Drone Flying in Vietnam
Flying a drone in a new country is a very exciting experience. New landscapes, new ways of life all captured from the unique perspective of the air!
Where is work here in Hoi An at www.hoianphototour.com Hoi An Photo Tour we do get requests about what the regulations are concerning flying a drone in Vietnam. There is a lot of information out there and much of it seems to contradict itself regularly.
So here we will do our best to give you the most up to date information regarding drone piloting around Hoi An.
Please keep in mind. Laws in Vietnam can change very quickly or at times seem non existent. So it’s best to check back regularly if you have any questions or concerns.
Without further ado, let’s get to it.
Can I bring a drone into Vietnam?
This one is tricky. Yes, you can bring your drone into Vietnam but it seems to depend on which airport you enter the country from.
I and friends of mine have had no issues bringing in drones into Hanoi (Noi Bai) or Ho Chi Minh City (Tan Son Nhat) airports. Usually in carry on luggage.
However, there seem to have been quite a few problems bringing drones into Danang Airport. It started last year (2018) with the arrival of the APEC summit. So understandable. However, it seems to have continued. So be cautious when flying into Danang International Airport. At the moment we haven’t heard of anyone having a drone confiscated lately, but that could change.
Flying domestically however there are no problems. It seems to be that once the drone is in Vietnam most airport authorities do not seem to care. So no worries there, however, It is always a good idea to check the DJI No Fly Zone Database. Located here – https://www.dji.com/flysafe/geo-map
Simply enter in the continent, country, and your drone of choice and you can see all the areas that are off limits for flying. While it is mainly around the obvious areas such as airports and military bases, Other spots in Vietnam that are off limits include the Hanoi Old Quarter, and the city of Thap Cam which houses an airbase. Overall, if you play it smart and don’t fly like an idiot you should be ok.
What are the current regulations to flying a drone in Vietnam?
From UAVcoach.com https://uavcoach.com/drone-laws-in-vietnam/
Flying a drone is legal in Vietnam. However,
- A unique flight license is required for every drone flight conducted in Vietnam. Applications must be submitted at least 14 days before the planned date of the flight to the Operations Bureau of the General Command Post of the Ministry of Defense.
- Drones may not be used to carry radioactive substances, flammable, or explosive materials.
- Drones may not be used to launch, shoot or jettison harmful objects or substances or those containing hazards.
- Drones may not be mounted with aerial equipment and / or used for aerial videography or photographing activities without a license issued for that purpose.
- Drones may not fly flags or banners, release leaflets or otherwise be used for propaganda purposes.
Now the caveat. Many of these rules are not enforced or enforced at random. And actually applying for said permit has been deemed almost impossible. It seems that whomever has access to the email inbox where the permit applications are sent either never checks it or may very well not speak or read english. So the permits go unprocessed. This may change in the future but for now it seems to be a dead end.
If you still want to apply for a flight permit in Vietnam before coming you can fill out the form located here https://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/f47c10_9e23dc49a9fe4c0493109e5667b6aa24.pdf
In reality though I have not had a problem flying drones out in unpopulated areas. In the countryside around Hoi An there seems to be little interest except for the odd curious local person who like to ask how high it can go, how far it can go and how much drones cost. Even local police here in the countryside are simply curious about them.
I would not recommend flying over any major cities in Vietnam, especially Hanoi, Danang, and Ho Chi Minh City. Those cities are monitored closely and technically all the land in the city proper is considered military territory, so even though your drone may not tell you that it is an restricted flight zone, its is not a good idea to fly over and around the cities. If you really want to fly by the rules over cities in Vietnam and are having no luck with the permits yourself you can contact Local fixer Vietnam http://localfixervietnam.com/ or Filming in Vietnam https://www.filminginvietnam.com/about-filming-in-vietnam to help. But keep in mind, both of these services come with a cost and depending on what you want to shoot you may not get the permit. Or they might be out of your price range for some basic recreational flying.
Where in Hoi An / Vietnam can you fly a drone?
While we have knowledge of flying drones around the country we (quite obviously) specialize in and around Hoi An.
While we have spotted on numerous occasions, drones flying over old town. We really don’t recommend doing so yourself. There are a lot of visitors to Hoi An and the risk of crashing into a crowd of people is fairly high. That being said. If you really are set on flying over the old town itself try to do so at a time of day when there are likely no people around. That would be early in the morning. Well before 9am. Not only do you have the safety of the old town being very quiet, you get the bonus of the beautiful morning light illuminating the iconic red tile rooftops of the old town. But as with all flights in populated areas, be very careful not to let the drone fly too high or out of your line of sight. Concrete buildings and wifi/radio signals can easily interfere with the drone to controller signal.
Here are some of my favourite spots to fly around Hoi An and Vietnam.
1 – The rice fields and paddies that surround the HoiAn area. Especially in the Cam Kim island areas. Try looking for interesting repeating patterns that the fields make
2 – An Bang and Cua Dai beaches at sunrise. Nothing looks better than the beach at sunrise. Added bonus, Cham islands in silhouette in the distance. To be honest, Almost any beach or coastal area in Vietnam is great for flying. But make sure you know what else is in the area. Navy or Military bases are not great to fly around or over, especially if you like keeping your expensive toys with you.
3 – Around the Lang Co Lagoon area on the way to Hue. Beautiful mountains, blue lagoon water, rice fields, buffaloes.. What else can you ask for?
4 – The North!! Almost anywhere in the north of vietnam offers beautiful landscapes to capture. Mu Cang Chai, Ha Giang, and Sapa are some favourites as well. The mountainous landscape from the air at the right time of day is unbeatable.
5 – Tam Hai, Located about 70km south of Hoi An it is a beautiful peninsula that is surrounded by trees, blue green water, and undeveloped beachfront right along the coast. This makes it an ideal spot to fly as there are no commercial airlines that fly over the area and the shape of the landscape is very interesting. Just be careful with the wind off the ocean. It can get very strong and make it hard to fly.
All that being said. Flying a drone in Vietnam is a very photographically rewarding experience. If you play it safe and follow common sense rules you should be alright.