A Guide To Goa, India
Written by Sonal from Drifter Planet
Goa is known for its massive beaches, palm trees, lush forest, rivers, churches, delicious food, parties and a unique culture that’s a mix of Indian and Portuguese. Goa is not a city but it’s a state (or a province) that’s divided in many zones. But not many people know that it was made famous by the hippies who visited this place in the 1960s. For many, the hippie trail ended here and it became their permanent residence.
Where to stay on a budget?
Goa is massive! If you’re visiting it just for a few days, then I suggest you stay on either Vagator or Morjim beaches in North or Patnem beach in the South. If you’re here for a period that’s longer than a week, then you should try to move from one beach to another and eventually hit extreme North or South.
- Red Door Hostel in Anjuna: A dorm bed will cost you between INR 500 – 700 here. You can also book a private room. This hostel has a nice garden outside with a few tables and hammocks where you can get to meet fellow travellers. It is located near Anjuna beach.
- Morjim Hermitage: Room on twin sharing basis from INR 999 to 2000. Don’t book from the website but email them instead for a better price. It is located on Morjim beach.
- Roccoco Ashwem: This boutique hotel is a little expensive but is beautiful. A twin room here costs between INR 3000 to 4000. It perched on top of a rocky area on an empty part of Ashwem beach.
- Arambol: Just show up here and ask for rooms. The rooms here are cheaper than most of Goa and it’s not possible to book most of them beforehand. The famous ones in this area are Om Ganesh, No Name guest house, Pitruchaya – they will cost you between INR 700 to 1200 on a twin sharing basis.
- Secret Garden Resort on Patnem beach: It will cost you around INR 1200 for a double room.
- Art Resort on Palolem beach: This is a boutique resort on Palolem beach and can cost from INR 2500 to 6000 for a double room, depending on when you visit.
Where to eat on a budget?
Most of the beaches in Goa are dotted with sea facing shacks that are typically run by local Goan families. Eat at any beach shack – the food is delicious and usually affordable. It will cost you between INR 200 – 400 for a seafood main course with beer. Please try the local specialities – Goan fish curry, Prawn Balchao, Xacuti, Vindaloo and Sorpotel. Vegetarians or Vegans can try Dal with rice. Unlike most of the India, beef is sold legally here and is delicious. I also recommend you try Salt and Pepper in Vagator for beef burgers.
What to do or to look at?
- Arambol Sweet Lake: Arambol beach in the North Goa has its own secret. If you walk towards the end of the beach through the path that leads from between the rocks, you will reach a cove, which is more commonly known as Kalacha beach. Right opposite this beach is a fresh water lake which is known as “Sweet Lake”. Swim in this lake or just relax next to it, it’s easy to spend many hours here.
- Abandoned forts: You should try to visit at least one of the famous three – Chapora Fort, Fort Aguada and Cabo de Rama. They all are fun to explore and overlook beaches.
- Sunset view from Mandrem beach: This lesser known beach is between Ashwem and Morjim beaches. This beach can be accessed by crossing a tiny narrow bridge from the main road. The best part is if you climb on to the rocks behind the main road, you can get a good view of the ocean and sunset.
- Visit one of the famous historical churches such as Basilica of Bom Jesus (1605), Se Cathedral (1619), Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception (1541) or just head to Old Goa where a lot of churches were built during Portuguese rule.
What not to do?
Do not go to Baga and Calangute beaches since they are always jam-packed. The farther you go from the airport, the better are the beaches. Goa’s peak season is December 25th to January 5th – try NOT to visit at this time. I have never heard of any Goan scam. I have visited this place at least 8 times and I think the locals here are honest and happy people. Avoid guided tours such as dolphin spotting, dinner cruise, crocodile watching, etc. Some are ridiculously expensive and the others are not worth the time. It’s best to explore this place on your own. Two of the beaches are have areas dedicated to turtle nesting – Galgibaga beach in South and Morjim in North. Please be mindful of this and do not step on the beach when it’s their nesting period.
Tip: Rent a motorbike or a scooter for the best experience. Some of the most interesting places have a narrow leading path and can only be accessed by a two wheeler. Local public transport is not the most convenient and taxies are expensive.
3 fun facts
- The remains of St. Francis Xavier are more than 400 years old now and still in non-decomposing state. His body is enshrined in a glass container encased in a silver casket at the Basilica of Bom Jesus or the Church of the Good Jesus at Old Goa.
- Did you know that Goa Trance originated here a few decades back? It led to a different style of parties with a strong presence of visual aspect that utilizes UV paint and decoration which is now happens all over the world. Try to experience a party like this. These usually occur around Arambol or Vagator areas. You will see the flyers around. Or you can just head to HillTop in Vagator, but check the schedule beforehand on their website.
- This is for the drinkers. Alcohol is cheaper in Goa than rest of the country. Goa’s local brew – King’s beer is amazing and is only available here. It is also more affordable than the other beers. I don’t ever look at any other beer when I’m in Goa. There’s a drink called Feni that’s also a local brew. It is made with cashews or coconut. It is an acquired taste which I have personally never acquired.
This great guide on Goa was written by Sonal, you can find her amazing blog here! She also has Facebook, Instagram and Twitter so make sure you check her out on there! You can find her on Pinterest as well.
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