The Banana Pancake Trail is not an actual geographical trail. It’s a metaphor to describe the various routes in South East Asia. These routes include locations that are popular with (Western) travelers and where the local community adapted by offering budget accommodation, Western(ized) restaurants, tours and the occasional Irish pub.
The trail is named after the most sought after breakfast along the trail…banana pancakes!
By no means should this put you off to follow the trail though. For most of the must-see attractions it’s unavoidable to find yourself somewhere on the trail anyway. Moreover, it’s still very much possible to have an authentic experience.
It just means that yes, you will encounter other travelers along the way. But then again, you’re a traveler yourself. Part of the travel fun is meeting like-minded spirits from all over the world isn’t it? Above all, you can expect that infrastructure and facilities for safe and worry free travel are widely available.
For bus/ferry/train schedules and tickets in South East Asia I always use the transport planning tool below from 12Go.com to book online. Especially during high season and public holidays it makes sense to book ahead to secure your seat(s). The tool is incredibly easy to use. Just fill out your place of departure, your destination and travel date. It will show the complete schedule and ticket price of all related transport. Make your choice and book instantly.
Banana Pancake Trail locations
There is no official list of locations on the trail, again, it’s just a metaphor. However, if ever there would be such a list then the usual suspects would at least include:
Ho Chi Minh City, Hoi An, Halong Bay and Hanoi in Vietnam;
Vang Vieng and Luang Prabang in Laos;
Lake Toba, Yogyakarta, Bali and the Gili Islands in Indonesia;
El Nido, Coron, Manila, Moalboal and Siargao in the Philippines;
Yangon, Bagan, Inle Lake and Mandalay in Myanmar.
The above are just a few example locations, there are many more and the number of locations is continuously expanding. At the same time it seems that the banana pancake trail is no longer limited to South East Asia. As traveling longer and further becomes increasingly popular, many locations beyond South East Asia are also added to the trail, such as:
Dali, Yangshuo and Kunming in China;
Goa, Varanasi and Manali in India;
Kathmandu and the Annapurna in Nepal;
Bhutan and Taiwan.
Note!: Healthcare along the Banana Pancake Trail is hopelessly underdeveloped. Any serious ailment or injury will most likely involve medical transport to Bangkok or Singapore, often costing a fortune and payable upfront.
I know insurance is boring, but the right travel insurance is essential. Preferably insurance that includes coverage for evacuation, repatriation and adventurous activities. Read more about travel insurance here, or get an instant, non-committal quote here.