Tibet Etiquette & Taboos

Tibet Etiquette & Taboos- Do’s and Don’ts

  • Some basic Tibet etiquette rules that should be followed
    1) Never touch the head of a Tibetan person; the head is considered a sacred part of the body.

    2) Show proper respect in the temples. Don’t wear noisy shoes or make unnecessary noise, drink alcohol and smoke.
    3) Don’t put your arms around someone’s shoulders.
    4) When visiting a temple, follow the pilgrims and circle the temple clockwise, never counter-clockwise.
    5) Never touch, sit on or walk over any religious items such as prayer flags or texts.
    6) Don’t kill any animals or insects in monasteries.
    7) Don’t be intrusive during religious ceremonies, meaning be respectful when taking photos.
    8) Don’t harm animals which wearing red, yellow or green cloth.
    9) Don’t step on the thresholds of Tibetan homes.
    10) Don’t spit in front of people.
    11) Don’t throw garbage into a fire.
    12) Don’t engage in strong displays of public affection.
    13) Dress modestly.
  • Other Tibet Travel advice with the etiquette
  • Remember not to step on threshold when entering the tent or house.
  • Calling somebody in name please add “la” behind the name to express respects.
  • If you are asked to sit down, please cross your legs, do not stretch your legs forward and face your sole to others.
  • You should accept the gift with both hands. While presenting the gift you should bend your body forward and hold the gift higher than your head with both hands. While offering tea, wine or cigarette, you should offer them by both hands and do not tough inside of the bowl with any fingers.
  • When the host presents you a cup of wine, you should dip your ring finger in the wine and flick the wine into the sky, in the air and to the ground respectively to express your respects to the heaven, the earth and the ancestors before sipping the wine. The host will fill the cup, and you take a sip of the wine again. After the host fills your cup again, you have to bottom it up.
  • Tibetan people do not eat horse, dog and donkey meat and also do not eat fish in some areas, so please respect their eating habits.
  • It is not polite to clap your palms and spit behind the Tibetan people.
  • Tibetan people stretch out their tongue to say hello to you. Also it is a courtesy to put their hands palm in front of breast.
  • Do not smoke in monasteries. Also it is banned to touch the statue of Buddha and religious articles and take pictures of them. In addition, all should walk clockwise (not in the Bon temples).
  • Seeing any dagobas, monasteries or Mani piles, please go around them clockwise (not of the Bon), do not cross them.
  •  Eagles are the sacred birds in the eyes of the Tibetan people. You should not drive them away or injure them. On the outskirts, you could not drive or disturb the sheep or cows with red, green or yellow cloth strips on.

Since more and more tourists are going to Tibet, more and more Tibetan people get used of seeing the “Big Noses” (western people) with jeans, sun glasses and some of them with shorts (It is prohibited to wear shorts among the Tibetans), the above rules are not obeyed so strictly as before. But we still strongly suggest you take the above advice and behave well during the trip.