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Do’s and Don’ts in Mongolia

You can visit the family anytime during ordinary days because Mongolian people are always hospitable and friendly. They offer food; drinks for guests who arrived form far places. House owners of the ‘ger’ would wish you to feel at home. Please remember the following:

You can visit the family anytime during ordinary days because Mongolian people are always hospitable and friendly. They offer food; drinks for guests who arrived form far places. House owners of the ‘ger’ would wish you to feel at home. Please remember the following:
- Greet the family members and sit down. Mongolians respect by sitting, but Europians show respect by standing. Do not sit putting one leg over another, or else people will think that you are looking down on them.
- Do not cross your arm over your chest while sitting. They would think that you are sick.
- Do not point at people. They would suspect that you bring them to evil.
- It is not allowed to show your palm to others, put up your shoulders, put up your nose and bending your neck because Mongolians dislike it and would think that they offended their guests and gave bad impressions. Therefore, they would start worrying about it.
- Women can not sit on the place of honor where men sit. Most of Asian people respect men and give them a seat in the place of honor.
- Europeans let women sit in the place of honor. If one gives praise to the wife, the husband dislikes it and the wife feels ashamed. Being ashamed, she turns her head and hides her face with palms of her hand.
- If a present is given right upon entry in a ger, there will be a disfavor (they will be upset) and surprised and worried. The custom is to present a gift before leaving. According to European culture tea is offered at the end, but in Mongolian tradition tea must be the first thing to be offered.
- Mongolians dislike when people drink tea holding from the top of the cup and would think that they do not know Mongolian custom but will not have courage to tell it straight
It is a tradition for Mongolian people to offer tea and food for guests, therefore, not necessary to say “Thank you” every time if tea is offered. They would think that you never visited a family and disrespect the family. It is respectful to say at the end: “Thank you so much for your hospitality and thank you for your respect”. While they are offering food it is not proper to say “I have to go”. This makes the owner of the family nervous and as if you are telling them “I’m going now, give me the gift!”. Therefore, you can tell some reasons like “I have to move earlier because I have many things to do…”.
- Do not pass the place of honor while going out of the house; therefore, you can pass clock wise by the side. Mongolian people do not expect to get gifts from the visitors, but they would be happy if visitors give candies or gifts to their children
- During formal celebrations or occasions, food, tea, of vodka should be given and received with the right hand extended and the left hand supporting the right elbow
- Use two hands or the right hand to offer or to take something
- Roll town your sleeves before taking or giving something, or before being introduced to an older person
- Hold a cup by the bottom, not by the top rim
- When given knives or scissors, offer the handle, but not the blade
- It is not polite to say no when the host offers tea, food or dairy products
- It is rude not to offer a guest a cap of tea of coffee, some candy, etc
- Passing a snuff bottle is a formal occasion. You may actually take a pinch or sniff the bottle’s top. Before passing the bottle to another, you should offer it back to its owner. If you sample the snuff, do not screw the cap back on – simply leave it on the bottle neck, with the snuff blade inside
- When offered vodka or airag, accept it. Drinking it is not necessary, but you should touch it to your lips as if tasting it, and return the cap or bowl to the person who handed it to you. You may also dip your ring finger into the drink, raise your hand above your head, and flick your finger to the four winds
- Mongolians touch each other more than Anglo-Saxons. It is normal to see men or women holding hands or putting their arms around each other’s shoulders
- It is normal for Mongolians to not introduce friends they are with to the friends they meet
- Mongolian friends sometimes visit each other’s house without calling, it is not considered rude
- It is impolite to put your feet or shoes on chairs or tables. To show the bottom of your feet when sitting in close proximity to another is offensive When you enter a ger, do not step on the threshold. Usually, guests move in a clockwise direction to the west and north. The east side of the ger(yurt) is the women’s side, and the west is the men’s Mount and dismount a horse from the left side
- It is rude for a women to sit cross-legged in a ger
- If Mongolians spill airag, milk or other dairy products on the ground, they will dip their fingers into it and touch it lightly to their forehead
- Do not whistle inside gers or any kind of building. Why should one not whistle at home? If we whistle at home a whirlwind will come and destroy our home… they say. People dislike very much one who whistles and brings about such bad wind. A long time ago there was legend about whistlers who can create a whirlwind to destroy the enemies for the sake of protecting their home.
- When offering a drink, consider that it is better to present a cup without cracks or a damaged rim
- It is rude to walk across an area where women are milking their cows

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1 Response for “Do’s and Don’ts in Mongolia”

  1. Hi there, may I cite some of the info here in this article if I provide you with a link back to your blog?

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