Guide to Visiting Shanghai World Financial Center Observatory

Shanghai World Financial Center is a skyscraper in Shanghai, standing at 492 meters (1614 feet), it used to be the tallest building in the world by roof height, now it's Shanghai's second tallest building. The building is best known for its large aperture on the top, which makes the building look like a bottle opener.

Looking up at Shanghai World Financial Center
Looking up at Shanghai World Financial Center

Unlike the solemn name, Shanghai World Financial Center is not just for financial use, it has a series of upper floors open to public as viewing platforms, which known as SWFC Observatory, it's one of the most popular tourist destinations in Shanghai.


In fact that iconic large aperture on the top of the building was just designed for the observation decks, the trapezoidal aperture starts from the height of 436 meters and ends at 474 meters, spanning nearly 40 meters of the total height of the building, the portion doesn't contain office space, but only the observation decks, the two column structures on the two sides of the aperture contain the tunnels for elevators that transport the tourists to the uppermost observation deck on the sky bridge.

The giant aperture of Shanghai World Financial Center
The giant aperture of Shanghai World Financial Center, the observation deck can be seen inside the sky bridge above the aperture.

Shanghai World Financial Center has a total of 3 floors being occupied by observation decks, which are on the 94th, 97th and 100th floor of the building, respectively at 423 meters, 439 meters and 474 meters above the ground, the uppermost observation deck at 474 meters was once the highest observation deck in the world from 2008 to 2011, now after so many years it's still one of world's top 5 highest observation decks.
The admission fee of the observatory is 180 Chinese Yuan. The ticket can be booked online by clicking here. Although the ticket can also be purchased at the ticket hall of the building, but sometimes the queue for the ticket is very long, and booking online is cheaper, it's much better to book the ticket in advance. There has been a surprising policy for the admission since its opening in 2008, that is a visitor is allowed to visit there free of charge on his or her birthday, so if the day you wish to visit the observation deck is your birthday, you can show your identification to get a free ticket, for foreigners, you should bring your passport as the identification.

The opening hours of the Shanghai World Financial Center is 8:00 AM to 11:00 PM every day, and entrance closes at 10:00 PM, this is earlier than observation decks in American cities, so remember don't go too late.

The address of Shanghai World Financial Center is 100 Century Avenue, Pudong, Shanghai.

There are many ways to get there, the most popular way is by metro, take the Metro Line 2, get off at Dongchang Road Station, and find the Exit 4 to get out the station, the building will be arrived; Another one of best ways is by ferry, in this way you can enjoy the scenery of the Huangpu River, you can find ferries at the Bund, buy a ticket for just two Chinese Yuan you will be able to get on the ferry, after the ferry arriving the shore on Pudong side just take 5 minutes walk the building will be arrived.
To access the observatory, you need to find the right entrance to observatory, as there are many different entrances at the base of the building, only one is for observatory, there's a sign reads Shanghai World Financial Center will guide you to the entrance to observatory, the entrance is at west side of the building on basement level 1.
After the security check and ticketing, the first thing to watch is a model of skyscrapers in Pudong, Shanghai, the model will show the day views and night views.

After watched the model, the guide will lead visitors to the elevators through a hallway, where a video introduces Shanghai World Financial Center will be presented, then visitors will arrive at the elevator hall, and wait for the elevator, the waiting time varies depends on the amount of visitors.
After getting into the elevator, the elevator will transport the visitors to the observatory with a speed of 8 meters per second. About a minute later the elevator will arrive the 96th floor, visitors will be escorted to a escalator, which will take you to the 97th floor.

This observation deck is known as sky walk, it is first floor of observatory. The sky walk is located on the bottom of the that giant aperture, if you look up you will get a close view of the aperture and the skybridge at 100th floor, it is said when the weather is very fine the glass ceiling will be opened like convertible car, transforming the enclosed observatory to an open-air one, on which visitors could feel the air at such a high altitude, but I didn't see it opened when I visited there.

Visitors can't stay on 97th floor much time, but will be escorted to another elevator that will take them to the 100th floor, which is the highest observation deck located at, here is the interior of the 100th floor of Shanghai World Financial Center:

This floor is built on that sky bridge above the large trapezoidal aperture, there you can stay as long as you want, the observation deck is a 55 m long corridor, it provides stunning views of whole city of Shanghai.

The windows are all made of glasses floor to ceiling, to offer more impressive views of the streets below, these glasses are built leaning towards outside, so that visitors visitors can more freely look down at the streets, and Jin Mao Tower, it's worth to mention the observation deck is one of best place to watch the view of Jin Mao Tower and take pictures of it, many best photos of Jin Mao Tower are shot from there.

Look down at the Jin Mao Tower from the observatory

The dusk view of Jin Mao Tower seen from the 100th floor of Shanghai World Financial Center
The dusk view of Jin Mao Tower seen from the 100th floor of Shanghai World Financial Center

There are some transparent areas on the floor, standing on which you can see the Sky Walk below the aperture and the vehicles far below it.

As a rectangular viewing platform, the observation deck has two sides for visitors to stand by for the views outside the windows, and the west side is always crowded with people while the east side has only a few people, this is because of that the views from west side is much more impressive, as there are rivers, landmark buildings like Oriental Pearl Tower, Jin Mao Tower or other skyscrapers, the historic buildings of various architectural styles on The Bund, and the city center of Shanghai.

The night view of Oriental Pearl Tower seen from the observation deck
The night view of Oriental Pearl Tower seen from the observation deck

Aside from the Huangpu River, a smaller river called Suzhou River is another nice sight to watch, three landmarks can be found near the mouth of the river, which are the People's Heroes Monument, Garden Bridge and the Broadway Mansions.

Suzhou River seen from Shanghai World Financial Center
Suzhou River seen from Shanghai World Financial Center

The views seen from the east side of the observatory is not as attractive as west side, but with fewer high-rise buildings, you may feel this side is much higher, as the buildings looks much smaller.

The view of the city seen from the east side of the observatory
The view of the city seen from the east side of the observatory

Avoid visiting there on the Chinese holidays, on those days the west side will be filled with people. And note there's no washing room on this floor, you need to have a preparation for that, the washing room can be found at the last observation deck which is on 94th floor.

It is recommended to visit the observation deck before the dusk time, in this way you can watch both day views and night views. The night views is more attractive as every building in the city is decorated with lights of different colors.

The Huangpu River appears more attractive in the dusk.

Huangpu River at night
Huangpu River at night

The tower seen on the north shore of the river is known as White Magnolia Plaza, the building is a relatively new addition to the skyline of Shanghai, it's tallest building in Puxi district if judged by roof height.


After leaving the sky bridge there is last observation deck for tourists to visit, that is the one on the 94 floor, this floor is at 423 meters, it's not as high as first two observation decks, but it has largest floor plate and highest ceiling, like a large lobby, spanning an area of about 8600 square feet, and the ceiling is 8 meters high, at here you have a close view of the uppermost section of Jin Mao Tower, the tip of its spire is approximately as high as this lobby on 94th floor.

Jin Mao Tower seen from the observation deck on 94th floor
Jin Mao Tower seen from the observation deck on 94th floor

And there's a shopping area that has souvenirs for sale and a place for drinks.
After watched all these, visitors will take the elevator to a shopping mall on the base floors of the building, and from there you can walk out to leave the building, then the whole trip is finished.

Look up at Shanghai World Financial Center at night
Look up at Shanghai World Financial Center at night
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