Bhutan code of etiquette

Bhutanese etiquette

Driglam namzha, Bhutan code of etiquette, is followed by every Bhutanese. As defined by Phuntsho, Driglam namzha is translated as the “system of ordered and cultural behavior.” It is introduced in the 17th century during the reign of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel. In 1989, there were tensions between the government and the Lhotsampa, people living in the Southern part of Bhutan because many illegal immigrants were settled in Bhutan. However, many Nepalese leave the country when the government made prioritized Dzongkha over Nepali but others decided to remain as Bhutanese nationality. Therefore, the importance of Driglam namzha was to preserve and promote national identity. The code of etiquette which should be followed are:

  1. One should remove shoes while entering the temple or altar room.

2. It is not acceptable to take photos inside the temple.

3. We should move in a clockwise direction around a Chorten, prayer wheel, and temple (Kora).


4. It is taken as rude when we fold our leg in front of superiors.

5. We should not make noise such as chewing the food and open the mouth while eating.

Bhutan code of etiquette

6. We should respect elders, high officials, and lama by formal words and adding ‘La’ in the end.

7. We bow to the King and higher officials to indicate immense reverence. Moreover, a formal bow for the King is made at about 90 degrees outstretching the arms below with facing palm up and cover the mouth and nose.

Respecting when 5th king walk by

8. It is considered rude to point with fingers at deities or religious object, one should use an open hand with the palm up.

9. Most common Bhutan code of etiquette is to serve guests first if you’re the host which is considered to be polite.

Serving guest first is a code of etiquette

10. Most lakes in Bhutan are sacred and are refrain from swimming, throwing stones, and eat meat in front of it.

Lake in Bhutan


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