Despite being Tricky Taipei, I figured it was about time I ventured to the south of Taiwan. So a few weeks ago we took the high-speed rail from Taipei mid-morning and arrived in Tainan by noon.

One of the must-visit places in Tainan is Chimei Museum.

It’s hard to describe the experience of going to Chimei Museum but let me try.

Imagine you’ve been in Taiwan for a full week. All day, every day, you’re eating local food like delicious noodles and rice dishes. Inevitably, you find yourself craving — gasp — a burger. And fries. Or a big salad.

chimei museum
chimei museum

Well, going to Chimei Museum is like digging into a juicy burger after weeks of night market food and wontons.

Essentially, it’s a world-class, Western-focused museum that’s so good it’s actually shocking. That’s right. Chimei Museum is shockingly good.

chimei museum

The original Chimei Museum opened in 1992, and was described by Forbes magazine in 1996 as “one of the world’s most surprising art collections”. It’s been at its current location since December 2014.

As part of its permanent exhibitions, you’ll find a breathtaking natural history section, a huge weaponry exhibit, Western art and sculptures, as well as one of the world’s most extensive collections of valuable violins. We were so impressed.

chimei museum

Overall, Chimei Musuem can feel like a weird, cross-cultural experience. I’ll admit I felt surprised that nothing was particularly cheesy or forced.

The staff are knowledgable and enthusiastic. The visitors are genuinely curious and interested in the art and artifacts. The grounds are stunningly beautiful. But most amazingly, everybody inside the museum follows the “no photos” rule.

chimei museum

I know it’s a little strange to describe a Western art museum as a must-see in Tainan, but it’s truly worth spending an afternoon here.

And what I love most is that the locals in Tainan City get free access to such an inspiring place. I can just imagine how seeing the art fuels the creativity of kids in the area.

chimei museum

Just FYI, non-residents of Tainan City need to reserve tickets online for Chimei Museum at least a day in advance. This means you can’t just roll up to the museum and expect to get in. Only Tainan City residents get to be so baller.