The Banana pancake trail is the metaphorical route set by backpackers traveling through cities and countries in South East Asia. The trail is reminiscent of the Hippie trail set forth by a generation of backpackers in the 1960s. These travelers who in their quest to liberate themselves from the stifling fifties set the world alight looking for new adventures in faraway lands.
Why the Name Banana Pancake Trail?
Banana pancakes are a delicacy native to the regions that travelers on the aforementioned trail eat while they traveling. The term Banana pancake trail was thus co-opted to describe the string of hostels, hotels, guesthouses and other lodging options that serve Banana Pancakes while they cater to mostly western backpackers.
What Countries Are On The Banana Pancake Trail?
There are no clear geographical boundaries describing the trail and the number of countries and cities on the list keep increasing. However, there are some cities and countries that are mainstays on the list and we shall take a look at those countries below.
Thailand, a country I have visited many times is one of the mainstays on the Banana pancake trail. Due to its low cost, welcoming and fun loving people, it is no wonder backpackers old and new keep visiting this country.
In fact, according to the Travel and tourism competitiveness report, Thailand boasts a visitor return rate of over fifty percent. Most of the cities and islands in Thailand visited by backpackers on the Banana Pancake trail include; Khao San Road in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Pai, Kanchanaburi, Krabi, Phuket, Ko Tao, Ko Pha Ngan, Ko Phi Phi, Koh Lipe, and Koh Chang.
Laos recently opened up as a travel destination in the 1980s and 1990s and has been giving Thailand a run for its money ever since. While Laos, a former French protectorate is a more mellow version of Thailand, Vang Vieng is known among the backpacker community for its Tubing events. The Partytrail is yet to visit Laos but from what we gather some of the stops in Laos for backpackers include: Vang Vieng, Luang Prabang, Nong Khiaw, Bolaven Plateau, and Si Phan Don.
Cambodia, like its aforementioned predecessor, Laos is favorable destination because of its unbelievable affordability. Just like Laos, Cambodia used to be closed off to foreigners but opened up its borders to tourism in the eighties and nineties and it has seen a steady influx of travelers ever since. The cities and stops often trailed by backpackers include: Siem Reap, Sihanoukville, Battambang, Phnom Penh and Kampot.
Myanmar, bordered by India and Bangladesh to its west, Thailand and Laos to its east, and China to its north and northeast is another formerly closed off country that has since opened up its borders.
Still underdeveloped with a massive potential for growth in the tourism sector, there is lots to see and do in this country. The stops in Myanmar on the Banana Pancake trail include: Yangon, Bagan, Inle Lake and Hpa-An.
I have personally been to Indonesia and it is a country that stays very close and dear to my heart. Indonesia and its very hospitable people will leave any one visiting the country never wanting to leave.
Home to the ever-popular surfer and resort town Bali, it is no wonder savvy travelers and backackers alike keep returning to Indonesia. Bali, however, is not the only stop for travelers or backpackers, other stops include Lake Toba, Yogyakarta, Mount Bromo and the islands of Bali, Lombok, and Gili Trawangan.
The Philippines is another country on the Banana Pancake trail that deserves to be on the list. With the crystal clear waters and vibrant nightlife of Boracay, there should be no surprise as to why the Philippines has been anointed a place on the trail, backpackers and travelers alike also have Banaue, Sagada, El Nido, and Siargao as stops on the Banana Pancake Trail.
Nepal home to the almighty Gurkhas recently suffered a devastating earthquake but this hasn’t stopped the people of this resilient nation from welcoming backpackers to their country. Nepal experiences five seasons: summer, monsoon, autumn, winter and spring so make sure you are selective of when you want to visit. It is also home to the Everest base camp. The trail in Nepal includes Thamel in Kathmandu and Pokhara.
I got to visit Vietnam sometime last year and I didn’t want to leave. My visit to Halong Bay on a party boat made the visit to Vietnam a vacation for the ages. Vietnam’s low cost, internet accessibility and rapid modernization have made it a hotspot for tourism. The cities in Vietnam on the Banana Pancake trail include Ho Chi Minh City, Dalat, Mui Ne, Nha Trang, Hoi An, Hue, Hanoi, Halong Bay and Sapa.
India, home to Hinduism and the birthplace of Yoga has served as a source of inspiration and awe amongst travelers for ages. With its unique and diverse culture, delicious palette and breathtaking sights, India should be on everyone’s travel list. The partytrail hasn’t made it out to India yet but we will in the future. Cities in India that are frequented by Banana Pancake trailers include Goa, Pushkar, Varanasi, Jaisalmer, Jaipur, Kerala, Dharamkot or Upper Bhagsu and Old Manali or Vashisht.
China was originially not on the trail for Banana pancake travelers or backpackers but of recent, incursions into Nothern China, more specifically – Yunnan, Kunming, Dali, Lijiang, and Yangshuo have made it onto the list of countries on the Banana Pancake trail.
As more formerly closed off countries in Southeast asia and the rest of the world start opening their doors, the Banana Pancake Trail will surely continue to expand its metaphorical boundaries and just as the post 1950s generation of travelers blazed the hippie trail, the millennial generation armed with better technology and an ever growing thirst to see the world from the tips of their noses will heed Mark Twains ever-present words.
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.