Customs & Etiquette (Bhutan)

  • Bhutan’s religion is a very traditional form of Buddhism and as such animals are not euthanised, even for humane reasons. As such you may see dogs and other animals in a condition where in our culture would have them put down or operated on. Dog overpopulation is a major problem.
  • You should avoid pointing the soles of your feet at anyone. This may seem unlikely to happen but you could inadvertently do this while laying down or sitting with your feet up.
  • You will see images and carvings which some would consider phallic, painted on the sides of buildings, hanging from eves and in shops. The Bhutanese do not consider these to be as such but rather to bring good luck and as talismans against evil.
  • National pride is very strong in Bhutan, with the King placing achieving national happiness above economic growth. The King has decreed all buildings must be built in the traditional style and all Bhutanese Nationals must wear traditional dress including their rank shawl to all Government buildings, schools and museums.
  • In monasteries, temple and dzongs, always walk in a clockwise direction around places or objects; it is always a good idea to watch the behaviour of others. Do not point a finger at any sacred object. If you are unsure about how to behave please ask your National Escort/Local Guide.
  • Smoking has recently been deemed illegal in Bhutan. Please be aware that smokers will incur a hefty 200% tax fee upon entry for any cigarettes being brought into the country. A receipt will be issued to you which you must keep on you at all times. Failure to adhere to these rules may result in fines and imprisonment.