Friday, 4 December 2015

Enter the Supermodel - Canton Tower

At about 600 meters, Canton Tower is the tallest TV tower in China (yes, that's even taller than Taipei 101). However, what really sets this tower apart is it's distinct shape: the hour glass, or supermodel shape. More than just a TV tower, Canton Tower also includes several tourist attractions designed to make full use of the height and beauty of the building.

About Canton Tower

Canton Tower (广州塔) stands 600 meters from the base of the building to the top of the spire. It is designed by Mark Hemel to be an iconic landmark for the 2010 Asian Games. The highest level that visitors can reach is the 428m outdoor observation deck (some special tours go up to 488m, but those are rare and expensive). There are also several attractions within the tower such as a 3D cinema, drop tower and bubble tram.

All the attractions within Canton Tower

To get to Canton Tower, simply take Guangzhou Subway Line 3 or Guangzhou APM to Canton Tower station. Yes, the station is named after this tower. And for those of you Theme Park fans, the Chimelong Paradise theme park also lies on line 3!

Tickets are expensive, though. A trip up the tower to the INDOOR observation deck is about RMB188 (SGD 40), access to OUTDOOR observation deck is RMB228 (SGD 50), and if you additionally want to experience one of the rides at the top of the tower its RMB 298 (SGD 65). That is about 1.5 times that of Singapore Flyer! I think that the rides are not worth but going to the outdoor observation deck is quite a worthwhile experience.

The Lobby area

After purchasing your tickets, the first area you enter is the lobby. Here, there are 2 sets of lifts - one leads to the restaurant, while the other leads to the observation decks. Also, there are several exhibits of Guangzhou's urban planning, which are very detailed and really gives you an insight into the scale of urban development that Guangzhou, and China as whole is undertaking.

How can we forget, its almost Christmas!

This is the plan for downtown Guangzhou. See Canton Tower on the left?

The staff are friendly and will usher you into a lift at either level 1 or level 2. You may ask, why bother going to level 2? That is because Canton Tower's lifts are actually double decked. Yes. You heard me. Double decked. This means that the lift will board simultaneously on first and second floor, then once at the top it will alight simultaneously at the 107th and 108th floor. The doors and windows are glass so you really feel the sheer scale of the tower.

Indoor observation deck, 107F/108F

The indoor observation deck is the basic observation deck of Canton Tower. It spans 2 floors (in line with the double decked elevator design). There, you can take a separate lift up to the rides and outdoor observation deck. However, I think that the toilets there are too small considering that the tower is designed to accommodate up to 20,000 people a day (or comparable to USS/Disneyland, in 1 narrow tower). The male toilet has just 1 cubicle and 2 urinals!

If you think the haze in Singapore is bad......

There is also a small souvenir shop at the observation deck, though I'm sure you can predict the prices.

428m Outdoor Observation Deck

To me, what makes Canton Tower special is the outdoor observation deck. Most towers only have an indoor observation level, but an outdoor experience really lets you experience the majestic view of the city in an unobstructed way. Also, there are 2 rides up there: a slow bubble tram that goes around the circumference of the tower, and a 30m tall drop tower that leaves you dangling over the edge of the tower!

Yup! This drop tower is at the top of Canton Tower!

It is the designed by Swiss ride manufacturer Intamin, which also built Giant Drop at Dreamworld Australia

There is a separate ticket check to access this observation deck. You can also enjoy some overpriced snacks at the snack bar beside the ticket checking area. The wind is very strong up there, so don't forget your windbreaker/jacket!

There is also another observation deck at 488m but that is for a special tour that costs over RMB400. The tour also includes access into the building structure exhibit

Additional Information

To commemorate Canton Tower's 5th anniversary, there are some exhibits on the ground floor that depict the conceptualisation, planning and construction of Canton Tower. It is really worth a look, and shows the respect that China places on the building's designers, engineers and builders. 

Other than that, here are a few pointers:

  • You can eat at a rotating restaurant on the 106 floor of Canton Tower. However, the food is priced about twice that of comparable restaurants at ground level, so I think it is more of a one time experience
  • The special tours up the spiral staircase and the 488m observation deck are usually in late morning/afternoon and slots are limited, so it is advised not to go there too late.
  • You may purchase tickets online at Canton Tower's website, as there are sometimes small discounts of about RMB20-30. Warning: only the Chinese version of the website has online booking.
  • Its nice to go in the evening, about 5pm, so you can experience the tower both in the day and at night.

That is all for China's tallest TV tower, Canton Tower. If you like this post, I really appreciate your help to share this with your friends, and also like the Second Drop Facebook page. Thank you!