What is the Hippie Trail?
For those of you who aren’t aware of the hippie trail and have never heard of it before then this article will give you enough info to peak your interests and perhaps make you want to take a little hippie trip of your own. To be honest, before today I hadn’t heard of it either. Simon said I should write an article on the hippie trail and I was like “huh what’s the hippie trail?” Simon then explained ” Nici, the hippie trail is the name of a journey taken by hippies and the likes across land starting from Europe right through to South Asia. The trail was most popular in the 60’s and 70’s. ” He then told me that I should go and do some research and look it up. This is what I have spent the day doing and so here goes, this is the hippie trail!
The hippie trail of the 1960’s started a revolution of movement across Europe, India and Asia. With people taking to the road to visit far and away beautiful places. As more and more people travelled the hippie trail the word was spread which in turn drove more people to take to the trails by whatever means best suited from simply just thumbing for a lift or driving their very own magic hippy bus, we are going to take a look at the hippie trail and path it took. The hippy trail was an alternative means of travel, sightseeing and tourism. The idea for most people was to have an extended trip away from home by travelling as cheaply as possible. Hippy busses etc were one of the most popular methods of travel at this time as meant that money could be saved on hotels . Many of the busses were converted to have comfortable living space, beds, toilets and even showers. As I am sure you will have seen in many pictures, hippy busses are just a little elaborate. Bight, bold and funky!
In 1968 the number travelling the trail increased dramatically as people wanted to travel to India (The Mystic East) . People would even travel across the Atlantic from Canada and America to join the trail. It looks as though westerners from all continents wanted to be represented. Not all of the travellers were hippies, some were just people keen to explore the route to the East.
For many the lure of the hippie trail was the romance of the road & breaking away from the norm of their day to day lives. I think it is safe to say that very few people remained the same on their return. There were so many different cultures and sights to see, this trip defined peoples lives, opened their eyes to a new way of thinking and changed who they were forever!
Hippie Trail Route
It is said that the trail essentially started in Istanbul as this is the place where the European countries converged.
Depending on the time of year there were several popular routes that were taken. In the summer many people would end their trail n the Mountains of Nepal where the natives were incredibly friendly, and still are to this day, and the views and culture are incredible! In the winter months the trails that took you into beaches in Goa were most popular as well as the warmth of Bangkok.
All travellers had to pass through Pakistan-Indian border and from here the usual destinations were , Delhi, Goa, Nepal and Bangkok. Kathmandu in Nepal loved the hippies that passed through so much that they named a street “Freak Street”in commemoration. The freak scene was originally a component of the bohemian subculture which began in California in the mid-1960s, associated with the hippie movement. Thousands have passed through Freak Street in Nepal on their travels.
There were so many cities to see and so many countries to travel through. The cities were held in such high regard by the hippies and travellers as they were made to feel so welcome by the native residents. They were well looked after. Many travelled back to their favourite destinations year on year as they love it so much and have struck up some great and strong friendships. The tourism to places may have been a little unwelcome at first, but that didn’t last long. The hippies travelling through benefited everyone as the tourists were well cared for and the towns and cities were happy with the boost in income.
Here is a list of some of the most popular places visited when travelling the hippy trail – have you been to any of these….
Syria, Jordan, Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Delhi, Varanasi, Kabul, Peshawar, Goa, Kathmandu, Bangkok. There were over 30 places to travel through which is why the trail took quite a long time to complete if you were doing the full trail. I have heard that it would take anywhere from 2 months to 3 years depending on how many places you travelled through and how long you stayed in each. Many people were found to have stayed on in India and Nepal to settle and make a new life.
The Halt of the Hippy Trail
In the 1970’s previously hospitable countries became not so hospitable and soon became difficult to travel through due to political changes. Thanks to the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan and the Iranian Revolution, the trail was closed to Western travellers. The tension across the route was just too much and even Nepal lost some of its tranquillity.
Unfortunately due to the political changes the hippie trail as we knew it, was gone forever!
The Hippie Trail Revival
Ok, so the trail as it was known for those brief 10 years may be gone and near impossible to travel these days, although thanks to air travel and some civil rest, many of the areas are safe and feasible to travel through once again. As Air travel is now in full flow and flights are affordable for many, although there are parts of the trail that cannot be travelled there are still a great many of the destinations that can be visited with the most popular being India, Nepal and Thailand.
As well as the original hippy trail there is also a modern day hippie trail which usually starts with the travellers trouping through Europe to Asia. The usual places to visit are places like Vietnam, Cambodia, Goa, Nepal through to India.
This route is usually travelled by students on their gap year however more and more people of all ages are starting to travel as everyone wants to visit these wondrous and beautiful places.
These countries are so amazingly stunning that they make great sets for films. Take the popular Leonardo DiCaprio move The Beach for example, which was filmed on the beautiful Thai Island Koh Phi Phi, it now has so many visitors. The way of life and scenery is so different it has been referred to as a parallel universe.
Another example would be Tomb Raider starring Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft. There are scenes at The Temple Complex: Angkor Thom , Cambodia. The temple is absolutely stunning and covers and area of 9km. Angkor Thom is translated to mean “Great City” and was established in the late 12th century. There is so much history at the temple. If you never get the chance to visit you should definitely look it up and read about it.
The picture below is just the south gateway into Angkor Thom. Just imagine what stunning ruins you will find inside!
The hippie trail is on again.! Have you visited any of the places on the trail or were you one of those lucky ones that travelled the hippy trail back in the day?