The Seoul Sky Observatory: Definitely A Must See
The newly opened Seoul Sky Observatory (서울 스카이), the third highest observatory in the world but featuring the highest glass deck in the world, has easily topped my list of spots to get the best views of the city of Seoul from above.
Open for only a few weeks now, I waited until the mad rush of the first week was over and made my way there with my friend Shelley from the blog Travel Stained. The morning was bright and the skies were clear and I was sure we’d be met with lines out the door still, yet somehow we managed to walk right up on a Friday morning and get right in. No crowds. No fuss. No muss.
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Not only was it amazing to go somewhere in Seoul that has been highly promoted and NOT find lines, but the hype was legit. This should be on anyone’s list of Must-See Sites in Seoul, Korea.
Located in Lotte World Tower (롯데월드타워), the fifth tallest building in the world at 555 meters tall, the observatory has a super interesting design with platforms for viewing from floors 117 to 120. Most observatories I’ve visited are just one or two floors with windows all around. Sky Seoul, however, not only offers the window view, but there are transparent glass floors jutting out to the north and the south and then there is an open air observatory another floor up. It’s basically a great way to accommodate a ton of people yet keep them moving and viewing without bumping into each other. Something that always seems to be an issue here in Seoul.
While we were lucky to get in fairly quickly without a wait, I’ve heard from other visitors that there can be a pretty tremendous line up at times so I’d recommend getting tickets in advance so you don’t have to wait! Anything to make the process faster, right?
If you do choose to purchase on site, after purchasing tickets at the Seoul Sky lobby on the B1 floor, you’ll get your tickets checked and enter a dark corridor with flashing lights. The tickets are limited to 500 entrants per 30 minutes so you need to check how many people are with you. When there aren’t close to 500 people, you can enter early or late without problem it seems… as that’s what we did. When we were headed in, there were still 425 some tickets open for our time slot so it was practically devoid of people. The “Exhibition Floor” is dark and feels a bit like going through airport security but cool and moody like you’re really going onto some sort of space ship. The large-scale projections were clearly and cleverly installed so that people waiting in line would have something visually stimulating to observe as they waited.
While there weren’t even lines when we went, we still spent about 10 minutes just enjoying the light show.
Our bags were checked for prohibited items including knives, scissors, stun guns, nunchakus, baseball bats, golf clubs, explosives and apparently tripods, selfie sticks and chairs if you’re carrying one of those with you. And then we headed up. The elevators unfortunately don’t offer any views as you go up, though the walls of the elevator itself are screens that do light up with some pretty excellent images so you should already have your camera ready. The elevators, named Sky Shuttle, are SUPER fast and efficient and before we knew it (had to be less than a minute), we were exiting onto the 118th floor to see the “Observation Deck”.
The Sky Deck has circular 360 degree views of the city far far below but then there are two “decks” that jut out with the popular transparent glass floors.
Due to the few people visiting the day we went, no one was pushing or shoving to get that iconic photo. We even laid down on the glass to get some photos taken by a friendly stranger. As we walked around to the one on the north side of the structure, we also realized that the attendants can also apparently control whether or not the glass is transparent. When we got to the north side, we were surprised that this side DIDN’T have a transparent floor. Shelley, someone with a slight fear of those high high heights, walked out nonchalantly only to have the guy turn on the transparent floor just as I started snapping pics.
Needless to say, there’s some fun to be had up there along with taking in the spectacular views.
If you want to have even more fun, visit Lotte World which is the amusement park just next to the tower. Lotte pretty much owns the entire block and you could spend the whole day visiting their various fun and breathtaking facilities.
From the 118th floor, there are escalators in the center to take you up to the next observatory area. The 120th floor offers the open-air outdoor terrace a staggering 483 meters high up in the sky. Even though it was sunny, the wind was blowing pleasantly so we weren’t hot or cold and we were having a ball taking photos clearly. The views were spectacular and having a clear blue day allowed us to see really as far as the eye can see. Taking selfies almost 500 meters up in the sky is hard stuff though. Take a friend to get some awesome shots with spectacular backdrops. The attendants are numerous though and if there aren’t a billion people.. or 500 visiting, they’d probably step up to help you with a photo if you asked nicely.
Continue to head up on the escalators in the center of the floors and at the 121st floor there is still more to see as well as pricey coffees to drink and souvenirs to buy. Again the circular windows abound, but in the center above where the lookout decks and terraces below are, is one more almost floor to ceiling view. This was one of my favorite views. You can then go up just one more flight and see this same view from above to get some different angles too. Clearly the design of this observatory was well thought out and planned.
The city of Seoul is impressive and often it’s hard to appreciate how impressive it is. From above seeing just how sprawling it is and how much it has been built up in just the past few decades is really astounding.
This is just ONE of the spots that you can get a truly breathtaking view of Seoul, but don’t miss these other highlights around the city that I would highly recommend. Some other spots are also FREE so if you’re looking for that budget friendly stop, don’t miss the spots I recommend in the post I just linked.
The tickets get you up to the 122nd floor. If you’d like to go up further to the 123rd floor to the 123 Lounge for some (likely) expensive meals, you need to get a different ticket. Do NOT miss out on this amazing experience. It’s worth the price tag.
Coming to Seoul? Know Where To Stay!
A great option in the artsy Hongdae district is Nine Brick Hotel. Not only is this hotel chic, but gorgeous inside and out and a bit different than many spots to stay in the area. Also easy to find on the main road and near a subway station. Guests can choose from 94 rooms, all of which exude an atmosphere of total peace and harmony.
If you’d rather have something a bit more traditional but absolutely stunning, check out the Ihwa Hanok Stay. This is an entire Hanok House that is available for rental and features five bedrooms, four bathrooms and all of the amenities you’d want yet still in a traditional home. This spot is suitable for 12 guests and is really so well suited for any traveler that might not be quite sure about sleeping on the floor of a Hanok just yet, but wants to have the experience.
Stay in the Gangnam area and check into GLAD Live. It’s the perfect place to experience Seoul and its surroundings. From here, guests can enjoy easy access to all that the lively city has to offer. Glad Live Gangnam offers impeccable service and all the essential amenities to invigorate travelers.
Seoul Sky Observatory (서울 스카이)
Address: 29 Sincheon-dong Songpa-gu, Seoul, Korea (서울시 송파구 신천동 29)
Hours: 9:30am ~ 11:00pm
Days: Open all year round
Admission: Adult (13+): W27,000; Child (3-12): W24,000; Children under 3 are free with an adult & with proper identification showing the age of the child.
Guidelines for tickets:
- Tickets are only valid for the day of issue.
- Admission is only permitted for the date/time printed on the ticket.
- Admission may be delayed depending on the number of visitors.
- Re-admission is prohibited and tickets cannot be transferred to others.
Amenities: nursing lounge, disabled and elderly accessible, restrooms, cafe, parking vouchers