When making my way to and from New York back in February (and on my way back), I spent a few hours taking photos at Hanoi Noi Bai airport.
I didn’t have the time to venture to spots outside the terminal. Luckily, though, it is possible to get decent photos from inside Noi Bai’s terminal 2 – both before and after passing security check and immigration.
The two things that make it possible are the large windows running along the whole length of the terminal and the airport’s configuration.
While terminal 2 is used solely for international flights, given that the airport’s two parallel runways and the taxiways leading to them are right in front of the terminal, it is possible to catch all movements from there.
Now, let’s take a closer look at the three places that I was able to take photos from.
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Landside Spot: Restaurant Area
The first location that I went to was a restaurant area one floor above the check-in floor of terminal 2. This location is before the security check and immigration, and so you can access it even on days you are not flying.
As for the location itself, if you are hungry, you can position yourself in one of the restaurants along the windows.
However, if you just want to take a couple of photos, you can also do so from the aisle between the restaurants. I spent about two hours there and didn’t have any issues with security.
Keep in mind, though, that it also seems to be a popular spot for the locals to watch aircraft and can get a bit crowded. In that case, make sure your bags, equipment, etc. are not in other people’s way.
Given that you cannot move along the length of the terminal here, you are mostly limited to taking photos of aircraft on taxiways and runways that are passing in front of you.
That said, as mentioned above, virtually everything should pass in front of you at one point or another.
Airside Spot #1: Terminal
If you are taking an international flight out of or transferring at Hanoi airport, you can also take some photos airside, after the security check and immigration.
The departure hall features windows along the whole length of it, and so, you can take photos of aircraft at their gates and of flights being pushed back.
With something to hold your camera (a small tripod, a bag, etc.) and something to block the reflections (a jacket will do), you can also take night photos of aircraft at their gates or waiting to commence taxi.
Finally, you can also photograph aircraft taxiing to and from the runways, as well as movements on the runways – just like from the landside spot above.
Airside Spot #2: ACV Lounge
The last spot I am going to mention is the ACV Lounge (which I reviewed here).
The views you can get from the lounge – due to its limited width – are more or less the same (just slightly offset) as from the restaurant area landside.
Plane Spotting at Hanoi Noi Bai Airport’s Terminal 2 in a Nutshell
Overall, as you can see above, the windows of Hanoi Noi Bai’s terminal 2 offer great views of vast majority of the activity at the airport.
Combined with the fact that the glass is fairly clean and the relatively rare movement every now and then (Lao Airlines, Sky Angkor Airlines, etc.), it makes Hanoi a good airport to transit at or visit for a couple of hours if you are a plane spotter.
As for choosing the best spot inside the terminal, if you have a flight to take, I would check-in as soon as possible and go airside to photograph from the gate area.
Otherwise, you will be limited to the (still very nice) landside restaurant area.