Visiting Canton Tower: Guangzhou’s Beacon of the Future

Updated on December 2, 2017
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Cedric earned a bachelor's degree in communications studies in 1999. His interests include history, traveling, mythology, and video gaming.

Visiting Canton Tower (广州塔) is nowadays a must-do for many visitors in Guangzhou. Soaring a stunning 604 metres into the sky and illuminated at night in rainbow colours, Guangzhou’s futuristic spire doubles as a telecommunications tower and sightseeing attraction, and was the showpiece of the metropolis during the 2010 Asian Games. As of 2017, it remains the second tallest tower in the world, marginally surpassed only by the Tokyo Skytree. The following is a guide to visiting Canton Tower on your own. A typical visit, without meals, requires at least two hours.

Getting to Canton Tower

Canton Tower is a few minutes’ walk from Canton Tower Station on Line 3 of Guangzhou Metro. (Line 3 is also the orange line) Numerous signs within the station point the way, or you could simply follow the crowds. Take note that Line 3 tends to be extremely crowded throughout the day. Depending on where you board at, you could experience a few stations of “face-to-face” sardine situation.

Alternatively, you could use the APM Line if you are coming from the north. This requires a change at Linhe West Station (林和西), an interchange hub that also serves Line 3. However, this route requires more time as the APM Line passes several stations before reaching Canton Tower. In comparison, there are only four stations between Linhe West and Canton Tower on Line 3.

Guangzhou Metro, for the most part, is clean, efficient and easy to use.
Guangzhou Metro, for the most part, is clean, efficient and easy to use.

Tickets for Visiting Canton Tower

Reaching Canton Tower is no issue for even first-time travellers. On the other hand, buying the right tickets could be a bit of a challenge. This is because different ticket packages grant access to different observatories and attractions of the tower. In addition, affiliated tour operators also offer packaged deals, such as a tower visit bundled with a night-time cruise on the Zhujiang River. Naturally, details of such bundles could vary significantly.

For tickets sold by Canton Tower itself, there are four packages as of late 2017.

1. 433M Sightseeing Observation Decks

This grants access to the 428M Cloud Observation Deck (428米白云观光大厅) and the 433M Star Observation Deck (433米星空观光大厅). These are enclosed levels and the lowest of the observation decks.

2. 450M Tower Top Look Out Combo

This grants access to the 428M Cloud Observation Deck, the 433M Star Observation Deck, and the 450M Look Out (450米塔顶户外观景平台). It also includes a ride on the heart-stopping 450M Sky Drop (450米极速云霄). Note that the 450M Look Out is open-air.

3. 460M Bubble Tram Combo

The Bubble Tram Combo is similar to the Tower Top Lookout Combo, except it doesn’t include the Sky Drop. In replacement is one ride on the 460M Bubble Tram (460米摩天轮), a slow-moving and serene ride in an enclosed carriage around the circumference of Canton Tower. The Bubble Tram is arguably the top attraction of the tower.

4. 488M Tower Glamour Pass

This is the all-in-one supreme package. It includes everything mentioned above, as well as access to the 488M Look Out (488米户外观景平台).

To put it candidly, visiting Canton Tower is to experience modern Chinese capitalism. The more you pay, the higher you get to go. The more fun you can have as well.

To highlight too, prices vary greatly between the ticket packages and are likely to change over time. As an indication, the cheapest pass is ¥150 for adults as of 2017. The supreme pass is more than twice of that.

The official brochure gives a comprehensive breakdown of the various attractions of the tower. Indispensable, if you are purchasing tickets at the tower itself.
The official brochure gives a comprehensive breakdown of the various attractions of the tower. Indispensable, if you are purchasing tickets at the tower itself.

Regarding Air Pollution

Before all else, it’s only fair to highlight the one thing that will dampen any visit to Canton Tower.

Smog. In other words, China’s notorious air pollution situation.

Unless you are very lucky, Guangzhou would be smothered by smog during your visit. At night, this appears like fog or mist. During daytime and especially on overcast days, this resembles a brown-yellow cloud hanging over the city.

With China’s air pollution situation unlikely to go away anytime soon, you should be prepared for smog when visiting Canton Tower. While it’s not going to entirely obscure your view from the observation decks, you will notice it and it will affect your photography attempts. Fortunately, there are other attractions within the tower to enjoy, such as the Sky Drop and numerous shops and restaurants. On better days, some skilful tweaking in editing programmes might also be able to improve photographs. That is, to a limited extent.

As inappropriate as it is to include such a picture in a write-up about visiting Canton Tower, it is only ethical to highlight the situation most adversely affecting tourists in China.
As inappropriate as it is to include such a picture in a write-up about visiting Canton Tower, it is only ethical to highlight the situation most adversely affecting tourists in China.

Pictures From October 2017

The following are pictures from my visit to Canton Tower in October 2017. It was an evening visit between 5.30 pm and 8 pm. I paid for the 460M Bubble Tram Combo and reached the tower using Guangzhou Metro.

Canton Tower at 5.30 pm.
Canton Tower at 5.30 pm.
The ground floor lobby after ticket and security checks.
The ground floor lobby after ticket and security checks.

An important note here for smokers. Not only is smoking completely disallowed within the tower, even lighters are not permitted. Visitors with lighters are required to surrender them during ticket checks and “randomly” collect another one when leaving the tower. To put it in another way, if you use an expensive lighter for your habit, please do not bring it to Canton Tower.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Queuing for the high-speed lifts. 428M Cloud Observation Deck. Or Floor 107.The rather disco like 433M Star Observation Deck. Or Floor 108.
Queuing for the high-speed lifts.
Queuing for the high-speed lifts.
428M Cloud Observation Deck. Or Floor 107.
428M Cloud Observation Deck. Or Floor 107.
The rather disco like 433M Star Observation Deck. Or Floor 108.
The rather disco like 433M Star Observation Deck. Or Floor 108.

By the way, the Star and Cloud observation decks are connected by a staircase. Visitors could freely move between them.

The same staircase also has lifts for visitors heading to the 450M Look Out. You must show an appropriate ticket to enter the lift.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Information counter greeting visitors arriving at the 450M Look Out.The Look Out, with evening-time Guangzhou in the background.The Bubble Tram.Queue for the Bubble Tram. This was quite fast-moving, despite how it seems.Close-up of a bubble tram carriage. One full circuit around the tower requires approximately 20 minutes.Guangzhou metropolis. Hailed by China as its southern gateway.The topmost spire.The utterly terrifying Sky Drop. It's about your screams echoing across Guangzhou's sky.
Information counter greeting visitors arriving at the 450M Look Out.
Information counter greeting visitors arriving at the 450M Look Out.
The Look Out, with evening-time Guangzhou in the background.
The Look Out, with evening-time Guangzhou in the background.
The Bubble Tram.
The Bubble Tram.
Queue for the Bubble Tram. This was quite fast-moving, despite how it seems.
Queue for the Bubble Tram. This was quite fast-moving, despite how it seems.
Close-up of a bubble tram carriage. One full circuit around the tower requires approximately 20 minutes.
Close-up of a bubble tram carriage. One full circuit around the tower requires approximately 20 minutes.
Guangzhou metropolis. Hailed by China as its southern gateway.
Guangzhou metropolis. Hailed by China as its southern gateway.
The topmost spire.
The topmost spire.
The utterly terrifying Sky Drop. It's about your screams echoing across Guangzhou's sky.
The utterly terrifying Sky Drop. It's about your screams echoing across Guangzhou's sky.

Other Attractions of Canton Tower

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The Sci-Tech Hall occupying Floors 109 and 110. This exhibit focuses on the technology empowering the construction of the tower.Floor 107 gift shop.Cloud Observation Deck Sky Bar.Shopping area at ground level.The surrounding plaza.Canton Tower in rainbow colours.
The Sci-Tech Hall occupying Floors 109 and 110. This exhibit focuses on the technology empowering the construction of the tower.
The Sci-Tech Hall occupying Floors 109 and 110. This exhibit focuses on the technology empowering the construction of the tower.
Floor 107 gift shop.
Floor 107 gift shop.
Cloud Observation Deck Sky Bar.
Cloud Observation Deck Sky Bar.
Shopping area at ground level.
Shopping area at ground level.
The surrounding plaza.
The surrounding plaza.
Canton Tower in rainbow colours.
Canton Tower in rainbow colours.

Last but not least, there are numerous eateries within and around Canton Tower. For the more expensive ones located on floors 103 to 106, reservations can be arranged at a designated counter on the ground level.

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