You can look down…but maybe you shouldn’t.
Let’s talk about Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. He’s a force to be reckoned with. And, of course, his newest movie Skyscraper really hammers that home (no surprise there). In honor of its release, here’s a list of impressive (and intimidating) skyscrapers across the globe that you can actually enjoy and not worry about having to save your family from getting crushed by a palatial, crumbling structure.
Burj Khalifa: 2,717 feet
WHERE: Dubai, UAE
This is the tallest building in the world—by a long shot. Located at the center of Downtown Dubai, the 160-story skyscraper began construction in 2004 and officially opened in 2010. It is home to the world’s highest observation deck that features high-powered telescopes and a VR device that projects the surrounding landscape in real-time. We recommend a personalized tour of the joint, which grants you access to the luxurious SKY lounge and a walkthrough of the not-so-high-up parts, like The Dubai Fountain—one of the world’s largest fountains—just outside. And you’ll get to all of these by utilizing the world’s fastest double-deck elevators.
Fun Fact: Earlier this year, the building hosted a light show that broke the Guinness World record for the “Largest light and sound show on a single building.” The show was set to the tune of Adele’s “Skyfall.”
Tokyo Skytree: 2,080 feet
WHERE: Sumida, Tokyo, Japan
Now a staple of the city, the Tokyo Skytree is quite striking to look up at and down from. The structure is the tallest tower in the world, meaning its height is considerably greater than its width. Although its primary use is for broadcasting, it has become one of the most popular tourist attractions in Tokyo. Its color, “SKYTREE White,” represents “harmony with the surrounding scenery” and it truly shines in contrast with the city’s blue sky. On its highest floors, you’ll find a “Space-Time Navigation System” that allows you to appreciate the views and a theater which holds a nighttime demonstration that inventively uses the windows as “screens.” There’s also an aquarium on the grounds!
Fun Fact: The building’s windows are regularly cleaned and, because it’s so high up, the process is now part of a show called “Tokyo Aozora Soji (cleaning the blue sky),” where the staff appear to actually be cleaning the sky.
Recommended Fodor’s Video
Shanghai Tower: 2,073 feet
The world’s second-tallest building “by height to architectural top” is able to house 16,000 people daily. It’s also home to the world’s highest art space. The exhibit, located between the 126th floor and the 128th floor, is an aural experience designed to serenade visitors of the city—a task that seems Herculean considering how high up said “serenading” is taking place. The symphonic project is designed by Grammy-winning musician Simon Franglen (Titanic, Avatar) accompanied by 240 instrumentalists. The sounds are said to be quite stirring when paired with the views from the observation deck, so maybe a trip to the top via the world’s fastest elevators won’t be so stressful after all. The world’s fastest elevators run at 46 mph, by the way.
Abraj Al-Bait (or Mekkah Royal Clock Hotel Tower): 1,971 feet
WHERE: Mecca, Saudi Arabia
Perhaps one of the most structurally interesting on this list, The Towers of the House in Saudi Arabia contain the world’s largest clock face (that’s also the highest clock in the world), which features a viewing deck that allows for photogenic moments aplenty. Behind the clock’s four faces, you’ll find an astronomy exhibition where you can see the location of the moon in reference to the Islamic months. Additionally, the towers contain the world’s tallest hotel, which many pilgrims take advantage of when making their annual trip to Mecca; the government-owned building is just steps away from the largest mosque in the world, al-Masjid al-Haram.
Taipei 101: 1,671 feet
Here’s where we get a little more commercial. Tapei 101, the world’s largest “green” building, houses several high-quality restaurants and a mall that spans not one but six floors. If the 360-degree observatory isn’t startling enough, the building contains an epic “damper” which works to absorb any impact brought on by a typhoon or earthquake. If the object is swaying, that means it’s doing its job. If that makes you uncomfortable (it makes me uncomfortable), you may want to close your eyes as you pass by it.
Fun Fact: The height of the building by way of its number of floors (101) symbolizes something beyond perfection—a number greater than 100.
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WHERE: London, UK
This glass pyramid is the tallest building in the UK and it’s home to the best views London has to offer. According to its website, visitors can reportedly see up to 40 miles away on its observation deck, The View, but you must book tickets to do so. The View from The Shard also regularly hosts events like silent discos, yoga classes, and champagne tastings. The venue can even be booked for weddings, and guests can take up residence at the Shangri-La Hotel, which occupies 202 rooms in The Shard.
WHERE: New York City
A view from one of the two observation decks of this iconic, art-deco office building is the perfect way to drink in the heart of New York City. If you’re too wary of heights, don’t worry, you still have options. You can learn all about the history of the building (and the city) through original documents and sketches in the Dare to Dream exhibit on the 80th floor. Better yet, you can take a virtual tour of NYC from the second floor in a simulator called NY SKYRIDE, narrated by actor Kevin Bacon.
International Commerce Centre: 1,588 feet
WHERE: Hong Kong
This 118-floor, “super skyscraper” in West Kowloon, Hong Kong, officially opened in 2010 and while it’s mostly full of office spaces, there is some fun to be had inside. It not only houses a Ritz-Carlton hotel, but it’s also home to the world’s highest swimming pool AND bar, OZONE. If you’re looking for a date night with a view, you have several five-star dining options on the 101st and then we recommend heading to the 100th floor to the sky100 Hong Kong Observation Deck for a majestic nighttime view of Victoria Harbor.
Fun Fact: There’s an “Academy” offered by sky100 whose goal is to help younger students in Hong Kong gain more knowledge about their city.
Bitexco Financial Tower: 861 feet
WHERE: Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Does the fact that this skyscraper has both a nightclub and a helipad on the same floor make it the coolest on this list? If not, its unparalleled 360-degree SkyDeck of Ho Chi Minh City surely confirms its wow-factor status. Oh, and don’t miss the movie theater and the fine-dining establishment on floor 51.
Fun Fact: The building’s architect based the building’s design on a Lotus, the national flower of Vietnam.
The Lakhta Center: 1,516 feet
Currently under construction, this ultramodern structure near St. Petersburg is set to open this year and will be the tallest building in Europe. The building will debut a host of cool features in addition to ones intended more for standard business purposes. First up is the Children’s Center, where kids of all ages can learn about various phenomena (for example, they will be able to “try out themselves under the turbulence conditions, make a lightning stroke, or peep inside a human body,” according to the Center’s site). Next up, the Center will house a panoramic restaurant that should be a noticeable point of interest for tourists. Finally, there will be a transformable concert hall (the first in St. Petersburg) with a roll-out ice arena.