October 2019

Traditional Celebrations

A major event in Asia is Deepavali (also known as Diwali). It’s an ancient Hindu festival celebrated in autumn every year in Malaysia, Singapore and Myanmar. The festival signifies the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance and good over despair. Fairs take place in many towns and villages with numerous scheduled performances.

The Phuket Vegetarian Festival is a time when people of Chinese descent will, for nine days, adhere to a strict vegetarian diet and suspend numerous activities. This ceremony is not so much about vegetarianism as it is about welcoming good spirits and warding off bad ones with mind-blowing facial piercings.

Golden Week in China (1-7 October) is one of the peak periods for domestic travel in the country and best avoided if possible.

Takayama Matsuri (Autumn Festival) takes place (6-13 October) and is the annual festival of the Hachiman Shrine in the northern half of Takayama Old Town. The festival is also known as Hachiman Festival.

Chongyang Festival is also called the Double Ninth Festival (in Chinese, nine is regarded as the number of Yang - meaning masculine, as opposed to Yin which is feminine). The ninth day of the ninth month is the day that has two Yang numbers. ‘Chong’ in Chinese means double which is how the name Chongyang came to be. It’s a day of eating Chongyang cake, drinking chrysanthemum wine, climbing mountains, and paying homage to chrysanthemums.

Indein Pagoda Festival (20 October) is a Buddhist ceremony held at the shrine complex of Indein, a small village located along Inle Lake. A Buddha image is enshrined at a stupa that sits on the summit of a hill with hundreds of ancient stupas located below.

Buon Ok Pansa (24 October) in Laos is the 'End of Buddhist Lent Festival', marking the end of the monks' three month fast. Donations and offerings are made at various temples with hundreds of ornately decorated candle-lit floats made from paper set adrift.

The Boat Racing Festival in Laos sees Luang Prabang and the Mekong River come to life with flamboyant candle lit boats made from strips of bamboo, tissue paper and candles. This month the Naga Rocket Festival is also celebrated in Laos.

Jidai Matsuri (22 October), meaning ‘Festival of Ages’, is the anniversary of the foundation of Kyoto. At this time a pageant is ferried through the city followed by 2000 people dressed in attire representing various eras of Kyoto's history. This is a great opportunity to see traditional Japanese customs and costumes.

International events

Extreme fitness fanatics can try the 30th Mt Kinabalu International Climbathon, a challenging 23km run on Malaysia's highest mountain.

The Hong Kong Wine & Dine Festival takes place in October, bringing together world-class food, drinks and entertainment right next to the stunning Victoria Harbour skyline.

Alternatively, set your heart racing with a Luang Prabang Half Marathon through the UNESCO Heritage City of Luang Prabang in Laos.

The legendary Ubud Writers & Readers Festival is a spectacular event where artists, performers and musicians from across the globe share their knowledge and creative talents over a period of five days in Ubud, Bali.

The Shanghai International Music Fireworks Festival has been held in Century Park annually since 2000 and is one of the major cultural festivals of Shanghai.

Weather Patterns

October brings great weather to Japan, China, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam (especially Halong Bay) and Lombok / Gili islands (Indonesia). The dry season is imminent in Southeast Asia and it’s a good time to explore north and central Thailand. Check local conditions in Myanmar as the rainy season usually finishes around mid-October.

Late October is an excellent time to embark on a cruise between Mandalay and Bagan in Myanmar. It is also the only period when you can sail up the Chindwin River and northern tip of the Irrawaddy to see villages lost in time from the teak trade era. The weather at this time of year provides ideal conditions for trekking in Myanmar (Shan state around Inle Lake, Hsipaw, Kyaing Tong, Putao, Chin State).