Towering over Jamsil Station (잠실역) at 555 meters (1821 feet), Lotte World Tower (롯데월드타워) is the tallest building in South Korea and one of the tallest skyscrapers in the world. If you're not familar with Lotte, which Koreans pronounce effectively like the Italian coffee Latte, the company is a food conglomerate and one of the largest companies in the country.
Designed by architecture firm KPF and said to be inspired by the shape of Korean "ceramics, porcelain, and calligraphy," Lotte World Tower no doubt will remind most viewers of The Shard in London, although the structural designs actually are quite different and Lotte World Tower is roughly 80% taller.
For tourists, although the Lotte World Mall (롯데월드몰) at the base of the tower also contains ten floors of shopping, concert halls, a cinema, and an aquarium — as well as a wide variety of restaurants — the most unique attraction is Seoul Sky (서울 스카이 전망대). Seoul Sky provides an unheard of seven stories worth of observation decks (117/F-123/F). The most crowded space is a dizzying glass bottomed observation deck (118/F) for the insane, which is promoted as the highest observation deck with a glass bottom in the world. However, there also are multiple outdoor observation decks. Unfortunately, the outdoor sections only are open at the top, so photography through the glass walls can be challenging.
At a whopping ₩27,000 (US$24/€20/£19 or so) for adults with a miserly discount for children under the age of 13, Seoul Sky is very expensive and is really only worth considering on a sunny day with a clean sky, but it does provide a beautiful view over the Han River (한강) and the south side of the city that is quite different from the view provided by Namsan (남산공원). The top lounge floor (123/F) requires the additional purchase of a drink, as if the admission fee wasn't already enough, but supertall skyscrapers aren't cheap to build, either.
However, before heading up to Seoul Sky, travelgasm.com discovered that the tourist office in the metro station downstairs has a 10% off discount coupon, so you could check to see if it still is available when you visit. Seoul Sky is expensive even with the discount, but even a small discount is better than nothing. You're welcome.
Most tourists visiting Seoul Sky likely find the glass bottomed observation deck to be the key attraction, but we would suggest that the view of the contrast between the textbook Modernist highrises in Sincheon-Dong (신천동) on one side of Lotte World Tower and the tight grid structure in Songpa-Dong (송파동) on the other, is at least as interesting.
If your time in Seoul provides less than perfect weather — the winter and spring often have significant pollution and sand blow in from Beijing — Seoul Sky is a bit over your budget, or you just would like a nice view of Lotte World Tower, Seokchon Lake (석촌호수) outside provides a nicely landscaped running track with attractive views of the skyscraper. Go through Arena Plaza on the first floor (1F) of the Lotte World Mall for the most pleasant and direct walk.
If the weather is cooperative and you're on a tight budget, perhaps after spending a little too much on the observation deck, you always could skip the restaurants and buy some Gimbap (김밥) — more-or-less Korean "sushi rolls" although often far more creative — from one of the stalls in the metro or grab a picnic lunch at Lotte Mart (B2F) and have a picnic by the lake.
We've mapped out the location of Lotte World Tower and the best walk to Seokchon Lake below.
How to Get Here: Take the Green Line (Line 2) or Pink Line (Line 8) to Jamsil Station. Go toward Exit 1 and 2, but instead of using either exit (to the left or right), enter Lotte World Mall and follow the signs to Seoul Sky, which has its own entrance on the same floor as the metro (B1F). The best route to Seokchon Lake is to exit Lotte World Mall from the first floor (1F) into Arena Plaza.
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