Home - Tibet Travel Tips - Customs and Taboos

Customs and Taboos

How to Behave in Tibet

Every ethnic minority has their special cultures and living-habits. Tibetans is an old and passionate ethnic minority. During the long history, Tibetans have formed their own customs and taboos. With unique culture and religion, Tibetans have different ways of behavior in many aspects. It will be good for you to know what should to be done or not to be done in advance. The following advices might help you have a nice trip in Tibet:
Customs and Taboos Related to Daily Life:
(A) Tibetan people do not eat horse, dog and donkey meat and also do not eat fish in some areas, so please respect their diet habits.
(B) Eagles are the sacred birds in Tibetan culture. You should not drive them away or injure them. Do not relieve yourself near any cattle pens, horse stables, or sheepfolds. On the outskirts, and do not drive or disturb the sheep or cows with red, green or yellow cloth strips on because these animals are the Tibetan sacrifice to worship gods.
(C) It is impolite to spit in front of or behind others or clapping hands behind others.
(D) Do not throw any bones into fire. Do not touch other's head by hand. Do not use paper with Tibetan characters as tissue to wipe off mess with the paper.
(E) Remember not to step on the threshold when entering the tent or house.
(F) Please add "La" behind the name when you call someday to express respect.
(G) If you are asked to sit down, please cross your legs, do not stretch your legs forward and face your sole to others.
(H) In the tent, men sit on the left side, and women on the right side.
(I) 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.
(J) 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 for the forth time, you have to bottom it up.
(K) Please keep quiet on the top of mountains. It is believed that loud noise will result in heavy snow, storms or hail.
Customs and Taboos Related to Religion:
(A) A monastery cannot be entered without permission.
(B) Once inside a monastery, don't smoke or take photos; do not touch, walk over or sit on any religious texts, objects or prayer flags in monasteries.
(C) Don't wear shorts or short skirts in a monastery. Take your hat off when you go into a monastery.
(D) Walk clockwise around a monastery, mani stones, pagodas, or other religious structures. Prayer wheels should also be turned clockwise.
(E) Keep quiet during religious ceremonies in the monastery.
(F) When meeting a lama, it is not appropriate to hug him or shake hands with him. The proper way is to hold the two hands upright, palms together in front of the chest, and lower the head. Don't talk with them on sensitive topics, such as marriage and the eating of meat.
With the fast developing tourism, the above rules are not obeyed as strictly as before. But it will be good for you to follow the advice above.

My Questions *We welcome and appreciate your questions & reviews

User Comments

Question:We’re be arriving in Tibet on mid-April, just wondering anything DOs and DON’ts should we be aware of?

Answer:There are some customs and taboos in Tibet people need to take notice. When visiting a monastery, do not point any statue of Buddha by your index finger. It is very impolite to do so. Instead, you can open your hands showing to others which statue you’re saying. In the temple, walk clockwise. Any other customs and taboos, you can consult on our website, which can give you more ideas: