Etiquette

Tibetans are some of the most easy-going people you will meet, but will particularly appreciate you following etiquette in temples and monasteries.

  • Clothing Don’t wear short skirts or shorts, especially at religious sites.
  • Pointing Don’t point at people or statues with your finger; use your full upturned hand.
  • Touching Don’t pat children on the head, as the head is considered sacred.
  • Direction Always circle a Buddhist monastery building or chörten clockwise.
  • Guests Tibetans show respect to an honoured guest or a lama by placing a kathak (prayer scarf) around their neck. When reciprocating, hold the scarf out in both hands with palms turned upwards.
  • Saving Face In general negotiations ensure that the person you are dealing with does not lose face and is not forced to back down in front of others. Outright confrontation is a last resort, specially with officialdom.