Goa. The name brings endless memories to my mind.
A wanderlust soul as I am, my only purpose of life (and employment) is to see every nook and corner of the world. Being an Indian works in my favor. I have so much to see in my own land! And living in Jaipur, Rajasthan is an icing on the cake.
Despite being a keen traveler, I had never been to Goa. My friends literally belittled me for the fact that at 27, I was still a Goa-virgin. So this February, I decided to end my misery. I planned a 5 day trip to Goa with my sisters; one of the best trips of my life!
So here I am, sharing my experiences about Goa and also spilling out a few cheat sheets about how to plan a budgeted trip to this perfect party place.
How to decide on Transportation?
In India, Railways are the most economical option to travel long distance. You can log in to irctc.com to book your tickets. From the capital city of Delhi, it will take you approximately 36-40 hours to reach Goa (that’s a lot of time!).
If you are traveling in summers, I’d suggest you to go for 3-tier or 2-tier AC coach, instead of the regular sleeper class (India is a tropical country, can even roast you with the heat). They will cost you around $30-40 one side.
For those who wish to save more time than money, cheap flights can be sought out too. You can directly check the websites of Air Asia, Indigo, Go Air, etc., or go for travel agencies as Yatra, Goibibo, Makemytrip and all. I booked my return ticket for $123 from Delhi.
For international travelers wanting to visit Goa directly, I’d suggest you to land on Mumbai airport. It is nearer to Goa and offers many economical flights. Ahmedabad, stationed near Mumbai, is also a pretty reasonable option.
I traveled by air and reached Goa on 22nd Feb. The Airport authorities have their taxi services available. Pretty cheap and safe.
Where to Stay in Goa?
Goa is HUGE. What place you choose to stay totally depends on what you are here for.
South Goa suits better to the honeymooners and leisure travelers. This side of Goa is more ‘posh’ and peaceful. Palolem, Colva, Dona Paula are some of the most beautiful beaches here, tranquil and clean.
North Goa is all about partying. Calangute is the most crowded beach (so a big no for me). The others are Candolim, Baga, Morjim, Vagator, Ashvem and Arambol.
Baga is the beach that never sleeps, lined with hundreds of shacks. You can fetch a table right next to the waters. Brittos and St. Anthony’s were the two shacks we went to every night. Both of them serve amazing food and cheap alcohol. I personally enjoyed St. Anthony’s more. They have Karaoke every night and play some really cool dance numbers.
I weighed my options between Candolim and Baga beach, and finally decided on Candolim. It’s clean and sublime. We’d go there early morning for a jog and rent a bed or two for some good sunbath. The nights were reserved for Baga. There’s this Tito’s lane near the Baga beach, wadded with night clubs and bars. Mambo’s and Cape Town Cafe were my two favorites; good music and decent crowd.
I rented a very fairly priced hotel near Candolim, just a 2 minute drive from the main road. You can get ample options on the Internet. I booked mine from Goibibo and earned a great deal of Gocash.
Things To See in Goa
Whatever I learned about Goa through Internet surfing was all old-school info. The best way to discover Goa (or any holiday destination for that matter) is by interacting with the locals and digging out what’s really worth going.
I would call my visit to the Aguada Fort and Dudhsagar Falls a waste of time. More so because I have seen prettier forts in Rajastham. And the falls were really far away, offering nothing more than a scant stream of waterfall.
Of all the beaches I explored, Morjim beach was the one I enjoyed the most. It is famous for Olive Riddley Turtles (an endangered species of turtles found only here). The serenity was inexplicable.
Chapora fort seconds the list of my Goan favorites. Located between Vagator and Anjuna, this fort offers a breathtaking view of the sunset (as does Morjim and Vagator).
It’s time to splurge some money!
Goan flea markets are haven for shopaholics. The Wednesday Anjuna Flea Market and the Saturday Night Market showcase amazing clothing, accessories, footwear, souvenirs and what not.
I bought myself a whole new wardrobe in less than $100! Crochet works, leather bags, sunglasses, u name it and they have it. Even the local beach market of Goa exhibits some really cool beachwear at very affordable prices.
On the last day of my trip, I went for a nice refreshing massage. Located near the Candolim beach was a Kerala massage therapy center. I came across this place while strolling in the streets. I was intrigued to see the rush in the waiting room. On inquiring from one of the tourists sitting there, I decided to give it a shot. Trust me, it was out of the world! I literally slept while the lady was massaging my back.
For those who don’t wish to binge out at fancy spa salons, there are hundreds of people on the beaches offering really cheap and nice massage.
Back to Bedlam
My happy vacation finally ended. There were a lot of places I couldn’t go to, like the Ashvem Beach for sunrise and the Tropical Gardens for some jungle experience.
Coconut water for breakfast, King’s beer for lunch and Fenny for dinner, what more could you ask for! Goa was one spine-tingling experience. Still got sand in my shoes!