National Palace Museum - How to go, tips and tricks | Travel the World

National Palace Museum - How to go, tips and tricks

National Palace Museum (NPM). The no. 1 place to see in Taiwan. There is no doubt that it's so popular and not missed by international visitors. The Europeans love to see this place, the Japanese too! With its 700,000 collections, it holds the most beautiful pieces that shows the rich millenia of Chinese history.

To help promote the museum, NPM invited bloggers and media men from Southeast Asia to attract more visitors from Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand and Singapore. The Travel in Asia website (aka luomujie blog) felt so honored to be part of such media trip. We were brought to two its branches, the well-known National Palace Museum in Taipei and the Southern Branch located in Chiayi.

I made this guide based on my experiences on the media trip. This will be helpful to you if you plan to visit Taipei and see the National Palace Museum.

1. QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ABOUT THE NATIONAL PALACE MUSEUM

1.1 Where is the National Palace Museum located?

The National Palace Museum (NPM) is located in two places, Taipei and Chiayi. The main branch is simply called as NPM and is in Taipei. It houses the original collections that came from mainland China. The one in Chiayi is the Southern Branch and is just starting to grow its own set of pieces to show to its visitors.

1.2 How to go to the National Palace Museum in Taipei?

Board the Taipei MRT (Red Line) and get off at Jiantan Station -> Transfer to Bus R30 (Red 30) -> Get off at at the National Palace Museum stop [Google Map].

1.3 How to go to the Southern Branch of the National Palace Museum in Chiayi?

a.  Ride the HSR to Chiayi Station -> Exit 2 -> transfer to Bus 106 (Taiwan Tour Bus Southern Branch of NPM route).  You can get your 20% discounted HSR tickets via Klook. [Reserve here]

Tip: There is a free shuttle bus going to NPM but it's bus stop is located near Exit 3 of HSR Chiayi Station with no indicator or label that it's a bus stop.  Just look for bus timetable below.

b. by tripool taxi [Reserve here]:

You can start your trip from Taoyuan Airport and go directly to the Southern Branch of NPM in Chiayi.  If you're going as a group, you can save some money compared when your ride the HSR to Chiayi plus add the fact that you have to wait for the Taiwan Tour Bus.

If your preferred airline has a service or route to Kaohsiung, you can start your tripool journey at Kaohsiung Airport instead of Taoyuan Airport


1.4 What are the opening hours of NPM?


Opening hours of NPM and its Southern Branch
Monday to FridaySaturday to Sunday
National Palace Museum Main Building (Taipei)08:30 to 18:30
(18:30 - 21:00 extension every Fridays)
08:30 to 18:30
(18:30 - 21:00 extension every Saturday)
Southern Branch of the National Palace Museum09:00 to 17:00
(closed on Mondays)
09:00 to 18:00

1.5 What is the difference between the National Palace Museum in Taipei and Chiayi?

The National Palace Museum in Taipei is the original one and houses the 700,000 pieces full of rich Chinese history. The one in Chiayi is the Southern Branch and has a strong focus on Asia as a whole. So if you want to see pottery from Vietnam, you should go to the Southern Branch of National Palace Museum.

1.6 Can I take photos and videos at NPM?

Taking photos and videos are allowed as long as there is no flash and you don't use any tripod or selfie stick.

1.7 Do I need to join the guided tour to explore the National Palace Museum?

Having visited the museum many times, I recommend registering online [Reserve here] (sometimes the site is down)for the English-guided tour. Your expert tour guide will act as your story teller, revealing many things up to the tiny details of each artifact. These guides are volunteers but have undergone intense training. There is a big difference on going to NPM without a guide and seeing the items inside, compared to joining a guided tour where you get to interact and ask questions from someone who has deep knowledge about Chinese history.

1.8 What is the most important thing to see at the National Palace Museum?

You should look for the so-called "star pieces" of the museum. They are the Jadeite Cabbage and the Meat-shaped Stone. The two precious treasures used to be housed together in one of the galleries of the Taipei branch. With the opening of the Southern Branch in Chiayi, one item is relocated to keep the balance of visitors between the two branches of the museum.

Jadeite Cabbage


Not made of plastic but of a rare type of jade called jadeite.

The Jadeite Cabbage is one of the two star pieces of the National Palace Museum. It symbolizes purity and fertility. Look closely and you will see insects hiding on the leaves.

You have to see it in person and you will be surprised that it looks so real!


Meat-shaped Stone


When Philippine pork "adobo" is immortalized as a stone, it will look like this.

Creative craftsmen in ancient China transformed jasper stone into this juicy looking meat-shaped rock. The skin on top with fat underneath makes it so intriguing. How come they were able to do this?

Together with the Jadeite Cabbage, they are the star pieces of the National Palace Museum (NPM).


As of this writing, the Meat-shaped Stone can be found in Chiayi while the Jadeite Cabbage rests comfortably at the Taipei branch.  But on January 1 to May 24, 2020, the Jadeite Cabbage will be displayed at the Southern Branch.

2. ONLINE TICKETS FOR THE NATIONAL PALACE MUSEUM

You can get book your ticket for the National Palace Museum at Klook. You can also buy your tickets at the museum. Some travellers prefer to buy online so they can get bargain discounts if they use a promo code. Regular ticket price for the Taipei branch: NTD 350. At the Southern Branch: NTD 150

3. SOUVENIR SHOP

Try to bring home these two. The first one is the glow in the dark Jadeite Cabbage keychain. It costs NTD 150. The second item is more useful and it's neck pillow and is inspired by the hairstyles of women in ancient China during the Tang Dynasty. The packaging more like illustrates a Japanese woman. It has a price tag of NTD 680.

Jadeite Cabbage glow in the dark keychain, price: NTD 150

Tang Dynasty neck pillow, price NTD 680

4. SUGGESTED ITINERARY

1-day in Taipei: National Palace Museum -> Shilin Night Market -> shopping at Ximending

1-day in Chiayi via Taiwan Tour Bus (Bus 106):  HSR Chiayi Station -> Southern Branch of NPM -> Bantaoyao -> National Chung Cheng University (aka Meteor Garden School) -> TRA Chiayi Station

2-day trip in Chiayi: Follow the 1-day itinerary in Chiayi above.  For Day 2, go to Alishan Forest Recreation Area

5. THE NATIONAL PALACE MUSEUM in TAIPEI


The building of the National Palace Museum. Originally built during the '60s, it has expanded to house its 700,000 collections. Its structure resembles the grandiose style of a Chinese palace. Great for taking selfies when you visit Taipei.

My fellow bloggers and I were given a green vest so we that all the staff will know, that we were given the permit to photograph and record videos inside the galleries.



One of the mistakes that visitors do when visiting the National Palace Museum, is not taking advantage of the English-guided tours. It's difficult to appreciate and understand the meaning and significance of every artifact in the museum, unless you have an expert guide that will act as your story teller.

As part of this media fam trip, bloggers and members of the press from Southeast Asia were given audio receivers. We tuned in to channel 1 and listened to every exciting story that our guide has told us.


We were lucky to have a Filipino-Taiwanese as our tour guide at the National Palace Museum (NPM). She is Ms. Jerry and had 15 years of experience as a volunteer tour guide at NPM. With her strong interest in Chinese history, she made it easy for the members of the media trip to explore the greatest treasures of the museum.


Being a tour guide at NPM is not easy. Because they're doing it for free. They undergo intense training and have to pass exams before becoming a full-fledged guide.




Jadeite Cabbage


Jadeite Cabbage

the original vase or holder of the Jadeite Cabbage

It was my fourth time to visit the National Palace Museum (NPM) during the media tour. There were no guides to help me understand the collections on my first three visits. But whenever I come close to a group with an English-speaking guide, I tried to eavesdropped to know what was being discussed.

And I discovered that each tour guide at NPM has a favorite item at the museum.

So on this media trip, Ms. Jerry introduced us to her personal favorite. The "fat lady". It's a Japanese-looking figurine wearing a long dress. At first glance, it will give you a hint that it's a Japanese woman. But the caption at its bottom will tell you that it is still part of Chinese heritage.


Ms. Jerry told us that the Japanese copied the Tang Dynasty. The lady is fat because during those times, being fat is synonymous to being wealthy. She wears a long dress that touches the ground, covering her shoes. To prevent her from stumbling, the arched shoes were made part of the dress. She would only need to insert her feet inside so she can walk normally.

This is the reason why you need to join the guided tour to fully appreciate the collections at the National Palace Museum. If not, you can try to eavesdrop. Haha!




100 deers vase


something like a jewelry that is placed on top of the hat of royalties or palace officials in the olden times.

The colored blue vase has a revolving piece inside.  It is said to be a toy of the emperor.

It can be quite overwhelming to hear so much information for a short period of time. But you can always ask your guide to help you know the most important aspect of every artifact that you will see at NPM.

6. SOUTHERN BRANCH OF THE NATIONAL PALACE MUSEUM

The Southern Branch of the National Palace Museum boasts an artificial lake and a building which is inspired from the dualism of yin and yang. The view from afar would make anyone think that you are in a far away land.

Jhihmei Bridge and the building of the Southern Branch of NPM
Portions of the Southern Branch of NPM is made of glass and this allows natural lighting to come inside the building.  In this photo, the Jhihmei Bridge can be seen from the 3rd floor of the museum.

Every tour at Southern Branch of NPM starts by climbing this staircase.  So visitors start from the third floor, to the second and down to the first floor.

ticket at the Southern Branch of NPM.  You can buy your tickets at the lobby of the museum (the second floor).

Before we entered the galleries, bloggers and members of the media from Southeast Asia were lead to a scale model of the building.  This is to show the what the NPM in Chiayi looks like from above.



In my opinion, the building has a double S shape. The galleries are actually very huge compared to the branch in Taipei and there are still lots of spaces. But compared to the northern branch, the Southern Branch still needs to catch up in terms of its collections.

Walking on the hallways of the Southern Branch of NPM is like doing a stroll inside a mall.
Southern Branch of NPM building

Some of the interesting things I saw inside were the Vietnamese lingam and the chamber pot that are used by women in the olden times.  Pots and vases are typical items of the National Palace Museum and I was not amused with them anymore.


Vietnamese lingam

a chamber pot
a section about Korean ceramics
Like its counterpart in Taipei, special exhibits are held on the Southern Branch of NPM.  During my visit, a gallery was full of items and displays all about Thailand.

process of making boiled tea during the Sung Dynasty

Having been to the National Palace Museum in Taipei many times, some of the items displayed here at the Southern Branch were familiar such as the item below.


But the most important item at the Southern Branch is the Meat-shaped Stone. The lighting here is better compared to its gallery in Taipei and I find it easier to take photos of the famous juicy pork.


Aside from the museum pieces, the Southern Branch of NPM has a Children's Creative Center, I got a chance to have a look at it.  I think only those visitors with kids will have time to enter that hall.

The trip ended with a lights show outside the NPM building. Watching the dancing lights while looking at the bridge made me feel that I'm not in Taiwan but in Australia. Unfortunately the lights show is only for a certain period. To attract more visitors, NPM should make this attraction permanent.



THINGS TO DO IN TAIPEI



Sakura Series - Taiwan

Sakura Series - Taiwan


Sakura Series - Japan


Maple Series


Yehliu to Jiufen? Yehliu to Shifen? Cheaper than yellow taxis

The "Taipei kong mahal" (My beloved Taipei)


Other attractions in Taipei


New Taipei


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