What are some of the world’s classic backpacker trails? Lonely Planet has 10 suggestions, with options ranging from Southeast Asia to South America to the Middle East. Here is an excerpt:
Banana Pancake Trail (Southeast Asia) – Most Southeast Asia trips start in Bangkok’s backpacker epicentre, Khao Sanh Rd, but hordes wander to the beaches of Ko Pha-Ngan or up-market Phuket. Many young travellers head to Cambodia’s Siem Reap to gape at the ancient civilisations of Angkor Wat, before heading to Ho Chi Minh City and working their way north along Vietnam’s coast to the majestic rock formations of Halong Bay. To get off the trail a little more head inland to Laos’ capital, Vientiane, or elephant trek in Khao Yai National Park. Bangkok and Singapore are both hubs for airlines so there are often cheap flights out of these cities to many other places in Asia.
Istanbul to Cairo (Middle East) – Istanbul has a foot on two continents, making it an ideal launch pad for the Middle East. This route works its way down through Turkey and into Syria, with an evocative bazaar at Aleppo and the spectacular city of Damascus. Head down to Jordan, pausing to admire the ruins of Petra and to float in the Dead Sea. Regardless of your faith, detouring to Jerusalem makes for a religious experience, then chill out with some Red Sea snorkelling. You’ll need the relaxation to prepare for crowded Cairo, where a trip out to the pyramids is a requirement.
North Island to South Island (New Zealand) – The trail begins in Auckland, where plenty of backpackers enjoy the party life, then heads down to Rotorua for the volcanic sights and hangi(traditional Maori feasting and performance). The route winds on through Lake Taupo, a good spot for skydiving and water sports. Then make for windy Wellington with its cafe culture and kooky Beehive (national parliament). From here you can hop across to the South Island for whale-watching in Kaikoura before heading for Queenstown, the base for exploring spectacular Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers, or tearing up the scenic waterways in a jet-boat.
Check out the entire article for more options, including Australia, Russia’s Trans-Siberian railway, an Andes excursion through Peru, and more. Are there other options that you’d add to the list?
Photo credit: Bob Riel