Traditions & Customs in Bhutan
- Bhutanese people hold the monarch and previous king in high regard. It’s a good idea to keep this in mind while conversing with locals.
- Sacred objects. Turn the prayer wheels clockwise and put mani stones, stupas, and other religious objects with your right side closest to the object. Sitting atop mani stones or stupas is never a good idea.
- Clothing. When visiting temples, take off your shoes and caps and dress in a way that reflects your respect for the site’s holy character. You must dress with long trousers and a long shirt.
- Donations. It is common at monasteries to give a modest gift to the monks as a show of respect, as well as to Buddhist statues, as a way of cultivating a generous and expansive mindset. Each temple has a number of donation locations, and it is required that you contribute to each one. Remember to have little notes on hand for this gesture. This, however, is not required.
- Smoking. In monasteries and public areas, smoking is banned.
- Tobacco. Tobacco products (cigarettes, chewing tobacco, etc.) are effectively prohibited in Bhutan (which remains the world’s only nation to do so), and penalties for possession or usage may be severe.
- Proselytizing is prohibited in Bhutan and is punishable by up to three years in jail. Vajrayana Buddhism, the official religion, should be respected.