If one place in Taiwan is enough to make all of the People's Republic of China jealous it's the National Palace Museum. One of Taiwan's great national treasures, the National Palace Museum houses a whopping 700,000 pieces of ancient artefacts and artworks encompassing over 8,000 years of Chinese history. No surprise then that it's one of Taipei's unmissable attractions.
A contentious museum due to the history, the story goes that during the Chinese Civil War, General Chiang Kai-shek made the bold move to evacuate many of China's art collection to Taiwan. In doing so he avoided Mao and the Communist Party's cultural war against Nationalist Party China and allowed Taiwan to claim what is widely regarded as the world's greatest accumulation of Chinese art.
Many of the museum's works were themselves personally collected by China's ancient emperors and the museum's displays are so rare that lovers and scholars of Chinese history travel from all over the world just to visit the National Palace Museum. Amongst the treasures on display is a collection of painting, calligraphy, statues, ceramic and jade, some of which date back thousands of years. Be careful not to miss museum highlights, including the boat carved from an olive stone, the Bell of Zhou and the Jade Cabbage.
One thing you might want to miss though is the crowd. You'll probably be used to big groups of tourists after a few days of sightseeing in Taipei, but still it's an idea to have your Oolong tea a little earlier and get to the museum at 8:30am to avoid the tour groups. An afternoon visit when the museum quietens down again is the second best time to make the trip. After your visit you can head to the nearby Chih Shan Park to unwind with a peaceful view of the majestic museum facade.