Around Tibet, Jiuzhaigou and areas with Tibetan population:
1. Don't pat babies on the head, or touch them
2. Don't photograph old folk without permission (which is likely to cost you ¨C it's often assumed that a request to photograph them is an offer to pay ¨C the same in some places on the Silk Road)
3. Don't step on the lama's shadow
4. In temples: take off your hat, don't point directly (if you want to indicate a statue and HAVE to use your hand, palm up, fingers flat and together in that direction
5. Don't dip your fingers in the yak butter lamps in the temple, to taste the butter (apart from being highly offensive, it's also a health risk)
6. Avoid walking between a person praying to the Buddha and the statue
In the Mosques:
1. Cover your arms to the elbow, and your legs above the knees as a minimum
2. Don't shake hands with the opposite gender
3. Wearing a scarf over the head is a courtesy, but not obligatory
Along the Silk Road (Kashgar, Urumqi etc):
1. Don't order pork in a muslim restaurant (guide can help identify muslim restaurants)
2. Avoid "sensitive" questions, eg relations between ethnic groups
3. Alcohol, cigarettes: ask first and then behave in accordance with the answer (generally don't expect alcohol in a muslim restaurant)
4. In the Xinjiang province the prices are not over the top, so be reasonable when negotiating, rather than the harder bargaining of the eastern seaboard
1. To eat everything or not? In the old days the "waste not want not" ethic prevailed, and at home mothers encouraged their children to clean their plates. The fridge has changed all that. Now it¡¯s polite to eat everything at home, and among good friends, but at a banquet, or on other formal occasion, distant colleagues leave a little so demonstrate the generosity of their host. Oh, and by the way it's considered mean only to order 2 dishes for 3 people, especially if no vegetables are included!
2. Drinking a toast ¨C tap the table twice, and stand up if it's more formal.
3. Discussions regarding recent history are still seen as sensitive.
4. Chinese people are just as proud of their country as visitors are of theirs, and probably more so. They can get a little irritated when customers favor them with criticisms of the country. They know that things are not perfect, and they also know that they, like other countries, are working hard to deal with problems of environment and population and so on. Whilst constructive suggestions, and reasonable discussion is welcomed, destructively negative comments regarding Tibet or Taiwan, for example, or environmental track record, can upset people who suspect it may be a case of "the pot calling the kettle black" ¨C and believe that China is not only aware of the challenges facing the country but doing a great deal to address them.
5. Lateness is a cultural no-no, in the morning for departure or at any other time. It indicates a lack of respect for the guide, and for fellow travelers