• Nepal!

    Nepal: Phewa Lake. Go Now!

    Nepal
    This landlocked country mixes the cultures of the Indian sub-continent with the high Himalayas. Explore Nepal!

  • Japan!

    Japan: Traditional foods. Go Now!

    Japan
    Japan has a rich culture that is visible today in the country's dress, architecture, language, food (pictured), and lifestyle. Begin Your Journey!

  • Bahrain!

    Bahrain: Desert. Go Now!

    Bahrain
    This tiny country has overcome the desert and has found a way to thrive, like this tree on al Jazair Beach. Explore Bahrain!

  • Kyrgyzstan!

    Kyrgyzstan: Tian Shan Mountains. Go Now!

    Kyrgyzstan
    The mountains, including the Tian Shan Mountains (pictured), give Kyrgyzstan a unique culture, partially formed from this isolation from the mountains. Go Now!

  • Laos!

    Laos: Karst peak. Go Now!

    Laos
    The simplicity and natural beauty of the countryside make Laos a hidden gem in Southeast Asia overlooked by most travelers. Begin Your Journey!

Social Life in Bhutan

Behavior

The Bhutanese are somewhat conservative in most aspects of their lives partially due to their Buddhist faith, which preaches modesty. The people are also somewhat isolated so are not well aware of outside customs and traditions, meaning what you may consider normal, may be interpreted as offensive by the Bhutanese. Fortunately, curiosity often trumps offence in the country and the people are rarely outgoing enough to question your poor behaviors.

Most importantly, try to be modest and respectful; in other words, avoid sensitive conversation topics, such as politics, finances, religion, and business unless initiated by your local counterpart. This is particularly true in regards to the government as speaking out against the royal family or the political situation in the country is frowned upon. Also try to avoid being loud, rude, showing off wealth, or getting noticeably drunk in public.

Although nearly everyone who visits Bhutan does so with a tour guide who will assist you in how to act, if in the presence of Hindus be sure to avoid beef as cows are sacred in Hinduism.

Dress

The Bhutanese government and most of the people are very proud of their culture and they strictly protect it. You should help them in that goal by respecting their local customs and dressing in a manner consistent with their goals, but not identical to the locals.

The Bhutanese wear a national outfit, called driglam namzha, which is in many ways a country-wide dress code that requires all people dress in this traditional way during daylight hours. The men wear a robe called a gho that falls to about their knees while women wear a blouse and large cloth, which together appear to be a full length dress called a kira. These clothes tend to be in tans or browns with simple designs, although the women tend to dress more colorfully. Both men and women also wear scarves, which for the men indicate their rank or status in society.

However, tourists, who only arrive on organized tours, are not expected to dress as the locals do and are free to wear just about anything so long as it does not show too much skin; you should also avoid scarves so you don't offend anyone by wearing the wrong color to indicate a rank you don't have. Generally, any western clothing is acceptable so long as it covers your elbows and knees and isn't too tight. This is especially true when visiting temples and other holy sites, when full length shirts and pants are encouraged, going all the way to the ankles and wrists.

This page was last updated: November, 2013