Guangzhou-Baiyun airport, serving a metropolis of 11 million of inhabitants, is the main airport of the Guandong province. The airport is the main hub of China Southern Airlines and a focus city for Shenzhen Airlines. “Baiyun” means “white clouds” in Chinese, and refers to Mount Baiyun near the airport. The airport opened on August 5, 2004, replacing the 72-year-old previous, identically named Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport (now closed). The new airport is 28 kilometers North-East from downtown Guangzhou. The airport is the hub – and so is dominated – by China Southern Airlines but keeps a good selections and variety of Chinese airlines and also a good international traffic. This a busy airport with a nice mix of traffic between widebodies and even relatively small aircraft like the ERJ-190 that are impossible to see, for example in Beijing, dominated instead by larger capacity aircraft. In the morning there is a large number of international flights with widebodies aircraft.
At Guangzhou you can see Shenzhen Airlines, Sichuan Airlines, Loong Air, Capital Al., Tianjing Al., Hainan Al. Chonqing Al., Sping, China United and others. The airport is located to the North-East of the big town and easily reachable with the efficient metro service.
General tips for China
Some websites and app don’t work in China (like Whattsap or Facebook/Messanger ecc.) so you might need a list of useful apps:
We recommend to buy a prepaid card at the airport during transit as the chance to talk to an english speaking seller is much bigger there.
Written by Brent Wang (local spotter), Luciano Manara and Markus Mainka (Spot 6) and Ruoyang Yan. Last update December 2021
How was your trip? Rate this airport!
| (9 votes, average: 4.56 out of 5)
|01/19||3.600 m (11.811 ft) Concrete|
|02L/20R||3.800 m (12.467 ft) Concrete|
|02R/20L||3.800 m (12.467 ft) Concrete|
|Terminal 1||Mainly service for Air China and China Eastern Airlines, as well as some of non-Skyteam international airlines.|
|Terminal 2||Mainly service for China Southern airlines and Xiamen Airlines, as well as some of the Skyteam members like China Airlines.|
|Ladder||Not needed and not recommend to use!|
|Car/Public Transport||Not recommend as metro + car hailing apps make it more convenient.|
|Restrooms||Only for location 1 as it’s near the terminals.|
|Drinks/Food||Suggest to take what you need except for location 1.|
|Hotels||Many hotels around the airport, most of them provide 24hrs free shuttles to the terminals. At spot 2 there is a hotel directly nearby.|
|Season||All year round|
|01/19||Traffic is mostly domestic departures and landings. Heavies are more likely to use east runways.|
|02L/20R||Normally in use for take offs only.|
|02R/20L||Normally in use for landings only. (Airbus A380 will only landing and take off on this side of the airport using this two runways).|
Due to national security concerns, the use of geographic information in China is restricted and the layers in google maps don´t fit. The satellite images are correct but the street layers are displaced!
Please click on the link at each location (WHERE) to get to the chinese website baidu where you find an exact map with satellite and street view images. If you use a smartphone please download the Baidu App.
|Spot #1 -Terminal 2 Platform – All Runways & Taxiway A|
|WHERE||This location is pretty easy to find as it’s located near the terminals. Just take metro to terminal 2 station and leave the terminal from the main gate. When you pass through the road outside the terminal, you’ll see a platform which is the roof of P8 parking garage (note that the roof is for ventilation system that you cannot drive the car to the roof from the parking garage, if you’re coming by car, please go to the terminal first)|
|WHAT||This spot is mainly for 02L take off and 20R landing, traffic on 02R/20L may be far that heat haze could be a problem. You can also get some taxing and terminal shots. Night shots are nice all year round, you may see some special visitors like Air Iraq and Mahan Air if you’re lucky enough.|
|TIME||From noon to afternoon all year round, also night shot.|
|MISC.||Shops and restrooms are located in the terminals, within walking distance. Possible that security will ask you to leave if there are high security movements.|
|FOCAL LENGTH||150mm for aircraft on taxiway, 200-300mm for taking off and landing traffic.|
|Spot #2 – Rooftop – 02R/20L movements|
|WHERE||This spot located on the east side of the runway 02R, to get there, search on Baidu Maps for a hotel called “途居酒店(广州新白云机场店)”, you can get there by driving, or using Chinese Uber “DiDi” to set the place as your destination, also you can take subway to the station “Ren he (人和) and get on bus line “花71 or 842” then get off the bus at “人和安置区(北区)”, then walk for about half miles to get there. The spotting building is next to the hotel, this is basically a private building with 5 floors, so it can provide a perfect view on the top of it, the owner is now using the top floor as a observation deck, you will need to pay 20 CNY (3 dollars) to the owner when you are leaving, the owner of the house is very friendly however he dose not speak English so just keep your smile and pay the fee.|
|WHAT||You are in the middle of the runways 02L/R; 20L/R but only the outer one is good for photography.|
|TIME||Both Summer and Winter are good for spotting at this location. Best time of the day between sunrise and noon. after 11 A.M., hear haze might appear for movements on 02L/20R during summer because of the further distance.|
|MISC.||You can buy some snacks, drinks or instant ramen from the hotel next to the spotting building, also restrooms are available in both building. The owner uncle of the building sometimes gives out some homemade snacks or food, he is very enthusiasm.|
|FOCAL LENGTH||70-400mm is enough for this spot.|
|Spot #3 – Channel – 02R arrivals|
|WHERE||This spot is pretty easy to get, there’s nothing near by except some houses, so use the label on the Guide’s map and use Baidu maps to navigate. You can get there by driving, Chinese Uber “DiDi” or by bus, for bus, take the line 842 bus from “Ren He subway station (人和地铁站)” and get off the bus at “Ming Xing Road Entrance (明星路口)” and use the map to walk there for about 0.4 miles.
From the main road where the bus stop is walk a bit westward until you reach some field under the approach path. Now turn right and walk northwards on the road in between the field and some house until you will reach the approach lights. You can position yourself on a footpath along a channel to find your preferred angle.LINK to Baidu maps
|WHAT||This spot is only for runway 02R arrivals.|
|TIME||Best time will be from sunrise until 11 A.M., both winter and summer will be good.|
|MISC.||No store nor restroom around here, buy some food from “Ren He (人和) town”.|
|FOCAL LENGTH||18-135mm is enough for this spot, otherwise, some engine or landing gears close up might need longer lenses.|
|Spot #4 – Restaurant – 01 arrivals|
|WHERE||This spot is locating at the right end of the runway 01. It’s a balcony on the top of a restaurant, to get there, search for Chinese characters “李树庄园农庄”, you can drive their, using Chinese Uber “DiDi” or also go there by taking the bus, for bus, take the subway to the Terminal 1 (Also known as Airport South) and get on the bus line “Airport line 1(station at terminal one level 1 exit gate 28)” (caution: not the airport express line, that one is heading for downtown central Guangzhou), get off the bus at station “穗佳综合楼北门” and you will be able to get to the spot by following the maps and you will only need to walk for about 0.2 miles.|
|WHAT||This spot is good for runway 01 arrivals.|
|TIME||Best time from sunrise until noon/lunch (you can have a lunch downstairs since it is a Chinese restaurant). Good for whole year.|
|MISC.||Food, drinks, restrooms are all available down stairs. Purchase some food from the restaurant while doing plane spotting, because you are going to enter the restaurants private territory and they might ask you to leave.|
|FOCAL LENGTH||70-300 is enough for this location.|
|Spot #5 – Abandoned House – 01 arrivals|
|WHERE||This location is called Lianhuatang which located on the east side of runway, you can call a “DiDi car-hailing” (which is Uber in China) from the airport which takes about 20 minutes. You can also take one stop of metro line 3 from terminal to “Gaozeng station (高增)” and transfer to metro line 9 (green line) for one station to “Qingtang”, you can then find a car online and ask the driver to send you to “Lianhuatang”, which saves money and time. When you get off the car, walk straight for about 100 m until you see a three-story house which has been abandoned on you right. Just use the stairs and go to the third floor, there is a huge platform which provides you a wonderful angle.
Update November 2021: the spots still exist, even if the start of the construction of the fourth runway has begun. You can cross the construction site to reach this spot but be prepared that it’s gone one day.
|WHAT||This location is on the south end of east runway which is ideal for 01 Arrivals. You can also get some for flights taking off from 02R/02L if their gates are in terminal 1, since they will pass and taxi to the west runways.|
|TIME||From late noon until sunset all year round.|
|MISC.||Nothing near by, be should to take enough water and food, there will be hot in summer. The environment there is kind of desolate since not so many people live there now but the there is no security issue as people are very kind there. Leave before dark to avoid get lost in the complex intersections. But recent years, take advantage of car-hailing apps, you can guide the driver to pick you up from the village.|
|FOCAL LENGTH||100mm for runway movement, 200mm-300mm for aircraft on taxiway.|
|Spot #6 – Viewing Deck – 01/19 movements|
Update December 2021: due to the construction of the fourth runway the house has been demolished and this spot is no longer available. Go to #7 instead which is still there.
|Spot #7 – Spotting Hills – 01/19 movements|
There are a couple of hills next to spot #6 which can be used if the house is closed. From the previous spot follow the path North along the airport fence.
Update December 2021: the bigger hill still exist, even if the start of the construction of the fourth runway has begun. You can cross the construction site to reach this spot but be prepared that it’s gone one day.
|WHAT||As you are in the middle of the runway you can catch easily all movements on 01/19 as well as photos from the nearby taxiways.|
|TIME||Fom late noon until sunset.|
|MISC.||Nothing here but you can buy drinks at spot 6 or in the nearby village|
|FOCAL LENGTH||A320/737 = 120mm|
|Spot #8 – ST Aerospace Guangzhou – Apron|
|WHERE||The spotting location is on a small bridge outside the fence of ST Aerospace Guangzhou(STAG) apron. Since there is no regular public transport near the spot, the best way to get there is call a Uber by “Didi” from Renhe(人和) or Gaozeng(高增) metro station and set the destination as”广州新科宇航科技有限公司“, and you’ll see a water channel and the spot as soon as arrive. It’s not easy to call a car from the spot so when you leave, you may have to walk 15-20 minutes to the nearest bus stop “Lixi Village Committee”(李溪村委) and take Rt.710 or 花71 to metro station. If you can contact a local spotter who has a car, the trip can be much more easier.|
|WHAT||As a major airframe service provider of Guangzhou, STAG maintains aircrafts from various airlines around the world. Delta’s 767 fleet and Japan Airlines’ 737 fleet are two regular visitors of STAG, so you can catch them from the spot easily. Besides, STAG also provides P2F conversion of Airbus A321,which means it’s possible to see an untitled A321P2F stay on the apron if you’re lucky enough.
Notice that you can ONLY photograph the aircraft on the STAG apron here. Normally it only have a few movements and most of them are in midnight. Sometimes there is no aircraft on the apron, so it’s recommended to observe the STAG apron from spot 2 or consult local spotters before you get there.
|TIME||From October to March it’s perfect to spot the north apron (for various airlines and A321P2F) all day long. From April to September it’s also able to spot the south apron(mainly for Delta 767)in daytime, but major part of the aircraft would hide behind the fence.
Night shot is available all year around.
|MISC.||A restaurant is located 200 meters away from the spot. However, bring some food and water by yourself is still recommended.|
|FOCAL LENGTH||70-300mm for the north apron. For an aircraft taxiing via the bridge, even a smartphone can spot it.|