Goa travel tips: experience Goa through your 5 senses
Goa is the perfect holiday destination for sun-seekers and adventurers alike. It serves as a gentle introduction to India or a great spot to end a holiday in India by beautiful gold beaches. Goa will awake all of your senses with its palm-tree fringed beaches, flavourful food and colourful markets.
As a person of colour, visiting India for the first time reminded me of the motherland with its strong sense of culture, the hustle and bustle of the streets, eclectic clothing and food being an all important part of my time there. However, what particularly stood out for me was being asked to take pictures on a regular basis due to the colour of my skin. Whilst I sometimes politely declined, I did accept on some occasions and this somehow led to me appearing in a local newspaper, in an article about a cake mixing celebration I attended. I guess this can count as my claim to fame!
That aside, Goa has a unique charm, filled with beauty in the dynamic pulse of India. The South of Goa is extremely peaceful and perfect for a quiet getaway whilst the North is much livelier and best suited for those who love parties and don’t mind touristy destinations.
Here are my top tips on a sensory experience through Goa
Touch – flea markets
Goa is perfect for shopping and buying strikingly beautiful items for yourself, friends or family. From scarves to jewellery, tea to spices, sarees, handmade boxes, lanterns or bags; there are great options to suit all tastes.
A must is the Anjuna flea market opened on Wednesdays from 9am to 6pm during the tourist season which is from November to March/April.
There is also a Saturday night market in Arpora opened from 6pm to 2am also during the tourist season.
Negotiating is a skill, so be prepared to haggle for every item you wish to purchase.
If you are unable to head to the markets, shops in Panjim, the capital of Goa, offer similar items though prices are fixed and there is a lot less variety.
For more information on the markets check:
See – sunsets and temples
Goa is known for its bright red sunsets. Finding a bar or a beach where you can hang out will give you the chance to see spectacular sunsets – nature’s best movies.
Goa is also unique for having many Hindus, Muslims and Christians who all form part of regional communities. It’s therefore worth visiting a temple and other religious sites if you have an interest in these or are simply curious. A few hours will be more than enough for you to get a good sense of these.
Personally I visited:
Basilica of Bom Jesus in Old Goa
Mahalaxmi Temple in Ponda
Safa Masjid mosque in Ponda
Smell – food markets and cookery
A trip to India is not complete without experiencing the food and smelling the beautiful spices.
If you donâ€™t mind getting your hands dirty, I strongly recommend taking a cookery class.
I joined a half day cooking class which included breakfast, a trip to a local food market, cooking, eating lunch and having food to take away.
The cookery class I took was as follows and was definitely worth every penny: http://ritasgourmetgoa.com
Sound – beaches and waves
Goa, as you may already know is world famous for its beautiful beaches and this is why it is a popular destination from November to April as it provides a great sun break for those living in colder climates having to face the winter.
Staying at a hotel by the beach is the best way to maximise your experience.
But the truth is, with over 35 beaches to choose from, you’re never far from one. Some worth exploring include:
Palolem – a hippy beach which can be touristy but is nice to experience
Taste – finger licking restaurants and delicacies
Whilst we talked about cooking, eating out deserves its own mention as there is an infinite number of dishes worth trying.
The restaurants I particularly enjoyed were:
Breakfast or lunch buffet at hotel Cidade de Goa in Panjim
Sher-e-Punjab in Panjim
Ritz classic in Panjim
Casa Bhonsle in Panjim
And some of my favourite dishes included:
Dosa – a savoury pancake filled with spiced potatoes
Masala kingfisher with Naan – a gorgeous fish curry
Butter chicken with Naan
Lamb biryiani – A rice dish cooked with spices and meat
Masal Chai – A fantastic hot drink with just the right notes of sweet spices and intrigue
Now the practical bits to get you planning:
How to get there: Most flight into Goa come from one of the larger airports in India so check your preferred airlines and how best to connect to Goa
Visa: You will need an e-visa which will cost approx Â£40 and can be obtained from https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/evisa/tvoa.html
Where to stay: If you can afford it, a nice 4 or 5 star hotel will give you good facilities, food, a safe place to stay and will cater to foreignersâ€™ needs. I stayed at Cidade de Goa which wasn’t the cheapest but was very nice
What to wear: People were laid back with clothing but if visiting religious sites, I’d recommend wearing modest clothes out of respect
Affordability: Food out there is extremely cheap equally, if you stick to fancy hotels and restaurants, it can get pricey. However, I would still stay that Goa is very affordable especially for those traveling from Western countries
Getting around: You will need a taxi to move around. Many hotels provide this service and you can have a taxi with you for just a few hours or a full day
When to go: October to April are popular tourist seasons which means more markets and activities available to cater for those traveling
What to expect: As a black person, people will be intrigued by you but this should not put you off especially if you are traveling with other people
Goa is a beautiful destination if you love to explore, relax, eat or party, it will ignite all of your senses and will make a lasting impression. Have you been to India and if so, what did you like the most?