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Infinite Views at Seoul Sky: The Highest Outdoor Observatory in the World

If you’ve lived in Korea for any length of time, you know that clear skies and good air quality are not necessarily a given. So, when you get 3 uninterrupted weeks of glorious blue skies, fluffy clouds and bright sunshine, you know it’s time to mark the occasion with something special.

For Hallie of The Soul of Seoul and I, that something special, was a trip up Korea’s tallest building to the 3rd highest observatory in the world – Seoul Sky.

Panoramas from Seoul Sky are astounding, with views of the city, the surrounding mountains and far-off oceans stretching out as far as the eye can see, in every possible direction.

Located on the top 7 floors of the 123 story, 555 metre tall Lotte World Tower, Seoul Sky is without a doubt THE best place to get a birds eye view of one of the world’s few mega-cities. It’s hard to appreciate the incredible vastness of this densely populated metropolis on ground level, but at 500 metres up, it’s impossible not to be wowed by just how huge the city is.

There’s something spectacular to see out of every single window at Seoul Sky, but I was particularly entranced by the south-side view, which showcases the Han River, Namsan, and the Seoul Tower in the distance.

It was – in a word – breathtaking.

A breathtaking view

From the basement level, the Sky Shuttle elevator deposits you on the 117th floor in less than a minute, with a world record breaking speed of 600 metres per minute. Something I definitely felt in my popping ears, but couldn’t see, because the entire interior of the elevator is covered in the world’s first ceiling and four-walled screen, which shows video of Seoul, the Han River and it’s impressive progression over the last 50 years.

It was kind of a bummer not to be able to see outside as we rocketed up the building, but since the elevator isn’t on an outside wall, I guess you wouldn’t see much anyway.

Once you arrive on the 117th floor, escalators take you up 1 floor at a time, until you reach the top and final floor accessible with a general ticket – the 122nd. (A special ticket is required to access the 123 Lounge on the top floor).

To keep things interesting, each level is slightly different with unique features and engaging window layouts.

On the 118th and 119th floor Sky Decks, you can test whether you’re ACTUALLY afraid of heights by walking out onto transparent glass floors that give you an unobstructed view of just how high above ground you are. I admit to shaky knees and a sickening feeling of vertigo as I made my way onto the Sky Decks, but I’m proud to say I did it…and even spent some time lounging around on top of them. Literally.

If you ARE afraid of heights though, beware on the 119th floor, because you might find yourself standing atop transparent glass unawares. Staff have control of the clarity of the Sky Decks, and I bet they have quite a bit of fun scaring those among us who have a phobia of heights!

The Sky Terrace on the 120th floor is a definite highlight of Seoul Sky. It’s the highest outdoor observation deck in the world at 486 metres, and the perfect spot to get those crystal clear pics of the fantastic landscapes around you.

Visiting Seoul Sky
The ticket office and elevator for Seoul Sky is located on Level B1 of Lotte World Mall. There’s tons of signage around, so you don’t have to worry much about getting lost, but if you do, there are information booths where you can ask for help.

If you visit earlier in the day, during the week, you’re more likely to avoid queues and crowds. We visited Seoul Sky on a Friday around 11:30 in the morning, and it was essentially empty, aside from a few super noisy elementary school groups, which are easily avoided by moving to a different floor.

Tickets can be purchased for a 30 minute elevator boarding slot, on the hour or half hour. We’d bought tickets for the 12:00 – 12:30 time slot, but were able to go up earlier since there was no line. There’s a handy electronic board outside the ticket office that lets you know how many slots are available in real time. As you can see, when we were there, it was super quiet, with plenty of tickets available.

Once you pass ticket control, you’ll have to go through a security check that felt so much like an airport one, that I took out my electronics and placed them in a bin. (not necessary – and um yeah, embarrassing). Once through security, you enter the elevator boarding area, where you’ll be entertained by huge video installations about the construction of the tower, tourist destinations in Seoul and the natural wonders of Korea.

You can’t get back onto the exhibition level once you’ve taken the Sky Shuttle to the top, so make sure you get your fill before you step onto the elevator and ascend to Seoul Sky.

What’s the tallest building you’ve ever visited? Would you stand on a glass floored observation deck, or are you afraid of heights? Tell us all about it in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!

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Wander Mum
Tin Box traveller
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54 Comments Post a comment
  1. beautiful travel blog!

    June 10, 2017
  2. I actually had no idea Korea doesn’t usually have blue skies. Always thought the opposite :/ You do not look like you are afraid of heights at all! That is amazing that each level is different with different layouts. The view looks spectacular alright and you did a good job of taking photo without glare or reflection in the windows ๐Ÿ˜€ Here in Melbourne we have the Eureka Tower where you can see the views of Melbourne high from above. It has 91 floors and it costs $20 to go in for an adult. Unlike Seoul Sky, this one only has one floor. I’ve been twice and on both occasions I’ve stayed only an hour. I do want to go back again at some point around sunset and get some sunset shots – but it would be a gamble whether or not it will be a good sunset ๐Ÿ˜€

    June 10, 2017
    • It seems like the air has been getting worse and worse with every passing year. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ That said though, we’ve just had almost a full month of the absolute best weather, so who knows what’s ahead. I hope it continues like this…we were seriously considering moving because of it.

      The view really was incredible. Definitely the best one in Seoul by far! Though it seems like there are more and more supertowers being built here now. Eureka Tower sounds pretty high too. 91 floors is nothing to sneeze at! I really liked how Seoul Sky had 7 different levels to explore – it made the $27 entrance fee totally worth it, I think! I would also like to get some sunset shots…but I have a feeling it’ll be super crowded up there then. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

      June 13, 2017
  3. Wow Shelley, this looks and sounds amazing!
    Alison

    June 11, 2017
    • We really enjoyed it, especially because there were so few people inside. It’s definitely a spot you have to see if you visit Seoul. ๐Ÿ™‚

      June 13, 2017
  4. I have been in the Willis Tower (I still call it the Sears Tower) in Chicago a number of times. Our little tower is ONLY 108 stories tall (haha), but we also have one of those clear decks that you can walk out on – eek! With Chicago and Illinois being so flat, on a clear day you can see for miles and miles. The city and lake views are amazing, and we have taken many visitors there. Your tower is just as amazing (and taller, of course), your city is so much vaster to look down upon, and your visit sounds great with so few people there.

    June 12, 2017
    • Those clear decks are terrifyingโ€ฆand the fact that they let the staff control them is somewhat sadistic. I definitely saw people who were truly scared to walk out onto them. Can you imagine if they were standing on one, and then all of a sudden, they could see 500 metres below them? Probably enough to give someone a heart attack! ๐Ÿ˜‰

      June 13, 2017
  5. I only went to Namsan Tower last time, I will definitely check this out the next time I am there! Thanks for sharing ๐Ÿ™‚

    June 14, 2017
    • Namsan has a decent view and it’s a nice place to visit, but it definitely doesn’t compare to Seoul Sky – especially on a clear day. Well worth going next time you’re here! ๐Ÿ™‚

      June 14, 2017
  6. Ruth #

    It is really breathtaking! One of my coworkers visited Korea recently and he can’t stop raving about the country. I would really want to go (and eat all the food!). #CityTripping

    June 21, 2017
    • Haha, yes, eating all the food is definitely of high priority when you visit Korea. There’s so much variety, and if you like spicy food, you’ll be in heaven. And a visit to Seoul Sky (on a clear day), is a great way to get a view into how huge the city actually is. Hope you make it here one day! ๐Ÿ™‚

      June 22, 2017
  7. Wow.. that is some Vantage Point!!! Would love to head there some day ๐Ÿ™‚ Cheers!! #citytripping

    June 21, 2017
    • Definitely the best one in the city and all of Korea. I think it’s currently the 5th highest building in the world! ๐Ÿ™‚

      June 22, 2017
  8. What wonderful views from the top of that tower. You’ve captured it wonderfully #citytripping

    June 22, 2017
    • We were lucky to visit when the sky was crystal clear and there were no crowds to battle. So worth visiting when travelling to Seoul.

      June 22, 2017
  9. travelingchristie #

    ooh this looks amazing I just love seeing a city from so high up all that life buzzing around below is fascinating. thanks so much or linking up #MondayEscapes x

    June 22, 2017
    • Hopefully the first link-up of many. ๐Ÿ™‚ It really is a great way to see a city – especially one as incredibly massive as Seoul!

      June 23, 2017
  10. Looks cool! Great photos!

    June 24, 2017
    • Thanks! Really a must see if you ever visit Seoul… ๐Ÿ™‚

      June 25, 2017
      • Hoping to go there one day. Not in the foreseeable future, unless I do Japan and South Korea in one go…, then sooner than later ๐Ÿ™‚

        June 25, 2017
        • Very doable – it’s only a 2 hour flight between the 2 countries and super affordable on the budget airlines, and even the regular airlines if it’s mid-week!

          June 27, 2017
  11. Oh WOW. I recently congratulated myself on going up to 50-odd floors – they highest I’ve ever been in a building, but this is just a whole other ball game. And how cool that you go up and up the final ones yourself. Not al ALL sure I would have been as brave as you on the glass floor!

    June 24, 2017
    • I definitely had nervous knees and a kind of sick feeling in my stomach when I walked out onto that floor, but I still managed, and am super glad I did. The trick is to not look down. Haha! I saw a lot of people that absolutely refused though!

      June 25, 2017
  12. I love getting a perspective of a city from high up and those glass bottomed floors give a slightly scary experience. I’ve been to the Shard in London, some of Chicago’s tallest towers and the Petronas towers in KL but the tallest would be the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. It was awesome. Seoul is somewhere I’d love to visit. Great to see your photos. Thanks for sharing on #citytripping

    June 26, 2017
    • I’ve never seen the Shard, but have seen the Burj (this past January), and the Petronas a few times, but have never made any trips up the buildings until this one. It was definitely a great way to see the the whole city! For me, the Burj gets top marks for appearance though – what a gorgeous building. Seoul is a great place to visit, so much to see and do, with great food – and amazing for kids too. ๐Ÿ™‚

      June 27, 2017
      • I don’t think I need too much more convincing about Seoul then! Love a good skyscraper view!

        June 27, 2017
  13. Seoul Sky really is a treasure here in the city. I still haven’t made it over there but I’m hoping to do it soon on a day off so I can avoid the crowds. I like how they make it so accommodating and convenient for visitors. Now I’m just waiting for the bungee jumping!

    June 27, 2017
    • Bungee jumping off that thing would be insane. ๐Ÿ˜ฎ I guess you’re not afraid of heights? Def wait for a clear day before you head over there though, otherwise it would be a waste of all that altitude. Views really are incredible form there!

      June 30, 2017
  14. Anything with a glass bottom, nope! lol The views are amazing but I am way too afraid of heights to venture out on that glass. Willis Tower in Chicago has that and I stayed so far away from it lol

    June 29, 2017
    • Heh heh, so you would’ve one of those ones lingering on the edge of the platform nervously eh? :p I’m surprised I made it out onto those Sky Decks to be honest, but I’m glad I did! ๐Ÿ™‚

      June 30, 2017
  15. Early spring gave us very bad air quality. You’re lucky you got in there on a good day and your photos are wonderful. Your tip on visiting on early morning weekdays is very useful especially this summer when I am sure so many families and visitors are going up there to get a good view and good photos of this popular and latest attraction in Seoul. So nice to see you and Hallie exploring and enjoying together.

    June 30, 2017
    • I felt like it was a dream, that almost month long of blue skies and good air quality, but alas, it seems we’re back to haze. Ugh. At least the AQI is ok. I find that Koreans are not really morning people in general, so most places are quite quiet until about noon. I’ve even gone to kids cafes around 10:30-11 and had them all to myself until 1! It’s quite amazing actually. Hallie and I have actually known each other since around 2010 I think! We took Korean classes together!! ๐Ÿ™‚

      June 30, 2017
  16. Definitely agree about the air quality over in Korea…usually not good. This looks awesome thought…I can imagine how those views must have been as you stared down the massive city sprawl before. Great piece!

    July 1, 2017
    • It’s horrible, and getting worse unfortunately. That month of good air and blue skies feels like a dream. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ But yeah, the views from up there were really incredible. I’m always struck by just how gigantic Seoul is.

      July 1, 2017
  17. Wow! What a great view. It certainly puts the 64 to shame. Enjoy those rare stretches of clear skies before the next smog cloud forms ๐Ÿ˜‰

    July 1, 2017
    • Yeah, the 63 is like half the height of the Lotte World Tower – crazy, right? But I am sad to say that the smog cloud has already formed, and has been hovering over us like an evil alien warship for the last week. Ugh. Oh how I wish I could escape Seoul every single summer. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

      July 1, 2017
  18. What a cool view! The air quality issue in SoKo is a huge bummer. I had a hard time adjusting to it last year, but this year I didn’t notice it as much, or perhaps I wasn’t as affected by it because it became “normal” to me. I do, however, have a profound appreciation for the rare days that I can see the nearby mountains clearly.

    July 1, 2017
    • HUGE bummer! ๐Ÿ˜ฆ We’ve been here for almost 10 years, and it’s definitely gotten worse in the last few years. I don’t remember it really being an issue when we first moved here. Hopefully the new government will take real steps to address it, instead of blaming it on people cooking too much mackerel and samgyupsal. ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

      July 4, 2017
  19. “If you ARE afraid of heights though, beware on the 119th floor, because you might find yourself standing atop transparent glass unawares. Staff have control of the clarity of the Sky Decks, and I bet they have quite a bit of fun scaring those among us who have a phobia of heights!”

    This terrifies me, because I really am afraid of heights. I also like to photograph from great heights so that irony always leaves me with a dilemma. However, Lotte Tower is still on my bucket list. I’ll just be careful on the 119th floor. Thanks for the warning.

    July 2, 2017
    • It’s really a curse to have this fear of heights, isn’t it? Cuz the best views are always from high above. It’s quite cruel to give staff control of those floors though. I saw people cowering on the edge of those floors…not sure what would happen to them if the floor just disappeared from underneath them!

      July 4, 2017
  20. I’ve been up to the observatories at the World Trade Center and the Empire State Building (I grew up in the NYC suburbs), and while it is a sort of touristy thing to do, it is truly a breathtaking experience and the best way short of an airplane to get a grasp of a city’s layout. I’ll try and get up there on a future trip (though maybe not the glass floor).

    July 2, 2017
    • Definitely touristy, but definitely required. The best bet is to try to go when there’s less tourists, so that it feels less touristy. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I’ve been to NYC a few times, but somehow have never made it to any of the “touristy” sites….will have to remedy that one day!

      July 4, 2017
  21. Some great tips here about enjoying the exhibit before rocketing to the top, and skillful advice for evading elementary groups. I also read Hallie’s blog, so it’s nice to see your take on the experience. It’s interesting that “time slots” are displayed. I think that would make the visitor much more aware of time and urgency to take in sights quickly. As a European, I really dislike that aspect, and seems to be another manifestation of time concepts here in Korea. The Empire State Building is the tallest observation deck that I’ve visited thus far! Thanks for a nice write-up!

    July 3, 2017
    • I think the time slots are a bit confusing, and maybe I haven’t written about it clearly enough…but they are just slots for entering the elevator boarding area, NOT for your time in the Tower. You can take as much time as you want once you’re inside. And to be honest, I think they’re necessary. Can you imagine the chaos that would ensue if they were at full capacity and everyone was trying to go up at once (and especially since Koreans are, shall we say, not the best at queueing?) Also if it’s not busy, you can go up any old time you please (like we did). I hate limitations myself, but actually appreciated these, cuz I hate crowds, and I could actually see how many tickets were sold, out of 500, and KNOW that it would be quiet up above. ๐Ÿ™‚

      July 4, 2017
  22. A glass floor? Sweet man I think I’m going to pee my pants but totally enjoy myself. YAY for one more photogenic destination in Seoul !

    July 4, 2017
    • Haha, I was scared myself, but made it out onto them nonetheless. Worth it, I think. ๐Ÿ™‚ I saw some sunset pics of Seoul Sky and it looked absolutely incredible. I might have to brave the crowds on a clear day to check it out one day.

      July 4, 2017
  23. I haven’t seen the Seoul Sky yet. The tallest places I’ve been in Seoul are the peaks of Mt. Bukhansan and Mt. Gwanaksan, (and N Seoul Tower). I avoid going to any observatory that asks for entrance fees but the glass floor looks interesting to me! I guess it’s worth the price.

    July 6, 2017
    • It’s definitely worth the price…especially if you go on a clear day, and think about just how much it cost them to build the tower and observatory in the first place. I don’t think there’s anywhere in the city to get a better view! ๐Ÿ™‚

      July 7, 2017
  24. Good one!

    July 15, 2017
  25. This is so cool

    July 16, 2017

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