From Vietnam to New Hampshire, the best places to go on holiday in October

As the UK winds its clocks back, October is the month to escape to these trending travel spots.

Soak up autumn colours and harvest festivals in Italy and New England, or head for warmer shores in the Indian Ocean and South America. 

Quảng Ninh, Vietnam

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Pull on your hiking boots: the start of dry season makes for ideal trekking conditions and picture-perfect scenery in Vietnam’s mountainous north. After the de rigueur junk ship cruise around dramatic Halong Bay, head an hour inland to Yên Tu, the country’s Buddhist capital. This serene pilgrimage site has somehow remained little-known to international visitors for centuries. 

That could soon change, though, since a “base camp” of hostels, cultural centres and restaurants recently opened – including the area’s first five-star hotel, Legacy Yen Tu MGallery, designed by visionary architect Bill Bensley to authentically resemble a 13th century temple using handcrafted local materials. Hurry to explore its shrines and forest trails before Yen Tu becomes the new Hoi An.

Average temperature in October: 26C
Flight time: 12 hours

New Hampshire, US

Crisp air, ripe apples, flaming leaves – New England is radiant in October. Head off on the leaf-peeping road trip of a lifetime along the Kancamagus Highway (“the Kanc” for short, in local lingo) or the flatter Lake Winnipesauke Loop, which skirts the Granite State’s largest body of water. To get an alternative perspective of the fall colours, you can swoop over White Mountain woodland on Alpine Adventures’ zip line, featuring an 80-foot “white knuckle drop” (more sedate types can ride the Loon Mountain gondola instead).

Pumpkin carving and apple bobbing are among New Hampshire’s wholesome pastimes at this time of year, while White Mountain Oktoberfest (7-8 October) brings a raucous Bavarian knees up – think: stein-hoisting, keg tossing and oompah bands – to a backdrop of crimson-leafed maple trees. Remember, all those cosy, charming inns – like rustic-chic Chesterfield Inn, set in glorious farmland near the Vermont border – fill up fast so book rooms well in advance.

Average temperature in October: 16C
Flight time: 7.5 hours

Mauritius 

Spring has just sprung on this Indian Ocean island, so visitors can scuba dive in waters at their clearest and calmest, and laze on white sands beneath spotless skies. But far from being a fly-and-flop-only spot, Mauritius has plenty of faster-paced attractions that are worth prising yourself off the sun lounger for, like hiking to Black River Peak viewpoint (the highest point on the island), quad biking through sugar estate turned eco-playground Domaine de L’Étoile or exploring the Unesco-listed caves at Le Morne Brabant, built as hideouts by runaway slaves.

Looking for a cool alternative to cookie-cutter beach resorts? Glamping recently arrived in Mauritius in the form of Bubble Lodge, a collection of cosy, semi-transparent eco-domes on the island’s oldest tea plantation. Globetrotting author Mark Twain was clearly onto something when he declared: “You gather the idea that Mauritius was made first and then heaven was copied after Mauritius.”  

Average temperature in October: 22C
Flight time: 12 hours

Umbria, Italy

Harvest brings a mouthwatering spate of foodie festivals to Tuscany’s underrated neighbour – Umbria, you’ll see, has equally gorgeous olive groves and medieval towns, only a little less tourist-packed. Both Gobbio and Città di Castello pay homage to precious, delicious white truffles at the end of the month, and even the humble chestnut even gets a series of parties, including Montone’s Festa del Bosco (Festival of the Woods) where street vendors sell paper cones of roasted chestnuts and restaurants set up tables heaped with nutty treats in the streets.

Perugia hosts the biggest chocolate celebration in Europe (16-25 October) and the Feast of St Francis of Assisi (4 October) sees the saint’s namesake town decked with banners for a traditional parade – even the Pope popped in for the festivities a few years ago. After wining and dining, roll yourself back to Tenuta di Murlo, where six villas and three rooms are scattered across the scenic estate.

Average temperature in October: 19C
Flight time: 2.5 hours

Galapagos Islands

It’s exactly 200 years since Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species, but the allure of Galapagos – the archipelago where the scientist carried out some of his most groundbreaking research – is as magnetic as ever. The mode of transport and amenities, however, have changed (thankfully) since the days of HMS Beagle: hop aboard a new solar-powered skiff, Solaris, to reach Finch Bay hotel, a beachfront sanctuary on the south side of Santa Cruz.

The concentration of wildlife is sensational (and especially active at this time of year), from pelicans and penguins to manta rays and marine iguanas, plus the most famous residents, giant tortoises. A ready-made tour from an eco-conscious operator tends to be the best way to reach remote wilds like the lava fields of Fernandina or Genovesa aka “Bird Island” – among its tailor-made tours, Original Travel offers a nine-day island hopping template itinerary for £5,740 per person.

Average temperature in October: 22C
Flight time: 13 hours

 

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