Some DO’S & DONT’S in Tibet

Here are some tips to enjoy your visit to this remarkable country with an age old rich culture and heritage. Particularly, in Tibet, it is polite to follow some of the do’s and don’ts as this country has not yet been so exposed to modernization. So, some of the major do’s and don’ts are given below.

1. The form of greeting in Tibet ‘Tashi Delek’ and is performed by joining the palms with a little vowing of your head.
2. While traveling, dress appropriately. Shorts should never be worn both by women and men, even during a trek. Tibetan people never show their legs. You are supposed to do the same. Men should wear long pants/trousers. Knickers are fine for trekking. Women should wear loose-fitting long pants or a calf-length skirt. A normal sari is fine for those who are used to sari. Women’s shirts should be loose-fitting and not revealing, and a bra should be worn. This may seem trivial or an inconvenience, but remember that you are a visitor in their country.

3. Religious beggars are an accepted part of society in Tibet and most of Asia. However, do not encourage begging among the children, youths and fit people. Giving sweets also may not be good for the children who hardly brush their teeth. 

4. Do not wear or display T-shirts with slogans like ‘Free Tibet’. Also do not carry and give out any pictures of Dalai Lama, Panchen Lama or Karmapa. Make sure you do not show the flag of Tibet either. 

5. Shouting slogans or discuss any negative feeling about China might help you feel better temporarily. But, remember it will cause a grave dangers to your travel agent, guide, hotel or the people you are visiting and wish to help. 

6. Any negative action of yours against China will not only bring trouble for you, but also cause trouble for your travel mates or any Tibetan people like travel agent, guide, drivers, etc. 

7. Be friendly and polite to the Chinese as well as to the Tibetans so as not to bring a problem to your friends or the Tibetans you would like to help.

8. Discussing on political issues on Tibet publicly in the places like monasteries, restaurants, hotel lobby, etc. is never advised. Not all Tibetan looking people are trustworthy, including your guide.
9. Always seek permission before taking pictures of the interior of all monasteries and temples. Many chapels and rooms in the monasteries and temples are charged extra for photography.

10. Walking around monasteries, temples or stupas is traditionally done clockwise.

11. Public displays of affection between man and woman are frowned upon. Do not do something that totally alien to the Tibetan culture like kissing in the public.

12. Remember, many times, when a person shakes his/her head from left to right, s/he may mean ‘yes’, as in Nepal and India.

13. Never touch anything with your feet. This is considered an offence among the Tibetans. 

14. Exchanging money with the authorized banks or money changers is always advised with a receipt. 

15. Make sure you do not buy banned wildlife products and artifacts more than 100 years old. In such cases, you are required to have special certification from the concerned Govt. authorities.

16. Do not show off your money and valuables. Always maintain small money in a separate pocket/wallet for the frequent petty expenses.

17. Importantly, please strictly follow the health tips on coping with the high altitude sickness advised by your travel agent to enjoy your tour without major problems.

18. Tipping is a part of tourism industry. Anyone offering you a service will expect a tip, provided the service is up to your expectation. They include your guide, driver, hotel porters, etc. In a restaurant in the cities, 10% tip is expected.

19. You know that traveling light is always enjoyable everywhere. However, make sure you have enough warm clothes with you even when you are traveling in Tibet in summer season. 

20. Develop a genuine interest to meet and talk to the Tibetan people and respect their customs. Your guide can be your interpreter. You will have a great time with them.