Drone flying in asia Drone flying in asia

Drone photography is all the rage nowadays! Everyone from hobbyists to professionals use these devices to capture the world in a unique, dream-like manner as the popularity of drone photography Instagram accounts like DroneHeroes and From Where I Drone exemplify. Although bringing a drone to document your travels would be ideal, drones are still unmanned flying vehicles that bring with them various ethical and security concerns. Here’s a consolidated list of the drone laws of some of the countries in Asia so that you can capture beautiful footage while staying on the right side of the law.

Here’s an in-depth look at the drone laws in Asia that do allow the operation of drones in alphabetical order.

Disclaimer: Drone laws are constantly changing. This update was from January 2017 and based on triangulation of several resources starting with UAV Systems International which you can find here. They have lots of useful things including the Drone School. I have then re-checked everything and made sure there were no more updates or things that were incorrect. And then added my personal experience.

Drone laws in Cambodia

Drone use in Cambodia is allowed outside of Phnom Penh and with an appropriate permit from the Cambodia Aviation Authority

    • Must fly in the day and in good weather conditions
    • Not permitted to fly over crowds or large gatherings
    • Not permitted to fly drones near airports or where aircraft are operating

Contact Information 

Call: (855-23) 211 019
Email: sengvany@camnet.com.kh

Drone in Cambodia

Drone laws in China

Drone use in China is allowed but getting a permit from the Civil Aviation Administration of China Flight Standards Division is probably very difficult. Nonetheless, here you are the conditions under which you can fly the little helper:

    • Regulations in China divide drones into 7 classes according to weight, all of which require a permit from the 
    • Any drone weighing over 116kg requires a pilots license and UAV certification for operation
    • Not permitted to fly drones near airports or where aircraft are operating
    • Be careful when flying over people or built-up areas
    • Restrictions are much looser in rural or less populated areas, but much stricter in cities like Beijing or Shanghai
    • Refrain from flying your drone at Behai Park, or near the Forbidden City and other major monuments (don’t fly it within the first or second ring of the city)

Contact Information

Info: www.caac.gov.cn

Drone laws in Hong Kong

Drone use in Hong Kong is allowed and you will need a permit for the larger drones but not for the usual recreational ones like the Phantom 4 or the Mavik.

    • All drones under 7kg can be flown without a permit, but once it is above 7kg, an air permit is required from the Civil Aviation Department
    • Drones must be flown below 300 ft at all times
    • Avoid flying drones in the vicinity of an airport and areas where aircraft are operating, including:
        • Hong Kong International Airport
        • North Lantau Coastal Area
        • Coastal areas from ai Lam Chung to Tsuen Wan and Tsing Yi Island,
        • Coastal areas at both sides of the Victoria Harbour and Shek Kong area.
    • Only fly your drone during daylight hours and in good weather conditions,
    • Avoid flying drones over crowded/congested areas and near installations that could present a risk to safety if damaged
    • Ensure safety of flying site by:
      • Making sure it is clear of vessels, vehicles, structures, power sources or people
      • Making sure it is flat to ensure safe landing and take off
    • Recommended areas of flying drone include:
      • Tai Tong in Yuen Long
      • Nam Sang Wai in Yuen Long
      • Tate’s Cairn in Sha Tin
      • Tseung Kwan O in Sai Kung
      • Clear Water Bay Peninsula area in Sai Kung

Contact Information

Call: 2910 6627
Email: uas@cad.gov.hk
Info: http://www.cad.gov.hk/english/

Drone laws in Indonesia

Drone use in Indonesia is allowed below 150m height. A permit will be required if you plan to fly above that. Note that 150m is actually not that much, and drone users will know what I mean. When I do my pan away shots, the Phantom 4 is set to stop at 200m and it is actually not enough to have full views of some islands I have been to. 

    • If you wish to fly your drone above 492 ft (150 meters), a permit is required from the Indonesian Aviation Authority for each drone flight and must be obtained at least 14 days before the flight. I tried to reach out to them in the past and they never replied.
    • Do not fly over crowded/congested areas
    • Only fly your drone during daylight hours and in good weather conditions
    • Do not fly drone over airports, near aircraft 

Contact Information 

Call: +62 8 111 004 222
Email:  hubud@dephub.go.id

Drone in Indonesia

Drone laws in Japan

Drone use in Japan is allowed but there are a lot of limitations about where you can fly it so beware. Tokyo and Kyoto main landmarks and parks are all off limits so go out into the countryside. I flew it in Niseko, really nice.

    • Have to fly your drone under 492 ft (150 meters)
    • Do not fly drones within 30m of people, building and cars, and stay away from all power lines
    • Do not fly drones over roads or over private property without permission of landowners
    • It is illegal to fly drones in these areas:
      • Less than 9 km away from airports
      • In highly populated urban areas, which includes most Japanese cities and all of Tokyo’s 23 wards for drones weighing above 200g (that is pretty much any drone with a camera)
      • Over the Prime Minister’s Office, or within 300m of the PMO
      • Over the Imperial Palace, or within 300m of the Imperial Palace
      • Over other key facilities including nuclear power plants
      • Osaka and Tokyo have banned drone use in all parks within the city limits

A new law has been passed recently that allows law enforcement officers the right to destroy drones found in violation of the law so be careful! 

Contact Information

Tel: +81-3-5253-8111
Info: www.mlit.go.jp

Drone laws in Laos

Drone use in Laos is allowed but you need a permit under all circumstances. Good luck with that!

    • Permit must be required first from relevant authorities before flying drones
    • Do not fly drones over crowds or other congested areas
    • Do not fly drones near airports or aircraft that is operating
    • Fly drone daylight hours and in good weather conditions
    • Respect the privacy of others when flying drones

Contact Information 

Call: +856 21 250791
Email: lto@laotourism.org

Drone laws in Malaysia

Drone use is allowed in Malaysia, but under these conditions:

    • Not allowed to fly drones over 400 ft or 122 meters (so you can’t fly it above the Petronas!)
    • Do not fly drones near people who are not associated with the drone or large crowds, so you will have to make sure there is nobody around, pretty hard to do during the day in Kuala Lumpur
    • Fly drones in daylight hours and in good weather conditions
    • If the drone weighs more than 20kg, you have to hold a private pilot’s license, and obtain permission from the Department of Civil Aviation.

Contact Information 

Call: +60388714000
Email: webmaster@dca.gov.my

Drone laws in Mongolia

Drone use is allowed in Mongolia, but under these conditions:

    • Do not fly drones over crowded or congested areas
    • Do not fly drones near airports or where aircraft is operating
    • Do not fly near military installations, power plants or other key facilities that could concern local authorities
    • Respect the privacy of others when flying drone
    • Fly drones in good weather conditions and daylight hours

Contact Information 

Call: +976 11 282 051
Email: info@mcaa.gov.mn

Drone laws in Myanmar

Although legislative guidelines have yet to be drawn up, permission has to be obtained first from the Department of Civil Aviation before flying your drone. Additionally, these are further restrictions.

    • Do not fly drones near airports, or where aircraft is operating
    • Do not fly drones near key facilities including military installations as it can lead to a fine or imprisonment
    • Do not fly drones over crowded or congested areas
    • Respect the privacy of others when flying your drone
    • Only fly your drone in daylight hours and in good weather conditions

Contact Information 

Call: +951 533 015
Email: info@dca.gov.mm

Drone in Myanmar

Drone laws in Philippines

Drone use in Philippines is allowed but you must obtain a UAV Controller Certificate of Authorization before. This can be done by contacting the Civil Aviation Authority of Philippines. Additionally, all of those who bring drones in as plane baggage need to declare it as a luxury item and pay the accompanying taxes required.

Once you get the permit, these are the limitations:

    • Not allowed to fly your drone above 400 ft (122 meters)
    • Not allowed to fly drone within 30m of someone who is not associated with the drone
    • Do not fly your drone over crowded or congested areas
    • Respect the privacy of others when flying your drone
    • Do not fly within 10km of an airport or where aircraft is operating

Contact Information 

Call: (02) 879-9227
Email: information@mis.caap.gov.ph

Drone laws in Singapore

Drone use is allowed in Singapore, but below 200 ft, which is about 61m, that is definitively not a lot and will not be above most buildings, or the Marina Bay Sands! Singapore being Singapore, it has also drawn a map of the areas where you can and cannot fly the drone. As the island is pretty small, this is handy. Here a copy.

    • No permit is required for drones below 7kg, above 7kg a permit is required from the Singapore aviation authority, who are actually pretty responsive if you got any questions.
    • Do not drop anything from your drone or carry any dangerous items in it including weapons, or radioactive material
    • Do not fly over crowded or congested areas
    • Maintain sufficient distance from people, aircraft and property
    • Refrain from flying over moving vehicles, especially emergency service providers as it may distract them and interfere with their operations
    • Do not fly drones and capture images of these places without a permit
      • Changi Airport
      • Singapore Istana
      • Parliament House
      • Paya Lebar Airbase
      • Military camps and installations
      • Naval dockyards
    • If you want to fly your drone over Sentosa, you will need extra permits from Sentosa Management. They did not seem too keen when I asked and trying to do it without is going to get you nowhere as there are a lot of people on the island who will call you on it.

Contact Information

Satwinder Kaur (Ms)
Assistant Director (Corporate Communications)
Tel: (65) 6541 2912
Email : satwinder_kaur@caas.gov.sg

Genevieve Yeow (Ms)
Assistant Manager (Corporate Communications)
Tel: (65) 6541 2082
Email : genevieve_yeow@caas.gov.sg

Mr Tan Ming Jie
Team Leader (Public Communications Department)
Public Affairs Department
Singapore Police Force
Tel: (65) 6478 2075
Email : Tan_ming_jie@spf.gov.sg

Drone in Singapore

Drone laws in South Korea

Drone use is allowed in South Korea under the following circumstances:

    • You cannot fly higher than 492 feet (150 meters)
    • You cannot fly within 5.5km of airfields or in areas where aircraft are operating
    • You must fly during daylight hours and only fly in good weather conditions
    • Avoid flying over people and respect privacy of others when flying your drone
    • You cannot fly near Seoul Plaza, crowded areas, military installations, power plants, or areas of facilities related to national security
    • You cannot fly when there is low visibility or yellow dust

Contact Information

Call: +82 44 201 4251
Email: fsdiv01@korea.kr

Drone laws in Thailand

It is now confirmed that in Thailand drone pilots must register for an RPA license if a camera is installed and your drone is over 2kgs.the controller shall submit an application for registration to the Director General of the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (for what you need see Article 8 of this document). Drone use is allowed in Thailand, but there are several drone laws that need to be followed. These include:

  • The drones must be under 25 kgs.
  • Drone with cameras must be registered.
  • The controller or launcher must be older than 20 years of age (if the controller is flying for a hobby, entertainment or sport) or be accompanied by a legal guardian. The controller must comply with the provided terms in the Notification. This comprises, among others, that they do not fly the UAV over 90 meters (300 feet) above the ground; do not fly within 30 meters (100 feet) of people, vehicles, construction sites, or buildings; and do not infringe on the privacy of others. They must also get permission from the owner of the land.
  • Current regulations only prohibit drones from flying over military installations, palaces, and parks in Bangkok
  • A valid work permit is required for any drone use that is commercial in nature
  • You should maintain visual contact with your drone at all times
  • Keep your drone away from airports, sensitive areas and restricted airspace
  • Respect the privacy of others and avoid flying over people or over crowded areas

More details here.

Contact Information

To contact CAAT : The Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand
333/105 Lak Si Plaza,
Khamphaeng Phet 6 Rd.,Talat Bang Khen,
Lak Si, Bangkok 10210

Tel: +66 (0) 2568-8800

E-Mail : info@caat.or.th

Drone in Thailand

Drone laws in Vietnam

Drone use is allowed in Vietnam only after obtaining a permit from the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam. I would most likely say that this is going to be difficult. If you have applied for it and got it, please let me know, I’d like to hear about it! Meanwhile, I have always left mine at home when I visit.

    • You cannot fly over people not associated with the operation of the drone or over large crowds
    • Respect others privacy when flying your drone in Vietnam
    • You must fly during daylight hours and only fly in good weather conditions
    • Do not fly your drone near airports or in any area were aircraft are operating

Contact Information 

Call: +84-69.696154
Email: info@mod.gov.vn

Frequently drone around Asia? Then Pin this article for future journeys. 

Drone flying in asia Drone laws in Asia