Phuket Airport (HKT/VTSP) is situated on the most north-west part of Phuket Island not far from the bridge connecting the island to the mainland. The airport has just finished a reconstruction/expansion of the International terminal also adding a larger apron in the west with open-air stands serviced by transfer buses instead of by air bridge.
HKT has seen a lot of changes over the last few years, both to be able to handle an ever-increasing passenger volume (16 Mio.) but also to bring security standards up to International levels. The airport is relatively short for space and buildings and infrastructure have grown very close to its perimeters. This has in turn lead to erection of a rather obnoxious fence along the southernmost perimeter and thereby ruining some great places for spotters. The only remaining really good spot which is also accepted by police/airport security is the beach adjacent to the threshold of runway 09. But being a bit street smart you can also get some nice shots off the 27 end. It is absolutely forbidden to take pictures throw the fence.
What you can expect to see at HKT :
AirAsia Thai/Malaysia 320, Bangkok Airways AT7/319/320, Batik Air 738, Cathay Dragon 320/321/333, Dragonair 320/321/333 Emirates 773, Etihad 332/789/773, JetStar Asia 320, Malaysian 738, Malindo 738, Nok Air 738, Qatar 788/773, Scoot 320, SilkAir 320/738, Spring Airlines 320, Thai 333/359/772/773/744, Thai Lion Air 739/333, Thai Smile 320, Thai VietJet 320/321, VietJet 320/321.
Aeroflot 773, Azur Air 752/763, Edelweiss 343, Finnair 333/359, GoAir 320, I-Fly 332, Indigo 320, Nordwind 332/738/772, Pegas 763, Rossiya 744, Royal Flight 752/763, SCAT 738, TUI 763/788/789, Thomas Cook 332/333.
BizJet activity can be plentiful at this airport, especially around the Chinese New Year. Global 6000, Hawker 800’s and and Gulfstreams are common. In the north side of the airport a Royal Thai Navy Base is set up with a small hangar which sometimes brings interesting military movements.
Spotters are tolerated at 09 end but at 27 end you risk being ushered off. Not allowed to take pictures through the fence. Be smart!
Written by Bengt Bergholm, Clive Grent, Jeremy Denton & Sua Neung (all spots checked December 2018)
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|3.000m (9.843 ft)|
|Terminals||Terminal 1||Terminal 2|
|International Flights||Domestic flights|
|Spotting Information||Ladder||Not required|
|Car||If you chose to stay at Grand West Sands Resort & Villas Phuket (see below) you do not have to worry about transport, you are already where you want to be.
If you are staying at Nai Yang Beach I would recommend renting a motorbike (moped) since it can be difficult to explain to a taxi driver where exactly you want to go, and when you want to come back. Some of the hotels will also offer bikes for guest use, just don’t tell them you will be gone all day
|Restrooms||Nothing, except at the hotels or terminals.|
|Drinks/Food||Nothing, except at the hotels or terminals.|
|Hotels||There are plenty of hotels both directly adjacent to the airport’s terminal side but also along the beach south of the airport called Nai Yang which is partly inside the Sirinat National Park which in turn stretches up to where runway 09 meets the beach.
If your wallet is deep, then you may consider the prime spotting hotel – 5 star resort “Grand West Sands Resort & Villas Phuket” which is immediately to the north of the runway and which has direct access to the beach of your dreams. Beware though if you don’t like Russians, this seems to be their #1 spot to stay at Phuket.
On Nai Yang beach (south of airport) I can recommend any of the 3 hotels I have used, Proud Phuket, Nai Yang Beach Resort and Chill House.
Staying on Nai Yang will, depending on transport mode and route you chose put you at about 20min distance from runway 09 beach.
|Runway Usage||09/27||During high season the winds are mostly easterly and thus 09 is used a lot. Runway in use may still vary during the course of the day as winds may change during the afternoon.|
|Spot #1 – Nai Yang Beach|
|WHERE||This spot is the only remaining prime spot for Phuket International Airport. It is also the spot where most spotters converge and are tolerated by airport security. There are plenty of opportunities to stay. Usually you will stay in the south where you have the sun behind you.
If the weather is not so good, the position in the north has the highest elevation where you can get aircraft lining up with minimal fence interference. If you bring a chair or ladder you might get over fence level but still far away enough not to pose any security concern.
Use the South Entrance:
Use the North Entrance:
Written driving instructions: At the corner, continue onwards up to the main road (traffic lights). Take note of how it looks to aid your return. There is a 7-eleven at this crossing. Turn right at the 7-eleven and continue for approx 250m (800ft) and turn left at Soi Mai Khao 6. Continue on to the beach and find somewhere to park. Typically there is now a 800m (0.5 mile) walk along a path to the viewing area. However when I was there this week, a 20 baht per person fare will give you a ride in a “scooter taxi” down to the view point.
|WHAT||All arrivals on rwy09 from this spot and line up (backlit!). It is also possible to take departure shots from Runway 27, although fast climbing traffic is likely to be too high by this point. Taking pictures from the line-up on rwy 09 from the mound over the fence is no longer possible due to a new,very high fence and its even forbidden!|
|TIME||All day all year round (during the Thai winter no arrivals from the beachside in the normal case)|
|MISC.||Bring water and sunblocker if you are planning to be all day. Bathing trousers are also recommended.
The area closest to the fence was remodeled during 2016 to block prevent people from approaching it.
|Spot #2 – RWY 27 threshold|
|WHERE||This spot is not really the best location but an area that you can use with some discretion and flexibility. Its location is at the beginning of runway 27. How to get there read the description above.
Pulling over at the west side of the road 4031 and taking pictures works fine here, especially for take-offs 09.
For 09 arrivals there is a service road that leads around the approach. It is not blocked, no signs are prohibiting access but spotters have been ushered away from there by police. The fence carries signs prohibiting photo, but so does 09 end… Do not use this spot unnecessarily and always comply with any instructions given by authorities you encounter. The people you meet here will not be the smiling kind if you challenge them.
|WHAT||All arrivals on RWY27 and wide-body take-offs from 09.|
|TIME||All day all year round, except in the summer months when the northern Spot No.2 can be used for early morning and late evening arrival shots. (during the Thai winter no arrivals from the beachside in the normal case)|
|MISC.||Spot must be used with discretion for short periods of time. A car is really needed to get to this spot as it’s at the opposite end of the runway from the terminal, hotels and beach. Also, bring anything you need as there is no shade and there are no facilities here|
|Spot #3 – International Terminal (airside)|
|WHERE||Once you pass through the security, take on your right and walk until the end of the terminal (direction Burger King). 3 minutes walk you will find there a large open-air terrace for smokers with view of the final approach and threshold 09 but not as far as the touch-down zone. Unfortunately, this terrace is on air side and accessible only for checked-in and security cleared passengers for INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS ONLY and as of beginning of 2018 they put a glass wall on it. There is just a small gap left where you can put your lense through. Not easy but manageable.|
|WHAT||Touchdown zone is obscured by infrastructure. Beach view possible if you are willing to stick your camera all the way through the gap and shoot “blind”.|
|TIME||Runway all day all year round, taxiway/line up depends on motive but mainly during afternoon|
|MISC.||Everything you need within the Terminal.|
|FOCAL LENGTH||10-500mm, depends on motive|
|Spot #4 – The Rock (Both Runways)|
|WHERE||The spot is located near the Control Tower. If you come from the airport take the road “4031” direction north (direction Control Tower). For a few minutes (5 minutes drive) you will pass in front a “Car Park” sign which is on the right side, continue strait. Take the third dirty path on your right, just before reaching the hill. Please park as mentioned in the MAP your motorbike/car/bike. Do not park next to the road or in front of the spot in order to avoid any issues with the police. Please refer to the map in order to see the way to climb the cliff. Your first time might be not easy as it is almost in the jungle and hid by the dens trees.|
|WHAT||Arrivals/Departures and taxiing aircraft all runway usage.|
|TIME||Almost all day all year round from November until March.|
|MISC.||Bring what you need before coming at the spot. Also, we recommend you to carry some good shoes as you have to climb and in the early morning it is sleepy.
IMPORTANT : This is not an official spot but it is located in a public area so you shouldn’t have any issues with the police. However, we ask you to keep a low profile in order to keep this great location.
|FOCAL LENGTH||Depending on the angle that you want, between 18mm to 300mm is enough.|
|Spot #5 – Finals RWY27 (Afternoon)|
|WHERE||From spot 2, continue driving on the dirty path and cross the runway to reach spot 5-1. Regarding spot 5-2, you just have to continue further down and you will see a small hill on your right side. To park your car, please refer to the map. The police will kick you out if you stay next to the road.|
|WHAT||Approach shots on runway 27. Spot 5-1 only sky shot / Spot 5-2 climb the small hill and you will be able to have a photo with the runway and a background.|
|MISC.||Nothing nearby, please take what you need.|
|Spot #6 – Dirty Mound (Afternoon)|
|WHERE||From spot 5, continue driving on the dirty path further down until you reach the firefighter plane.|
|WHAT||Landings/departures runway 27, take-off runway 09 and taxiing aircraft with background.|
|MISC.||Nothing nearby, please take what you need.|