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 me, that something special, was a trip up Korea’s tallest building to the Seoul Sky Observatory aka Seoul Sky Tower. At its lofty height of 555 metres at the top of the Lotte World Tower, it’s the 3rd highest observatory in the entire world.
Jump to what you want.
- 1 Why visit the Seoul Sky Tower?
- 2 Visiting the Seoul Sky Observatory
- 3 The Seoul Sky Tower Shuttle Elevator
- 4 What to expect on the Lotte Observation Deck
- 5 Tips for visiting the Seoul Sky Observatory
- 6 How to enter the Lotte World Tower for FREE
- 7 How to get to Lotte World Tower and the Seoul Sky Observatory
Why visit the Seoul Sky Tower?
The Seoul Sky Observatory is without a doubt the best place to get a birds eye view of one of the world’s few mega-cities. It’s located at the top of the tallest building in Korea!
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.
Panoramas from the Seoul Sky Tower are astounding, with views of the city, surrounding mountains, and far-off oceans stretching out as far as the eye can see, in every possible direction. There’s something spectacular to see out of every single window at the Lotte observation deck, but I was particularly entranced by the south-side view. It showcases the Han River, Namsan, and the N Seoul Tower in the distance.
It was – in a word – breathtaking.
Visiting the Seoul Sky Observatory
The Seoul Sky Observatory is located on the top 7 floors of the 123 story Lotte World Tower. The ticket office and entrance for the Seoul Sky Tower is located on the B1 Level of the Lotte World Mall. There’s tons of signage around, so don’t worry too much about getting lost. If you do, there’s information booths where you can ask for help. And yes, they can speak english.
Your general admission ticket will allow you access to all but the top floor. A special ticket is required to access the 123 Lounge at the very peak of the Lotte World Tower.
Avoid the line-ups on site by getting discounted tickets in advance here.
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’ll enter the elevator boarding area. There, 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 Elevator to the top, so make sure you get your fill before you step onto the elevator and ascend to Seoul Sky.
The Seoul Sky Tower Shuttle Elevator
From the basement level, the Sky Shuttle Elevator climbs 117 floors in less than a minute. It’s 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. It 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, you wouldn’t see much anyway.
What to expect on the Lotte Observation Deck
Your skyward exploration of Seoul Sky Tower begins on the 117th floor. From there, you can take escalators up 1 floor at a time, until you reach the top and final floor accessible with a general ticket – the 122nd.
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. I 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 the Seoul Sky Tower. At 486 metres, it’s the highest outdoor observation deck in the world. It’s absolutely the best spot to get crystal clear pics of the fantastic landscapes around you.
Tips for visiting the Seoul Sky Observatory
If you visit earlier in the day, during the week, you’re more likely to avoid queues and crowds. We visited the observation deck on a Friday around 11:30 in the morning. 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.
Note that this is ONLY a boarding time for the Sky Shuttle elevator. You can spend as much time up at Seoul Sky Observatory as you want.
It’s understandably very popular to visit Seoul Sky Observatory during sunset hours. On a clear day, the views are beyond extraordinary. Count on crowds of people though, and definitely book tickets in advance, especially if you plan on visiting on a weekend night or holiday.
To avoid long line-ups and save money at the Seoul Sky Observatory, be sure to book discounted tickets in advance here.
How to enter the Lotte World Tower for FREE
There’s a FREE way to get inside Korea’s tallest building without forking out the 27,000KRW price tag to get up into the Seoul Sky Observatory… even though I think it’s totally worth paying that price at least once.
Sky31 Food Avenue
Sky31 Food Avenue is located on the 31st floor of the Lotte World Tower, and it’s open to absolutely everyone. Sure, it’s not the top floors of the building, but there are still incredible views of Seoul below.
You can access this food court in the sky by getting a free pass card in the lobby of the Lotte World Tower. When I visited, I couldn’t help but feel like I was getting past the velvet rope, into some sort of privileged territory, rather than just a food court.
There are huge windows on absolutely every side of Sky31 Food Avenue. I personally loved the evening view of Seoul’s city lights coming to life, but sunset would also be gorgeous and great for photography. Keep in mind that even though the setting is pretty exciting, this is still just a food court, and dining options reflect that. There’s burgers, ice cream, Krispy Kreme, coffee and other humble options available there.
How to get to Lotte World Tower and the Seoul Sky Observatory
Lotte World Tower is located out of Exit 1 or 2 at Jamsil subway station on Line 2.
Things can get a little confusing, because the OLD Lotte Mall from the 1980s is located across the street. Be sure to follow the signs for the Lotte World Mall. This is where Lotte World Tower and the Seoul Sky Observatory are located.
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!