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

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.


Origin of the term

The term '"Banana Pancake Trail" is usually used tongue-in-cheek as an affectionate nickname and in reference to the many guesthouses, cafes and restaurants catering to travellers 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. [1] 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.

Geographical reach

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 (much like the Silk Road). However, the term is used to describe, amongst others, Pushkar and Varanasi in India, Halong Bay, Hoi An, and Hanoi in Vietnam, Vang Vieng in Laos (with its rites-of-passage river tubing), Sihanoukville and Siem Reap (Angkor Wat) in Cambodia, Bangkok (with its famous Khao San Road), Pai, the islands of Ko Pha Ngan (with its world-infamous full moon party) and Ko Phi Phi in Thailand, and Penang, the Perhentian Islands and Melaka in Malaysia. In Indonesia Lake Toba, Yogyakarta, Mount Bromo and the islands of Bali, Lombok and Gili Trawangan are considered to be on the Banana Pancake Trail.

As the tourism expands, the Philippines has 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, as well as the islands of Palawan.

The Banana Pancake Trail also seems to have a northern extension in to China with Dali and Yangshuo as the major centres. It could be argued that the trail has now extended as far south as Fraser Island in Australia.


The original travellers in the regions were mostly young European, Australian and American travellers on trips that could last several months, and who travelled cheaply using guides like Lonely Planet. Some of them were gap year students, taking time off to travel. As the stops on the Trail have become well known, and as long distance flights have become more accessible, combined with the increased purchasing power of Asian tourists, an increasingly diverse variety of travellers can be found on the trail, sometimes for just a short time rather than the months' long trips of the original backpackers.

Similar trails

The Banana Pancake Trail is similar in idea to the "Gringo Trail" in South America and the "Hippie Trail" in Asia in the 1960s-70s.

See also


External links



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