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Do's and Don'ts - Tibetan Etiquettes and Taboos

09 March 2016 Last updated at 15:32

Tibetan people are friendly and easy to get along with. However, Tibetans have different ways of behavior in many aspects due to their unique culture and religion. Be sure to respect local customs and be polite.

  1. Don't take photos without permission. You'd better ask for permission before taking pictures of Tibetan people. Most Tibetan monasteries are not allowed to take pictures or you need to pay.
  2. Don't enter a monastery without permission. Don't smoke in monasteries. Don't touch Buddha statues, religious objects or prayer flags.
  3. Walk around monasteries, temples, dagobas, Mongolian cairns (Mani piles) and other religious structures in clockwise order with the exception of the Bon sites.
  4. Don't step on the threshold when entering a tent, house, or monastery.
  5. Don't touch the head of a Tibetan. The head is considered as a sacred part of the body.
  6. Don't drive away or hurt eagles. Eagles are considered holy birds in the hearts of Tibetan people.
  7. Don't disturb or injure cows or sheep with red, green or yellow ribbons because they are Tibetan sacrifice to worship gods.

Tibetan people are getting more used to habits of foreigners and being more tolerant due to rapidly developing tourism in Tibet. However, we still hope you can show respect to Tibetan traditions and behave well since their unique lifestyle is part of the charm of Tibet.

  • Present a Hada
    Tibetan Girl Presenting a Hada
  • Sticking Out Tongue to Show Respect
    Sticking Out Tongue to Show Respect

If you are interested in Tibetan customs and etiquettes, here we provide more as follows:

  1. Tibetan people stretch out tongues to show respect and it is a courtesy to put their hands palm to palm in front of chest.
  2. Remember to cross your legs when you are asked to have a seat. Don't stretch your legs with feet pointing to others.
  3. Accept and present gifts with both hands.
  4. Don't kill any animals or insects in monasteries.
  5. Don't whirl round prayer wheels in an anti-clockwise direction.
  6. Don't spit or clap your palms behind Tibetan people.
  7. Don't use a paper with Tibetan characters as tissue.
  8. Generally, Tibetan people don't eat horse, dog, donkey, or fish.

Find more Tibet travel tips:

High Altitude Sickness - How to Avoid?
Tibet Currency Exchange & Credit Card Availability
Useful Tibetan Numbers & Words

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Escorted by a skilled private drivers and companied by a professional local tour guide to organize all the activities, all you have to do is to enjoy your fantastic Tibet journey. Time can never be wasted waiting for a group, hopping on and off buses or negotiating unfamiliar destinations.

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