Sophie Friedman

Correspondent

  • Shanghai, China, Asia

Sophie Friedman is a correspondent who lives in Shanghai and covers hotels and travel trends in Asia for Forbes Travel Guide. The American journalist has covered a range of travel-related topics including the development of the mountain resort town Moganshan, the Chinese fashion scene’s rising international profile, and the expanding craft cocktail and beer scene in Asia. She has written half a dozen Shanghai guidebooks and has an encyclopedic knowledge of the city. When not writing, Sophie loves cycling through the former French Concession and getting bargains on everything from Pellegrino to porcelain.

  • On August 28, 2012
    Sophie Friedman answered the question: Sophie Friedman

    Where is the best shopping in Hangzhou?

    When shopping in Hangzhou, you’ll want to pick up silk and tea — two things for which the city is known. For silk, visit Hangzhou China Silk Town, where the silk is deeply discounted but bargaining is still essential. You’ll also find silk at the nightly market held on Yan'an Lu near Lu; stalls here hawk Mao memorabilia, paper fans, jewelry, silk-screened paintings, and faux pearls and antiques. Again, be sure to bargain — never pay the asking price. Hangzhou is home to a slew of longjing (green) tea plantations, and a box or two makes a great gift. All the tea fields have gift boutiques and you’ll see plenty of tea shops as you stroll the city streets. There is a lot of fake and low-grade tea floating around — we recommend buying tea directly from a plantation.
  • On August 28, 2012
    Sophie Friedman answered the question: Sophie Friedman

    What are the best things to do with kids in Hangzhou?

    Kids will be just as enchanted with Hangzhou as adults routinely are when they visit. Here are Forbes Travel Guide editors’ picks for the best things to do and see with them:
     
    1. Play at Hangzhou Paradise Park. The amusement park has it all — roller coasters, a Ferris wheel, boat trips, beach volleyball, restaurants, shops and a huge water park.
     
    2. Cruise West Lake. This beautiful body of water draws tourists to Hangzhou from across China. Its shores are dotted with intricate pavilions and temples. Hire a driver to take you out on a sampan (Hangzhou’s equivalent of a gondola) and cruise the picturesque lake.
     
    3. Pick your own tea. Put your kids to work picking longjing (green) tea, which Hangzhou is famous for producing. You’ll also be able to tour a tea plantation and learn how tea gets harvested.
     
    4. See a show. Zhang Yimou’s “Impression West Lake” is a dazzling performance that takes place on West Lake, thanks to a stage built just below the surface. Even if you’ve never heard of Yimou before, you’ve likely seen his work — he is best known for doing the opening and closing ceremonies for the Beijing Olympics.
     
    5. Take a tour of Xixi National Wetland Park. This natural wetland is comprised of three causeways you can travel down via dragon boat. Check out the lotus flower reserve area, a fishing village, villas and an exhibit on dragon boats.
  • On August 28, 2012
    Sophie Friedman answered the question: Sophie Friedman

    What are the best things to see and do in Hangzhou?

    Hangzhou makes for an idyllic day or multi-night escape from Shanghai. Here are the best things to see and do in China’s magical city:
     
    1. Rent bikes. Locals can rent bikes from a slew of racks across the city by swiping their ID cards. But if you’re just visiting Hangzhou, you can go to the rental area on Hubin Lu near Pinghai Lu, where you’ll need to leave your ID (not your passport) and a RMB300 (US $47) deposit. Cycling around the lake is easy way to take in the picturesque landscapes.
     
    2. Visit West Lake. In addition its tea fields, West Lake is what makes Hangzhou famous. The beautiful, serene body of water was named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2011. You can stroll the lake’s shady banks, cycle all the way around or take a ride in a traditional wooden boat.
     
    3. Pick tea. Hangzhou is home to loads of longjing (green) tea fields. After touring the fields and hearing about the harvesting process, you can pick your own tea.
     
    4. See a show. Zhang Yimou, best known for directing the opening and closing ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics, is also the brains behind a dazzling nightly performance that takes place on West Lake called “Impression West Lake.” No need to buy tickets in advance — you can purchase them right before the show starts.
     
    5. Visit China Academy of Art. China’s first comprehensive art school is a stone’s throw from West Lake. Its galleries and leafy campus are open to the public, and there’s a quaint coffee shop with outdoor seating to take a break.
  • On July 15, 2012
    Sophie Friedman answered the question: Sophie Friedman

    Are there problems with safety in the Maldives?

    The Maldives is generally a safe place to travel to, especially as most visitors spend their time at large, secure resorts. Even in the capital city of Male, violent crime is almost nonexistent. That said, as with anywhere, watch out for pickpockets. And though it sounds laughable, don’t stand under a coconut tree during a storm or you’ll suffer a head injury; all resorts trim their coconut trees to avoid this problem. The Maldives is a Muslim country and so consumption of alcohol is only allowed in hotels and resorts. Be respectful of local customs and dress code.
  • On July 15, 2012
    Sophie Friedman answered the question: Sophie Friedman

    What is the best way to see the Maldives in one day?

    If you only have one day in the Maldives, it’s likely you’re doing a stopover in Male. The best way to see the Maldives in one day is to wander around Male, which is compact and easy to navigate. Start off with breakfast at cozy coffee shop Shell Beans before hitting the tourist circuit—the Old Friday Mosque, which dates back to 1656, the National Museum and the National Art Gallery. For lunch, try the seafood at Symphony, a local restaurant that’s been open since the early 90s and is enormously popular. After lunch, find yourself a beach spot and take a dip in the Maldives’ clear, warm waters. You’ll certainly be able to while away several hours on the white sand beaches. If you can tear yourself away from the beach, Sala Thai Restaurant will reward you with authentic spicy Thai dishes like tom yum (spicy soup).
  • On July 15, 2012
    Sophie Friedman answered the question: Sophie Friedman

    What are the five best things to see and do in the Maldives?

    No matter where you’re staying in the Maldives, you’ll enjoy the same spectacular beaches. Here are Forbes Travel Guide’s picks for the five best things to see and do in the Maldives:
     
    1. Go diving. With its crystal clear water, diving is enormously popular in the Maldives. Most resorts have diving facilities and can help you organize a diving tour. You’ll see all kinds of fish among the excellent coral reefs, and even manta and eagle rays or a variety of sharks a bit further out. If diving is not your thing, you can still take advantage of the beautiful blue waters, which are warm year round for snorkeling or swimming.
     
    2. Visit the National Art Gallery. The National Gallery is small but hosts rotating exhibitions from painters. There’s also a Maldives Biennial, where you can see photography, painting and mixed media works from artists across the country.
     
    3. See the National Museum. This interesting museum is housed in the Sultan’s Park and is the only remaining part of the original palace; after the Maldives became independent in 1965, everything else was demolished.
     
    4. Go to the Old Friday Mosque. Hukuru Miskiiy, as its known among locals, is the country’s oldest mosque, dating back to 1656. Above the mosque stands a blue and white minaret from 1675.
     
    5. Engage in watersports. Back at the beach, your resort will be able to help you arrange parasailing kayaking, surfing, waterskiing, jet skiing, kite surfing and more.