The banana pancake trail of South East Asia
Most Western travellers to South East Asia find themselves - knowingly or unknowingly - following the banana pancake trail. This is a classic route that will allow you to experience some of the diversity and beauty of the region. Here we look at some of the main stops and highlights of this trail.
Exploring South East Asia
The banana pancake trail traditionally takes in Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos, but it is commonly extended to include Malaysia, Singapore and sometimes Indonesia, and less commonly extended to include Burma/Myanmar.
Thailand - The most common starting point for the banana pancake trail is Bangkok. Despite its frantic pace, Bangkok is a gentle introduction to the region because it will contain a lot of the home comforts you may be used to - Western style hotels and hostels, Thai food that caters to the foreign market, department stores, fast food restaurants etc. The pancake trail includes the southern islands and beaches of Thailand - such as Ko Phanghan, Ko Tao, Phuket, Krabi, Ko Samui and Ko Phi Phi; and also the bohemian city of Chaing Mai to the north of Bankok.
Cambodia - Crossing the border into Cambodia, the banana pancake trail includes two important stops: Pnohm Penh, the country's capital, and Angkor Wat - the amazing ancient ruins of an advanced civilisation.
Laos - Laos is a country of contrasts - from wild rivers to misty mountains and picturesque towns perched on the banks of the Mekong. Highlights include tubing on the Mekong and visiting the beautiful northern town of Luang Prabang.
Vietnam - One of the most well beaten travel routes in South East Asia is that between Ho Chi Minh city and Hanoi, taking in the Vietnamese coast. Vietnam has an excellent train network, including lots of overnight trains on popular routes, so travelling this large distance can be accomplished within a relatively short space of time.