Though now dwarfed by its neighbours, the bulbous Pearl Tower (the design was supposedly based on a Tang dynasty poem) arguably remains Shanghai’s most iconic building and is worth a visit for the sheer kitsch value of the entertainment within.
Tickets are priced according to floor access, so skip the ‘space capsule’ sightseeing floor in the uppermost ‘pearl’ and the mediocre buffet at the 267m-high revolving restaurant. Instead, take the lift up to the 259m-high skywalk (entry 160RMB, also includes access to all floors below) – a 360 degree transparent observatory where the floors, as well as the walls, are made of glass, which makes for some great photo opportunities for those not prone to attacks of vertigo.
The real draw, though, is the surreal rollercoaster located 98 metres up, claimed to be the world’s highest indoor ride. It’s not well signposted; to get there you need to descend to ‘Game City’, an eerily deserted, pink-neon lit arcade stinking of rancid popcorn. The ride itself is short but surprisingly thrilling, especially for younger kids, and for 30RMB extra you can take home a photo of yourself mid-squeal. The fun doesn’t stop there, as you descend to ground level via a glass elevator on the building exterior.
Finally, be sure to check out the Municipal History Museum
(entry 35RMB) in the basement for walk-through scale models of old Shanghai and waxworks galore.