The Forbidden City in Beijing. Pic by Picasa

So what is Halloween? The origins of All Hallows’ Eve can be traced back to Samhain, an ancient Celtic pagan festival. 

In modern times it is celebrated on October 31 and marks the time in the year to remember the dead, including saints (the hallowed) and martyrs The costume parties, jack-o-lanterns and trick or treating that we think of when you mention the word “Halloween” only really become popular in the late 19th century.

For those in a treat (rather than trick) mood, here are a few wickedly wonderful Halloween-themed trips to a few spellbinding destinations.

Dracula’s Castle, Transylvania

Known throughout the world as “Dracula’s Castle”, Bran Castle has been widely purported to have been a source of eerie inspiration for Bram Stoker when writing his novel Dracula despite the author never having seen it in person.

Wander through the 600-year-old gothic fortress into dark, stone-walled secret staircases and cavernous rooms once occupied by Romanian royalty. Explore its haunting intrigue, mystery, and learn about the ghosts of the fictitious undead and the cryptic local evil spirits called “strigoi” that seem to resemble vampires.

How to get there: Visit Bran Castle on Insight Vacation’s 18-days Treasure of the Balkans journey where you’ll get to discover the myths and legends of Dracula. Visit www.insightvacations.com.

Sedlec Ossuary, Czech Republic

The Sedlec Ossuary will be something you see in your nightmares for days to come. Also called the Church of Bones is adorned by more than 40000 human skeletons that make up every part of the décor including a coat of arms, and a chandelier that contains at least one of every human bone.

On Trafalgar’s Prague-Vienna-Budapest trip, travellers will experience this morbid sight that proves to be supernaturally peaceful.

How to get there: Visit the Sedlec Ossuary on Trafalgar’s 10-day Prague, Vienna and Budapest itinerary journeying through four of Central Europe’s epicentres of culture and arts. Visit www.trafalgar.com.

The Forbidden City, China

It’s near impossible to have a 600-year history devoid of a few bone-chilling tales, and the Forbidden City is not exempt. Centuries of assassinations have made for a myriad ghost sightings including a weeping woman in white, long believed to have been a murdered concubine.

Visitors are invited to look into a well haunted by a suicide, but be forewarned that something blood-curdling might be looking back.

How to get there: Visit the Forbidden City (with a Peking Duck lunch) as a featured excursion aboard Uniworld’s 18-day “Grand China & The Yangtze” voyage. Visit www.uniworld.com.