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We went up the Shanghai Tower

...and it's damn high. The world's second-tallest building soft opens

Photography by Corine Tiah
Does the world really need another super-tall skyscraper? Probably not, but that’s certainly not stopping China (or the UAE, for that matter). Over two decades from its first conception and nearly eight years since its ground-breaking, the staggering 632-metres Shanghai Tower is finally opening to the public. It’s in 'soft-opening' to start, with access to the viewing platform on the 119th floor available only through select tour companies now and a full-fledged opening to the general public expected for late June or early July.

If you’re into superlatives, this 127-floor monster has got you covered. It’s China’s tallest building – second in the world after Dubai’s 828-metre Burj Khalifa – and lays claim to the world’s fastest elevators. Once everything has opened, it’ll have the world’s highest restaurant, highest hotel lobby, highest swimming pool with a view, highest wind turbines, highest… okay, you get it. All provided someone else doesn't one up them, of course. (And, in Obscure Fact of the Day, it’s also the first high-rise to have a cloud computing system.)

We go down before we go up, taking an escalator to the basement of the building where we pass through security.


The entrance hall actually has quite nicely presented bilingual displays about Shanghai and skyscrapers. There’s multimedia wall with images, videos and 3D holographs (kitsch FTW) about Shanghai’s skyline, architecture and Lujiazui. Opposite that, running the length of the wall, there’s a two-minute, time-lapse video showing the Pudong skyline from 1840 to the present. Definitely the kind of thing you’d expect to be tacky as hell, but it’s very well done and quite captivating. In fact, this is the case with the exhibits on the whole.



There are scale models of the world’s tallest buildings with interactive screens and illustrated displays on everything skyscraper – how tall buildings are measured, the difference between ‘supertall’ and ‘megatall’ buildings and of course, everything you’d want to know and more about Shanghai Tower. Whatever the final ticket price may be (likely around 180RMB), this mini-skyscraper museum should make it worth it.





On to the 119th floor. Daaaaamn, those elevators are fast. We hit 18 metres per second and make it up in less than a minute.


Before we get up there, the difference between a viewing platform on the 100th floor of Shanghai World Financial Center and on the 119th floor at Shanghai Tower seems negligible. When you’re looking down on the SWFC, it does not.


We’re not even that into heights and there is something indescribably powerful about being the tallest around. Although Dubai's Burj Khalifa is nearly 200 metres taller than Shanghai Tower, the observation deck is lower, making this the world's highest. The Oriental Pearl Television Tower is tiny, and everything in Puxi is basically 2D.


The whole floor is open to wandering, so you can get the full 360-view. Even without great visibility, we nab some killer Instagram shots – arguably worth the ticket price alone.



If you want to catch the views from Shanghai Tower during this blissfully uncrowded, soft-opening, Bespoke Shanghai can hook you up. They offer access as part of their custom-designed half-day and full-day tours, starting from 2,000RMB for groups of up to eight people. Otherwise, we’ll keep you posted on the official summer opening to the public.