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 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 is the one must-do activity when visiting Shanghai?

    (C) Didier Bigand It’s hard to pin-down just one must-do activity when visiting Shanghai. There’s the Bund, the riverside stretch of architecture from Shanghai’s colonial past. There’s the old Jewish Quarter in Hongkou District and, near Yu Garden, the Old City, where local Chinese lived when the foreign concessions were set up. There’s the food—dumplings and street kebabs (called chuan’r) and noodles not to mention restaurants helmed by Michelin-starred chefs. There are the clubs—one with an enormous shark tank, several with Pudong skyline-facing terraces—and the bars, including several microbreweries and a handful of chic cocktail lounges.

    What makes Shanghai so different from Beijing is that there are not a slew of must-visit sites. Beijing has the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, and Tiananmen Square, but Shanghai has southern charm. If there’s one-must do activity when visiting Shanghai, it’s a simple one: strolling. Start off on Fuxing Road near Xintiandi and walk east, working your way north and then south again through the French Concession’s leafy, tree-lined streets. Stop in Fuxing Park and you’ll be rewarded by the sight of elderly locals ballroom dancing, playing mah jong, and writing Chinese characters on the pavement using water. There are loads of little cafes tucked on every street.

    Two of my favorite French Concession streets are Shaoxing Road, which runs just one block, between Ruijin Road and Sinan Road, and Nanchang Road, which runs from Xintiandi west to Xiangyang Road.
  • On June 8, 2013
    Sophie Friedman answered the question: Sophie Friedman

    What is the one must-do activity when visiting Shanghai?

    (C) Didier Bigand It’s hard to pin-down just one must-do activity when visiting Shanghai. There’s the Bund, the riverside stretch of architecture from Shanghai’s colonial past. There’s the old Jewish Quarter in Hongkou District and, near Yu Garden, the Old City, where local Chinese lived when the foreign concessions were set up. There’s the food—dumplings and street kebabs (called chuan’r) and noodles not to mention restaurants helmed by Michelin-starred chefs. There are the clubs—one with an enormous shark tank, several with Pudong skyline-facing terraces—and the bars, including several microbreweries and a handful of chic cocktail lounges.

    What makes Shanghai so different from Beijing is that there are not a slew of must-visit sites. Beijing has the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, and Tiananmen Square, but Shanghai has southern charm. If there’s one-must do activity when visiting Shanghai, it’s a simple one: strolling. Start off on Fuxing Road near Xintiandi and walk east, working your way north and then south again through the French Concession’s leafy, tree-lined streets. Stop in Fuxing Park and you’ll be rewarded by the sight of elderly locals ballroom dancing, playing mah jong, and writing Chinese characters on the pavement using water. There are loads of little cafes tucked on every street.

    Two of my favorite French Concession streets are Shaoxing Road, which runs just one block, between Ruijin Road and Sinan Road, and Nanchang Road, which runs from Xintiandi west to Xiangyang Road.
  • On June 8, 2013
    Sophie Friedman answered the question: Sophie Friedman

    What is the one must-do activity when visiting Shanghai?

    (C) Didier Bigand It’s hard to pin-down just one must-do activity when visiting Shanghai. There’s the Bund, the riverside stretch of architecture from Shanghai’s colonial past. There’s the old Jewish Quarter in Hongkou District and, near Yu Garden, the Old City, where local Chinese lived when the foreign concessions were set up. There’s the food—dumplings and street kebabs (called chuan’r) and noodles not to mention restaurants helmed by Michelin-starred chefs. There are the clubs—one with an enormous shark tank, several with Pudong skyline-facing terraces—and the bars, including several microbreweries and a handful of chic cocktail lounges.

    What makes Shanghai so different from Beijing is that there are not a slew of must-visit sites. Beijing has the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, and Tiananmen Square, but Shanghai has southern charm. If there’s one-must do activity when visiting Shanghai, it’s a simple one: strolling. Start off on Fuxing Road near Xintiandi and walk east, working your way north and then south again through the French Concession’s leafy, tree-lined streets. Stop in Fuxing Park and you’ll be rewarded by the sight of elderly locals ballroom dancing, playing mah jong, and writing Chinese characters on the pavement using water. There are loads of little cafes tucked on every street.

    Two of my favorite French Concession streets are Shaoxing Road, which runs just one block, between Ruijin Road and Sinan Road, and Nanchang Road, which runs from Xintiandi west to Xiangyang Road.
  • On June 6, 2013
    Melinda Joe is now following Sophie Friedman
  • On May 30, 2013
    Sophie Friedman answered the question: Sophie Friedman

    What are the best indoor activities in Shanghai?

    When it’s cold, hot, or wet outside, take respite at one of Shanghai’s best indoor activities.

    Along with restaurants and bars galore, Shanghai has 100 museums. My favorites are the beautiful Shanghai Museum of Glass, the new Power Station of Art, and the quirky Propaganda Poster Art Centre. If you’re traveling with kids in tow, try the Shanghai Ocean Aquarium or the Science and Technology Museum, but be forewarned that, at the weekends, they’re mobbed.

    If you’re traveling with teens or are feeling up for the action, Shanghai has a slew of places where one can go go-karting, bowling, rock climbing, virtual golfing, and laser tagging.  To kill two birds with one stone, try Orden Bowling Center; it’s convenient to the Hengshan Road line 1 metro station and has a dozen lanes and a small arcade area. Pine City hotel also has great lanes and is significantly quieter than Orden, which has a party atmosphere. Pine City also has a ping pong room and billiards tables.

    On a cold, wet day, there’s nothing nicer than hiding at the spa, and Shanghai’s got them in spades. Among the city’s best spas are The Peninsula Spa by ESPA, Qin the Spa (Four Seasons), and Chuan Spa at the Langham, Xintiandi. These spas offer a bevy of treatments, including expert massages.

    For a different but equally relaxing experience, head to one of Shanghai’s bathhouses. The best is New Star, a Korean-style bathhouse with hot pools—three for women and one for men— plus a cold pool, sauna and steam rooms, and a rainforest shower area. Massages are available as are body scrubs, particularly good for buffing away dry winter skin.
  • On May 30, 2013
    Sophie Friedman answered the question: Sophie Friedman

    What are the best Art Deco buildings in Shanghai?

    (c) Molly Mazilu Shanghai has one of Asia's richest collection of Art Deco buildings (the other is Mumbai). Art Deco's symmetry and angles play well with the Chinese concept of feng shui, but it's thanks to a huge foreign influx of both people and money that so many buildings went up in the 1930s and 40s. I love cycling around the city and taking in all the Art Deco, so these are my recommendations for the best Art Deco buildings in Shanghai.

    The Fairmont Peace Hotel
    Rich in historical and architectural cred, the then Sassoon House/Cathay Hotel was commissioned by Sir Victor Sassoon and built in 1929 by British firm Palmer & Turner. It's Egyptian-inspired Art Deco, which you can see in its pyramidal roof; the roof was originally copper-faced but has changed to green over time. 

    1933
    Though this building's name is simply the year it was built, its design is far from simple. The former abattoir was in what was then the British concession and was comissioned by the British government as part of an ongoing sanitation effort in what is present day Hongkou district. The building is open to the public and is home to a small number of retail spaces.

    The Bible Building
    Just behind the Peninsula Shanghai is this 1930 building, formerly the Christian Literature Society Building. It was designed by Hungarian architect László Hudec who left his mark on Shanghai in the form of several buildings. It's a gorgeous structure that fits in nicely on a very colorful, local block. It's directly across from the Rockbund Museum of Art.

    The Gascone
    This apartment building in the former French Concession is popular with lucky expats and wealthy locals. It was built in 1935 by French firm Leonard, Veysseyre, and Kruze, and is late Art Deco by U.S. standards, as it was finished in 1935. As such, it looks quite modern compared to the buildings near the Bund. It's rooms are very well appointed and spacious and its certainly the most unique building on the block. 
  • On May 30, 2013
    Sophie Friedman answered the question: Sophie Friedman

    What are the best Art Deco buildings in Shanghai?

    (c) Molly Mazilu Shanghai has one of Asia's richest collection of Art Deco buildings (the other is Mumbai). Art Deco's symmetry and angles play well with the Chinese concept of feng shui, but it's thanks to a huge foreign influx of both people and money that so many buildings went up in the 1930s and 40s. I love cycling around the city and taking in all the Art Deco, so these are my recommendations for the best Art Deco buildings in Shanghai.

    The Fairmont Peace Hotel
    Rich in historical and architectural cred, the then Sassoon House/Cathay Hotel was commissioned by Sir Victor Sassoon and built in 1929 by British firm Palmer & Turner. It's Egyptian-inspired Art Deco, which you can see in its pyramidal roof; the roof was originally copper-faced but has changed to green over time. 

    1933
    Though this building's name is simply the year it was built, its design is far from simple. The former abattoir was in what was then the British concession and was comissioned by the British government as part of an ongoing sanitation effort in what is present day Hongkou district. The building is open to the public and is home to a small number of retail spaces.

    The Bible Building
    Just behind the Peninsula Shanghai is this 1930 building, formerly the Christian Literature Society Building. It was designed by Hungarian architect László Hudec who left his mark on Shanghai in the form of several buildings. It's a gorgeous structure that fits in nicely on a very colorful, local block. It's directly across from the Rockbund Museum of Art.

    The Gascone
    This apartment building in the former French Concession is popular with lucky expats and wealthy locals. It was built in 1935 by French firm Leonard, Veysseyre, and Kruze, and is late Art Deco by U.S. standards, as it was finished in 1935. As such, it looks quite modern compared to the buildings near the Bund. It's rooms are very well appointed and spacious and its certainly the most unique building on the block. 
  • On May 29, 2013
    Sophie Friedman answered the question: Sophie Friedman

    What is the best way to see Yuyuan Garden in Shanghai?

    (c) Mojo Baron Yu Garden is Shanghai's answer to the gorgeous classical gardens that are found in Suzhou. The best way to see Yu Garden is to come on a weekday morning when it first opens. Avoid at all costs going weekend afternoons or you'll be swarmed and the garden will lose its tranquility.

    Yu Garden is located in the Old City section of Shanghai. The garden dates back to 1577 but was not open to the public until 1780. It was damaged during the First Opium War (1842) and again during the Japanese invasion (WWII). The garden was finally again open to the public in 1961 and has been renovated several times since. 

    Yu Garden is landscaped in Suzhou style, which means rocks, hills, and rivers strategically placed around pavilions and pagodas, all done according to long-held traditions. Outside the gardens proper but inside the Yu Garden Bazaar is a long bridge from which you can look down into a koi pond. The buildings in the Yu Garden Bazaar are new but traditional in design, with the iconic colorful eaves.

    In the last half dozen years, the area surrounding Yu Garden has become extremely commercialized— you'll find a Starbucks and a Haagen-Dazs—but the garden itself is still a lovely place to come and wander, and the bazaar is packed with stalls selling all manner of souvenirs. 
  • On May 29, 2013
    Sophie Friedman answered the question: Sophie Friedman

    What is the best way to see Yuyuan Garden in Shanghai?

    (c) Mojo Baron Yu Garden is Shanghai's answer to the gorgeous classical gardens that are found in Suzhou. The best way to see Yu Garden is to come on a weekday morning when it first opens. Avoid at all costs going weekend afternoons or you'll be swarmed and the garden will lose its tranquility.

    Yu Garden is located in the Old City section of Shanghai. The garden dates back to 1577 but was not open to the public until 1780. It was damaged during the First Opium War (1842) and again during the Japanese invasion (WWII). The garden was finally again open to the public in 1961 and has been renovated several times since. 

    Yu Garden is landscaped in Suzhou style, which means rocks, hills, and rivers strategically placed around pavilions and pagodas, all done according to long-held traditions. Outside the gardens proper but inside the Yu Garden Bazaar is a long bridge from which you can look down into a koi pond. The buildings in the Yu Garden Bazaar are new but traditional in design, with the iconic colorful eaves.

    In the last half dozen years, the area surrounding Yu Garden has become extremely commercialized— you'll find a Starbucks and a Haagen-Dazs—but the garden itself is still a lovely place to come and wander, and the bazaar is packed with stalls selling all manner of souvenirs. 
  • On May 29, 2013
    Sophie Friedman answered the question: Sophie Friedman

    What is the best way to see Yuyuan Garden in Shanghai?

    (c) Mojo Baron Yu Garden is Shanghai's answer to the gorgeous classical gardens that are found in Suzhou. The best way to see Yu Garden is to come on a weekday morning when it first opens. Avoid at all costs going weekend afternoons or you'll be swarmed and the garden will lose its tranquility.

    Yu Garden is located in the Old City section of Shanghai. The garden dates back to 1577 but was not open to the public until 1780. It was damaged during the First Opium War (1842) and again during the Japanese invasion (WWII). The garden was finally again open to the public in 1961 and has been renovated several times since. 

    Yu Garden is landscaped in Suzhou style, which means rocks, hills, and rivers strategically placed around pavilions and pagodas, all done according to long-held traditions. Outside the gardens proper but inside the Yu Garden Bazaar is a long bridge from which you can look down into a koi pond. The buildings in the Yu Garden Bazaar are new but traditional in design, with the iconic colorful eaves.

    In the last half dozen years, the area surrounding Yu Garden has become extremely commercialized— you'll find a Starbucks and a Haagen-Dazs—but the garden itself is still a lovely place to come and wander, and the bazaar is packed with stalls selling all manner of souvenirs. 
  • On May 29, 2013
    Sophie Friedman answered the question: Sophie Friedman

    What is the Jin Mao Tower like in Shanghai?

    When it was completed in 1999, the Jin Mao Tower in Shanghai surpassed the Oriental Pearl Tower to become China's tallest building and the world's fifth tallest. Its name in Chinese translates to "Golden Prosperity Building," and it has 88 floors, eight being an auspicious number in Chinese numerology. It was surpassed in height in 2008, when Shanghai World Financial Center ("the bottle opener") was completed. When Shanghai Tower is completed in 2015, it will out-tower SWFC.

    The building was designed by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill and combines Art Deco with the form of a tiered pagoda. The impressive, shimmering tower is home to several offices, restaurants, and the Grand Hyatt Shanghai. Inside the hotel is a dizzying 33-floor atrium, the world's second longest, and the world's longest laundry chute.

    Jin Mao Tower's 88th-floor observation deck offers sweeping views of the surrounding cityscape. What I like even more than zooming up to the top is going one floor lower, to the 87th-floor Cloud 9 bar, and paying what I would in observation deck admission for a nice, leisurely drink.
  • On May 29, 2013
    Sophie Friedman answered the question: Sophie Friedman

    What is the Jin Mao Tower like in Shanghai?

    When it was completed in 1999, the Jin Mao Tower in Shanghai surpassed the Oriental Pearl Tower to become China's tallest building and the world's fifth tallest. Its name in Chinese translates to "Golden Prosperity Building," and it has 88 floors, eight being an auspicious number in Chinese numerology. It was surpassed in height in 2008, when Shanghai World Financial Center ("the bottle opener") was completed. When Shanghai Tower is completed in 2015, it will out-tower SWFC.

    The building was designed by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill and combines Art Deco with the form of a tiered pagoda. The impressive, shimmering tower is home to several offices, restaurants, and the Grand Hyatt Shanghai. Inside the hotel is a dizzying 33-floor atrium, the world's second longest, and the world's longest laundry chute.

    Jin Mao Tower's 88th-floor observation deck offers sweeping views of the surrounding cityscape. What I like even more than zooming up to the top is going one floor lower, to the 87th-floor Cloud 9 bar, and paying what I would in observation deck admission for a nice, leisurely drink.
  • On May 29, 2013
    Sophie Friedman answered the question: Sophie Friedman

    What is the Oriental Pearl Tower like in Shanghai?

    The Oriental Pearl Tower as seen from Shanghai World Financial Center When the Oriental Pearl Tower was completed in Shanghai in 1994, it was a groundbreaking structure. The tower is on the Pudong side of the Huangpu River, and though the Puxi side was well developed, Pudong had very recently been swampland. That the Oriental Pearl Tower looks like something straight out of The Jetsons made it all the more incredible. Indeed, its architectural style is best described as Googie, the same term applied to everything featued in The Jetsons.

    The Oriental Pearl Tower stands 468 meters (1,535 feet) high and was the tallest structure in China until 1999, when Shanghai World Financial Center surpassed it. Stand on the ground and you're able to count each of the tower's 15 observation decks. There's also a revolving restaurant which, though novel in concept in China, we recommend you skip.