Photo by ChiHon Kim
Photo by ChiHon Kim

Take a peek at Korea's tallest skyscraper

by ChiHon Kim
Stripes Korea

Located in the southern region of Seoul below the Han River, Lotte World Tower, the tallest skyscraper in Korea and third tallest in Asia, is one of the city’s must-see attractions.

Standing almost 500 meters tall with 123 floors, it is also the world’s sixth tallest building and has the second tallest observatory, called Seoul Sky. And on a sunny day, it can cast a shadow and give you stunning views of Seoul. So, make sure you go on a clear day, which, of course, I didn’t. It was snowy and the sky was lined with gray clouds.

First of all, whether it’s a clear day or not, there is a cost (27,000 won for 13 years and older and 24,000 won for those 3-12 years old) to visiting the towers observatory. You can pick up a ticket at a booth on the first level of the basement, which is also where the subway stop is (Note: There are 6 basement levels, the last five for parking).

By the booth, you will spot a corridor with a large video screen. Head that way and you will see the elevator, called Sky Shuttle, that will take you to the observatory. During the 60-second shuttle upward, you can watch a video about the history of Seoul on a screen that covers the 4 walls and ceiling of the elevator. It’s a pretty cool thing to watch as the shuttle soars into the sky.

The Sky Shuttle stopped at the 117th  (this gives you access to three floors) and I got out. Even though the skies weren’t clear, it was still amazing being that high in the sky. The Sky Deck (478 meters in the air) allows you to see the entire city from any side. And, if you don’t want to look out, you can simply look down because a portion of the Sky Deck has glass floors. Maybe not the best thing for those scared of heights. But if you’re scared of heights, you might not want to go to the top of Lotte World Tower in the first place.

When I visited, the number of visitors was relatively low and the fact that it stretches over 3 floors gives you more space to roam around and take the perfect photo. You can also go out on the Sky Terrace (486 meters in the sky), stand on the glass floor and look down onto busy traffic.

If you want to use the mounted binoculars on the terrace or purchase a photo of you taken by staff, you’ll pay a fee.  If you are planning on doing a solo trip to the tower, there is a machine that takes a photo of you with Seoul in the background. If you place the QR code on your ticket onto the machine’s scanner, the picture will be taken in 5 seconds, and you can get it printed out for 170,00 won on the 120th floor.

Again, the visibility was poor, but I was able to see Seoul and the Hangang river from above. But do yourself a favor and go on a clear day if possible. They have a board in the ticket area giving you a heads up on day’s viewing conditions. I wish I would have paid more attention to that.

- Directions: Same as Lotte world. (The tower, mall, and park are all interconnected via an underground passageway from the subway station.)
- Address: 300, Olympic-ro, Songpa-gu, Seoul
- 1330 Korea Travel Hotline: +82-2-1330 (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)
- Operating Hours: Sun to Thu 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. / Fri to Sat 10 a.m to 11 p.m. 
- Ticket Information 
  General Ticket: Adult 27,000 won (13 years or older) / Child 2,4000 won (3-12 years)
- Fast Pass: Fast admission for 50,000 won (all ages)  
- URL: www.lwt.co.kr (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)

Shopping delight
Lotte World Tower is a shopper’s paradise. The first level of the basement to the ninth floor is a mall.  There are plenty of clothing and apparel shops, a food court with a great array of outlets that cater to many different tastes, and even a grocery store. There’s also a movie theater, with 21 screen spread across the fifth through 10th floors. This is a really nice mall!

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