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National Palace Museum (故宫博物院), Taipei

Taipei . 2015 . Jan 17

This post is part of our Taipei Trip Report and Itinerary. Do check out the full itinerary and our reviews here.

It was already mid-day when we left Little Three (小三美日) to go to the National Palace Museum (故宫博物院).  Fortunately, the metro station that we were headed for (Shilin Station 士林捷運站) was on the same Red Line (Tamsui-Xinyi Line 淡水信義線) as Dong Men station (東門捷運站).

At Shilin Station (士林捷運站).  This metro station may be called Shilin Station (士林捷運站), but it is not the nearest metro station to get to Shilin Night Market (士林夜市).  To get to Shilin Night Market (士林夜市), the nearest station is Jian Tan station (劍潭) on the same line (Red Line).

At the control station at Shilin Station (士林捷運站).  The staff must have gotten so tired of answering every tourist’s questions about getting to the National Palace Museum (故宫博物院) that they pasted this at their office.

The official directions to the National Palace Museum (故宫博物院):  Exit Shilin Station (士林捷運站) from Exit 1, and take one of the following buses - Red 30, 304, 255, or 815.

Leaving Shilin Station (士林捷運站) from Exit 1.

Lots of shops, small cafes and restaurants lining both sides of Exit 1.  Continue to walk ahead and turn right (i think so, right?) where there is an crowded outdoor bus stop where it seemed that everyone wanted to go to the National Palace Museum.  All the buses  (Red 30, 304, 255, or 815) that goes from Shilin Station (士林捷運站) to the National Palace Museum (故宫博物院) makes a stop at this bus stop.

We took the Red 30 to the Museum because it was the first to arrive.  According to the super-friendly bus driver who insists on giving a loud commentary to a super-packed bus, the Red 30 is the only bus from Shilin Station (士林捷運站) that stops directly outside the ticketing office and entrance to the National Palace Museum (故宫博物院).

At the National Palace Museum (故宫博物院) stop.

Looking down at the lower entrance to the National Palace Museum (故宫博物院), where the other buses stop at. Lucky us! We need not climb that slope up!

We came into a packed podium at the National Palace Museum.  Loads of tour buses bringing truckloads of other tourists from Korea and China.

Bought our tickets and tried to enter the National Palace Museum, but we were stopped and asked to deposit our bags and cameras at the free lockers. Might as well, because the shopping I did at Little Three (小三美日) was starting to weigh me down.

The horrendous queues for group entrances.  Fortunately I do not belong to tour groups.

I didn’t realize that photography was not allowed in the National Palace Museum (故宫博物院) and snapped a few before Tommy stopped me.  This is a replica of a typical living quarters in the Qing Dynasty.

The National Palace Museum carries the imperial collections started by the emperors of the various dynasty in China and continued until the last emperor Pu Yi was forced from the Forbidden City in China. Following the World War and the civil unrest that followed after that, the cream of these treasures were relocated from China to Taiwan as a means of safe-keeping it.  It has remained in Taiwan since then.

It will take hours to scour through the entire Museum, but these two exhibits count towards the most famous exhibits that the National Palace Museum houses and should never be missed:

Jadite Cabbage

This cabbage (or Bok Choy as the Chinese call it), is carved out of jade and is only 18.7cm long!  It dates back to the Qing dynasty, meaning that this exquisite workmanship was in existence almost 300 years back. When we visited the National Palace Museum almost a decade ago, renovations at the museum was on-going.  This piece of gem was still on display despite the renovations but no one wanted to see it, so we could loiter around and stare all we wanted.  Fast forward to 2015 - this Jadite Cabbage was on display, but tourists have to queue outside the exhibition hall for a chance to march pass the exhibit at a walking pace - cannot stop and scrutinise.  There are two grasshoppers camouflaged in the leaves of the cabbage - how to see them if we cannot stop for a while!

Meat-shaped Stone

Carved out of a natural jasper stone, this gem of the National Palace Museum is often displayed together with the Jadeite Cabbage. Also crafted during the Qing dynasty, this piece of Dong Po’ meat looks just like the real deal.

After lunch at the teahouse/restaurant San Xi Tang (三希堂) within the museum, we explored the compound outside National Palace Museum.

At the souvenir shop of the National Palace Museum.  We could not take photos of the real jadeite cabbage and the meat-shaped stone because photography was not allowed in the National Palace Museum.  So I snapped the replicas of them sold at the souvenir shop, before the shop assistant snapped at me that photography was not allowed in the souvenir shop either.  Seriously! What’s the use of a camera if I can’t use it!

The National Palace Museum is ranked as one of the most visited museums in the world.  If you plan on visiting the National Palace Museum, budget plenty of time to wonder around this huge place.  It would be best if you could be there in the early morning when the Museum opens to avoid the crowds from tour buses.  If you visit in the afternoon like we did, chances are that a steady stream of tour guides and the tourists they bring will be perpetually plastered around the famous exhibits.

National Palace Museum
No.221, Sec. 2, Zhishan Rd.,
Shilin Dist.,
Taipei City 11143,
Taiwan (R.O.C.)

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This post is part of our Taipei Trip Report and Itinerary. Do check out the full itinerary and our reviews here.

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