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Do's and Don'ts in Tibet & Xinjiang

Most of the Tibetan people inhabit in West China especially Tibet, Yunnan, Qinghai and Sichuan. With unique culture and religion, Tibetans have different ways of behavior in many aspects. As the saying goes: "When in Rome do as the Romans do." So please keep in mind the following tips:

  • Calling somebody in name please add "la" behind the name to express respects.
  • Unless you are invited as a guest to a tent or house, you are to remember not to step on the threshold of the door.
  • When you are asked by the host to take a seat, you should sit cross-legged and don't stretch your legs with your feet pointing to the other.
  • If someone gives you gifts, you should receive with both hands.
  • When presenting gifts to someone, you'll bend your waist and lift up the gifts in both hands over your head to show respect.
  • When you are offering tea, wine and cigarettes to someone, you are to offer them with both hands and don't let your finger into the cup.
  • When the host proposes a toast, the guest should use the tip of his ring finger to dip a little to sprinkle in the air, mid-air and to the ground for three times as a sign of offer to heaven, earth and ancestors. After that, you should take a sip of wine, the host will refill it, you take another sip and your host will refill it the second time. A succession of this action will be repeated for three times till you are asked to bottom up the whole glass.
  • Tibetan people do not eat horse, dog and donkey meat and also do not eat fish in some areas, so please respect their diet habits.
  • Don't clap your hand or spit behind Tibetans, for these behaviors will be considered extremely impolite.
  • Drawing out tongues and both palms cupping together are signs of respect.
  • When paying a visit to a temple or a monastery don't smoke inside or touch the images and the religious equipments and don't take pictures inside a temple or monastery.
  • Remember to walk around a temple in clockwise with the exception of Bon monasteries.
  • At encounters of wayside stupas, temples, Mani stone piles etc, you must walk around them in clockwise with the exception of the Bon followers who go anti-clockwise.
  • Vultures are considered holy birds in Tibetan people's hearts, so don't drive them away and hurt them. If you see certain yaks or sheep with red, green or yellow ribbons, don't disturb them.
  • Do not touch, walk over or sit on any religious texts, objects or prayer flags in monasteries.

As for Xinjiang, it is a region where several ethnic groups exist. All of these ethnic groups are devout followers of Islam. All travelers should respect their beliefs.

  • People should not eat pork, dog's, donkey's or mule's meat in Muslim restaurants or even talk about it. This will cause (great) trouble.
  • You should not enter Mosques without being properly dressed; Women or ladies are not allowed to enter some mosques in the south of Xinjiang
  • Travelers should not gaze at Uigur or their staff in markets without buying anything.


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