The man was on board flight VN164 from the central city of Danang.
Some fellow passengers saw him taking a bag from the overhead compartment and rummaging through it, before the plane took off.
They immediately alerted the crew, who then notified security forces at Danang Airport.
He had stolen two Sony cameras and VND5 million (US$220) in cash, said Danang airport authorities.
The Chinese man was then charged with theft and fined VND7.5 million.