The view from above: Sky high at the Burj Khalifa

The outdoor viewing deck is on the 148th floor, 550m/1,804ft in the air. Welcome to the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world.

Geoffrey Morrison
Geoffrey Morrison is a writer/photographer about tech and travel for CNET, The New York Times, and other web and print publications. He's also the Editor-at-Large for The Wirecutter. He has written for Sound&Vision magazine, Home Theater magazine, and was the Editor-in-Chief of Home Entertainment magazine. He is NIST and ISF trained, and has a degree in Television/Radio from Ithaca College. His bestselling novel, Undersea, and its sequel, Undersea Atrophia, are available in paperback and digitally on Amazon. He spends most of the year as a digital nomad, living and working while traveling around the world. You can follow his travels at BaldNomad.com and on his YouTube channel.
Geoffrey Morrison
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Burj Khalifa

163 floors. 2,722ft/829.8m from tip to ground. It's the tallest building in the world. It's the Burj Khalifa, and we're going up.

For the full story behind this tour, check out The view from the Burj Khalifa.

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At the top

The entrance! Rather unassuming, and in a distant corner of the mall.

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Yeah, really tall

As you wait in line for the elevators (or are whisked past the line if you got the "sky ticket"), there's a display showing how much taller the Burj is compared to other buildings. The one on the right is the Petronas Towers which I toured a few years ago.

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For some of the fastest elevators in the world, they don't exactly scream "One of the Fastest Elevators in the World." Inside, LCD screens show the other tallest buildings in the world, and you rise past them as you gain commensurate height. Even at floor 123, where you exit and go to another elevator to go even farther up, you're higher than nearly every other building on Earth.

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Sky lounge

The stylish and chill Sky lounge is on the 148th floor.

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Oh, windows

A relaxing lounge above the world.

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Oh dear!

Yep, that sure is a long way down. Amazing.

On the left side, about halfway up, is the Metro station (next to the highway). You can see the walkway to get from there to the Dubai Mall snaking diagonally toward the lower right of the image.

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That view

This isn't even the coolest view you'll see in this slideshow. You can see where the walkway connects to the massive Dubai Mall (largest mall in the world by area).

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Mindblowingly, there's an outdoor observation deck, a third of a mile in the sky. Even more amazing, there are gaps in the walls so you can stick, lets say a GoPro, out and take some amazing photos (you probably shouldn't do this).

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Yeah, I totally did that. Behold, Dubai!

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Still higher

As mind-bogglingly high as we are, there are another 15 stories above this point. They're private though. Oh well.

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A long shadow cast

The view roughly southeast. Check out that massive shadow.

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It throws off your entire perspective being this high up. Those buildings are actually quite tall. The flat, wide building center right is taller than the Chrysler Building in New York, and taller than all but a handful of skyscrapers in the US.

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On the 'water'

The Burj Khalifa and the Dubai mall are part of a huge development that includes apartments, restaurants, and other shopping.

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Hazy sunset

I was a little bummed how hazy it was. I was in Dubai for a week and it was like this every day. Still, pretty awesome sunset.

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The sun did light up everything nicely. This was from my Instagram, if you're interested.

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Fountains from above

Designed and built by the same company that created the famous Bellagio fountains in Las Vegas.

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Sci-fi masterpiece

How amazing is this?! The air cleared and the lights of the city turned something cool into something awesome. Like a sci-fi matte painting come to life.

This was also on my Instagram. Gonna flog that till you all follow me...

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Lights of the city

An interesting thing to note. Look how the main streets are lit by cheap, orange sodium vapor lights, but the roads closer to the apartments have newer, blue-white LEDs.

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Dubai mall at night

The most visited building on the planet, according to Wikipedia. It looks like a spaceship. A spaceship with 1,124,000 m² total area.

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Interchange at night

The view north. I did not get tired of this view. I took many, many photos.

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Going up?

A separate elevator takes you from the 125th (or 124th) floor back down to the ground.

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Though the lighting was fairly dim, there were still a LOT of reflections on the glass. Basically impossible to get a photo from inside.

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Viewing deck

The outdoor viewing deck on the 124th floor. As you can see, fairly crowded. Also, it faces a different direction than the one on the 148th floor, which I think offers better views.

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By night

As incredible as it is during the day, it's even more incredible at night.

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There are shows every 30 minutes for most of the evening. It is pretty well done, I'll give it that.

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The most impressive show was to Elmer Bernstein's "Magnificent Seven" theme. I don't know what the connection was to Dubai or the tower, but there is never a wrong time for more Bernstein.

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One more surprise

And notice those little white dots (no, not the windows, the other white dots). Those are even more amazing.

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It lights up!

The surface of the building is covered by 70,000 LEDs and at night it lights up like a giant screen! Colored patterns weave their way across and up and down. It's one of the most amazing things I've seen.

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Silent giant

The light show is basically silent, not occurring at the same time as the fountain show.

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The artistic designs are sometimes just random colors, other times more recognizable shapes. Apparently the display has a resolution of 800x1,800. I wonder if it has an HDMI input...

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The building is so tall it barely looks real. Lit up with all the LEDs, it looks even more fake.

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Goodnight and goodbye

I've wanted to tour this incredible building since I first heard about it, long before ground was even broken. It was definitely worth it. What an incredible place.

For the full story behind this tour, check out The view from the Burj Khalifa.

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