You can’t go to Guangzhou and not visit the Canton Tower. It’s Guangzhou’s signature building and it’s visible throughout the whole city. With a total height of 600 meters, it’s a great example of what can be build when money isn’t an issue. The Canton Tower has the highest observation point and the highest cable car ride in the world and it’s overall, a pretty amazing tower.
The Canton Tower is designed by Dutch architecture firm IBA and is 600 meters high (including the antenna on top). Its main purpose is to function as a TV tower but they didn’t just limit it to that. The tower has become multifunctional and also offers an observation point, an exhibition area, a 3D/4D cinema, a post office, a revolving restaurant and amusement rides such as the Bubble Tram and the Sky Drop.
The opening of the Canton Tower happened in 2010 during the Asian Games. I visited the tower when I was here 3 years ago but it wasn’t completely open to the public at that point. The whole area around the tower wasn’t very developed at the time. Now it has its own metro stop and a shopping mall on the bottom floors.
I’ve been waiting for a clear day to visit the tower and today seemed like the perfect day to do it. The sky was bright blue, without a cloud to be seen. When I arrived at the Canton Tower MTR stop and looked at the tower from below, it made me feel very tiny and I couldn’t wait to go up again.
There are a couple of different ticket packages for sale at the ticket office. Going up can be as cheap as 150 RMB or as expensive as 488 RMB, depending on what you want to experience during your visit. The cheapest ticket already gives access to an indoor observation deck at 433 meters, which is not that bad of a deal. For Chinese standards though, Canton Tower tickets are on the expensive side.
I opted for the 450 Look Out + Sightseeing Observation Deck ticket. This is the cheapest ticket that will take you to the roof area and it costs 228 RMB. For some reason I got a 18 RMB discount on my ticket, maybe because it wasn’t a busy day or something. A full overview of the prices is listed below. The ticket prices can vary a little bit during special days.
After buying my ticket I walked straight through to the waiting area for the elevator. Fortunately for me, I was the first in line here. This was very different to my last visit, where it took about one hour just to get to the elevator. Going to the top didn’t take very long neither because the elevator moves at a speed of about 6 meters per second.
Observation decks on the 107th and 108th floor
The elevator will take you straight to an indoor observation deck on the 107th floor. This is located 428 meters above the ground. From here you can walk up to the 108th floor, which also has an indoor observation deck, a souvenir shop and a restaurant.
There is an elevator from both floors going up to the lookout point on the roof, at a height of 450 meters. From here, you can still go up higher to an outdoor observation point at 488 meters. To be able to go here you will have to pay 1 RMB per meter effectively, 488 RMB in total.
From the 107th floor there is a good view on the Modiesha area, where I was living before. The development of the Pazhou area is very visible from here, with its several construction sites. The Canton Fair exhibition halls can also be seen in the distance.
Both of the observation decks have a so called Sky Walk. This is a point that extends outside of the tower with glass on all sides and it creates the feeling of walking in the sky. You can have your picture taken here professionally but it’s a bit expensive. You can also have a look straight down through the glass floor and get a good idea of how high you actually are.
The Canton Tower is straight in line with the Zhujiang New Town central business district. The Asian Games stadium is the first building in line from here. This stadium doesn’t serve any purpose anymore after the Asian Games finished but it does give a nice contrast to the whole Zhujiang New Town area.
The 450 outdoor lookout point is really unique in itself but for those who aren’t satisfied just by being 450 meters high, there are some amusement rides too. A cable car is going around the edge of the roof for a 20 minute ride and the Sky Drop will drop you from 485 meters to 450 meters in a few seconds.
The center area of the observation point has a plaque, which commemorates two of Canton Tower’s current Guinness Records. It has the Highest Observation Deck in the World and the Highest Thrill Ride in the World.
I didn’t go on the cable cars myself, because I thought it was a bit too expensive. It’s not a very good idea for people with a fear of heights generally, to take a ride in those cars. The view from there must be amazing though.
From the west side of the tower, I was able to get a view on the Haizhu district. This is the area in which I’m currently living and it looked very beautiful with the sunset in the background.
The sky was very clear during my visit to the tower but the view was still very limited because of the smog. While standing up here, it becomes very visible how serious the smog problem in Guangzhou really is. It’s probably not getting any better in the coming years neither so it’s just something that people have to learn to live with out here.
It’s not very normal to be up on a roof at a height of 450 meters. You’re getting a view from here that you would normally only get from an airplane. The Canton Tower is actually in the middle of a couple of flight paths. Planes are passing the tower, left and right and it can make you a bit dizzy looking up at them as they pass. They are of course, still flying a lot higher then the total height of the tower.
The best time to go up on the tower is around 5 o’clock in the afternoon, in my opinion. This way you get to enjoy the view in the daytime and you can also experience the sunset from here. It will be much more crowded when it gets dark so it’s good to be up already. When it’s crowded, you might have to wait for about an hour to get up.
On my way down I went to the 107th floor again, to have a look at the Zhujiang New Town area in the dark. It has a laser show going on at some of the buildings and especially the lights on the IFC Tower are fun to watch.
The Canton Tower also has a cool looking light show, that kicks off as it’s getting dark. There are 6000 LED lights covering the complete outside of the tower, which are constantly changing colors. Philips has setup this light spectacle that can be seen from the whole center area of Guangzhou and beyond.
I would say going up the Canton Tower, is the best thing to do for a tourist in Guangzhou. Even though it’s a bit more expensive then most other things in China, it’s an experience you won’t soon forget. It will probably take a long time before such a beautiful tower will be made again somewhere in the world.
A building like the Canton Tower isn’t something you would come across anywhere in Europe. There are just too many rules and regulations about safety for such a tower to exist in Europe, not to mention the financial impossibilities of these kinds of projects. It goes to show that pretty much anything is possible in China.