One year ago, I wrote a post about flying drones in Vietnam and it has attracted a bit of attention, with hundreds of people every month looking to bring their drone into this beautiful country. So I thought I would update it with some new information and with a bit more experience doing video production here.
1/ Will I have a problem at the airport ?
If you are traveling from another country, it is still not recommended to bring a drone into Vietnam. If you are flying into Da Nang international airport, DO NOT bring a drone with you, it will be confiscated. Don't take the risk, the vacation video is not worth the hassle ! For the other international airports, it's up to you, just understand that you might have problems.
All other camera equipment is completely fine.
When you are traveling within Vietnam, you will never have a problem with a drone or a video/stills camera at security. Make sure to pack everything in your carry-on bag - do not leave ANY batteries in your checked luggage.
If that happens, your name will be called over the speakerphone and you'll have to go back to the check-in area to put your batteries in the carry-on. It has happened to me before and can be a bit stressful.
2/ Filming in Vietnam
As far as filming in the country, Vietnamese people are usually quite open to cameras and you'll rarely have problems.
This isn't particular to Vietnam but always ask permission before filming somebody, no need to know the language, just point and the camera, smile and you'll quickly figure out if the person is OK with it or not. And show them the result afterwards !
You can film anywhere in the country, whether the city or the countryside. For drone filming, sticking to the countryside is a good idea. Flying in urban areas is strictly forbidden and the lack of signal because of interference makes it particularly stressful anyways.
Always try to be as respectful as possible, especially when filming in places like pagodas or ethnic minority villages. Sticking a camera in someone's face without their approval has rarely made for a great picture.
In the city (as in any big city), be mindful of your valuable camera equipment. If you wander around the countryside, you might get large groups of kids interested in what you are filming, especially if it's a drone. Have fun with it and show them what you are filming !
Credit : John Riedy Photography
3/ Can I buy camera/drone gear in Vietnam ?
I often get this question - yes you absolutely can ! There are some wonderful camera shops in Ho Chi Minh City. Prices are lower than in Europe, probably a bit higher than in the US, but you can get some great deals !
My go-to place is Tan Long Camera inside Lucky Plaza mall on Nguyen Hue street, the walking street of downtown HCMC. Climb up the stairs to enter the mall and Tan Long is the first shop on the right as you enter, right behind the DHL store. You'll find camera bodies, lenses, accessories at a fair price. Service is friendly and fast, they accept credit cards at a 3% fee. Send them an email if you need something specific, you'll get an answer in under one hour every time !
For drones, you can visit Flycam Pro, located on Ly Thai To street, 15 minutes from downtown HCMC. They have more or less everything you might need and can also repair drones at a very fair price. It's a good idea to send them an email ahead of time if you need something specific. They are now an official DJI shop so you can get repairs done for free if DJI agrees to a free repair.
There are many other shops everywhere in the city, these are just the two I use on a regular basis and can recommend for their consistent & friendly service. Perfect for visiting videographers and photographers !
4/ Is it worth it bringing my camera to Vietnam ?
Vietnam has to be one of the most photogenic countries in the world. Stunning landscapes, amazing countryside scenery, incredible food culture, lively streets, booming cities, wonderful architecture, there's a picture or a video to take at every corner. Don't hesitate to bring a camera on your trip here !