On our last full day in Shanghai, we went to the Shanghai World Financial Center (SWFC) Observatory to get a panoramic view of the city. Back in the late 90s, the Oriental Pearl TV Tower was the spot to get the best views of the city. A few years later, the JinMao Tower was constructed and all of the tourists left the Pearl to go to the taller JinMao Tower. After the 101-story SWFC was completed in 2008, it was become the go-to observatory in Pudong. We tried, unsuccessfully, to purchase a Dianping voucher (similar to Groupon) so we ended up paying full price to visit the observatory. 300 yuan (~48) for two is really pricey but any visitor to China will tell you that all tourist attractions in China are insanely expensive. In fact, when my aunt came to visit the US earlier this year, she was shocked by the number of free attractions and the modest fees of the ones that did charge. The SWFC is currently the tallest building in China but it will soon be surpassed by the Shanghai Tower upon its completion in 2014 and presumably the tourists will move onto the Shanghai Tower for its observatory as well.
We also made a quick stop to the Oriental Pearl, not for its observatory but for the Shanghai History Museum in its basement. It provided an excellent overview of Shanghai’s economic development and the impact of Western countries during the 19th and 20th centuries. The museum consisted of mainly models of streets, businesses and residences and was very interactive. It was definitely worth the 35 yuan we paid to get in.