Goa: The ideal destination to do what you want to do - Be On The Road | Live your Travel Dream!

Friday, August 14, 2020

Goa: The ideal destination to do what you want to do

Kayaking on river near Cola Beach, South Goa

Goa is a rather singular place in India, very different from the rest of the country. Before I went there, I thought it was a city, or at least a place of rather limited dimensions. It's not, because Goa is in fact a state in its own right, even if it's the smallest state in India. With more than 100km of coastline from North to South, there are many different cities, so it's best to study a bit before planning a trip to Goa.

The old hippie hangout of the 1960s now welcomes the new alternative backpackers who eat vegan and do yoga, but also many wealthy tourists who travel to luxury resorts. Above all, it is a popular holiday destination for Indians who come to see the beach and party in this state, where legislation is much more flexible than in the rest of the country, especially on alcohol.

It's quite common to hear travellers denigrating the "too touristy" side of Goa, but in fact, it should be noted that the majority of tourists there are Indian tourists. The strong difference between Goa and the rest of India lies in its history: the state was under Portuguese rule from the 16th century until 1961, when it gained independence, and the Goans are predominantly Catholic.

Doing yoga and meditation: Arambol

A fishing scene from Goa

I might as well say it right now, Arambol is an incredible place in Goa. It has become a kind of rallying point for all the new vegan or vegetarian hippies, adepts of yoga, meditation and all kinds of oriental philosophies and therapies such as tai-chi, reiki, qi-gong... A lot of "soft-minded" people who are a bit crazy but nice and peaceful. Even if we don't really belong to this movement, we appreciate the joyful harmony and brotherly love that emanates from it. Moreover, it is also a good place to enjoy the beach.

Partying: Anjuna, Vagator and Baga

Baga Beach, North Goa, India

The Goa festivities are not what they used to be a few years ago. This is mainly due to the tightening of the state legislation which has banned noise pollution after 10pm. So there are no more big parties on the beach, but rather in clubs or bars. The three cities with the most dynamic night life are Anjuna, Baga and Vagator. It's especially paradise for lovers of psychedelic trance music, especially in Anjuna with Curlie's, a big beach bar and NYEX, a much more chic establishment much sought after by the Russians, and in Vagator with the Nine Bar and the Hilltop. If you don't like trance, on the other hand, it's hard to enjoy it...

For more general music lovers, you should rather go to Baga, the bars and clubs along Tito's Lane. The two most popular clubs are Mambo café and Tito's courtyard. Between Baga and Anjuna is one of the biggest clubs in Goa, at the top of a hill: the Cubana club.

To be pampered in a luxury resort: Candolim

This is the big advantage of countries where there is a big difference in the cost of living compared to the West: it is easier to afford a luxury hotel without going broke. Candolim is a city well located in the state of Goa, in the south of the northern part, which means that it is a good base if you want to enjoy the northern beaches, party in Baga or Arpora, or visit the cultural sites of Panjim and Old Goa.

Many hotels with spa, swimming pool, spacious rooms and even a casino have been established in the city of Candolim. This is the case of the hotel Grand 7 Casino for example. Here, you can laze by the pool all afternoon and enjoy a game of roulette or blackjack at the casino in the evening. At a time of social distancing, you may find it easier to opt for a game of online poker, but not just any way. Indeed, you can now find poker games with live dealer casinos, which will make you feel like you're at the casino with the ability to communicate with your opponents and the live dealer while being safe.

Shopping: Anjuna and Arpora

To go shopping in Goa and bring back beautiful Indian souvenirs, there are two weekly events not to be missed: the flea market on Wednesday in Anjuna and the saturday night market in Arpora. Even if you don't want to go shopping too much, both places are very good opportunities for a walk. To buy, however, you have to negotiate well and not hesitate to halve the prices compared to what is asked at the beginning. Always go around the stands and ask for prices in several different places to get an idea.

See cultural sites: Panaji, Old Goa, Quepem and Chandor

Statue of Jesus opposite Se Cathedral, Old Goa, India

With its colonial history, Goa has a very beautiful Portuguese architectural heritage, with beautiful immaculate white churches and beautiful colonial style houses to visit. Most of the major sites are clustered in Panaji and Old Goa, in the northern part of the state, but there are also houses worth a visit further south, in Quepem and Chandor.

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