Hong Kong Intl. Airport Spotting Guide

Hong Kong International Airport (HKG/VHHH) also known as Chek Lap Kok Airport is located 25 km west of Hong Kong Central on an artificial island close to Lantau Island. It can be easily reached by car from motorway 8. From the city the Airport Express is riding every 10 minutes and takes around 25 minutes (100 HKD). Several public lines connecting the airport with nearly every part of the city, the fares are lower than the Airport Express. Additionally ferries are going to Macao and China Mainland.

In 2015 68,5 million passengers were handled(#8 world wide). HKG is the world’s busiest cargo airport. The airport was opened in 1998 to replace the famous Kai Tak Airport. The airport is hub of Cathay Pacific, Dragonair, Hong Kong Airlines and Hong Kong Express Airways.

Nearly all major world airlines can be seen in HKG, as well as numerous Asian carriers. The airport has two terminals which are seen on the apron as one. Terminal 2 is only equipped with check-in desks but no gates. All aircrafts are handled at Terminal 1 with it’s main building and the two concourses (North Satellite and Midfield)

You can check the flight schedule for passenger and cargo flights on http://www.hongkongairport.com/eng/index.html . The airport operates 24 hours, so some special visitors may move in the dark only.

The current two runway system might be extended in the future by a 3rd runway. Also around the airport a lot of construction is ongoing. The bridge to Macao and other building sites can obstruct spotters.

Written by Marcus and Miguel Alia (last visit March 2017)

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Airline Variety
Photo Locations
Airport Information Runways 07R/25L 07L/25R
3,800m 3.800m
Asphalt Asphalt
Terminal Terminal 1
All airlines
Spotting Information Ladder Not necessary and even forbidden at the fence.
Car Car is not useful, as parking might become an issue. All spots can be reached by public transport. With the “Octopus” card you can pay in all buses, metros and ferries. The card can be obtained at all MTR stations.
Restrooms Only in the terminal and at MTR station “Tung Chung”
Drinks/Food Only in the terminal and at MTR station “Tung Chung”
Hotels Few (expensive) hotels around the airport. Bigger choice in Central or Kowloon.
Season Summer is hot and humid. As it is also the rainy season thunderstorms or typhoons have to be expected. Autumn and winter is cooler and more dry, but it can get very hazy.
Runway Usage General Info Clear rules make spotting quite predictable, still exceptions happen from time to time.
07L/25R Nearly all passengers flights will arrive here. Also few cargo arrivals might be seen.
07R/25L All departures to be expected here as well as most cargo arrivals. Few passenger flights can also land on this runway.

Spot #1 – Sky Deck – 25R and 25L Arrivals
WHERE The sky deck can be accessed from Terminal 2. Search for the Aviation Discovery Centre, where a ticket for the observation deck can be obtained (15 HKD). It is located on the roof of the building. Opening hours: Weekdays 11:00 – 22:00 and Saturdays / Sundays / Public Holidays 09:30 – 22:00
WHAT Arriving aircrafts on 25R can be perfectly seen here. Depending on the time of the day also arrivals on 25L are possible.
TIME Good until noon in summer. In winter until 16:00 for 25R.
MISC. All facilities in the terminal. Food, drinks, supermarkets, restrooms. Nearly no shade on the deck, so don’t forget sun protection. Also no benches available.
FOCAL LENGTH 400 mm for A320 approaching 25R, also 400 mm for B747 on 25L.
Spot #2 – Cathay Pacific City – Take-Off 07R
WHERE On a pedestrian bridge at Cathay PacificCity directly at the bus stop. Several bus lines from airport and the city will stop here.
WHAT You can get aircrafts departing 07R.
TIME Morning until afternoon.
MISC. Nothing here, so bring what you need. At least you can stand in the shadow.
FOCAL LENGTH 400 mm for A320
Spot #3 – Scenic Hill – Take-Off 07R
WHERE From bus stop Cathay Pacific City walk on Scenic Road towards the hill. At the cable car building move the stairs up and follow the footpath to the top of the hill. You can also leave the bus at “Aviation Fuel Tank Farm” which is closer to the spot. But not all bus lines will stop there.
WHAT You can get aircrafts departing 07R. 25L will be also possible there.
TIME Morning until afternoon.
MISC. Nothing here, so bring what you need. At least there are benches and shadow in the shack.
FOCAL LENGTH 800 mm for A320

Spot #4 – HAECO Aircraft Maintenance Area – 07L Arrivals
WHERE Take bus S52 from “Cathay Pacific City” or MTR station “Tung Chung” direction “Aircraft Maintenance Area”. Bus S52 rides every 20 minutes. Exit at terminus at the HAECO hangars and walk back a few meters to find your preferred position. You can sit on the rocks at sea.
WHAT Arrivals on 07L can be seen here, also 07R arrivals are possible.
TIME Morning until afternoon in summer. Until noon in winter.
MISC. Nothing here, so bring what you need. Even no shade.
FOCAL LENGTH Between 400 and 700 mm for A320 depending on your position.

Spot #5 – Sha Lo Wan – 07R
WHERE Take a 10 minutes walk from MTR station “Tung Chung”. From “Tung Chung Development Ferry Pier” take Fortune Ferry (see picture below) direction “Tai O” (http://www.fortuneferry.com.hk/timetable.php). Exit at the next ferry pier “Sha Lo Wan” after about 10 minutes. From ferry pier take the footpath and walk along the coast line to the village. Pass the village and move on along the coast. At the parting of the ways move the left footpath up the hill until you reach a meteorological station. There you can stand in the shades of trees. The walk is around 25-30 minutes.
WHAT Arrivals and departures on 07R
TIME Morning until afternoon.
MISC. There’s absolutely nothing at this spot, bring with you what you need. Take care of the ferry schedule. If you miss the last ferry you need to walk about 2 hours to get back to civilization.
FOCAL LENGTH 400 mm for A320 lining up 07R, 200 mm for 747 landing.

Spot #6 – Terminal at Gate N68 or S49 – Only airside
WHERE After passing security and immigration: If you have some time until your flight is departing move to the end of the main terminal building close to gate N68 or S49. You can also chose any other gate, but around N68 and S49 you will catch the highest number of movements.
WHAT Movements on northern runway (N68) and southern runway (S49) and taxiways. Photos are taken through glass, so be careful of reflections.
TIME All day long. Depends where you take your pictures.
MISC. As you are in the terminal you can find everything around you.
FOCAL LENGTH 100 mm for A320 on the taxiway.
Spot #7 – Airport Authorities – 25R Arrivals
WHERE This spot is netxt to the airport authorities at the junction of “Cheong Yip Rd” and “Cheong Wing Rd”. Its an alternative to spot #1 but you are much closer to the RWY 25R movements so you don´t need a huge hense and you have less dust/heat in your pictures. Exit the terminal and walk northwards by passing the taxi station.
WHAT You get 25R arrivals only so you will miss most freighters as they usually use 25L.
TIME Morning until afternoon in summer. Until noon in winter.
MISC. Everything you need is within the terminal. There is a security guard next to you so don´t be always in their sight and keep a low profile.
FOCAL LENGTH 50-200 mm
Spot #8 – Sha Lo Wan 2 – 07R/25L Departures
WHERE Follow the same directions to the first Sha Lo Wan spot #5 (metro to Tung Chung, ferry to Sha Lo Wan pier), but at the football pitch turn left and left again in the next junction. Continue the path, that now goes cleary uphill. On the highest point of the path, after a really steep section, there is a crossing, where you need to go left here (street view). The hard surface ends some twenty meters from this point, on the fence of a meteorologic station. You have to continue on your left, walking along the fence, and further up on a barely marked trail. Continue always uphill for some 10 min more until you reach an opening on the forest. Here, take the path on your right, now on a slight downill, and in a couple or three minutes you will reach the spot.
WHAT Departures on 07R / 25L. A few arrivals (mainly cargo) on the same runway.
TIME Winter, all morning until 14h or so.
MISC. You are as far away as on the other Sha Lo Wan spot. Heat haze can be a problem even during winter. There is absolutely nothing here, so bring what you need. A small shop can be found (before climbing to the spot!)
FOCAL LENGTH 400mm for an A320, 200mm for a B77W.

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5 thoughts on “Hong Kong Intl. Airport Spotting Guide

  1. TAA

    The big question is whether the Sha Lo Wan spot (No.5) will go with the installation of the Hong Kong Zhuhai Macao Bridge. Are there any early indications?

    1. Marcus Post author

      When I was there last December it was not clear if the new bridge will obstruct the view. This needs to be checked when the construction works are finalized. But it was also possible to move some meters upwards to get a higher position. So wait and see…

        1. Alisdair McLean

          I was at spot 5 yesterday and the construction of the bridge is in progress. The bridge itself does not obstruct the view, but if they add lighting poles and overhead signs then I believe that it will interfere with the view. I don’t know if it is better at spot 8.

          Also, note that the Skydeck (spot 1) is currently closed ‘for routine maintenance’. I don’t know when it is planned to reopen.

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