Welcome to my Insider’s Guide to Goa

Tripoto
8th Dec 2018
Photo of Welcome to my Insider’s Guide to Goa by Sourabh Dugar

Tropical Goa is the smallest state in India but also the most laid back and the most popular with tourists, both from India and all over the world. Most tourists flock here in the Winter months to enjoy sunny days, blissful beaches, fresh seafood, spicy curries, vibrant markets, wild nightlife and much more, all infused with the special and captivating blend of Portuguese and Indian cultures. There really is nowhere quite like Goa and there are not many people who know it like I do so to make the most of your visit to Goa keep on reading my insider’s guide to Goa! 

Peace in mind

Photo of Welcome to my Insider’s Guide to Goa by Sourabh Dugar

And, there really is something for everyone in Goa, from luxury hotels and world class fine dining restaurants to mellow yoga retreats, to adventure sports to wild all night beach parties, to cheap and cheerful beach huts and hippie markets. Although Goa is the most westernized and touristy state in India, there is still so much to explore and love, and the best parts are usually away from the main tourist hot spots (cough cough Baga and Calangute) zipping through paddy fields and colourful villages fringed with palm trees past white washed Portuguese churches and discovering quieter beaches.

And, there really is something for everyone in Goa, from luxury hotels and world class fine dining restaurants to mellow yoga retreats, to adventure sports to wild all night beach parties, to cheap and cheerful beach huts and hippie markets. Although Goa is the most westernized and touristy state in India, there is still so much to explore and love, and the best parts are usually away from the main tourist hot spots (cough cough Baga and Calangute) zipping through paddy fields and colourful villages fringed with palm trees past white washed Portuguese churches and discovering quieter beaches.

Many people, like me, love it so much they decide to stay long term, and so, to make sure you get the best out of your time here I’ll be sharing all my experiences and insider knowledge in my insider guide to Goa. 

Start exploring Goa with:
•THE ULTIMATE BACKPACKER’S GUIDE TO GOA, INDIA--

Welcome to Gorgeous Goa! There’s nowhere else on earth like it!

Goa is India’s smallest state, famous for it’s laid back lifestyle and with over 101 km of tropical beaches there is a beach here to suit everyone. From the colourful beach huts of Palolem in the far South to the hippie and backpacker vibe of Arambol and Anjuna in the North and with everything from luxury resorts and laid back sands to the busy, party and package holiday central Bagaand Calangute.

I’ve spent 4 seasons now living in Goa and backpacking India. I get alot of emails about tips for visiting Goa and as I see more and more backpackers visiting and new backpacker hostels opening all the time so I thought it would be good to put all my backpacking Goa tips into one handy post.

Goa is one of the best places for backpackers in India where they can easily meet other travelllers, enjoy the beaches, party until sunrise, shop till you drop or just chill out and learn yoga. Many come for a few days a end up spending months here as they find it hard to leave so watch out, Goa is a great place to start your Indian backpacking adventure but many backpackers have spent their whole trip in Goa and never got round to leaving to explore the rest of India!

Goa became famous in the 1960s and 1970s in the days of the ‘hippie trailand you can still soak up the hippie vibe on some of Goa’s beaches (and meet some of the hippies at a trance party!) Goa has a bit of a reputation for techno parties and drugs but, whilst there is a bit of that scene left, there is so much more to love about Goa!

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Photo of Welcome to my Insider’s Guide to Goa by Sourabh Dugar

Nowadays you really can have it all in Goa, from next to nothing beach shacks, sociable backpacker hostels to luxury hotels, from thumping trance parties to mellow yoga retreats and spicy Goan curries to fine dining European cuisine. What makes backpacking Goa so interesting and captivating is that there is so much more to a holiday or visit to Goa than just beach bliss. Laid back Goa is much less of a culture shock than other parts of India and offers a good introduction to the subcontinent combining the Portuguese influence and an international hippie community, whilst still having that special Indian magic,  the fascinating, captivating Indian culture that sometimes frustrates or bewilders but never fails to surprise, endear and amaze. And yes, this is India there are cows, dogs and hawkers on the beaches, it all adds to the unique Goan charm! There’s nowhere else quite like it!

Cows chilling on anjuna beach

Photo of Welcome to my Insider’s Guide to Goa by Sourabh Dugar

>Things to do in Goa:

Beaches!

Of course Goa’s beaches are the main draw, enjoy swimming, watersports or just lazing on the beach, sunbathing or eating and drinking at the super affordable beach shacks. Each beach has a different vibe and beach hopping to find your favourite one is fun. Many people come to Goa just for the beach but make the effort to prise yourself from your sun lounger and get out and explore to find the real Indian culture and magic of Goa.

Agonda beach in South goa

Photo of Welcome to my Insider’s Guide to Goa by Sourabh Dugar

Explore Goa by motorbike

One of the best ways to explore Goa is by hiring a scooter or motorbike (even a Royal Enfield!) (approx 300 Rupees per day) and set out to explore Goa. You don’t need to get far from the beach resorts to get an intoxicating taste of India’s incredible heritage. Along the way you will probably stumble upon green paddy fields, wandering cows, white washed Portuguese churches and colourful Hindu temples, bustling market places, chilled out farms, colourful villages, crumbling colonial villas and forts, sari draped ladies, curious children and crumbling forts complete with stunning coastal views and feel the breeze along a riverside road – it doesn’t really matter where you go – just explore!

Enfield is the best way to explore

Photo of Welcome to my Insider’s Guide to Goa by Sourabh Dugar

Visit Old Goa

over 400 years under Portuguese rule and the legacy of the Portuguese is still apparent today. Take a day trip to visit Old Goa, once the capital of Goa under Portuguese ruleand once so grand and important that it was known as ‘the Rome of the East’ and rivaled Lisbon. However, it was was blighted by illness and disease and was abandoned for the new capital of Panjim in 1843 and is now a Unesco World Heritage site.Marvel at the massive churches they left behind, including the largest church in Asia and the remains of an over 300 hundred year old, very slowly, decomposing corpse of St Francis Xavier in the Basilica of Bom Jesus.

The Basilica of Bom Jesus in Old Goa

Photo of Welcome to my Insider’s Guide to Goa by Sourabh Dugar

Practice Yoga and other alternative therapies

Goa is a popular place to practice yoga. From Ashtanga to Hatha and everything in between, yoga is everywhere in Goa and with so many yoga schools every inclination is catered for – from beginners, drop in, casual classes to more intensive retreats and teacher training courses. You can also try Ayurveda – an ancient science of plant based natural medicine, mediation, Reiki, Tai Chi, Pilates, Acupuncture, Reflexology, Bollywood dancing or Indian cooking classes the list goes on…..

Photo of Welcome to my Insider’s Guide to Goa by Sourabh Dugar

Learn how to haggle at a Market

Opportunities for shopping in Goa are endless, from designer malls to hippie flea markets. If you can learn how to haggle, you can take home many bargains from souvenirs to hippie chic clothing. Anjuna’s famous hippie Flea Market is held on Wednesdays by the beach, visit Saturday night markets in Arpora and Vagator complete with live music and food stalls or for something more local and authentic visit Mapusa’s local market on Fridays. There are also many stalls near the beaches to pick up hippie chic clothing and souvenirs.

Photo of Welcome to my Insider’s Guide to Goa by Sourabh Dugar

Dance until dawn at a trance party

Goa is famous as the home of psychedelic trance and no visit to Goa would be complete with attending one of the legendary parties where you can dance till sunrise on the beaches or in the jungles. Goa is the nightlife capital of all of India and if pys trance isn’t your thing you can also dance the night away to live music, techno or commercial and Bollywood tunes. Check out my pots of the best nightlife places in Goa

Hiptop night club

Photo of Welcome to my Insider’s Guide to Goa by Sourabh Dugar
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