Sights: National Palace Museum

So … it rains a lot here in Taipei.  Here’s a good list of suggestions for what to do on rainy days in Taipei.  One thing you can definitely do is make a visit to the National Palace Museum (aka GuGong) at Shilin.  The museum has 3 floors (well, 5 if you include the giftshop basement & top floor tea house) and a vast collection of artefacts, manuscripts, paintings etc. from the dynasties that ruled over China.  Pretty much what you’d expect from any museum, right?

The museum, obviously, is a stopping point for tour groups, so you’ll sometimes find yourself having to crane your neck around hordes of Koreans, Japanese or Chinese to catch a glimpse.  Going on a rainy day also means that you’ll have more Taiwanese people there too, so it’ll be a busy place.  But don’t let that deter you.  I believe the museum itself also runs English language tours, you can find out more information from their site.

Level 3 is where the ‘big ticket’ displays are. On particularly busy days, the museum will cordon off these sections & regulate the flow of people.  So you may have to line up a little while here.  The rest of level 3, and the rest of the museum is open for you to wander around as you wish.  There’s no eating/drinking allowed inside so make sure you’ve had a good feed before you go in.  Also, there’s no photography allowed & they do keep an eye out for that fairly rigorously.

My tip for tackling the museum would be to start at room 101 (orientation room) to get an idea of the different dynastic periods that are covered at the museum, then make your way directly to level 3 and start from there.  In this way you’ll still be fresh & eager when you get to the main exhibits, rather than doing them at the end when you may be at your wits end.  Work your way down from level 3.  Obviously being a large museum, displays & exhibits do change from time to time.

It’s easy to spend 4 hours plus inside the museum, and you’ll undoubtedly find something there that makes you go “wow, cool/beautiful”.   You can also pick up an audio guide (I didn’t so can’t comment on the usefulness) before heading in.  I would recommend going there with a partner (or group) though.  Going alone can make things fairly monotonous, fairly quickly.

For most, getting there is a combination of MRT & Bus.  The best way is to take the MRT to Shilin station (red line) and then take one of the many buses that go to the museum.  The museum is commonly referred to as GuGong so listen out of that (or ask people using that term). More transport information at the museum’s website.

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