Asia in October is very enjoyable, that is, as long as you're enjoying autumn weather somewhere peaceful rather than dealing with the monsoon rains in Southeast Asia.
October is a transition period, a "shoulder" month between seasons. In the case of East Asia, October brings the harvest and preparations for winter. Meanwhile, much of Southeast Asia is inundated by rain as the Southwest Monsoon gives a final blast before beginning to clear in November.
China, Japan, and other places with moderate climates will be enjoying fall colors. Traveling families with children will be back in their home countries for school. The same goes for young backpackers who return home for fall semesters. Many popular islands in Southeast Asia will become less crowded.
Mountainous places such as Nepal and North India are at their prime. Low humidity and higher visibility allow for spectacular Himalayan views before the snow begins to accumulate. While foliage is changing in Japan, the typhoon season is also still ongoing. September is often peak month for destructive storms in Japan, so late storms can still cause weather trouble in the region.
Asian Festivals and Holidays in October
Big holidays and festivals in Asia are a mixed blessing. They can create a pleasant surprise and unexpected highlight on a trip, but also they can disrupt plans or destroy fragile itineraries.
Unless you've got enough buffer time built in to be flexible, know what to expect in advance.
Ideally, you'll be well settled a few days at your destination before any of these big festivals hit, or avoid the area altogether until the chaos clears.
Many of these big fall festivals in Asia are based on a lunisolar calendar; dates and months can vary from year to year.
The following festivals take place or could hit in October:
- National Day in China: (Always on October 1) National Day is China's most patriotic holiday. It's also the busiest time to be in Beijing. Millions of people will be on the move throughout the country.
- Gandhi's Birthday in India: (Always on October 2) Mahatma Gandhi is revered as the "Father of the Nation" and his birthday is observed with prayers and celebrations throughout India.
- Phuket Vegetarian Festival: (Dates vary but usually September or October) The Phuket Vegetarian Festival in Thailand — technically, the Nine Emperor Gods Festival — isn't what you think. Devotees pierce their faces with sword and walk on hot coals! Phuket becomes exceptionally busy.
- Full Moon Party in Thailand: (Monthly; not always on the exact day of the full moon)This monthly party in Haad Rin on the island of Koh Phangan has grown so large that it affects traveler movement throughout Thailand! As the full moon nears, more than 10,000 travelers head south to the islands. After the party, the traffic flows in reverse.
- Festival of Ages in Kyoto, Japan: (Always on October 22) The Jidai Matsuri is one of Kyoto's largest cultural festivals. People dressed as Samurai are among the participants of the five-hour costumed procession.
- Many festivals in Rajasthan, India: India, especially Rajasthan, always seems to be celebrating something! If the Pushkar Camel Fair hits during October, be prepared for tens of thousands of pilgrims, tourists, enthusiasts, and camels.
- Diwali in India: (Dates vary, but usually in October or November) Also written as Deepavali or Divali, India's Festival of Lights is a colorful, festive time to travel. Candles and ghee lanterns burn throughout the country.
Where to Go in October
Since October is a transition month for the monsoons in Asia, the weather in Southeast Asia is often hit or miss.
With some good luck, you'll be able to enjoy sunny days occasionally interrupted by afternoon showers. But catch Mother Nature on a grumpy year and she'll really pour it on. Much to the dismay of rice farmers, the monsoon rains don't always begin or end on time.
Traveling during the monsoon season — especially at the end of October — could help you save money as businesses have run through their savings from the busy season and are more generous with discounts. At the same time, construction and noisy preparations for the start of the high season in November and December will be in full swing.
Places with the Best Weather
- Hong Kong
- Seoul, South Korea
- Northwest India
- New Delhi
- Goa, India (some rain)
Places with Poor Weather
Southeast Asia in October
The rains caused by the Southwest Monsoon peak then begin to taper off across much of Southeast Asia, especially later in October. Meanwhile, rain begins to come more often in countries farther south such as Indonesia. The weather in Bali is still pretty good until mid-November.
Most Southeast Asian countries in the north will begin to receive less and less rain in October, particularly toward the end of the month. The unofficial "busy" season begins sometime in November.
Sometimes traveling in October is a good compromise between value and weather. With student backpackers gone, many countries along the Banana Pancake Trail will be less crowded but still offer off-season prices for activities and accommodation.
October serves as a shoulder month in Thailand before the peak season between late November and April. Then again, Thailand is such a popular destination that you may hardly notice it's the "low" season!
October is an excellent month for visiting some of Southeast Asia's popular sites such as Angkor Wat in Cambodia. A flexible itinerary goes a long way. If you get rained out of exploring temples one day, there's a good chance the next day will have fairer weather. October is the time to enjoy cooler weather and fewer crowds before the busy season begins to start up again in November.
October is pretty well the last chance to visit popular island destinations such as the Perhentian Islands and Tioman Island in Malaysia. They practically shut down in November due to low crowds and rough seas.
China in October
October is one of the best months to visit China. Beijing's sweltering heat and urban humidity begin to subside, although the rampant pollution still makes days seem hotter than they are.
The trees begin changing colors around much of the country. Views of fall foliage from the Great Wall are incredible this time of year!
China's largest public holiday (National Day) will be in full effect the first week of October. Preparations begin the last week of September. Expect major transportation delays and a surge of people in Beijing as people flock to the capital for flag waving.
With low humidity and less rain, October is considered one of the best months to visit Hong Kong.