Tibet Travel Tips: Ethics and Etiquette

Please make sure not to step on threshold when you enter a house or a tent. When you call or address somebody by name, please try and add "la" after the name for politeness. It’s an equivalent to "Mr." or "Sir" and “Madam”. When you are asked to sit down, please cross your legs. Do not stretch your legs towards others as it will look very ill mannered.

When somebody presents you something, you should accept it bywith your both hands. While presenting gift to others, hold the gift by both hands higher than your head. When the host presents you a cup of wine, before you start sipping, you should dip your ring finger in the wine and flick the wine into the sky, in the air and to the ground to express your respect to the heaven, the earth and the ancestors respectively. After you take the first sip, the host would like to fill up the cup again and you will take another sip. If the host fills your cup with wine again, then you should bottom it up.

Tibetan people don't eat horse, donkey or dog meat and in some areas not even fish so, please respect their dietary habit. It’s not polite to clap your palms and spit behind the Tibetan people. Tibetan people stretch out their tongue to greet you. It's also a courtesy to put their hands palm to palm in front of the chest. Smoking inside the monasteries is strictly not allowed. It’s also banned to touch the statues of Buddha and religious articles and take the pictures. In the religious shrines, you should walk clockwise but not in the Bon temples. Tibetan people, when they come across a shrine, mani piles etc. they go around in clockwise direction. They don't just cross it.

Bhuddist monks at a temple in Tibet

Since Tibetan people consider Eagles the sacred birds, you should not drive them away or injure them. On the outskirts, you should not drive or disturb the sheep or cows with green, red and yellow cloth strips on. Since more tourists are going to Tibet now, Tibetan people are getting 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). Even though the above mentioned rules are not as strictly followed as before, we suggest you to at least keep them in mind and implement them as much as possible and travel to behave well.