The Phuket International Airport runway is built right on the beach, Nai Yang Beach.
The actual runway, running east-west, finishes about 150 metres before the actual beach. So, when a plane comes in for a landing from the west it passes very low over the people on the beach just before touching down. Pilots like to land fairly close to the start of the runway so they have plenty of distance to stop.
Bingo, great photo opportunity!
The trick, for photographers (or people with aspirations to get “that” shot of the plane flying overhead with a smartphone), is that they need to do it, mostly, during high season when the winds are coming from the east and northeast and planes land from the Andaman Sea end towards Thepkasattri Road.
During the monsoon (approximately from May-November) the planes will, mostly, land from the Thepkasattri Road end, towards the beach.
So that means, during the monsoon, planes are taking off over Nai Yang Beach and will already be a few hundred metres above the waiting photographers by the time they reach above the beach. Bummer!
Still, anytime of the year people are heading to the northern end of Nai Yang Beach to capture ‘the’ shot and sharing it on their social media.
There are two locations where you can park and easily get to the best area to take a photo.
At the southern end of the airport perimeter is Sirinat National Park, and there’s adequate parking right next to the beach (though usually a lot of joggers and picnickers are found there). The photo-zone is about an 800-metre hike along the beach from that area.
At the northern end of the airport is a much closer car-park area. The beach at that end is also patrolled by lifeguards (sometimes) and there are always a few vendors to capture the passing traffic.
The photo area is on the actual beach and you have complete unrestricted access to that position. There’s a 3-metre perimeter fence right around the airport with barbed wire at the top. There are also plenty of signs around the outside fencing, which make it clear that you will be arrested if you try and get onto airport land. Patrols checking the perimeter would escort you to the nearest jail.
But the photos are there to be had and access is easy.
The best time for taking the perfect photo would be early morning during the high season when the airport’s busiest, probably from 6am to 9am any morning.