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 through the fence.
What you can expect to see at HKT :
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, Fryderyk Kastelnik, Clive Grant, Patrik Büchler, Jeremy Denton, JG-Taro & Sua Neung. Last change: April 2023 (Spot 5 added).
How was your trip? Rate this airport!
| (14 votes, average: 3.57 out of 5)
|09/27||3.000m (9.843 ft) Concrete|
|Terminal 1||International flights only.|
|Terminal 2||Domestic flights.|
|Car/Public Transport||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. We can recommend the App GRAB to get around. Fixed priced and paying by CC is possible.
|Restrooms||Nothing at the locations, except at the hotels or terminals.|
|Drinks/Food||Nothing at the locations, 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.
|Security||The safest spots for taking pictures at HKT are the one at the beach and the two at the terminal. At the spots 4 and 5 along the runway you will be approached by security. Usually they don`t speak english and somehow they will ask you to leave but at least not to delete your photos.|
|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 – 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. The gap in the panels as the metal supports holding the panels are rusty and may scratch the barrel of the lens.
+++ UPDATE June 2022:
|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. Be aware that the glass is tinted and some panels have big cracks and are very dirty.|
|FOCAL LENGTH||10-500mm, depends on motive|
|Spot #3 – Parking International Airport|
|WHERE||Follow the signs Phuket International Airport once you can notice the Car Parking International Airport. Drive to the latest floor.|
|WHAT||Morning departures rwy27. Heat haze can be an issue.|
|TIME||Almost all day all year round from November until March.|
|MISC.||Toilets and foods inside the terminal. 5 minutes walk. Keep a low profile while spotting here.|
|FOCAL LENGTH||A321 : 400mm / A333 : 200mm|
|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.
+++ UPDATE FEBRUARY 2022: Place is available and the strong vegetation is gone +++
|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/security. However, we ask you to keep a low profile in order to keep this great location. Security will approach sooner or later and ask you to leave the place.
|FOCAL LENGTH||Runway: AT7 = 140mm / A320=116mm / B773 = 58mm
|Spot #5 – Hill|
|WHERE||The location is a big hill on the north side of the airport. Get on the 3033 and drive westwards until you see a small temple. Park there and walk up the path as marked on the map for 10-15 minutes. The spot is located on a hill which is elevated and offers a nice sight of the runway.|
|WHAT||Great place for 27 movements as well as 09 departures and arrivals which will exit to the right of this spot.|
|TIME||Photos for planes on the runway are possible only in the afternoon during the summer months, starting in April and ending in September.
It might be possible to photograph planes entering and vacating the runway two in the morning and evening hours.
|MISC.||Nothing nearby, please take what you need.|
|FOCAL LENGTH||100mm for 777; 150mm for A320|
Hi ! I am wondering if spot4&5 is available during July. And through checking on google maps, there may be posible spotting position near the private jet terminal for summer spotting?
I’ll be planespotting there either in June or august, do you have any updates on this?
Are there any small restaurants and toilets at the beach or close to?
So for spot 4 would a 70-300 be too big for medium to heavy aircraft like the 777 and the 747?
I will update the spot 4 lenses so that’s easier for everyone.
Runway: AT7 = 140mm / A320=116mm / B773 = 58mm
I’m spotting in Phuket now. I will tell you the latest information.
Spot2,5 and 6 not accessible. There is a barricade at the entrance of spot 2.
Spot 4 is accessible. but sometimes airport security guard comes and warns you to get off the rock.
I found a new spot. It is Car park rooftop(6th floor).
From that location you can take beautiful pictures of 27 take off. I recommend you a 400mm zoom lens.
In any case, spot1 the beach is definitely the most beautiful.
Hello dear. Which Car Park? Where is it located?
We are trying to find out the location of the car park. Once we know more we will definitely post somewhere in the guide.
Thank you for your feedback however would you be able to get in touch with use in order to find out the new place of the Car Park rooftop (6th floor) ?
As well, do you have any picture, proof, for the spot 2/5/6 which are not accessible ?
Thank you and sorry to question your feedback. It’s mainly due to unsubstantiated report…
Thank you for reply my comments.
The car park is located in front of the international terminal for airport passengers. You can check there by Google Maps.
However, sometimes it is said that airport security cannot take pictures after I posted comment.
About carpark and 2/4/6 spots, I have some pictures, but sorry, I don’t know how to post it.
Thanks for the heads up. May I kindly ask you to send to our e-mail address firstname.lastname@example.org the exact location of the new spotting location with some explanation and pictures ? Thank you.
Hello Guys!!! I’m planning to go to Phuket in 2020 . Which time is the best?
January and February are the peak season and that’s when you’ll see the greatest variety of traffic coming into the airport. It’s also when the weather is driest and most sunny.
have been spotting in HKT on 5th and 6th December. As of than Spot 4 was in deed accessible and possible to take photos from there. Allthough wood and bushwork was very dense and the space up at the spot not compareable to past times. More than 3-4 persons not possible at the same time. But Runway (all planes) as well as Taxy pictures (up until A330-300s) were possible. The way up from the motorway was also possible. Guess there has been some botanic work done by some locals.
On the beach there was no problem at all and allday landings from seaside.
Hi Sebastian, sounds good, thank you for your update. How did you feel about security ? I’m sure you kept a low profile up there ? I hope you enjoyed your stayed! All the best, Jeremy
In deed the security is worth mentioning. The two of us spotting there kept a low profile and left again after approx. 30 minutes. An airport police car was circeling the perimiter fence and obviously also observing us. As we did not want to cause any trouble, we left by than. I can’t tell how much of an issue it is to stay at the position currently, but as it is already written in the guide, you should not overstrain your luck.
Comment regarding Spot 4.
Beach wasn’t any security at all. Also lots of tourists taking photos also directly from behind the line up spot. So nothing to mention and spotted there all day. I guess just keep away from the fence and follow the signs and do not enter the restricted areas, than you’re fine!
Good to know they haven’t taken any drastic measures to ban spotting on the beach. You never know what the authorities will come up with these days. I may be back in Phuket next month and was curious if the beach was as I experienced it in the past. It appears that it is.
Is Mid November a good time to do spotting at Nai Yang beach? Will the planes land on runway 09 or 27?
Hi – I am hoping to visit HKT in the next couple of months – I would be very grateful for any updates reference security issues at any of the photo locations – with thanks – Kevin
Hi Kevin, we got some infos recently. Taking pictures from the beach is no problem! But the hill is no longer accessable.
Why is the hill no longer accessible?
Because of the plants there is no more a way up.
Last week visit Spot4 Rock.
But Barricade put at the entrance. I think not good to enter.
And Runway 27 end of Spot2, Can not enter to runway side road from road 4031. Also Spot 5 and 6 are not enter.
I was spotting on the road 4031 public area, but security came and said “Do not take picture this area. If you want , Go to the Nai Yang beach”
Runway27 side to be careful.
Hi, new restriction soon at Mai Khao beach….
I just left Naiyang Beach a few days ago (late Feb 2020) and there’s no evidence anywhere along the beach that anything is changing. The beach is still wide open for photography and sunbathers.