Friday, March 1, 2013

Weekend in Taipei @ City Inn Plus Hotel XiMenDing

We went to Taipei last weekend and it was such a pleasant surprise. I have to admit that it may be because our expectations were really low. We planned our Taipei trip because 1. We thought it was a long weekend in celebration of the Edsa Revolution (it turned out to be only a school holiday) 2. We booked cheap tickets 3. We've never been to Taipei but we've heard that the food is good (plus most of my favorite food in Singapore originate from Taiwan - go figure). I honestly thought Taipei would be just like China (I am not really a fan - especially of people spitting where I stand) - but on a smaller scale, so I was very glad to be wrong.

Even before leaving, Taipei already exuded good vibes because Philippine Passport holders are exempt from  getting a visa if you are holding a valid visas for United States, Canada, Japan, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and Schengen countries. You just need to visit this website (, fill in the form, print it out and you are good to go.

We were also lucky because the weather was great when we were there (15-18 degrees), so it's cool without being freezing.
It was 15 degrees and drizzling when we arrived.

Hotels in Taipei are more expensive than other Asian Cities. Since it was our first time to visit, my friend recommended we stay at City Inn Plus Hotel in XiMenDing because the location was great and it was also good value at around Php3,500 (if you book in advance directly through the hotel's website). They were already fully booked when I was booking so I got our Family Room (good for 4 adults + 1 child) through and it just cost us US$150 per night (while the double rooms were around US$100). Since the hotel was much cheaper than the other ones I looked at, I expected it to be basic at best.

Again, I was pleasantly surprised.
The hotel was still decked out for Chinese New Year.
The lobby has large murals.
Sofia and the creepy little girl.
The had a display of cute kitchy stuff for sale. (peg: Tokyu Hands)
And yes, they have a Horse Lamp.

The room was basic but very clean.
We had 2 double beds.
There were no cabinets, just hangers.
The hotel not only has free wifi. They have free movies too (in English!).
The bathroom was quite spacious.
When you enter, the toilet is to the right.
and there's a separate shower stall and tub to the left.

Caption This:
Choco on the bedside table.
Choco having a light bulb moment.

We arrived at the hotel at 2am (travel time from the airport is an hour) so we tried to search for food. There is a family mart right beside the hotel, but the staff also told us that there is a Self Service Kitchen in the basement with free flowing popcorn, juice, hot chocolate and a coffee and tea station at the lobby that's open 24 hours.
The salty and sweet popcorn was good!
It was such a hit with Sofia.
She had popcorn every day!
Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
She likes eating it with Hot Chocolate.
The hotel was super sulit!
Midnight snacking at 2am.
Sofia and her grandparents trying to figure out
the juice dispenser.
If you arrive without a laptop or smart device,
you can use the internet for free. (you can also print up to 3 pages)

The hotel rates don't include breakfast, but since the location of the hotel is good and food is readily available everywhere, this isn't really a bad thing.
The hotel is right across FE 21, beside Ximen MRT Exit 3.
FE 21 is a department store with posh brands,
Wellcome supermarket and a nice food court.
You just need to cross the big intersection to get to the busy part of XiMenDing near MRT exit 6. I have read a lot of articles comparing the area to Tokyo's Harajuku district (which I haven't visited), but it reminds me a lot of Myeongdong in Seoul. The only catch is that this place normally wakes up late. Stores and even food carts start coming out at around 11am.

A very quiet XiMenDing at 11am.
There are quite a lot of stores like this beside Korean Cosmetic chains,
if you're interested.
On the first day, I went out to buy breakfast but I kept getting distracted with sightseeing/window shopping.
I looked for the misua stall because it came highly recommended.
I also bought sausages to try.

On my way back, I saw a winner shoe store just beside our hotel.
Elements of a winner shoe store:
a sign that read NT$500 (Php750) +
a display of nice, real leather flats.
I was drooling! leather ballerines in all colors. Unfortunately,
they had limited stock in my size, so I just bought 2 pairs that fit.
The shoe store was such a jackpot because they were selling real leather shoes (over runs from Vietnam) at an even cheaper price than they sell them for in Vietnam's markets. The shoes they were selling were also not available in the stores in the touristy shopping areas which have more mass market products. So I obviously delayed breakfast brunch in favor of shopping.
Sofia and me, at the shoe store on Day 1.
We kept bugging the store to find more size 37 shoes
to sell us. Ma and Ady still buying on Day 2.

It's a good thing the store was right beside our hotel. Our misua wasn't too cold when we started eating it.

We normally grab coffee from the lobby,
then eat the breakfast we've bought at the basement.
*everything is free, except for the Red Bull :)
I love it that the hotel provides ucc cream for the coffee.
They even have caramel and chocolate syrup.
Ady playing barista.
Their coffee is strong, so light is actually good enough.
(i normally like my coffee strong)
Day 1 Breakfast was interesting because we had the highly recommended misua and the sausages.
Yummy sausage.
I totally forgot what I read about the misua (except it's a must try),
so we were guessing what was in it. The consensus of my family was squid,
 then I remembered it was isaw (pork intestines).
The look on my mom and my sister's face was hilarious since they don't really eat (or want to eat) isaw. Hahahaha. I actually enjoyed my misua more when I realized it was isaw so I declared I was having it again on the third day.

Day 2 breakfast was bought by my parents in the street just around the hotel.
The got this yummy flaky bread (imagine croissant, but round) from
GaKuDen, a boulangerie.
It's quite large so we had it sliced in quarters.
My parents also bought Maki, which I was just going to try,
but it was so good, I ended up finishing it and ignoring the bread.
It was just all meat and shitake, but it was very tasty.
Day 3 breakfast was Isaw Misua (again!)
I enjoyed it more when I knew what I was eating.
But the sausage cart guy wasn't awake yet so I settled for eating it
with pineapple cake instead.

We didn't get to do much sightseeing.
Taipei 101, XiMenDing, XL Chicken Chop from Shilin and Din Tai Fung
But I got to see the President's palace and the distinguished looking building of the Bank of Taipei.
President's palace. Walking distance from our hotel.
Shot in vivid with the Canon S95.
The Bank of Taipei, right beside the President's Palace.
I did sightseeing by default
because I had to have my demonetized money changed.
Shot in vivid mode.

We did quite a lot of shopping (definitely more than we were expecting - hooray).
Top: My haul from Day 1
Bottom: Sofia's haul from Day 1
Even Sofia managed to find shoes she couldn't live without.
She really had a hard time deciding what color she wanted
because I refused to buy both.
Our last day haul. shoes that are running after the truffles,
with the colored pencils leading the way.
I bought Taiwan made Nude shoes in flats and platforms.
Photo Story and Styling by Sofia 

I have many many more Taipei stories because we enjoyed it so much, I will be blogging about in the coming days weeks. Sightseeing was limited by design because we've already decided to save it for our next trip since we're definitely coming back. the next time there are cheap flights. just saying.

City Inn Hotel Plus XiMenDing
No.63, Baoqing Rd., Zhongzheng Dist., Taipei City 100, Taiwan (R.O.C.) 
Tel: +886 (2) 7725-2288 
Fax: +886 (2) 7725-2799 
book directly at:


  1. Hi!

    Will be going to taiwan in the next couple of months. We will be taking cebu pacific so arriving at the same time as you guys.

    Did you book a hotel transfer or did you take a taxi from the airport to the hotel? How much did it cost?


    1. We booked a transfer from the hotel because the difference was not too big and it saved us the hassle. I can't remember how much we paid but the hotel was very thorough. They even called me the day before we arrived to confirm our transfer, and the driver met us right after baggage claim with a sign with our name.

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