If you will ask me to choose between visiting a big city or a beach destination, I will almost always choose the latter. I used to always prefer the beach but when I look back at some of the most beautiful skylines I’ve seen in my travels, now I’m beginning to think twice or thrice.
NYC – The city that never sleeps
In this blog post, I have gathered some of the best and most beautiful skylines I’ve seen from my perspective. Of course, these are not definitive rankings and it’s really based from my own experience and preference because beauty is really subjective, right? One thing is for certain though, if you will see these places in person and not just from the movies or from even the most captivating photographs, you will agree that the most eye-catching features of a big city are not the museums or parks but the tall buildings and structures that are seemingly touching the clouds over the horizon. I’ve listed down 11 (check my previous posts why 11). From my bucket list, I think I’m just missing Chicago, USA (they say it’s the 2nd best city skyline in the US of course next to NYC), Vancouver (Canada) and Cape Town (South Africa) to determine which ones will be bumped off from my current favorites.
I intentionally placed a lot pictures but even capturing some of the best spots and angles by looking up, looking down or by the usual point and shoot from my phone, the pictures won’t give justice to these incredible views and you really have to see it for yourself.
Enough of the long introduction, here are the cities with the best/most beautiful skyline, in my humble opinion.
11. KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA
Petronas Towers used to be the tallest building in the world before Taipei 101 then currently Burj Khalifa but it still remains to be the tallest TWIN towers and my favorite because of its really breathtaking design. I have yet to go to the observatory even after visiting Kuala Lumpur thrice (they say the view from the KL tower is nice too), so this city in Southeast Asia, while at the bottom of my ranking, still deserves a spot.
10. BangkOK, THAILAND
Bangkok is not really known for skyscrapers but after staying at So Sofitel Bangkok (probably one of the best hotel experience I’ve ever had), the rewarding view after touring the city will just make you want to stay at the hotel or relax at the pool. I will come up with the best hotel listing in a future blog.
9. MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA
Melbourne is not particularly known for skycrapers but I had such a nice experience just walking around Melbourne CBD and was lucky enough to have a clear view on a winter weather when I went up to the Eureka Skydeck observatory. This city has a very unique appeal to me and if given the chance to go back to Australia, I’ll choose Melbourne over Sydney.
8. SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA
Boasting one of the most iconic structures in the world, this city has the Sydney Opera House and it sits perfectly with the blue waters of Sydney Harbour add to that the impressive Sydney Harbour Bridge. While there’s not really a lot of skycrapers, the city skyline is really photogenic.
7. SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA
South Korea’s capital is of course expected to have the largest skyline in the country and I really want to go back because the Lotte World Tower (the tallest in Korea) was still in construction back then. And of course you shouldn’t miss the gondola ride to see a 360 degree view of the city from the N Seoul Tower. I promise to update this blog with additional pictures (I have an upcoming Spring visit) because I can’t retrieve some of my old pictures right now.
This small country/city is a testament of having more with less. The city’s infrastructure is world-class and you won’t expect anything less with a skyline featuring the 2nd most expensive building in the world – the Marina Bay Sands. It was recently eclipsed by Abraj Al Bait in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
5. (METRO) MANILA, PHILIPPINES
Of course, there’s no place like home! And even though I have yet to see the Manila Skyline in any rankings out there, one has to look really closely to see that while the city is not well-planned and it’s really overcrowded with heavy traffic most especially during peak hours, our very own skyline is really magnificent. I will never get tired of flying in and out of Manila because of the views up there and of course add to that some wonderful staycations even in Makati, my home city.
4. DUBAI, U.A.E.
A city in the middle of a desert, Dubai is known to have some of the best modern architecture in the world. Home of the world’s tallest building (Burj Khalifa), Dubai is still not finished surprising the world and I’ve heard they are building another one that will be taller soon. One may expect that the city’s skyline should be in the no. 1 spot too but it’s not really quite there yet compared to my top 3, at least when I last visited in 2015. Maybe it’s time to go back to change my verdict.
3. NEW YORK CITY, U.S.A.
I have to admit that I had a hard time ranking my top 3 particularly placing New York City to no. 3. It is clearly one the most famous and its buildings and structures are the most photographed add to that the countless movies we’ve seen. In fact, in my last visit, I went to all 3 famous observatories (will feature that very soon) namely the Empire State Building, Top of the Rock from Rockefeller Center and the newest from the One World Trade Center (the tallest building in the U.S.). However, I have to admit that while NYC can really boast of the densest and most diverse skylines and easily the most recognizable, the next 2 cities in my list has a little bit more appeal to me, personally speaking.
2. HONG KONG
I was planning on writing this article since last year but I postponed for a very particular reason – I have yet to visit Shanghai for comparison purposes. Prior to a month ago, Hong Kong is definitely no. 1 on my list for a lot of reasons. It boasts some of the tallest buildings in the world, some of which are somehow connected in “dancing” with the Symphony of lights and it’s really beautiful at night. Of course, the best view will still be from Victoria Peak and after visiting 5 times (my most visited city so far), it hasn’t lost its touch and it really best exemplifies how skycrapers should be built.
1. SHANGHAI, CHAINA
I was contemplating whether to just put Shanghai at no. 2 and not just be swayed by my most recent experience (because this was the last city I visited prior to writing this post) but who am I kidding? Shanghai is China’s biggest and most advanced city and clearly a testament that China is no longer a sleeping giant. While I don’t particularly like the loan deals the Philippines has with China as of the moment (no time to be political right now), Shanghai is now quickly regaining its glory as one of the biggest economic center in the world that can really set the bar for modern architecture. It has the 2nd tallest building in the world (Shanghai Tower) and some of the tallest buildings all over China (The Bund will always come into mind). Based on overall aesthetics and appeal, how it really lights up after dark with the most colorful buildings I’ve seen, this city is deserving to be in the no. 1 of spot; and my last visit clearly proves that it pays to look up, but it also pays to look down and look from afar because this city has a lot to offer.
The following didn’t make it to my top 11 but I think it’s worth mentioning that they offer awesome skyline views too.