We are fans of observation decks in any city and we always make a point of making a trip to whatever deck we can. The Olympic Tower was not even on our radar and to our surprise was one of the best, maybe the best observation deck that we have been to.
First off, we didn't think it was open. No one was going in and there was very little movement around the tower. Lots of people around the park but no one entering. Being a very clear day, especially for Beijing, we took the opportunity to make our way up.
The tower was completed 2014 so it is pretty new. From the outside it is quite striking, it is a very narrow cluster of five grass like stems and there is nothing else around it which really makes it stand out. We saw the tower from our hotel but Beijing is so sprawling we didn't think it was anything worth visiting or anything with any great height.
The ticket per person is ~ $35 CAD so not cheap by local standards and that made it perfectly empty.
One thing I noticed that was strange, after buying your ticket and going through security you have to walk outside and up a ramp to another entrance that takes you into the path to the elevator. The interior, although somewhat new, felt worn and the design actually felt very 70's.
After making our way to the elevator we had a private trip to the top. The info screen had a windows error and the glass in the elevator was strangely covered by a Great Wall decal. We could see the light pulsating around the edges... very peculiar that they would cover it up and not let us watch the city as we rise up. At this point my expectations were very low for this tower.
Arriving at the top of the tower in what seemed to be very slow for an elevator, we walked out into an empty observation deck. Except for an attendant, a few security and two cleaning ladies, we were alone. It was amazing.
At first I was a little annoyed that the windows were slanted out and a railing impeded reaching the windows, because a good observation deck picture is always one where your camera is against the glass. But regardless of my inside disappointment, there was an outdoor space. Outdoor spaces in observation decks are common but not always available. This one was designed beautifully, circular, a nice break in the glass for picture taking, and quiet.
But wait. This was great but it gets better. We went back in and made our way up the inner observation deck that wound up to the next floor. It was decorated with Olympic posters and pictures of towers...but strangely no CN Tower. Arriving at the top, to our surprise and delight there was a swirling staircase. Could it be? Is there another outdoor observation deck above us? Yes. Yes there was.
We went up and it was the most magnificent observation deck we have visited. 360 degree views of Beijing with amazing weather and great visibility. There were 6 points that jutted out and two of them had glass floors. The glass walls had breaks, just like downstairs, to allow for unobstructed views for your camera. Simply amazing. We were entirely alone and we enjoyed every minute of it. The weather was cool with a nice breeze and we could see for miles.
Being the Olympic tower, there is also large Olympic Rings at the top of the tower that rotate when weather allows. From this deck at 228 metres the rings were massive.
We thoroughly enjoyed our time on the deck and snapped all the pictures we needed. Time to head down.
The benefit of an abandoned attraction is the only wait to get down was waiting for the elevator to slowly get up. We were taken down to the bottom floor and we made our way past the flower watering lady and a few security guards. The design is very neat but as I said before you could see that it wasn't holding up that well. From the inside you could have told us it was built in the 70's and we would have believed you.
We aren't sure why the Olympic Park Observation Tower was so empty, it was Thursday, but the weather was great and out of 21 million people in Beijing, we were surprised we had the place to ourselves. We are wondering if maybe it is priced too high for the locals or maybe it is just simply because we are not here during peak tourist season. Regardless, it is an amazing observation deck and worth the visit in our opinion if you like to take in cities from far above.