Sanya Phoenix, the second busiest Airport in Hainan Island, is the international tour city which is called “eastern Hawaii”. Tropical maritime monsoon climate. Annual average temperature 25.5degrees centigrade. In Summer( late May to mid- September) the degree of humidity will rise to 90%.The highest temperature is 36 degrees. Autumn(late September to early December)the degree of humidity is about 80% but the sky is clean and blue. Winter(mid- December to late February of the next year), the degree of humidity is about 73%, and the weather is cool. Between June and October is rainy season with big possibilities of typhoon and the precipitation reaches to 90.2% of the whole year. No fog all year round.
The favorable period is during Winter because of the sun position, in Summer the sun is in the opposite side and the traffic becomes less and boring, so avoid it. The perfect moment to visit this nice airport is during the Spring Festival as every airline use bigger aircraft. Only A380 and 747-8 aren’t certified for Sanya, but expect a lot of 747-400, B777, A330, A350, B787 and so on! Also a huge number of business jets. The date of the Spring Festival isn’t fix, so try to find out that year when it comes; generally it’s in February.
Sanya is served by a lot of Chinese airlines, like Air China, Shandong, Air Changhan, Chengdu, Capital, Hainan, Fuzhou, Tianjin, Shenzhen, 9 Air, China: West, Southern, Eastern, United, Spring and many others. Also Dragonair/Cathay Dragon and Hong-Kong Airlines. This is maybe the best airport where you can get A330 Tibet and Lucky Air. Keep an eye on the Russians charters as you will see IFly, UTAir, Azur, Alrosa and other crazy stuff but you have to be lucky with the schedule. Also Sunday from Khazakstan make some good flights on Tuesday and Saturday morning.
A big advantage of this airport is that there is only one runway so you can’t miss anything. Also, the main spotting location is the roof of a hotel with all the comfort you need.
Note that in this airport you will never have problems with security. Spotting in military airports in China is strictly forbidden (so don’t try it in the other military airports around the island) except during Air Shows BUT if a military airplane lands in Sanya you are free to take photos.
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.
Hainan Free Visa:
On the Internet you read various versions about the Visa-less entry for Hainan only. For getting that you MUST book your Hainan trip with an Hainan based travel agency or getting invited by an employee of a Hainan based travel agency. So this is a very very very hard task to achieve; talking with local spotters they never met someone getting into Hainan with this procedure so we suggest to just get the normal Visa.
Written by Tombarelli Federico with the help of local spotters. Credits for spots 2-3 and relatives photo to the local spotters, in particular Hayden and Ben. Last Update February 2022.
How was your trip? Rate this airport!
| (3 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
|08/26||3,400 m (11,155 ft)|
|Terminals||One for all operations|
|Ladder||Not recommended and not needed.|
|Car/Public Transport||No need and impossible to rent in China. Use Didi (Uber)|
|Restrooms||Only at Spot #1|
|Drinks/Food||Everywhere in the town around the airport, inside terminal|
|Hotels||Junlin Inn OYO Hotel offers great views. See Spot 1|
|Season||Late autumn/winter/early spring. Avoid summer as it rains everyday|
|08/26||Used in both directions. Mainly 08 operations. It can change during the day|
Due to national security concerns, the use of geographic information in China is restricted and the layers don´t fit.
The satellite images are correct but the street layers are displaced! Please visit the chinese website baidu for an exact map with street view images.
|Spot #1 – Junlin Inn OYO Hotel/君临旅租 – all movements RWY 08|
|WHERE||” 君临旅租 ” show this to the taxi/Didi driver, and bring you a map with the point (you can use mine under). Also show the hotel entrance (below). Note that there are a pair of others OYO Hotel nearby, for example my driver was confused so make sure that he will bring you to this hotel. If you exit the terminal and go left in around 40 min walk you should arrive to the hotel but I won’t recommend that because of the driving style in China.|
|WHAT||Rwy 08 line ups and landings.|
|TIME||Arrivals are good from sunrise until 3PM
Take offs are very good after 9AM but you might find some heat haze in the middle part of the day
|MISC.||You can choose rooms 508/9/510 for taking landings from your room, but I suggest just to make the last pair of steps and go to the hotel roof. Here you’ll find an amazing place, full of benches, chairs, shadow, birds, rabbits, chickens, vegetables and so on. You will just sit into a “sky garden” while having the view onto the whole airport and landing airplanes just next to you. Also the hotel staff is full of very kind people, they will also try to accomplish every necessity you have. The hotel boss is a bit familiar with foreigner spotters, she will ask immediately to add you on WeChat so you can talk with the translation function. You can order your breakfast or lunch directly on the roof while spotting, she will provide it directly on top. You can also go and eat in the restaurant under the hotel, they are associated. The hotel has a good wifii working also on the roof, so you won’t miss anything at all!
If you want to contact the hotel boss write to me (Tombarelli Federico on Facebook or email firstname.lastname@example.org) and I will help you getting online with her. You CAN’T book the hotel online from Europe (I don’t know for other countries) so you MUST contact me for any info. Rooms are very cheap so it’s definitely worth a visit!
|FOCAL LENGTH||Full frame camera:
Landings: A321 130mm; B777-300 80mm
Take offs: A320 380mm; A330-300 220mm
|Spot #2 – Landing Path – Rwy 08 arrivals|
|WHERE||This spot is located under the Rwy 08 landing path. Leave the hotel (Spot #1) and follow the first road ahead slightly on the right. You’ll go next to the runway until you’ll find a wide open space on the left with a pair of mounds. This is the location, as you can see in the photo below. Be careful while walking because roads are always busy and also a lot of motorcycle running at the edge of the street.
You will also find this location while walking from the terminal to the hotel before reaching it.
|WHAT||All runway 08 arrivals. You are very under the aircraft and you can take some close-ups or photos with posing people (like Sint Maarten or Phuket).|
|TIME||From sunrise to 11/12AM|
|MISC.||Nothing nearby, bring food and drinks. You are just 5 mins from the hotel anyway.|
|FOCAL LENGTH||20-70 mm|
|Spot #3 – Hainan Airlines Building – Rwy 26 operations|
|WHERE||This spot is inside a Hainan Airlines building with dormitory. It is located around the spot in the map below. One of the locals spotters lives there so if you are able to contact him he could invite you inside this building for taking shots. He is a good friend of mine and he will help you. For contact him just write to me: Tombarelli Federico on Facebook or email email@example.com|
|WHAT||All 26 arrivals and taxi for take off. You’ll have a fantastic landscape with buildings.|
|TIME||ONLY in summer, from June to September|
|MISC.||Be polite and friendly because you are a guest here. Treat people and spotters with the maximum respect and enjoy sharing your hobby with them!|
|FOCAL LENGTH||150-300 mm|
|Spot #4 – Tibet Hotel Sanya|
|WHERE||This spot is located in the open hallway of the 19th floor of Tibet Hotel Sanya. Just enter the main entrance, once in the lobby turn left and pass the reception. Follow the signs to the elevator. After the reception you find the restroooms and a small shop on your left. The outside swimming pool should be always on your right while walking in the building until you reach the elevator. Go up to the 19th floor. Exit there, turn left into the aisle. Here you can find your spot according to your preferences. There is no glass and you are under a roof protected from severe weather and the burning sun.
If you arrive by car you can use the parking lot of the hotel right to the entrance.
Hotel address: No.9 Fengxiang Road, Sanya, 572000, Hainan, China
|WHAT||You can see the eastern part of the apron, the terminal, taxiing departure traffic for rwy. 26 and all runway movements. If rwy. 26 is in use you can observe the arrivals with some mountains and buildings as a backdrop and departures are offering you the terminal as a backgound. The best backdrop is in combination with 08 departures.|
|TIME||In Winter its useable from morning until late afternoon. Summer season will bring some backlight in the morning.
Heat haze can occur but generally it is not too bad.
|MISC.||The restrooms and a small shop which sells fruits and juices can be found on the ground level of the hotel. Furthermore there are two restaurants. There should be no security issues. The hotels regulary hosts some conferences so there are lots of daily vistors going in and out. Occassionally the cleaning stuff offers some water bottles to you while spotting but wont bother you further.|
|FOCAL LENGTH||From 200mm for runway movements. Apron, 26 departures with terminal as a backdrop and 26 arrivals require 300mm or more depending on your angle.|
|Spot #5 – Hill, Airport Overview|
|WHERE||This spot is located on a hillside approximately 4 km away from the runway threshold right on the runway axis and is a place with an overview of the whole airport. The easiest way would be to ask one of the hotel owners at spot 1. If they have time they would be glad to bring you up to this spot by car.
If you need/ want to go on your own you can take a Didi/taxi and set this as an adress: 天涯海角游览区-停车场 This will be the huge parking lot on the northern side of the G225 road. Or you can take bus line 32 or 16 opposite from the hotel at spot 1 which runs down the road G225 every 15 minutes until the bus stop 天涯海角 (its a 23 minute ride). Alight here at this parking lot and walk back to that corner where the bus has left the G225 and has entered the parking space. Here you find a one-lane paved road going uphill in northeastern direction right into the forest. Follow this road for a few hundred meters until you reach a brick-built archway with a metal gate. Sometimes this gate is closed, sometimes opened. If its closed (you can park here if you came by car) walk around on the right side through a little path. Continue walking on the street until it makes a wide turn to your left. You will reach a long and wide stairway on your left. You can not miss it, no worries. Climb up till the end. At this abandoned building walk around right (against clockwise) till you find another stairs leading up to the rooftop. The stairs are outside at the northernmost corner of that building.
|WHAT||You can overview the whole airport and runway. Approaching planes will pass right over your head. You can enjoy the view over Sanya Bay as well.|
|TIME||Best time is to come in the late afternoon/ evening shortly before sunrise. At this time the sun shines more or less onto the axis and you avoid the midday heat. As you might have expected heat haze is some kind of issue especially if you wanna shot the touchdown. So the best way to get out of this trouble is to put the runway on the bottom and the aircraft on top of the picture frame. Best to shoot them, when they are still relatively high on final and not seconds away from touch down.
Night shots should be hassle free from here. If you visit in April or September you can also try to shoot during sunrise. In these months the sun will rise on the runway axis. Might be nice for the morning outbund wave.
|MISC.||Bring what you need. A former olympic torch will spend some shade on the rooftop but nonetheless it can be very hot thus take some protection. This is certainly not a spot to spend several hours. Its more a location to shot-and-go after a few or desired movements. Even when they have become rare do not forget this is a natural habitat for chinese cobras.|
|FOCAL LENGTH||For the airport overview about 200mm. For runway shots at least 300mm at APS-C cameras but the more you have the better.|
A slight amendment to the large aircraft that will possibly be seen round Spring Festival. Air China certified the 747-800 in November 2019, I was fortunate enough to be there for the first flight.
Again thanks for all these useful/priceless information!
About the hotel roof, dk you know uf I can access the roof tok without having a room? Maybe a fee (bribe)….
Hi! As the entrance to the roof is from the stairs to the rooms I think is better if you have a room booked there. Anyway you can try to ask at the reception, just show the camera and they’ll understand (they can’t speak English at all). Anyway a room is very cheap, like 10€ per night, so you can try with a fee. I see they never refuse money so it should work 🙂