Banana Pancake Trail

This article is an itinerary.

The Banana Pancake Trail is the name given to the well-trodden and constantly growing routes around South East Asia travelled by backpackers and other tourists. The Trail has no clear definition but is used as a metaphor for places that are well-visited by mostly Western tourists who have left their marks on the local tourist industry, which has created restaurants, hotels and entertainment catering to these travellers' needs.

Understand

Khao San Road in Bangkok, Thailand, a notable stop on the Banana Pancake Trail

The term "Banana Pancake Trail" is usually used tongue-in-cheek as an affectionate nickname and in reference to routes connecting the many guesthouses, cafes and restaurants that serve banana pancakes as a form of sweet breakfast.

The Banana Pancake Trail is sometimes associated with travellers who use Lonely Planet travel guides, due to the fact that this publisher's books were the first to provide information about the region and were therefore used by many backpackers. The influx of Western travellers led to the rise of many restaurants serving food adapted to their needs, including banana pancakes and other comfort foods like yoghurt with muesli and honey.

Prepare

See Tips for travel in developing countries and Tropical diseases for advice that applies to many of these countries.

Many countries will refuse to issue a visa if the passport has less than six months to run. If your passport is near expiry, get a new one before setting out.

Get in

There is no firm definition of the Banana Pancake Trail, as it is a metaphor to describe the ever-developing travellers' trail going through many different places in Southeast Asia rather than an actual route or road. But if you want to begin your journey by really diving head first into backpacker land, by all means book a ticket to Bangkok and make your way to Khao San Road. Yes, there's a reason it is mentioned in the very first sentence of the #1 backpacker novel of all time: Alex Garland's The Beach.

For many of these countries, many visitors will require visas obtained in advance; see the individual country articles for details. Visas can be obtained before you leave or in capitals near the destination; Bangkok and Singapore are popular centers for this. Bring extra passport-size photos if you have them; many visa applications require one or two. If not, get a photo taken wherever you are and get at least a dozen prints to cover the rest of your journey.

Go

While there's no official list of places along the trail, the term is used to describe, amongst others:

As tourism expands, the Philippines have become part of it as well, and the Trail's stops are thought to include the island of Boracay, Siargao Island, the dive centers of Puerto Galera in Mindoro island, and the islands of Palawan.

The Trail also seems to have a northern extension into China with Dali and Yangshuo as the major centres. Major routes into China from Southeast Asia include Hanoi-Nanning and Laos-Xishuangbanna-Kunming. See the itineraries Hong Kong to Kunming overland and Yunnan tourist trail for some of the routes within China.

Stay safe

Don't mix alcohol and motorbikes. Cover-up and use sunscreen during the peak sun hours. Always wear condoms. Be wary of people offering drugs in the streets. And don't argue with Thai police when they ask for traffic infringement fines. Hand over 500 baht and walk away.

Go next

One possibility is to head west to India, Sri Lanka and Nepal. See Low-cost airlines in Asia and the "Get in" sections of those country articles for transport options. For routes further west from there, see Istanbul to New Delhi over land.

Another possibility is to head east or south into Oceania.

Gringo Trail, a similar range of destinations in Latin America.

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Monday, September 28, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.