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 May 28, 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 2007, 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.
  • On May 28, 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 2007, 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.
  • On May 28, 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 2007, 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.
  • On May 28, 2013
    Sophie Friedman answered the question: Sophie Friedman

    What is the best way to see the French Concession in Shanghai?

    (c) Dale Ellerm The French Concession is one of Shanghai’s most walkable neighborhoods, with quiet(er) streets and ample shade. The best way to see the French Concession is either on foot or by bike.

    There are a number of possible starting points for an expansive French Concession stroll. If your time is tight, start from the corner of Wukang Road and Huashan Road and walk south on Wukang Road. There are several cafes on the streets coming off of Wukang Road, including Ginger, which has a lovely terrace. At the southern tip of Wukang Road, where it meets Huaihai Road, you'll see the Normandie, built in 1924 and Shanghai's version of the Flatiron Building.

    If you've got more time, you can walk east or west along Fuxing Road, making detours north and south. Particularly nice streets are Sinan Road, just off of which is the former residence of Sun Yat-sen, Shaoxing Road, South Shaanxi Road, Nanchang Road, and southern Maoming Road. All of the streets are lined in plane trees whose leaves create a wonderful canopy of shade.

    A must-visit for any French Concession tour, whether you're traveling by bike or on foot, is Fuxing Park. Here, elderly locals paint Chinese characters using water on the blacktop, ballroom dance all afternoon long, and play spirited games of mah jong.

    If you'd like to hire a bike, the easiest place to do so is the Giant bike shop on the corner of Jianguo and Hengshan Roads. Bikes are RMB50 per day, following a refundable RMB1,000 deposit. Helmets are not included. Several hotels may also be able to rent out bikes; ask your concierge.
  • On May 28, 2013
    Sophie Friedman answered the question: Sophie Friedman

    What is the best way to see the French Concession in Shanghai?

    (c) Dale Ellerm The French Concession is one of Shanghai’s most walkable neighborhoods, with quiet(er) streets and ample shade. The best way to see the French Concession is either on foot or by bike.

    There are a number of possible starting points for an expansive French Concession stroll. If your time is tight, start from the corner of Wukang Road and Huashan Road and walk south on Wukang Road. There are several cafes on the streets coming off of Wukang Road, including Ginger, which has a lovely terrace. At the southern tip of Wukang Road, where it meets Huaihai Road, you'll see the Normandie, built in 1924 and Shanghai's version of the Flatiron Building.

    If you've got more time, you can walk east or west along Fuxing Road, making detours north and south. Particularly nice streets are Sinan Road, just off of which is the former residence of Sun Yat-sen, Shaoxing Road, South Shaanxi Road, Nanchang Road, and southern Maoming Road. All of the streets are lined in plane trees whose leaves create a wonderful canopy of shade.

    A must-visit for any French Concession tour, whether you're traveling by bike or on foot, is Fuxing Park. Here, elderly locals paint Chinese characters using water on the blacktop, ballroom dance all afternoon long, and play spirited games of mah jong.

    If you'd like to hire a bike, the easiest place to do so is the Giant bike shop on the corner of Jianguo and Hengshan Roads. Bikes are RMB50 per day, following a refundable RMB1,000 deposit. Helmets are not included. Several hotels may also be able to rent out bikes; ask your concierge.
  • On May 24, 2013
    Sophie Friedman answered the question: Sophie Friedman

    What are the best things to do in Shanghai’s Old City?

    Tranquility in Shanghai The best things to do in Shanghai’s Old City are exploring what’s left of the Old City and visiting Yu Garden.

    As the international concessions developed following the Opium War in 1842, the Old City became known by foreigners as the Chinese City, as local Chinese were not permitted to live in the foreign concessions. The Old City is (and remains) circular in shape, but the defensive wall that once surrounded it is long gone. Today, the Old City’s housing and back alleyways are disappearing quickly, but if you venture off the small roads around Yu Garden, you’ll be rewarded with a picture of traditional Chinese life that hasn’t changed much in the last hundred years.

    Yu Garden (yuyuan) is Shanghai’s answer to Suzhou’s beautiful classical Chinese gardens. Yu Garden dates back to 1559 but has been renovated several times since. Today, the garden covers five acres and is designed in traditional Suzhou style, with lots of rocks, greenery, and pagodas. Yu Garden is mobbed at the weekends and in the afternoons, so it’s best to come on weekday mornings. Within the Yu Garden complex is a bazaar selling all sorts of tchotchkes and the City God Temple, where you can light incense and watch as locals pay their respects to deceased relatives.
  • On May 24, 2013
    Sophie Friedman answered the question: Sophie Friedman

    What are the best things to do in Shanghai’s Old City?

    Tranquility in Shanghai The best things to do in Shanghai’s Old City are exploring what’s left of the Old City and visiting Yu Garden.

    As the international concessions developed following the Opium War in 1842, the Old City became known by foreigners as the Chinese City, as local Chinese were not permitted to live in the foreign concessions. The Old City is (and remains) circular in shape, but the defensive wall that once surrounded it is long gone. Today, the Old City’s housing and back alleyways are disappearing quickly, but if you venture off the small roads around Yu Garden, you’ll be rewarded with a picture of traditional Chinese life that hasn’t changed much in the last hundred years.

    Yu Garden (yuyuan) is Shanghai’s answer to Suzhou’s beautiful classical Chinese gardens. Yu Garden dates back to 1559 but has been renovated several times since. Today, the garden covers five acres and is designed in traditional Suzhou style, with lots of rocks, greenery, and pagodas. Yu Garden is mobbed at the weekends and in the afternoons, so it’s best to come on weekday mornings. Within the Yu Garden complex is a bazaar selling all sorts of tchotchkes and the City God Temple, where you can light incense and watch as locals pay their respects to deceased relatives.
  • On May 23, 2013
    Sophie Friedman answered the question: Sophie Friedman

    What are the best things to do in Pudong in Shanghai?

    Pudong as seen from Puxi The Puxi side of Shanghai may have most of the best bars and restaurants, but Pudong’s got skyscrapers in spades. The best thing to do in Pudong in Shanghai is take in the view. Jinmao Tower (home to the Grand Hyatt) and Shanghai World Financial Center (home to the Park Hyatt) are Shanghai’s two tallest skyscrapers, and will stay that way until 2015, when the new Shanghai Tower will top them. Both have observation decks—Jinmao’s is on the 88th floor and SWFC has three on the 94th, 97th, and 100th floors; the 100th is the world’s highest observatory.

    The views from the top are sweeping, but what I like even more than the observation decks themselves is heading to the Park or Grand Hyatts for a drink or a bite. You get the same view, for the same price, but in significantly more comfort and with fewer people elbowing for space. Afternoon tea at the Living Room at the Park Hyatt is particularly lovely and is Shanghai’s highest afternoon tea.
  • On May 23, 2013
    Sophie Friedman answered the question: Sophie Friedman

    What are the best things to do in Pudong in Shanghai?

    Pudong as seen from Puxi The Puxi side of Shanghai may have most of the best bars and restaurants, but Pudong’s got skyscrapers in spades. The best thing to do in Pudong in Shanghai is take in the view. Jinmao Tower (home to the Grand Hyatt) and Shanghai World Financial Center (home to the Park Hyatt) are Shanghai’s two tallest skyscrapers, and will stay that way until 2015, when the new Shanghai Tower will top them. Both have observation decks—Jinmao’s is on the 88th floor and SWFC has three on the 94th, 97th, and 100th floors; the 100th is the world’s highest observatory.

    The views from the top are sweeping, but what I like even more than the observation decks themselves is heading to the Park or Grand Hyatts for a drink or a bite. You get the same view, for the same price, but in significantly more comfort and with fewer people elbowing for space. Afternoon tea at the Living Room at the Park Hyatt is particularly lovely and is Shanghai’s highest afternoon tea.
  • On May 22, 2013
    Sophie Friedman answered the question: Sophie Friedman

    What are the best things to do on the Bund in Shanghai?

    (c) Simon Fieldhouse The Bund is Shanghai’s crown jewel, a riverside promenade lined with 52 buildings of varying architectural styles, all of them dating back to the 1920s and 30s. The best things to do on the Bund in Shanghai are take in the architecture, wine and dine, and dance the night away.

    Shanghai has plenty of terrible Soviet Bloc architecture, but along the Bund, it’s all gorgeous Gothic, Baroque, Romanesque, Classicism, and Art Deco buildings from Shanghai’s Golden Age. Both the Fairmont Peace Hotel and Waldorf Astoria Shanghai on the Bund are in gorgeous historic buildings. To get the full span of the Bund’s architecture, I recommend starting north near the Peninsula  and going south, or vice versa.

    If all that walking has you feeling peckish, avail yourself of one of the Bund’s many restaurants, all of which offer sweeping views.  When the sun is shining and there’s a cool breeze, Sunday afternoon tea on the terrace at M on the Bund is positively delightful. Other excellent options include Mr and Mrs Bund, which is open very late Friday and Saturday nights, 8 ½ Otto e Mezzo, and Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Italian restaurant Mercato. Bund-side restaurants’ window tables book up quickly, so be sure to call ahead.

    After eating, book it to one of Shanghai’s hottest clubs, Bar Rouge. Jam-packed every weekend, it’s popular with locals and expats alike. A few blocks away is M1NT, where the dance floors teems with revelers and the giant shark tank has plenty of oglers.
  • On May 22, 2013
    Sophie Friedman answered the question: Sophie Friedman

    What are the best things to do on the Bund in Shanghai?

    (c) Simon Fieldhouse The Bund is Shanghai’s crown jewel, a riverside promenade lined with 52 buildings of varying architectural styles, all of them dating back to the 1920s and 30s. The best things to do on the Bund in Shanghai are take in the architecture, wine and dine, and dance the night away.

    Shanghai has plenty of terrible Soviet Bloc architecture, but along the Bund, it’s all gorgeous Gothic, Baroque, Romanesque, Classicism, and Art Deco buildings from Shanghai’s Golden Age. Both the Fairmont Peace Hotel and Waldorf Astoria Shanghai on the Bund are in gorgeous historic buildings. To get the full span of the Bund’s architecture, I recommend starting north near the Peninsula  and going south, or vice versa.

    If all that walking has you feeling peckish, avail yourself of one of the Bund’s many restaurants, all of which offer sweeping views.  When the sun is shining and there’s a cool breeze, Sunday afternoon tea on the terrace at M on the Bund is positively delightful. Other excellent options include Mr and Mrs Bund, which is open very late Friday and Saturday nights, 8 ½ Otto e Mezzo, and Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Italian restaurant Mercato. Bund-side restaurants’ window tables book up quickly, so be sure to call ahead.

    After eating, book it to one of Shanghai’s hottest clubs, Bar Rouge. Jam-packed every weeknight, it’s popular with locals and expats alike. A few blocks away is M1NT, where the dance floors teems with revelers and the giant shark tank has its share of oglers.
  • On May 22, 2013
    Sophie Friedman answered the question: Sophie Friedman

    What are the best things to do on the Bund in Shanghai?

    (c) Simon Fieldhouse The Bund is Shanghai’s crown jewel, a riverside promenade lined with 52 buildings of varying architectural styles, all of them dating back to the 1920s and 30s. The best things to do on the Bund in Shanghai are take in the architecture, wine and dine, and dance the night away.

    Shanghai has plenty of terrible Soviet Bloc architecture, but along the Bund, it’s all gorgeous Gothic, Baroque, Romanesque, Classicism, and Art Deco buildings from Shanghai’s Golden Age. Both the Fairmont Peace Hotel and Waldorf Astoria Shanghai on the Bund are in gorgeous historic buildings. To get the full span of the Bund’s architecture, I recommend starting north near the Peninsula  and going south, or vice versa.

    If all that walking has you feeling peckish, avail yourself of one of the Bund’s many restaurants, all of which offer sweeping views.  When the sun is shining and there’s a cool breeze, Sunday afternoon tea on the terrace at M on the Bund is positively delightful. Other excellent options include Mr and Mrs Bund, which is open very late Friday and Saturday nights, 8 ½ Otto e Mezzo, and Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Italian restaurant Mercato. Bund-side restaurants’ window tables book up quickly, so be sure to call ahead.

    After eating, book it to one of Shanghai’s hottest clubs, Bar Rouge. Jam-packed every weeknight, it’s popular with locals and expats alike. A few blocks away is M1NT, where the dance floors teems with revelers and the giant shark tank has its share of oglers.
  • On May 22, 2013
    Sophie Friedman answered the question: Sophie Friedman

    What are the best things to do on the Bund in Shanghai?

    (c) Simon Fieldhouse The Bund is Shanghai’s crown jewel, a riverside promenade lined with 52 buildings of varying architectural styles, all of them dating back to the 1920s and 30s. The best things to do on the Bund in Shanghai are take in the architecture, wine and dine, and dance the night away.

    Shanghai has plenty of terrible Soviet Bloc architecture, but along the Bund, it’s all gorgeous Gothic, Baroque, Romanesque, Classicism, and Art Deco buildings from Shanghai’s Golden Age. Both the Fairmont Peace Hotel and Waldorf Astoria Shanghai on the Bund are in gorgeous historic buildings. To get the full span of the Bund’s architecture, I recommend starting north near the Peninsula Shanghai and going south, or vice versa.

    If all that walking has you feeling peckish, avail yourself of one of the Bund’s many restaurants, all of which offer sweeping views.  When the sun is shining and there’s a cool breeze, Sunday afternoon tea on the terrace at M on the Bund is positively delightful. Other excellent options include Mr and Mrs Bund, which is open very late Friday and Saturday nights, 8 ½ Otto e Mezzo, and Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Italian restaurant Mercato. Bund-side restaurants’ window tables book up quickly, so be sure to call ahead.

    After eating, book it to one of Shanghai’s hottest clubs, Bar Rouge. Jam-packed every weeknight, it’s popular with locals and expats alike. A few blocks away is M1NT, where the dance floors teems with revelers and the giant shark tank has its share of oglers.
  • On May 16, 2013
  • On May 16, 2013
    Sophie Friedman answered the question: Sophie Friedman

    What are the best historic hotels in Shanghai?

    The original Shanghai Club (circa 1861) Shiny, new hotels abound in Shanghai, but there are also a number of well-preserved historical gems. These are the best historic hotels in Shanghai.

    Fairmont Peace Hotel
    Its copper-faced pyramid (now green) is immediately recognizable on the Bund skyline, but did you know it once housed a dining room? The Five-Star Fairmont Peace Hotel, nee the Peace Hotel, was once and is now again one of Shanghai’s most luxurious hotels, and one with unbeatable history. The building was built in 1929 by Victor Sassoon and was originally the Cathay Hotel. After the 1949 Communist takeover, it became government offices and, in 1956, re-opened as the government-owned Peace Hotel. In 2007, Fairmont came in and refurbished the hotel, returning it to its former glory.

    Waldorf Astoria Shanghai on the Bund
    The front building of this two-part hotel is the Shanghai Club building, a gorgeous Baroque Revival structure from 1910. It was once home to exclusive men’s group the Shanghai Club, whose members made good use of the hotel’s Long Bar—once the world’s lengthiest—which is still in place today. The Japanese took over the building in 1941 and the Communist party in 1949; in 1971 it became the government run Dongfeng Hotel and in 1990 became home to Shanghai’s first KFC, which stayed there for six years. The beautiful building sat empty until 2009, when Hilton took over and the Five-Star Waldorf Astoria Shanghai on the Bund was born.

    Le Sun Chine
    This four-storey villa was built in 1932 by the Sun family, and even Sun Yat-sen made appearances. Chen Le and Sebastian Sun opened the 17-room hotel in March 2011 and since then guests have been basking in its quiet, tucked-away luxury. Stepping inside is like going back in time; the décor is meant to bring you back to the 30s—think  CD players disguised as phonographs. Each room is named after a street from old Shanghai. The hotel is tiny but stunning.