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  • Writer's pictureMalcolm Lu

Phuket's 8/5 Cafe: A Little Gem Next to HKT

Wide angle photo from 8/5 Cafe


Situated in the southern regions of Thailand, Phuket stands out as a favored destination among tourists, drawing millions of visitors to its sunny shores each year. In 2023 alone, the island welcomed over 11 million travelers, propelling Phuket International Airport to rank as the third busiest airport in Thailand. For aviation enthusiasts, Phuket presents an appealing array of aircraft, ranging from small narrow-body jets to wide-body aircraft, along with picturesque spots ideal for plane spotting activities. The most iconic being Mai Khao beach, where one could stand very close to the 09 approach path, and get vibes similar to St. Maarten Princess Juliana International Airport. Recently, a new location opened up for visitors right next to the taxiway & runway of Phuket International Airport. Introducing 8/5 Cafe & 8/5 Car Park, a charming establishment providing budget-friendly, refreshing beverages, delectable pastries, and, notably, breathtaking views of airplanes.

The Cafe ground.

The 8/5 Cafe & 8/5 Car Park is located merely 5mins away from Phuket International Airport by car and is open from 9am to 7pm daily, making it easily accessible if you are staying around Mai Khao area. To reach the cafe, you will need to either drive or use Grab / Taxi / TukTuk, as there are no other forms of public transportation in the area. After arriving at the location, you will need to remove your footwear before heading up to the cafe at level 2. The owner of the cafe is a warm and friendly Thai lady, who runs the cafe with 2-3 other servers. The cafe's menu is somewhat limited, with only drinks and small pastries available for purchase, so go after you have had a heavy meal.

Plane spotting at the cafe is a joy, with wide panoramic views of the runway and taxiway right in front of us. One of the advantages of the cafe's location is that it is perfect for spotting regardless of runway direction, making it a suitable and convenient option. Plane spotting activity is best done on the outdoor balcony, though do take note seating is limited and it could get crowded on weekends. As space is quite tight on the balcony, it's advisable to refrain from bringing bulky bags or luggage. Additionally, there is a bundle of electrical wire running past the front of the café that may occasionally obstruct views from certain angles; however, this minor inconvenience can be easily mitigated by adjusting your position.

Lens options for spotting in this location would vary. If you are hoping to catch some runway action, a 70-200mm lens would come in handy for both take off and landing photos. As Phuket is quite a hot island, heat haze would be an issue from late mornings to afternoon. One way to avoid the heat haze problem would be to pan the photo, though that would require a much lower shutter speed, or even an ND filter to reduce the exposure values.

For aircraft taxiing by, a wider lens would be better a choice if you are hoping to get a full side on shot, though for myself, I preferred using the 70-200 to get close up detailed photos of the aircraft. For full frame lens options, please see the table and gallery below. (Images are unedited, straight out of camera)

For Runway:

ATR-72 / B737-800 / A320: 70-200mm (100-400mm if you want closer tighter images, or for capturing climb out)

B767-300 / B777-300: 70-200mm

For Taxiway:

ATR-72 / B737-800 / A320: 24-70mm

B767-300 / B777-300: 16-35mm

The above are a few unedited samples of photos I took during my recent visit to the cafe. These should provide a clearer picture of what the view is like from The 8/5 Cafe. If you do visit, I would suggest trying their Blue Hawaii Soda. It's blue, sour & sweet at the same time and definitely a good, cooling choice for a hot day at Phuket. Though please bring ample cash, as the cafe does not accept cashless payment options.

With its proximity to the airport, and the unique view it offers, The 8/5 Cafe & 8/5 Car Park is a must visit for aviation enthusiasts and photographers alike, giving us a perfect balance of a easy access and amazing angles to carry out our spotting hobby. Here, one can indulge in a leisurely spotting session shielded from the scorching sun, enabling comfortable photography and plane spotting without straining one's budget.

For more information, check out The 8/5 Cafe & 8/5 Car Park's Facebook Page.

Address: 8 5 ถนนเรียบรันเวย์ Mai Khao, Thalang District, Phuket 83110, Thailand

The beautiful mural at the Cafe.



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