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 June 20, 2013
    Sophie Friedman answered the question: Sophie Friedman

    What are the best adventure outings in Shanghai?

    (c) Alois Staudacher Shanghai is a big, gridlocked concrete jungle, a swarming metropolis with 23 million people. With a little planning, though, adventure outings are well within reach.

    Paragliding
    You won’t be getting a birds eye view of Shanghai World Financial Center, but paragliding in Shanghai (at the very southern tip near the water) is certainly thrilling. Instructor Jim Qin runs one-day courses 300/500RMB (weekends/weekdays). He’ll take you to Fengxian, a seaside district about an hour from downtown and, after careful instruction, you’ll be given the chance to spreads your wings. You will probably fall several times, but once you take off, you’ll be flying.

    Yejo Circle, a Shanghai-based outdoor excursions company, also offers paragliding as well as a slew of other activities. Their kayaking trips are perfect for those who want to try their hand at kayaking and need a little guidance, plus they organize transportation. If you do have kayaking experience, you can hop right in the water at Dianshan Lake, where kayaks are available for rent. The lake can be reached by taking metro line 2 to the East Xujing stop, or by hiring a cab from Shanghai.

    True adventure outings can be a bit hard to come by in Shanghai proper, but the city does have a handful of rock climbing gyms where beginners to experts can hit the wall. None cater to younger children but, at Shanghai Rockdancing Climbing Centre is best for families, as kids over 10 are welcome. It’s an open-air climbing wall, so dress for the weather. Admission is 45RMB from Monday to Friday and 55RMB at the weekends; shoes can be hired for 10RMB and a safety belt for 5RMB.
  • On June 20, 2013
    Sophie Friedman answered the question: Sophie Friedman

    What are the best adventure outings in Shanghai?

    (c) Alois Staudacher Shanghai is a big, gridlocked concrete jungle, a swarming metropolis with 23 million people. With a little planning, though, adventure outings are well within reach.

    Paragliding
    You won’t be getting a birds eye view of Shanghai World Financial Center, but paragliding in Shanghai (at the very southern tip near the water) is certainly thrilling. Instructor Jim Qin runs one-day courses 300/500RMB (weekends/weekdays). He’ll take you to Fengxian, a seaside district about an hour from downtown and, after careful instruction, you’ll be given the chance to spreads your wings. You will probably fall several times, but once you take off, you’ll be flying.

    Yejo Circle, a Shanghai-based outdoor excursions company, also offers paragliding as well as a slew of other activities. Their kayaking trips are perfect for those who want to try their hand at kayaking and need a little guidance, plus they organize transportation. If you do have kayaking experience, you can hop right in the water at Dianshan Lake, where kayaks are available for rent. The lake can be reached by taking metro line 2 to the East Xujing stop, or by hiring a cab from Shanghai.

    True adventure outings can be a bit hard to come by in Shanghai proper, but the city does have a handful of rock climbing gyms where beginners to experts can hit the wall. None cater to younger children but, at Shanghai Rockdancing Climbing Centre is best for families, as kids over 10 are welcome. It’s an open-air climbing wall, so dress for the weather. Admission is 45RMB from Monday to Friday and 55RMB at the weekends; shoes can be hired for 10RMB and a safety belt for 5RMB.
  • On June 20, 2013
    Sophie Friedman answered the question: Sophie Friedman

    What are the best adventure outings in Shanghai?

    (c) Alois Staudacher Shanghai is a big, gridlocked concrete jungle, a swarming metropolis with 23 million people. With a little planning, though, adventure outings are well within reach.

    Paragliding
    You won’t be getting a birds eye view of Shanghai World Financial Center, but paragliding in Shanghai (at the very southern tip near the water) is certainly thrilling. Instructor Jim Qin runs one-day courses 300/500RMB (weekends/weekdays). He’ll take you to Fengxian, a seaside district about an hour from downtown and, after careful instruction, you’ll be given the chance to spreads your wings. You will probably fall several times, but once you take off, you’ll be flying.

    Yejo Circle, a Shanghai-based outdoor excursions company, also offers paragliding as well as a slew of other activities. Their kayaking trips are perfect for those who want to try their hand at kayaking and need a little guidance, plus they organize transportation. If you do have kayaking experience, you can hop right in the water at Dianshan Lake, where kayaks are available for rent. The lake can be reached by taking metro line 2 to the East Xujing stop, or by hiring a cab from Shanghai.

    True adventure outings can be a bit hard to come by in Shanghai proper, but the city does have a handful of rock climbing gyms where beginners to experts can hit the wall. None cater to younger children but, at Shanghai Rockdancing Climbing Centre is best for families, as kids over 10 are welcome. It’s an open-air climbing wall, so dress for the weather. Admission is 45RMB from Monday to Friday and 55RMB at the weekends; shoes can be hired for 10RMB and a safety belt for 5RMB.
  • On June 20, 2013
    Sophie Friedman answered the question: Sophie Friedman

    What are the best adventure outings in Shanghai?

    (c) Alois Staudacher Shanghai is a big, gridlocked concrete jungle, a swarming metropolis with 23 million people. With a little planning, though, adventure outings are well within reach.

    Paragliding
    You won’t be getting a birds eye view of Shanghai World Financial Center, but paragliding in Shanghai (at the very southern tip near the water) is certainly thrilling. Instructor Jim Qin runs one-day courses 300/500RMB (weekends/weekdays). He’ll take you to Fengxian, a seaside district about an hour from downtown and, after careful instruction, you’ll be given the chance to spreads your wings. You will probably fall several times, but once you take off, you’ll be flying.

    Yejo Circle, a Shanghai-based outdoor excursions company, also offers paragliding as well as a slew of other activities. Their kayaking trips are perfect for those who want to try their hand at kayaking and need a little guidance, plus they organize transportation. If you do have kayaking experience, you can hop right in the water at Dianshan Lake, where kayaks are available for rent. The lake can be reached by taking metro line 2 to the East Xujing stop, or by hiring a cab from Shanghai.

    True adventure outings can be a bit hard to come by in Shanghai proper, but the city does have a handful of rock climbing gyms where beginners to experts can hit the wall. None cater to younger children but, at Shanghai Rockdancing Climbing Centre is best for families, as kids over 10 are welcome. It’s an open-air climbing wall, so dress for the weather. Admission is 45RMB from Monday to Friday and 55RMB at the weekends; shoes can be hired for 10RMB and a safety belt for 5RMB.
  • On June 20, 2013
    Sophie Friedman answered the question: Sophie Friedman

    What are the best parks in Shanghai?

    (C) Didier Bigand For a sprawling city of 23 million, Shanghai has a lot of greenery. One of the nicest things about Shanghai’s parks is how residents fully utilize them. On any given day, in any green space no matter how diminutive, you’ll find locals dancing, playing cards, exercising, chatting, and strolling.

    The best park in Shanghai on the Puxi side of the river is Fuxing Park. A little oasis in the middle of the busier half of Shanghai, Fuxing Park was during the concession era the green space of Shanghai’s French community. Today it’s packed with families whose kids enjoy the park’s small amusement park and participate in art classes. Weekday afternoons see elderly locals ballroom dancing, practicing tai chi, and playing spirited games of mah jong and cards. Fuxing Park is one of the best places in Shanghai to people watch.

    Shanghai’s answer to New York’s Central Park is Century Park. Though it lacks the architectural cred that Central Park has, it’s a desperately needed green space in the middle of an otherwise endless expanse of concrete. Visitors to Century Park can hire tandem bikes, go boating in the man-made canal, toss Frisbees back and forth, or just lie out on the grass—forbidden at most Chinese parks. Though there are some bathrooms in the park, we recommend scooting across the street to the Kerry Hotel, Pudong, where there are immaculate washrooms and plenty of places to grab a bite, plus a subway entrance.
  • On June 20, 2013
    Sophie Friedman answered the question: Sophie Friedman

    What are the best parks in Shanghai?

    (C) Didier Bigand For a sprawling city of 23 million, Shanghai has a lot of greenery. One of the nicest things about Shanghai’s parks is how residents fully utilize them. On any given day, in any green space no matter how diminutive, you’ll find locals dancing, playing cards, exercising, chatting, and strolling.

    The best park in Shanghai on the Puxi side of the river is Fuxing Park. A little oasis in the middle of the busier half of Shanghai, Fuxing Park was during the concession era the green space of Shanghai’s French community. Today it’s packed with families whose kids enjoy the park’s small amusement park and participate in art classes. Weekday afternoons see elderly locals ballroom dancing, practicing tai chi, and playing spirited games of mah jong and cards. Fuxing Park is one of the best places in Shanghai to people watch.

    Shanghai’s answer to New York’s Central Park is Century Park. Though it lacks the architectural cred that Central Park has, it’s a desperately needed green space in the middle of an otherwise endless expanse of concrete. Visitors to Century Park can hire tandem bikes, go boating in the man-made canal, toss Frisbees back and forth, or just lie out on the grass—forbidden at most Chinese parks. Though there are some bathrooms in the park, we recommend scooting across the street to the Kerry Hotel, Pudong, where there are immaculate washrooms and plenty of places to grab a bite, plus a subway entrance.
  • On June 20, 2013
    Sophie Friedman answered the question: Sophie Friedman

    What are the most unusual dining experiences in Shanghai?

    (c) Limelight Studio The most unusual dining experiences in Shanghai are those that you wouldn’t find in the West, Chinese enclaves notwithstanding. Take the Tongchuan Road Seafood Market, for example. Less a market than blocks lined with seafood stalls, here’s where to come when you want limitless options. The shops here sell all manner of seafood, including crab, prawns, salmon, and oysters, and then the restaurants around the corner will cook it all up for you. Seafood is priced by the half kilo, and the restaurants will prepare your goods for around ¥10 per half kilo. The restaurants themselves also have menus, so you can add on vegetables or whatever else strikes your fancy.

    Much more centrally located is Shouning Road, a pedestrian-only food street where the focus is also seafood. Here, the restaurants that sell you the crustacea and fish also cook them for you. Oysters are quite popular here, especially grilled with chili and oil, but you’ll find prawns, crawfish, and non-seafood dishes like dumplings, fried rice, and a few vegetable options. There’s open-air sidewalk seating and, in the warmer months, the tiny restaurants leave their doors open. Shouning Road is open 24 hours.

    On the complete opposite end of the unusual Shanghai dining experiences spectrum is Ultraviolet. Shanghai's most unique and certainly most exclusive restaurant, the restaurant is the brainchild of French chef Paul Pairet, and one that was 15 years in the making. The dining room is a stage for the evening's performance and the audience is one table of 10. Ultraviolet is a literal feast for the senses. Each of the 20 courses is paired with a corresponding drink such as mint tea or chardonnay (which are all included in the price of the meal), a visual, a scent and sound. The restaurant's location is a secret, but making reservations is easy; do so here.
  • On June 20, 2013
    Sophie Friedman answered the question: Sophie Friedman

    What are the most unusual dining experiences in Shanghai?

    (c) Limelight Studio The most unusual dining experiences in Shanghai are those that you wouldn’t find in the West, Chinese enclaves notwithstanding. Take the Tongchuan Road Seafood Market, for example. Less a market than blocks lined with seafood stalls, here’s where to come when you want limitless options. The shops here sell all manner of seafood, including crab, prawns, salmon, and oysters, and then the restaurants around the corner will cook it all up for you. Seafood is priced by the half kilo, and the restaurants will prepare your goods for around ¥10 per half kilo. The restaurants themselves also have menus, so you can add on vegetables or whatever else strikes your fancy.

    Much more centrally located is Shouning Road, a pedestrian-only food street where the focus is also seafood. Here, the restaurants that sell you the crustacea and fish also cook them for you. Oysters are quite popular here, especially grilled with chili and oil, but you’ll find prawns, crawfish, and non-seafood dishes like dumplings, fried rice, and a few vegetable options. There’s open-air sidewalk seating and, in the warmer months, the tiny restaurants leave their doors open. Shouning Road is open 24 hours.

    On the complete opposite end of the unusual Shanghai dining experiences spectrum is Ultraviolet. Shanghai's most unique and certainly most exclusive restaurant, the restaurant is the brainchild of French chef Paul Pairet, and one that was 15 years in the making. The dining room is a stage for the evening's performance and the audience is one table of 10. Ultraviolet is a literal feast for the senses. Each of the 20 courses is paired with a corresponding drink such as mint tea or chardonnay (which are all included in the price of the meal), a visual, a scent and sound. The restaurant's location is a secret, but making reservations is easy; do so here.
  • On June 20, 2013
    Sophie Friedman answered the question: Sophie Friedman

    What are the most unusual dining experiences in Shanghai?

    (c) Limelight Studio The most unusual dining experiences in Shanghai are those that you wouldn’t find in the West, Chinese enclaves notwithstanding. Take the Tongchuan Road Seafood Market, for example. Less a market than blocks lined with seafood stalls, here’s where to come when you want limitless options. The shops here sell all manner of seafood, including crab, prawns, salmon, and oysters, and then the restaurants around the corner will cook it all up for you. Seafood is priced by the half kilo, and the restaurants will prepare your goods for around ¥10 per half kilo. The restaurants themselves also have menus, so you can add on vegetables or whatever else strikes your fancy.

    Much more centrally located is Shouning Road, a pedestrian-only food street where the focus is also seafood. Here, the restaurants that sell you the crustacea and fish also cook them for you. Oysters are quite popular here, especially grilled with chili and oil, but you’ll find prawns, crawfish, and non-seafood dishes like dumplings, fried rice, and a few vegetable options. There’s open-air sidewalk seating and, in the warmer months, the tiny restaurants leave their doors open. Shouning Road is open 24 hours.

    On the complete opposite end of the unusual Shanghai dining experiences spectrum is Ultraviolet. Shanghai's most unique and certainly most exclusive restaurant, the restaurant is the brainchild of French chef Paul Pairet, and one that was 15 years in the making. The dining room is a stage for the evening's performance and the audience is one table of 10. Ultraviolet is a literal feast for the senses. Each of the 20 courses is paired with a corresponding drink such as mint tea or chardonnay (which are all included in the price of the meal), a visual, a scent and sound. The restaurant's location is a secret, but making reservations is easy; do so here.
  • On June 20, 2013
    Sophie Friedman answered the question: Sophie Friedman

    What are the most unusual dining experiences in Shanghai?

    (c) Limelight Studio The most unusual dining experiences in Shanghai are those that you wouldn’t find in the West, Chinese enclaves notwithstanding. Take the Tongchuan Road Seafood Market, for example. Less a market than blocks lined with seafood stalls, here’s where to come when you want limitless options. The shops here sell all manner of seafood, including crab, prawns, salmon, and oysters, and then the restaurants around the corner will cook it all up for you. Seafood is priced by the half kilo, and the restaurants will prepare your goods for around ¥10 per half kilo. The restaurants themselves also have menus, so you can add on vegetables or whatever else strikes your fancy.

    Much more centrally located is Shouning Road, a pedestrian-only food street where the focus is also seafood. Here, the restaurants that sell you the crustacea and fish also cook them for you. Oysters are quite popular here, especially grilled with chili and oil, but you’ll find prawns, crawfish, and non-seafood dishes like dumplings, fried rice, and a few vegetable options. There’s open-air sidewalk seating and, in the warmer months, the tiny restaurants leave their doors open. Shouning Road is open 24 hours.

    On the complete opposite end of the unusual Shanghai dining experiences spectrum is Ultraviolet. Shanghai's most unique and certainly most exclusive restaurant, the restaurant is the brainchild of French chef Paul Pairet, and one that was 15 years in the making. The dining room is a stage for the evening's performance and the audience is one table of 10. Ultraviolet is a literal feast for the senses. Each of the 20 courses is paired with a corresponding drink such as mint tea or chardonnay (which are all included in the price of the meal), a visual, a scent and sound. The restaurant's location is a secret, but making reservations is easy; do so here.
  • On June 18, 2013
    Sophie Friedman answered the question: Sophie Friedman

    What are the best festivals in Shanghai?

    Sticky rice triangles (zongzi) for Dragon Boat Festival Shanghai has two different types of festivals—Chinese festivals celebrated countrywide and outdoor festivals like those in the West.

    What are called holidays in the US are in China referred to as festivals. Chinese festivals are a raucous affair, and many are celebrated with fireworks. To the uninitiated ear, these pops can sound like terrifying gunshots, but you’re perfectly safe.

    China’s biggest festival is Lunar New Year, which falls in late January or early February, depending on the lunar calendar. This is celebrated with daily (and sometimes hourly) fireworks, enormous banquets, and huge department store sales.  If you’re in Shanghai over Chinese New Year, you’ll find the streets almost entirely devoid of people, as everyone has either gone back to their hometown or is holed up at home with their families.

    Then there’s Dragon Boat Festival, where it’s tradition to eat zongzi, or sticky rice triangles wrapped in banana leaf, Mooncake Festival, where it’s tradition to eat mooncakes—red been or lotus root pastry—and a slew of other festivals that don’t have a food component (although you can be people are eating).

    The Western festivals that will be of interest to Shanghai visitors take place mostly during warmer weather. Among the largest is the twice-yearly Design, Art, and Fashion Fair, aka DAFF. The two-day festival takes place at the Cool Docks, a waterfront area near Shanghai’s Hotel Indigo. A family-friendly affair by day, it becomes a pumping party once the sun sets.

    There’s also the annual Shanghai Beer Festival, which has grown by leaps and bounds as the number of craft brewers in Shanghai has doubled. The week-long festival is made up of brewmaster dinners, brewery tours, and tastings, and culminates in a weekend-long outdoor beer festival with foot stalls and a pig roast.
  • On June 18, 2013
    Sophie Friedman answered the question: Sophie Friedman

    What are the best festivals in Shanghai?

    Sticky rice triangles (zongzi) for Dragon Boat Festival Shanghai has two different types of festivals—Chinese festivals celebrated countrywide and outdoor festivals like those in the West.

    What are called holidays in the US are in China referred to as festivals. Chinese festivals are a raucous affair, and many are celebrated with fireworks. To the uninitiated ear, these pops can sound like terrifying gunshots, but you’re perfectly safe.

    China’s biggest festival is Lunar New Year, which falls in late January or early February, depending on the lunar calendar. This is celebrated with daily (and sometimes hourly) fireworks, enormous banquets, and huge department store sales.  If you’re in Shanghai over Chinese New Year, you’ll find the streets almost entirely devoid of people, as everyone has either gone back to their hometown or is holed up at home with their families.

    Then there’s Dragon Boat Festival, where it’s tradition to eat zongzi, or sticky rice triangles wrapped in banana leaf, Mooncake Festival, where it’s tradition to eat mooncakes—red been or lotus root pastry—and a slew of other festivals that don’t have a food component (although you can be people are eating).

    The Western festivals that will be of interest to Shanghai visitors take place mostly during warmer weather. Among the largest is the twice-yearly Design, Art, and Fashion Fair, aka DAFF. The two-day festival takes place at the Cool Docks, a waterfront area near Shanghai’s Hotel Indigo. A family-friendly affair by day, it becomes a pumping party once the sun sets.

    There’s also the annual Shanghai Beer Festival, which has grown by leaps and bounds as the number of craft brewers in Shanghai has doubled. The week-long festival is made up of brewmaster dinners, brewery tours, and tastings, and culminates in a weekend-long outdoor beer festival with foot stalls and a pig roast.
  • On June 8, 2013
    Sophie Friedman answered the question: Sophie Friedman

    What are the best places for a massage in Shanghai?

    Courtesy Dragonfly Massages are practically a national pastime in China, and there are hundreds of places to get them in Shanghai. There are several different varieties of spas in Shanghai, ranging from upmarket hotel spas to blind massage parlors, where the masseurs and masseuses are blind and go by assigned numbers.

    The best hotel spa in Shanghai is The Peninsula Spa by ESPA. The treatment list here is lengthy, but among the best is the Bamboo Harmonizer. This massage uses China’s favorite implement, bamboo, to stimulate your qi (energy). Stalks of bamboo are rolled along the body to decrease stress and heal sore areas.

    There handful of excellent mid-range spas in Shanghai, including China-wide chain Dragonfly, which has branches dotted throughout the city. Other good options include Green Massage, Subconscious Day Spa, and Yide Massage.
  • On June 8, 2013
    Sophie Friedman answered the question: Sophie Friedman

    What are the best places for a massage in Shanghai?

    Courtesy Dragonfly Massages are practically a national pastime in China, and there are hundreds of places to get them in Shanghai. There are several different varieties of spas in Shanghai, ranging from upmarket hotel spas to blind massage parlors, where the masseurs and masseuses are blind and go by assigned numbers.

    The best hotel spa in Shanghai is The Peninsula Spa by ESPA. The treatment list here is lengthy, but among the best is the Bamboo Harmonizer. This massage uses China’s favorite implement, bamboo, to stimulate your qi (energy). Stalks of bamboo are rolled along the body to decrease stress and heal sore areas.

    There handful of excellent mid-range spas in Shanghai, including China-wide chain Dragonfly, which has branches dotted throughout the city. Other good options include Green Massage, Subconscious Day Spa, and Yide Massage.
  • On June 8, 2013
    Sophie Friedman answered the question: Sophie Friedman

    What are the best places for a massage in Shanghai?

    Courtesy Dragonfly Massages are practically a national pastime in China, and there are hundreds of places to get them in Shanghai. There are several different varieties of spas in Shanghai, ranging from upmarket hotel spas to blind massage parlors, where the masseurs and masseuses are blind and go by assigned numbers.

    The best hotel spa in Shanghai is The Peninsula Spa by ESPA. The treatment list here is lengthy, but among the best is the Bamboo Harmonizer. This massage uses China’s favorite implement, bamboo, to stimulate your qi (energy). Stalks of bamboo are rolled along the body to decrease stress and heal sore areas.

    There handful of excellent mid-range spas in Shanghai, including China-wide chain Dragonfly, which has branches dotted throughout the city. Other good options include Green Massage, Subconscious Day Spa, and Yide Massage.