Etiquette and Taboo in Tibet


Presenting Hada (or Khatag) is a traditional practice in Tibet to show respect and hospitality. If you are receiving a Hada, do remember to accept with both your hands! Raise the Hada above your shoulder and bow if you are presenting a Hada to a statue or a high lama! Presenting a Hada to your host if you are visiting a Tibetan house will be appreciated.

Always add a "La" after one's name to show your respect, for example Tashi La.  

Address a high lama with "Rinpoche" and a common lama with Geshe La although he might not be a Geshe.

It would be considered nice if you would like to offer some money or butter fuel in monasteries.

Do always walk clockwise around religious shrines, stupas, Mani stones and prayer wheels. However, if you visit a Bon monastery, then walk counterclockwise!

It's okay to enter a chamber without removing your shoes, although monks do.

Coming inside during the chanting session is acceptable. Sit or stand in the rear. No loud and irreverent conversation!


Do not smoke, drink alcohol or make unnecessary noise in monasteries.

Do not touch, walk over or sit on any religious texts, objects or prayer flags in monasteries.

Do not kill or cause anything to be killed in monasteries.

Do not be intrusive when photographing monasteries especially when people are performing religious ceremonies. Always ask for permission.

Do not try to harm vultures, and yaks and sheep wearing red, yellow or green cloth.

Do not step on the threshold when entering a Tibetan house.

Do not spit before somebody.

Don't put trash in the fire.

Do not engage in public displays of affection.

Do not wear shorts!

Some Useful Tibetan Words

There are some Tibetan words most-commonly used in local people's daily life:

Tibetan Words


Tashi Dele


Kale Phe (for staying)


Kale Shoo (for leaving)


Thoo Jaychay

Thank You



La ong

Ok / Yes

Ha ko ma song

I don't understand

Ka Tso ay?

How much?

Don't ignore those words! Sometimes it will help you an easy and pleasant trip in Tibet.