Banana Pancake Trail
The "Banana Pancake Trail" or "Banana Pancake Circuit" is the name given to growing routes around Southeast Asia travelled by backpackers and other tourists. The Trail has no clear geographical definition, but is used as a metaphor for places that are visited mostly by Western tourists which has left its mark on the local tourist industry.
The term '"Banana Pancake Trail" is usually used tongue-in-cheek as an affectionate nickname for various routes in Southeast Asia, and may reference guesthouses, cafes and restaurants catering to backpackers and serving banana pancakes as a form of sweet breakfast or snack.
The Banana Pancake Trail is sometimes associated with backpackers who use Lonely Planet travel guides, with these books often being the most used by backpackers on these routes. Banana Pancake trails materialise when an influx of Western backpackers to an area leads to a rise in the number of restaurants serving food adapted to Western desires which includes banana pancakes and other Western comfort foods such as yogurt with muesli and honey.
There is no firm geographical definition of the Banana Pancake Trail, as it is a metaphor to describe the ever-developing travellers' trails in Southeast Asia, rather than an actual route or road (much like the Silk Road is not a single road). However, the term is used to describe, amongst others, Goa, Pushkar and Varanasi in India, Halong Bay, Hoi An, and Hanoi in Vietnam, Vang Vieng in Laos, 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'.
The most common route passes through Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand from Bangkok to Ho Chi Minh City via Siem Reap and Angkor Wat, as well as Phnom Penh and the Mekong Delta. Also people go north from Bangkok to Chiang Mai and Hilltribe villages, continuing to Luang Prabang and Vang Vieng in Laos, however this is now less popular due to the closing of restaurants offering the tubing next to the river. Also many head from Saigon to Hanoi, via popular stops being Hoi An and Huế.
- Denis D. Gray (27 March 2008). "Mass tourism swamps Asia's once unique, remote places". USA TODAY. USA TODAY. Retrieved 27 May 2012.
- Harry Priestley (July 2008). "Interview with Lonely Planet founder Tony Wheeler". Citylife. Vol. 17 No. 7: Chiang Mai Citylife. Retrieved 27 May 2012.
- Gray, Denis. "Mass tourism swamps Asia's once unique, remote places". USA Today. Retrieved 28 June 2012.
- Live at the Forbidden City by Denis Rea
- Chennai Tax Office and the Trail of the Banana Pancake by Colin Todhunter