Have a drone? Bring it to Hoi An

By Frederik Wissink, our official drone specialist

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! Here at Hoi An Photo Tour & Workshop, 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.

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. 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 we 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.

Flying a drone in Vietnam is great in the countryside

We 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.

Where in HoiAn can you fly a drone?

While we have knowledge of flying drones around the country we (quite obviously) specialize in and around Hoi An.

We have spotted on numerous occasions drones flying over the old town, but we really don’t recommend doing so yourself, though. 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 9 am. Not only do you have the safety of the old town being very quiet, but you also 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 controller signal.

All of that being said, here are our favourite spots to fly around Hoi An.

1 – The rice fields and paddies that surround the Hoi An area. Especially in the Cam Kim island areas

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 and the wooden umbrellas on the beach.

3 – The river delta. If you drive West of Hoi An you will reach the river delta. At this point, the river is very wide and you can encounter a lot of things passing by, like for example colourful fishing boats. The fishermen have also installed these huge fishing nets that look really good from the sky.

4 – Tra Que vegetable village. If you visit Tra Que in the morning, before it turns into a tourist zoo, you can witness local people working in the fields. Because of how beautifully aligned the vegetable and herb fields are, you can get some rally spectacular images.

If you are looking for more information or current info please let us know we are happy to help where we can.

What are the best locations in Vietnam to fly a drone?

1 – 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?

student flying a drone over lagoons of central Vietnam during a photography tour with Pics of Asia
Central Vietnam lagoons from the sky

2 – The North!! Almost anywhere in the north of vietnam offers beautiful landscapes to capture. Mu cong chai, ha giang, and Sapa are some of our favourites.

The rules and regulations for flying a drone in Vietnam

3 – The Mekong Delta

With the delta of the river spreading for kilometers, and a very water rich environment, the Mekong delta is a fantastic place to fly your drone in Vietnam.

Other resources

4 thoughts on “Have a drone? Bring it to Hoi An
  • Rup

    Thanks for all the info. It was well detailed, and indispensable.

  • Rup

    Do you have the postal address to send the application? As I am planning all my aerial photography for the summer of 2020, and I need to create a detailed itinerary (in Vietnamese), and want to put the full report together and send it DHL. Thanks Rup

  • Tom

    Great info about drones! Thanks Tom