image, so you can’t copy paste them to a translator. You can use the image translation function on GoogleTranslate if you want. But don’t worry, I’ll be covering all these instructions below.

Simply click the red “Buy Now” button at the top-right.

Screenshot of a bus booking page, with option to choose departure and arrival place, calendar or dates, a bus time selection, and the price on the right
Choose the date and time you want.

The next step is straightforward. Select your starting point (Taichung Gancheng Station or Taichung HSR Station). Sun Moon Lake Station is your only arrival option.

Choose the date you want (ones with seats will say “Available” in green). Note that in the above screenshot, they don’t sell reserved seats for the Lunar New Year holiday (Feb 7 to 15 in 2024). According to the website, those days will only be first-come-first-served and there will be additional buses to meet the demand. This could also happen for certain long weekends.

After selecting the date, choose the bus time you want from the drop down list. Note that only 10 seats per bus are available for online booking.

Under quantity, the top option (NT$193) is for adult tickets. The bottom option (NT$96) is for kids age 6-12.

Once you’ve made your selections, click the red “Next: Add to Cart” button on the right.

Screenshot of a Sun Moon Lake bus ticket order with button to "Proceed to Payment"
Confirm the details.

On the above page, double-check the details then click “Proceed to Payment” (even though you won’t be paying online).

You’ll see the below list of instructions in Mandarin. Feel free to copy-paste them to a translator, but the instructions and very long and confusing, so I suggest you don’t bother. Just click “I agree”.

Screenshot of a pop-up with long list of bus ticket booking instructions in Mandarin and English red "I agree" button at bottom
Click “I Agree”

On the following page, you’ll need to input your name, phone number, and email. The phone number is not important. I input my Canadian phone number (10 digits) and it worked.

If you don’t have a 10-digit phone number, just make one up. The email is most important because that’s where you will receive the ticket.

Screenshot of bus booking page with option (in Mandarin) to pick up tickets on site
Option to 現場付款 (Pay on site)

After inputting your personal info, scroll down and you will see the above screenshot. Note that this particular bus route doesn’t have the option to pay with credit card (option 1 in red).

It only has option 2 in red, which is 現場付款 (Pay on site). The option is already selected for you (note the blue dot). This means that you will pay for the ticket on site (at the bus station) when you get there.

On some other Nantou bus routes, it is possible to pay online with credit card, but apparently not this one. This caused me some confusion at first (see why below) but I am now sure of it.

Don’t worry about the Promo code unless you happen to have one. Click “Proceed to payment”.

Screenshot of a Bus ticket and QR code from taichung to Sun Moon Lake
Bus reservation QR Code

So here is where I got very confused. After I clicked “Proceed to payment”, there was no payment screen. Instead, I got the above screen, with QR code for my seat reservation. It even says “Paid” on orange. WTH?

Well, reader, welcome to Taiwanese websites. They are always this confusing. Hence why I have to write guides like this.

If you see a screen like this with QR code, your seat is reserved. Ignore the word “Paid”. Because we selected 現場付款 (pay on site) on the last page (it was the only option), we will be paying at the station.

You will also receive an email at this time which contains the same information and QR code. Your seat is booked! You won’t know your seat number until you get to the station.

Step 3: Pay at Station

A bus company ticket desk with two staff members
Nantou Bus Company desk at Taichung HSR station

After receiving your QR code, there’s nothing else you need to do until your date of travel.

On that day, you’ll need to check in at your departure station. The locations of the ticket windows to check in are the Nantou bus ticket window here at Gancheng Station, the Nantou bus desk by Exit 5 on the first floor of Taichung HSR station (see HSR station map), or here at Sun Moon Lake.

You must arrive at the desk at least 20 minutes before your departure time (I suggest even earlier in case there is a line). If you check in less than 20 minutes early, you may lose your reservation.

Show the QR code to the staff member (find it in the email you received or by logging in to the Nantou Bus Company website, clicking the person icon, and then clicking on the ticket).

Credit card may be accepted, but make sure to have some cash on you in case it is not accepted or the machine doesn’t like your card (I have mixed results all over Taiwan when trying to use my foreign credit card).

After you pay, you’ll receive a physical bus ticket. Proceed to the platform or bus stop and line up. At the HSR station, you’ll want Platform 3. According to the instructions on the site, you should be at the platform at least 10 minutes before the departure time.

When the bus comes, if space on it is limited, the driver will check to see who in the line has booked seats. Since you do, you should get priority entrance on the bus. Those who are swiping with EasyCard or Klook vouchers will get last priority.

And that’s it. Enjoy the ride!

Note: There is space under the bus for luggage. You can also store luggage in lockers at Taichung HSR Station, Taichung Train Station, or here at Sun Moon Lake. See my guide to using luggage lockers in Taiwan.

Step 4: Missed Bus or Canceling a Ticket

Screenshot of a bus ticket booking, with the word "refund request" circled in red.
How to cancel the ticket

If you didn’t check in and you miss the bus, nothing will happen, since you haven’t paid yet.

However, if you do this three or more times, your account will be blacklisted and you won’t be able to book any more tickets online. The site doesn’t say for how long, but on Taiwan’s train booking website, it is for one month.

If you want to cancel your ticket so the above doesn’t happen, log in to your account, click the person icon, then click the green “Refund Request” button on the bottom left (see above screenshot).

A pop-up with many words in Mandarin explaining the terms of a bus ticket cancelation and button at bottom to agree
Agree to the cancellation/refund terms

There will be a popup with Mandarin words. Click the box beside 我同意退款條款 (I agree) at the bottom and click the green “I agree” button.

That’s all you need to do. If you go back to your ticket page, you’ll see that it now says your refund request has been submitted. It takes some time to go through. You’ll receive one email saying it has been submitted and another one later when the cancellation is confirmed.

Since we haven’t paid for this ticket, there’s no charge. But in cases where you can pay for the ticket online, there will be a TWD 30 cancellation fee.

1 thought on “How to Book Taichung to Sun Moon Lake Bus Tickets Online”

  1. A very detailed guide. It may probably be crowded during certain period. I went there in December 2023 morning from Taichung HSR. Used my easy card. No problem getting the bus with only a small queue. When the queue gets long, they probably arrange special bus to shorten the queue. This bus probably goes to sun moon lake straight rather than stopping at certain stop.

    In addition there is 6670A to 6670F. Some will reach faster and some will reach slower. But the time difference could be like 10mins.

    Easy card are slightly cheaper as well for those who are looking for saving every single cent.

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