Bhutan is a nation that has just lately opened its doors to foreign travelers that follow the "High Value, Low Volume" tourism guiding principle. It is well recognized that Bhutan is respected for its legitimacy, independence, and well-protected natural environment and cultural legacy. The majority of tourists find that discovering a new culture, meeting locals, and learning interesting tales make for the best experiences in Bhutan. Bhutan has a number of socially taboo or culturally sensitive issues that need to be addressed. Foreign visitors are urged to respect local traditions by becoming familiar with them, accepting them, and showing respect in return.
Here is some cultural and social advice for visitors to Bhutan:
- Avoid talking about anything that is politically controversial.
- Never give or accept anything with your left hand. Even more, courtesy is demonstrated by using both hands.
- Never point at artwork or sacred objects. To do so with your chin is more polite.
- The prayer wheels should always be turned counterclockwise. Additionally, to show respect and to bring blessings to yourself, walk around sacred sites counterclockwise when passing them.
- Sitting on Mani walls (carved stones) and Chorten/Stupas (Buddhist structures), which house relics and serve as Buddhists' places of worship and meditation, is disrespectful and inconsiderate.
- When entering a temple, you should take off your shoes, remove your caps, and dress modestly to show respect for the building.
- Before taking pictures inside places of worship like temples and monasteries, be careful to ask your guide.
- No Bhutanese person may be photographed without their permission.
- It is impolite to sit with your feet directed at an elderly person or a statue of Buddha.
- Smoking is not permitted in public places.
- It is not permitted to swim in lakes or rivers or throw anything into them because it is thought to offend the spirits of gods.
- Make sure not to trash anyplace because Bhutanese people consider their natural surroundings to be a divine gift.
- As a revered component of mountains, stones hold a special place in Bhutanese culture. Don't forget to put the object back where you found it after admiring it.
- Some relics are kept hidden and overly consecrated. Avoid being adamant and pressuring your guide to show you items that are off-limits to the public.
Avoid touching any of the temples' frescoes, sacred artwork, or objects.
- Sitting astride or with your legs out in front of the altar is considered insulting culturally. In religious settings, it is always preferable to cross your legs or kneel.
- Never make disparaging remarks about religion, the royal family, or the chief monk.
- Treat elderly folks with respect and courtesy.
- When visiting a natural site, avoid feeding any wildlife.
- Make sure to put any tips you desire to give to your tour, driver, or hotel staff in envelopes.
- Avoid showing your affection in public.
- Speak a few Dzongkha words or phrases to the Bhutanese people, such as Kuzu Zangpo La (Hello/Greetings), Joen Pa Leg So (Welcome), Kaadinchey La (Thank You), Tashi Delek (Good Wishes), Ga Day Bay Zhu Yoega (How are you), and so forth, to make them happy.