As the landmark of Guangzhou, the Canton Tower lies at the south bank of the Pearl River, and with a height of 1,968ft (600 metres), it is the highest tower in China and the third highest in the world. From the top, visitors have a birds-eye view of the whole city, and there are even thrill rides atop the tower for those that love their adrenaline rush!
The Canton Tower was probably the highlight of my time in Guangzhou from a tourist’s perspective. Especially at night, this beautiful modern skyscraper is a joy to look at. I am told that the design of the tower was inspired by female hip bones…but whatever, it really is a great piece of architecture, and it compares very well visually to other skyscrapers in Asia I have visited, such as Taipei 101 and the Jin Mao Tower in Shanghai.
Although I travelled by taxi, getting to the Canton Tower is very easy. Take subway line 3 to Canton Tower Station, and get out from Exit A, or hop on bus no. 262, 468, or tourist line 1, and get off at Canton Tower West Station. Wherever you are in Guangzhou, you cannot miss this huge iconic structure, and ticketing begins at 10am each morning. The entrance price for the Canton Tower for adults is around 150CNY, although this only gives you access to the observation decks on the 107th and 108th floors. There are separate admissions for everything else, including the famous Bubble Tram.
With the basic admission ticket, you can access 2 indoor observation decks, the Cloud Observation Deck, and the Space Observation Deck, which both give amazing panoramic views over the city. However, reaching these observation decks is an adventure itself! There are elevators, of course, but for the more adventurous (and fit!) there is a ringed pathway around the centre of the tower that takes AGES to climb – definitely not for sufferers of vertigo1 I would recommended visiting the Canton Tower at night actually, not only to get a sexier view of Guangzhou with all its many colours and laser shows ongoing, but also because during the day there can be a little smog that ruins the experience (not as much as in say, Beijing, but still enough). I also found that regardless of time of visit, there will also be literally thousands of Chinese tourists enjoying the tower (none of whom know how to form an orderly queue…).
At the very top of the Canton Tower is what is known as the “488 Lookout”, which is also home to the unique Bubble Tram. As a separate admission, accessing the 488 Lookout will set you back another 280CNY and the Bubble Tram itself is another 180CNY, although combo tickets for the whole tower and its key thrill attractions are available for a discounted 488CNY per person (hence the name “488 Lookout, I guess). The Bubble Tram is a weird little attraction, but it is very popular with tourists from all over the world, and I saw many young couples take a romantic journey around the circumference of the tower in these little tram vehicles. There is literally nothing between the window of your tram and a 600m freefall below – so luckily for visitors the tram does not operate in high winds!