When people think of Shanghai, one of the first things they think of is skyscrapers. Living in Shanghai, we see them every day, but it took us almost a full year to go inside of one. I guess there is some truth the idea that people tend not to travel in their own backyards.
Skyscrapers in Lujiazui
The tallest buildings in Shanghai are located at the tip of land where the Huangpu River takes a big turn – an area called Lujiazui (LOO-JYOW-ZWAY). It is considered the financial center of China, and aims to be the financial hub of Asia. The best views of the area are from across the river, along the historic Bund area, or from the deck of one of the many tour boats that go up and down the river at night. To truly appreciate the skyline, it’s best to visit once during the day, and again at night, when the buildings are lit up in neon colors.
Shanghai’s Tallest Building – The Shanghai Tower
Shanghai is home to the second tallest building in the world, the Shanghai Tower, which soars to 632m, and that is where I began my tour of Shanghai’s skyscrapers. The building is an elegant twisting design, rising to the sky, with a clear shell, showing the actual building behind a tall glass atrium. When fully open, the building will house offices, retail, and a hotel, but right now, only the observation deck is open to the public. The entrance to the observation deck is actually through the basement of the building, where you walk through a museum, highlighting the lightning-fast development of the Lujiazui area, and paying homage to other skyscrapers around the world. Then, you take a short trip up the world’s fastest elevator to the world’s highest observation deck. On a clear day, you’ll have views of the surrounding area and across the whole city of Shanghai. Unfortunately, my day was not so clear – but still awe-inspiring.
Shanghai World Financial Center – The Bottle-opener
The three highest buildings in Shanghai are all located adjacent to each other, on three city blocks, so we decided to visit the other two on the the same evening. The second tallest, Shanghai World Financial Center, is better known as “The Bottle Opener,” because of its close resemblance. Instead of visiting the observation deck, we chose to see the view from the Park Hyatt Hotel, located near the top of the building. Not a bad view for dinner or a cocktail.
Jin Mao Tower
Last, but not least, we walked across the street to the Jin Mao Tower. In Chinese, Jin (金) means “gold,” and the designers took that to heart, with gold plate (paint?) everywhere you turn. There is another spectacular hotel at the top of this building, the Grand Hyatt. The showcase of this hotel is the stunning gold atrium, spiraling 22 floors down. Not recommended if you have a fear of heights – my daughter went running back to the elevators the minute she peeked over the edge. Hold on to your camera when you lean over to take a picture – it’s a long way down!
Measuring Buildings and Advice for Visiting
After a few days touring Shanghai’s tallest buildings, I measure tall buildings differently. It’s not really how many floors that matter, but how many times your ears pop when going up the elevator! In case you’re curious, here are the measurements:
- Shanghai Tower – 4 pops
- Shanghai World Financial Center – 3 pops
- Jin Mao Tower – 2 pops
Finally, here is some advice for visiting Shanghai’s skyscrapers:
1) Plan your visit for a clear day to get the best views and photographs
2) Wear dark clothing, to minimize glare in your photographs
3) Chew gum in the elevators to help your ears adjust