Banana Pancake Trail
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.
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.
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 and elsewhere rather than an actual route or road. However, the term is used to describe, amongst others: Pushkar and Varanasi, Mcleod Ganj, Manali and Goa in India, Halong Bay, Hoi An, and Hanoi in Vietnam, Vang Vieng (with its rites-of-passage river tubing) in Laos, Otres beach and Ou trojak jet river 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 include the island of Boracay, Siargao Island, the dive centers of Puerto Galera in Mindoro island, as well as the islands of Palawan.
Following the resumption of granting Visa on Arrival to ASEAN and many western states in June 2012, Banana Pancake tourism is beginning to boom in Myanmar, particularly around Bagan, a banana pancake was recently (Nov 2016) spotted as far south as Myeik and are thought to be spreading into the previously untraveled hinterland.
Don't mix alcohol and motorbikes / cars. Cover-up and use sunscreen during the peak sun hours. Always wear condoms. Be very wary of people (undercover police) offering drugs in the streets and don't argue with police. Do NOT offer bribes to police of any nation.