Traveling is the best way to explore local traditions and customs. While no matter where you go, you should respect the local etiquette and taboos, or you will be regarded as impolite. Located in the west of China, the Tibetan Autonomous Region is a hot tourist destination where attracts thousands of international tourists by the stunning natural views, unique Tibetan culture, and splendid natural scenery. As a minority area, there are numerous etiquette and taboos which you should know before traveling to Tibet.
When Dining in a Local Restaurant
According to local customs, it is not polite for you to eat and drink loudly. You should eat bite by bite. When eating something, you should close your mouth instead of opening. Some traditional Tibetan food such as tsampa is required to be taken by hand. In order to show the politeness, you are required to use your right hand. What’s more, bamboo chopsticks are the main tool for Tibetans when enjoying a meal. You should wait for others instead of starting eating. Because Tibetans are in faith of Buddhism, they refused to eat meat like the horse, ass, mule, dog, and fish. They always eat beef and mutton, but they refused to kill cows and sheep.
When Visiting Tibetan Family
Out of respect, Tibetans always let you walk first, and they will follow you. If you are taking to seniors, you should let them speak first. You are not allowed to touch the Children’s head.
Before visiting Tibetan family, you’d better buy some traditional gift in a local shop. Sometimes, traditional Tibetan food such as butter tea and barely beer are the most popular gift. In return, Tibetans will send you some Tibetan items such as hada, etc.
Visiting Tibetan Temples and Monasteries
As a holy place for Buddhists, there are lots of temples and monasteries scattered in Tibetan Plateau, such as Sera Monastery, Jokhang Temple, Potala Palace, Drepung Monastery, Gandan Monastery, etc. Every year, a great number of pilgrims from other countries head to Tibet for the purpose of worshiping the Buddha in those temples and monasteries. Some are interested in the hot Buddhism debate, while some are curious about Buddhism sutras. No matter which temple you visit, you should follow the rules stipulated by the local government. Here are some examples. You should take off your hat to show your respect. Secondly, you should wear long clothes and long trousers to cover your bare skin. Based on the law, all the monks in the monastery should take off their shoes or sandals. If you are a tourist, you have no need to take it off. You can see lots of Buddha statues and holy towers. You are not allowed to touch them because of the sacred position in Tibetans’ eyes. Do not speak loudly when you visit temples and monasteries. Besides that, travelers are not allowed to take photos in most temples and monasteries. Only when you are allowed to use a camera, you should turn off the flash. If you want to take a photo with monks or pilgrim, you should reach an agreement with them in advance.