Traditions & Customs

Traditions & Customs

  • The king and former king have a lot of respect in Bhutan. It is wise to keep this in mind when talking to local people.
  • Sacred objects. Always place mani stones, stupas, and other religious items with your right side closest to the object, and turn the prayer wheels clockwise. Never sit on mani stones or stupas.
  • Clothing. When visiting temples, remove shoes and hats and wear clothes that express respect for the sacred nature of the site. You will have to wear pants and a long shirt.
  • Donations. In the monasteries, it is customary to make a small donation to the monks as a sign of respect; and also to Buddhist statues as a means of developing a generous and spacious spirit. There are many places in each temple where you can donate, and it is expected that you give to each place. Do not forget to have small notes for this gesture. However, this is not mandatory.
  • Smoking. Smoking is prohibited in monasteries and public places.
  • Tobacco. Products containing tobacco (cigarettes, chewing tobacco, etc.) are effectively banned throughout Bhutan (which remains the only country in the world to do so) and penalties for possession or use can be severe.
  • Proselytizing is illegal in Bhutan and has been punished with prison terms of up to three years. Respect should be given to the state religion of Vajrayana Buddhism.

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Bhutan - Travel guide