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Why The Banana Pancake Trail Is Ideal For First Ti...

Why The Banana Pancake Trail Is Ideal For First Time Backpackers

Reader Question: Hi Trisha! I’ve been thinking of traveling alone for maybe a month or couple of months, a getaway from work related stress. I want to meet friends along the way and learn the culture of different countries. I’m thinking of maybe trying it out within Southeast Asian countries first. What countries do you suggest? I mean those that are easier to explore for first time backpackers? Been going out of town a lot in Philippines but usually for business trips as well as out of the country. I stay in hotels but now I want to experience the life of backpackers. – Bryan, Philippines

If you’d ask other experienced backpackers, they would definitely say, “The banana pancake trail is overrated.” They would suggest you to make your own route and will keep saying bulls*t about this travel idea.

Why? Because they already did it.

I admire those experienced travellers who do not say something bad about the places they’ve been to nor discourage the people who are wanting to start the same journey like theirs. Some are really arrogant and have their balls over their head: “Thailand is crowded” or “I got mugged in the Philippines” are some of the famous lines and this makes the one who’s asking the question discouraged.

I think we have to assess ourselves on how to give advice to those who are just starting to live their backpacking dream. We do not have the same experience! I am going to be honest with you — I also used to be like that. Whenever I meet new people who’s seeking help to plan their Southeast Asian escapade, I tell them to skip this, don’t do that, avoid this, etc. Then I realised that everyone should experience the same and see it for themselves; that I am in no position to dictate what should be on their itinerary; that I am allowed to share bad experiences as well and be honest about it but never ever make them think that I didn’t want them to go there. With this, I would always recommend that you do the same route as the others did — the banana pancake trail.

My original travel buddies before going solo. | Saigon, Vietnam

What is the Banana Pancake Trail?

Originally the “Hippie Trail” in the 60’s and 70’s, the Banana Pancake Trail is an idea which expands when more and more people are slightly going off a dictated trail searching for more genuine cultural experiences. Through the years, budget hostels, Western restaurants, Irish pubs and tourism agencies have emerged in Southeast Asia to cater to travellers who are in gap year and backpacking. It became really popular that there are numerous businesses in every area which forced every local to learn English to entice more tourists. Today, experienced travellers argue that it is not advisable to do this anymore because of the lack of real cultural experiences.

But who cares? We all took this trip and I think you should too.

I am telling you, no matter how they say that it’s overrated, you will meet a lot of new friends in the Banana Pancake Trail. Locals are used to having tourists around that you don’t need to worry about safety. Everyone’s friends with everyone. They know the route. They will tell you the places you need to visit. It’s kind of a script; a default mapping.

The red district in Phuket, Thailand.

 

Oh, by the way, just to be clear, this is not a definite route. It’s just called “trail” but this is more of an idea than a route. Below are the most famous stops of the Banana Pancake Trail:

Thailand

Khao San Road, Bangkok

Chiang Mai (the Digital Nomads hub)

Scuba Courses in Koh Tao

Railay for beaches and rock climbing

Phi Phi and Krabi Islands

Full moon party at Koh Pha Ngan

Pai, a small town north of the country


Cambodia

Angkor Wat in Siem Reap

Phnom Penh

Sihanoukville


Laos

Vientiane, the capital

Luang Prubang

Vang Vieng


Vietnam

Saigon then busing to Hanoi

Pham Ngu Lao in Saigon

Halong Bay in Hanoi

Hoi An in Central Vietnam

Sapa for some trekking


Malaysia

Penang

The Cameron Highlands for trekking

Melaka (Malacca)

Kuala Lumpur

Borneo for some outdoor adventures

Perhentian Islands


Indonesia

The Gili Islands

Mount Bromo in Easyt Java

Bali, Kuta and Ubud

North Sumatra


The Philippines

Partying in Boracay

Diving in Palawan (Coron)

Island hopping in El Nido, Palawan

More water adventures in Cebu


India

Beaches and parties in Goa

Spiritual retreats in Varanasi

McLeod Ganj, the home of the Dalai Lama

Manali for some outdoor activities

Rajasthan for a desert adventure


China

Tiger Leaping Gorge trekking

Dali in Yunan

Lijang

Private boat ride in Pandanon Island, Philippines.

This is not a travel advice. I am just explaining this route as many people have taken this trip.Let’s take it as a default knowledge for everyone. You know when you ask someone who’s been to Southeast Asia, they would always suggest the same things. Of course, in case you find something “off-the-beaten” you can share your experiences with us too!Β Bryan, this is just level one of your journey so I wish you all the best and never ever stop pursuing your dreams to travel the world! Good luck and may the force be with you.

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Trisha is one of those people who left their comfortable life to travel the world and learn about life. Her style is to stay in one place she likes for 3 months (or more) to know what it feels like to eat, cook, speak and sleep in another culture that isn’t hers. She'd like to believe she's not traditionally traveling but she just chooses to be somewhere else all the time. Trisha also loves extremely spicy food, pineapples, plants and symmetry. In no particular order, her favourite cities in the world are Barcelona, Buenos Aires, Hong Kong and Tel Aviv. Follow her life adventures on Instagram - @psimonmyway

  1. World Journeys

    25 December

    very interesting! I’ve been to most of those places but I have never heard of ‘The banana pancake trail!’ You are right, most of those places are well worth visiting!

  2. Rommel Lobo

    26 December

    Hi, Rappler took me here. πŸ˜€
    I just started my own blog as well this year – It’s just so nice to go back rekindling every story- to put my adventures in writing. I was thinking maybe late this year to travel outside the country (im saving my lunch money for this), this is one helpful piece. More power!!

    here is my blog site. Not actually customized yet, even the URL haha
    http://loborommelblog.wordpress.com/

  3. Trisha Velarmino

    26 December

    Which route did you take? Or you just randomly selected places in Southeast Asia? This trail is really popular among backpackers.

  4. Trisha Velarmino

    26 December

    Hey Rommel! Thanks for swinging by. I wish you all the luck in putting up your blog. I am really excited when people write about their travels. Will definitely check out yours. Cheers!

  5. Random Walker

    26 December

    As one of those older travelers I never discourage others itinerary when asked. Only to say be open, plans have a way of changing in a moment of whimsy…

  6. Rommel Lobo

    29 December

    oh wow! thank you.

  7. Raquel Mars

    1 January

    Good post. I’m still not traveling (but hoping I can do it after graduation and a little work to save), but I agree wholeheartedly with your thinking regarding advice to newbies. I’ve traveled a little, and when asked, I always try to just tell my experiences, good and bad, trying not to tell the other what they should or should not do. Great post πŸ™‚

  8. I admire you for that! πŸ˜‰

  9. Thanks, Raquel! What are your travel plans?

  10. Raquel Mars

    9 January

    Oh, this year I’ll be going to Japan for 6-7 weeks in the summer, and probably a week or so to Seoul to visit a friend if my budget allows it. I’ll be spending about half the time in Osaka (studying) and then travel to different places πŸ™‚ I’m really excited, since it’s a place I’ve been wanting to visit for literally half my life πŸ˜€

  11. Anthea P

    25 August

    Hi Trisha,

    This is an inspiring post from you, any trail will be happiness and heavens delight for me. Thanks for coming up with so much interesting ideas in each of your write up.I continue to aspire for this experience to happen soon and travel long term.

    Be safe!

    Trailforsmiles.blogspot.com

  12. Tye

    6 September

    How long would you suggest to travel the main spots above of Thailand, Laos,Cambodia, and Vietnam?

    PS – thank your for remaining unbiased in your article.

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