A View From The Top: Visiting The Highest Observation Deck in The World

Like many metropolises, one of the best ways to see Shanghai is looking down on it from above.  There are certainly no shortage of options to choose from in.  There are observation decks in iconic Oriental Pearl TV Tower, World Financial Center, Jin Mao Tower, and the newest and tallest of the bunch is the Shanghai Tower.

At the time of its official opening in 2016, Shanghai Tower boasts a number of impressive records.  Shanghai Tower has the tallest useable floor at 1,927 feet and contains the highest observation deck at 1,841 feet high.   At 2,073 feet tall it is the worlds third tallest structure, behind the Burj Khalifa in Dubai and Tokyo SkyTree and the second tallest building behind the Burj Khalifa.  

From left to right World Financial Center, Jin Mao Tower, and Shanghai Tower.

With so many tall skyscrapers as neighbors, Shanghai Tower doesn’t particularly stand out as much as you might expect from a 2,000 plus tall building.   It is definitely taller, but its staggering height doesn’t really hit you by staring at the skyline.  Within Shanghai there are four buildings standing more than 1,000 feet tall and thirty at 700 feet or taller.  The scale of Shanghai’s buildings are hard to appreciate on an individual basis and is instead appreciated more as a whole.  It’s much like watching an NBA basketball game and that 7’0 foot tall center does not look as imposing when surrounded by 6’6 or above players around him, as opposed to if they were standing around an average crowd of people.

Visiting the Shanghai Tower observation deck is easy.  A ticket desk is located right outside the building and it appears most agents speak English.  An escalator is located right behind the ticket desk that will take you to the observation desk entrance.

The bottom floor has a small exhibit showcasing the tallest buildings in the world, including a detailed look at the Shanghai tower.  It has some interesting models, LCD screens, and holograms worth checking out before heading to the elevators.  The elevators travel straight to the 118th floor in under a minute, reaching speeds roughly 40 mph.  This makes them the worlds fastest.  The ride is really smooth and the only way to realize how high and fast you are going is the need to pop your ears.

A cloudy view from the Shanghai Tower observation deck.

Once arriving at the top you have full access to the entire floor with 360 degree views of the city below.  It rained my entire time in Shanghai so getting expansive shots was not possible with visibility being poor.  While the view on the ground doesn’t seem to show much of a difference between the Shanghai Tower and its neighbors, from this perspective there is a much more noticeable difference as you look down on the ‘smallish’ 1,621 foot tall World Financial Center and the ‘puny’ 1,535 Oriental Pearl TV Tower.       

On the right is the World Financial Center (1,614 feet) and the lower left is the Jin Mao Tower (1,381 feet.)

There are many options for viewing Shanghai from above.  The Oriental Pearl TV Tower may still be the most popular with its iconic status.  Its location near the water also has some preferring that view.  The Shanghai Tower is the best choice for those looking for a record breaking view.

Visiting the Shanghai Tower

Shanghai Tower is located in the financial district of Pudong in Shanghai.  Take subway line 2 to Lujiazui station.  Take exit 4 and is about a 10 minute walk north of the station.  Shanghai Tower is next to the world Financial Center and Jin Mao Towers. 



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