National Palace Museum Experiences (Southern Branch in Chiayi): History by the Sea

The National Palace Museum, home to more hundreds of thousands of artifacts and relics spanning years of Chinese history, opened its southern branch in Chiayi County in December of 2015. Located in Taibao City, the museum’s main building spans more than 20 hectares, and houses a variety of permanent and temporary exhibits (some shared with the Taipei branch and some unique to the south), as well as a creative center for children. Chiayi County, in Taiwan’s southwest, is home to various scenic areas and wetlands and, while you’re here, you’ll be able to visit places such as Xianghe Leisure Fishery (向禾休閒漁場) to get a taste of local industry, as well as history. Here’s your itinerary for a day of discovery in Chiayi. (You might also like: Netflix’s Love: The Best of Chiayi City’s Iconic Street Foods)

9am – Meet at Chiayi HSR Station

Your day will begin with pickup at Chiayi’s HSR station (one stop from Tainan; two stops from Kaohsiung; eight stops from Taipei). In Taibao City, the station is a convenient arrival point for visitors to the county as it is located near landmarks such as Chiayi County Baseball Stadium, Chang Gung University of Science and Technology and, of course, the southern branch of The National Palace Museum. From here, you’ll be transferred by bus/car to the first stop of your tour: the National Palace Museum.

9.30am – National Palace Museum (Southern branch)

Despite opening as long ago as December 2015, for one reason or another, many foreign visitors to Taiwan do not know about the National Palace Museum’s southern branch. A gorgeous complex, including a manmade lake and a bridge crossing, the design is inspired by three traditional Chinese painting styles (thick ink, ‘flying white’ and ink wash), with elements of Chinese, Persian and Indian influence. The exhibits, while not as vast as those found at the northern branch in Taipei, see National Palace Museum’s southern branch look beyond more than 5,000 years of Chinese history and cover art and culture from all corners of Asia. Permanent exhibits at the museum include Buddhist artworks and Asian textiles, while depending on the time of year you visit, you might get lucky and see famous pieces from the northern museum such as the Jadeite Cabbage. (Read more: [Taiwan Insider] Behind the Scenes at the National Palace Museum)

12.30pm – Lunch at Xianghe Leisure Fishery

All that walking round the museum will help work up an appetite so, for lunch, you’ll head to Xianghe Leisure Fishery (向禾休閒漁場) for some authentic Chiayi seafood fair. Dishes will include seafood porridge (海鮮粥) and a traditional 三道菜 (three main dishes) offering, the latter most likely including steamed fish and tasty veggies.

1.30pm – Seaweed fishing and oyster roasting at Xianghe Leisure Fishery

After your hearty lunch, it’s time to get involved with some fishery activities. So, roll up your sleeves and prepare to get to work! You’ll learn hands-on exactly what it’s like to work at the fishery with this unique, insider experience. You’ll man a fishing boat and trawl for seaweed – a popular ingredient in many Taiwanese snacks and dishes – as well as collect clams and oysters, before being taught how to properly grill them. You’ll also grill your own fish with help from a local expert; a truly authentic (and tasty) experience.(Read also: Cruise Kaohsiung Taiwan Part 3: Kezailiao Fish Market Tour)

3.30pm – Aogu Wetlands and Forest Park

Formerly the base of Taiwan Sugar Corporation, Aogu Wetlands and Forest Park was an area used for farming, fishing, and sugar cane cultivation before rising sea levels invaded the land. As a result, the farm and reservoir areas became natural wetlands, home to all kinds of plant and birdlife. Nowadays, the Forest Park is a popular spot for eco-tourism, as well as ecological research, and you’ll get to marvel at it in person on the final stop of your tour. (You might also like: Birdwatching In Taiwan: Advice from expert to novice)

4.30pm – Return to Chiayi HSR Station

Your tour will conclude with your being dropped back at the HSR station, where you can catch a train to another city, or remain in Taibao and head off and explore what else Chiayi has to offer.

More about National Palace Museum

Taipei branch
Southern branch (Chiayi)