Drone-unfriendly Yangon

“DRONE!” an airport staff yelled out. Within seconds, I was surrounded by a group of hostile-looking airport custom officers. This ritual repeated itself from the very first hour I landed in Yangon to the last minute I left the country. The Burmese authorities take drone very seriously. It was as dramatic as having a bag load of drugs or explosives.

I wasn’t alone. While I was debating with the custom officers about their laws on drone (which there isn’t any official law on drone), I was shown a list of drones that were detained by the Burmese custom office over the past 1 month! There were at least 10 DJI drones being detained inside Yangon International Airport right now. I do not blame Yangon for being so strict on drone-flying. There are indeed some black sheep in the drone community who are either dumb or just simply irresponsible.

Honestly, I wasn’t too worried about the detention of my drone. I was only frustrated by the way they handled my case. You see, there were 5 security checkpoints (airport entrance, custom office, departure hall, immigration counter, departure gate) on the way to the departure gate. And at every check point, I had to endure and repeat the same unpleasant tussle. Each officer gave a different reason to detain my drone (detain for investigation, no permit for leaving the country with drone etc). Thankfully, I kept the official release letter from the custom office and I was able to walk away from all these senseless confrontation. Trust me, getting the drone out of the country was 10 times more stressful than getting it detained in the first place.

Despite the ugly episode at the airport, Myanmar left me with many good impressions. This is a working trip, Chowpo and I flew in a day earlier to explore the City of Gold. Thanks to the friendly hotel staff who helped us to plan our short 1-day tour, we managed to visit most of the city’s key recommended attractions – the Shwedagon Pagoda, Bogyoke Aung San Market, Aung San Suu Kyi house, National Museum, Chaukhtatgyi Temple.

Myanmar is a buzzing country with lots to discover. It was unlike anything I had imagined about this place, Yangon is definitely a city in motion. With so many hardworking local and international talents, I have no doubt that Yangon will progress and grow through time. I saw so many Singapore home-grown brands well established here (Charles and Keith, Ya Kun, Fish & Co, Popular Books). There are just so many untapped golden opportunities and best of all, beautiful wonders to discover. I wished I had two more weeks to explore the other parts of Myanmar.

Check out more photos and vlog below:

9 Responses to Drone-unfriendly Yangon

  1. valbiant says:

    Hi Wahbiang,

    I buy drone at Myanmar store and someday I want to bring back to Indonesia. Did I need to prepare something?

  2. nick says:

    hi there, would like to bring a drone to Myanmar but was wondering how do you get a permit or letter from customs office? kindly advise, thank you!

    • Wahbiang says:

      You have to apply it before you arrive! It is important that you do so! If not, you will face tons of problem at the custom. They are very strict and they don’t speak a lot of English. Therefore, you will have a good chance you will not be able to retrieve the drone from the custom when you depart. To make things worse, the airport officers don’t communicate, so it means even if you get the drone pass the front door, it doesn’t mean you will get it pass the other gates. Every checkpoint is a pain. I nearly couldn’t depart with my drone even though I have the proof that I am departing the country with the previously-detained drone.

    • Wahbiang says:

      Strong advise you to get all the document from their office channel before you bring in one. There is no application upon arrival. Also, many places ban drone flying. It is still a semi-military rule nation.

  3. Dennis says:

    For bringing drones into Perth Australia, what is the procedures like? Any forms to fill out for Australian customs? It will be my first time bringing UAV overseas, so naturally I wonder what sort of declaration needed.
    Also, any thing to be aware of in terms of bringing UAV and/or spare batteries on board the plane?

    • Wahbiang says:

      There is no need to get special permit to bring drone into Australia unless you are bringing commercial heavy duty ones.

      For batteries, you have to carry onboard with you as no airline allows check-in of batteries. Batteries mustn’t be too big, you have to check with your airline for the limitation.

      For me, I spilt my batteries with my family as my airline only allow up to 2 big batteries (each not exceeding 5000mAh). It is best you keep each battery separately compartment of your bag.

      You can carry your drone onboard as long the size fits the cabin compartment.

      When in Australia, do not fly over city, garden with children or crowded area as the local do not like drones intruding their quiet space. But the outback is full of nature and open space! You will find plenty of space to fly!


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