if you have only 4 hours in HKG
, and especially if planes come in from the west, it might even be smart to stay inside the transit area, since you have a view to all sides. The windows are large, though plexiglas, but some reasonable photographs can be taken.
If, however, planes land from east to west, and you do want to venture out, go to the approach of runway 25R: Follow the signs to Regal Airport Hotel inside the terminal, get out on the back side, turn right and walk for about 150 meters along the Airport Authority Building. Turn left into Cheong Yip Road, turn right after 50m, and turn left again after another 50m. You will see an open gate leading to a compound marked "JEC" (blue sign). Walk through the gate, but after only about 10m turn right and walk between two sheds. It leads you direct to the sea and big boulders breaking the waves. You will need approximately 80-100 mm for a 747 here. It's not illegal to be here, and you will usually see quite a few fishermen sitting on the rocks. This spot is about a 10 minutes walk from the terminal building. Most passenger planes, but practically no cargo planes, land here. Under normal circumstances there are no take offs on this runway.
Manila is a difficult place, whose best spotting place ("Nayong Pilipino") has been closed. Places where you can see part of the action are far apart. You might want to try the access road to the "Multinational Village", which leads directly to the approach of runway 06, but I'd think twice about moving any further, since it leads into a slummy area and you might raise undesired attention. From the first section of this access road you can also take pictures of aircraft taxiing for take off on 06, but expect to be questionen by police and/or guards. Also, you have to either be very tall to reach over the fence or have a thin lens to poke it through the bars. To find this place, walk south from the international terminal, along the cargo terminal, until you can turn left to the "Multinational Village". You will see a lot of vehicle traffic turning left here. Do not mind the guards at the entrance, just walk through and follow your nose.
It's always worth asking for permission to take pictures at the domestic ramp. Sometimes you get it and sometimes you don't, often depending on the current "alert" status. The highlight of the domestic ramp is an old, but still complete, Lockheed Super Constellation with "Winky's Fish" titles (N4247K). It's been stored here since 1988/89. There are also 11 DC3s, a DC4, lots of YS11s, some L410T Turbolets, DHC7, CN235, Beech 18s, corporate jets etc. These are all very difficult to see from the outside. If you are interested in the scheduled airlines, watch out for Air Philippines B737 RP
-C2021, since this is the oldest B737 still operating worldwide (built in 1967, the first one delivered to United, as N9001U). It looks so good in its new paint scheme, you would never guess it's so old.
If you don't get permission, you can still walk along the perimeter wall and peep at the end of some access alleys. It will fail to give you the complete picture, though, and it's a long way. Unfortunately, the domestic terminals only offer views from inside the waiting lounges, from outside you see very little to nothing.
Should you be VERY adventurous, and traffic comes in on rwy 24, you might want to try the perimeter road to the east. But be warned, the noise and the exhaust fumes from nearby South Super Highway are going to KILL you !
Apart from that, the road is lower than runway level, thus it's only good to see (and possibly) photograph approaching traffic.
You should also know that most of the Manila Airport is located in not-so-nice areas, so I would be very careful with flashing expensive equipment. But once you get there, common-sense will probably tell you what to do and what not.
By the way, Manila has to runways: 24/06 (called the "International Runway") and 31/13 (the "Domestic Runway"). However, even though they use 13 for departures, all domestic jets (737s/DC9s) use 24/06 for landings.
I hope this helps you, Andrew. Please let the readers know about your experiences afterwards.
Best regards, Heinz