Where to watch planes landing in Phuket?
Planes land on Mai Khao beach, on the west coat of Phuket island, but only during high season. Plane Spotting in Phuket just moved to our list of 18 things to do in Phuket. Watching planes landing in Phuket has become a top-rated attraction in recent years. It’s easy, fun, super impressive and with such a beautiful beach as a background, it is an excellent photo playground. So where is it? How do we go there? Is it allowed? Let’s see if we can answer some of these questions.
When to get there?
Sound like a strange but yes there is a season to see the landing planes in Phuket, and it has nothing to do with their migrate or mating season. It has to do with the monsoon!
During high season, winds blow from east to west and as everyone knows planes need to face the wind to take off to get some lift or to get air resistance when landing.
The best time to see planes landing over the ocean is December to June. Then low season arrives, and the wind suddenly decides to blow the other way around! So aircrafts will approach from the roadside and take off over the beach. It’s a lot less impressive.
The first years we went there, Mai Khao was a deserted beach (see photo b=elow!), so empty that it was a non-official nudist beach! It wasn’t unusual to spot someone sun tanning in the nude just behind a tree log! Just imagine the irony: been naked on a beach with no one around, and suddenly 300 people fly over you!
Must have been fun but this time is long gone, and the word is out. Now everyone is going there for a selfie or a photo shoot, and the place is probably as busy as the equivalent spot in St Martin island in the Caribbean.
Is taking photo at Phuket Airport allowed?
No, you won’t be sentenced to death for taking selfies at Phuket Airport
Other Irony the place has recently become off-limits by the Airport Authorities of Thailand, and the fine for standing in the path of the plane was no less than the death penalty! We don’t think they meant it.
It is fun and fabulous to watch those gigantic metal machines majestically descending over the turquoise blue water of the Andaman sea. They come so close to the sea; it feels like you could almost touch their fuselage! It’s incredibly close and incredibly loud, but also the situation is potentially dangerous. In a worst case scenario, we don’t even want to imagine; the plane could miss the landing. We don’t need, and we don’t want to elaborate on this frightening idea.
The second problem of standing in the path of the plane comes from the fact that recently the runway was extended and is now closer to the fence that separates the airport to the beach. As a result, planes waiting to take off come very close to people taking photos. The jet blast from a 747 or 767 is more powerful than you may think and it will blow sand at you with an incredible force. Feels like sandpaper and all your stuff will fly in the direction of the sea!
So theoretically it is not allowed to stand in the direct path of the plane, while it might be ok to watch from the side. Surprisingly we’ve never seen so many people since the following announcement: “The penalty for anyone failing to comply with this regulation includes the death penalty, a life sentence, or a jail term of between five to 20 years, as per the Air Aviation Act 1978,” (Phuket News 15 December 2016)
How to get there
There are two ways to get there. The first is from the Sirinat National Park located south of the airport. It’s a nice woody park where locals love to come for a picnic while the kids go for a swim. As it is a national park, there is a 30 baht fee per person during high season. Park your car or bike on the designated parking near the curve as shown on the map. Don’t park along the road as it’s theoretically not authorised. I’ve been told off once… nicely.
From there go to the beach then walk north. I can’t miss it: there is always a bunch of people already there, and you will see planes landing very soon. You will also hear the airport activity as well, and loud engines so walk in this direction. Just remember it is a long walk in the sun (well, when its sunny of course!) and it’s hotter than you may think so wear a cap! In the past, we would also recommend to bring water as you will get dehydrated walking in the sand but also waiting for the next plane and the next plane and the next plane.
The second is from the north of the airport using the road that leads to Grand West Sands Resort & Villas Phuket. If you come by bike, you can park a lot closer to the beach, and the walk to the plane spotting is very short. In addition to this, there is now local vendor selling drinks, local food and beach toy to play around! Amazing!
So don’t just go there to do plane spotting, you can also enjoy a bit of food, the drinks and the fantastic sea. Surprisingly, there is a rope that delimited the area where it’s safe to swim(we are talking high season). Past that rope, the beach continues for kilometres, but there is no one on it! It’s like if people were scared of being alone on a beach! So grab your coconut and walk that beach! Who knows maybe there is more secret to unveil in Phuket!
When is the best time to see planes?
There are a lot of planes landing all year round, and more during the high season than low. Best is probably at the end of the morning when the light hit the sea and makes it very blue. There are often more planes at the end of the morning until 2 pm. Here is another great tip: download FlightRadar 24 app, and you will know when and which plane is landing next! Amazing!
There you have it. We tell you about it and you decide to take your photos a bit away from the path as recommended or to do what most people to and stand straight in the page for a selfie like no one else has!