We've all seen pictures of the Pearl TV Tower in Shanghai. It has those gaudy pink orbs that make the Pudong side of the Huangpu River look like something out of a sci-fi flick. It's also got the most well-known skyrise viewing platform in all of Shanghai.

I've been up the Pearl Tower. Twice, in fact - the first time on a sightseeing tour during my virgin voyage to China, and the second time on an indie tour of Shanghai with a friend a few years later. I was always wowed by the 360 ° views of the city that the Pearl Tower offered - endless rows of high rise apartment buildings and murky air stretching in every direction.

Most recently, I went to the Middle Kingdom's 'Big Apple' for business a few months back. I was travelling with a China first-timer and thought a trip downtown would be an apt way to start his delve into Chinese sightseeing.

I couldn't bear the thought of going to the Pearl toweragain. Those lines - those horrible long lines. And bad tour guides shouting into static megaphones at hordes of gawking tourists. Bad, very bad.

So we made for the Jinmao Tower, Shanghai's newer and taller brother to the Pearl. For a long time, Jinmao had been the tallest building in China - until the newly built Shanghai World Financial Center (or what I like to call 'The Bottlecap Opener' because it has this cool hole in the top) was completed in '07. Anyway, the literature on Jinmao said it boasted a viewing platform on its 88th floor (surprise surprise, the Chinese love their 8s), which, at 340 meters up, is a full 45 meters higher than the observation decks in the Pearl.

Jinmao was fantastic. We walked straight in - no lines - bought tickets ( ¥88, surprise again!) and were sky high in about 7 minutes. The elevator opens you onto a direct view down on the Pearl Tower, which looks miniature from there. And though the viewing deck at Jinmao isn't entirely 360 °, it comes pretty damn close.

Verdict? Well, in a country where you have to push, shove and stand in very long lines to get anywhere, visiting the Jinmao Tower was completely refreshing. Plus, the view of the Pearl TV Tower from Jinmao's height is much more striking than the views from the Pearl itself.

Next time, I'm going to be checking out the dizzying vista from the newly opened observation deck of the The Bottlecap Opener, which is situated next door to Jinmao and makes it look like a child's transformer toy.