Another horn beeps, another Tuk tuk flies by, a man from across the busy street calls, ‘taxi, taxi?’ then a cow strolls by. This is Goa holidays.
If you haven’t heard of Goa, it’s a popular destination for winter sun holidays on the west coast of India. I’d always wanted to visit India so couldn’t wait to start my ten-day holiday to Candolim. Here’s my experience of this incredible destination, and five things I think you’ll love to do while you’re there.
1) You can bag a bargain
As I strolled the main street, stallholders came out to greet me and become my best friend. They don’t forget a face, so expect to be greeted every time you pass. Do haggle as it’s expected and you’ll be amazed at what you can buy for just a few rupees. If you want to get a dress or suit made at superb quality for a small fraction of what you’d pay back home, this is the place to do it. There are plenty of tailors with enormous fabric selections.
2) Life’s a beach
Candolim’s beach is a long stretch of soft, golden sand that joins with the beaches of Calangute and Baga. You’ll find plenty of water sports, if that’s your thing, and a stream of beach shacks, which are constructed just for the peak holiday season. Take a look at the names of some of these shacks; I’m sure you’ll recognise them. There are a lot of vendors on the beach, but if you walk to the Sinquerim end of the beach, you’re less likely to be approached.
3) The colourful cuisine
I can’t imagine anywhere else in the world better to try curry than in India. In Goa, there’s an overwhelming choice of curries. Goa has its own food specialities and I thoroughly recommend you try the fish curry, chicken chilli fry, or beef sizzler. Bear in mind, though, if you like yours spicy, ask for it ‘hot’. Everything I ate was fresh and full of flavour. You can eat cheaply and like a king in the beach shacks, where a big plate of mouth-watering chicken noodles set me back just £3. Beer appeared to be the drink of choice here, however, Goa is known for producing a spirit known as Feni. If you try it be aware, it’s very strong!
4) Dudhsagar Falls and spice plantation tour
I was up at 6am to be picked up from the hotel for what turned out to be one of the best days of my life. This full day excursion included a climb by safari jeep up to the base of Dudhsagar Falls. This four-tiered waterfall is even more stunning in real life than I imagined. I went for a swim in the chilly lagoon before coming face to face with the local pink-bottomed macaque monkeys, who love peanuts and bananas. Finally, we were taken on a guided tour of a spice plantation with an expert who explained the healing properties of the spices. If you only have time for one tour, definitely do this one.
5) Mapusa Market
I’d read a lot about Goa’s bazaars, so thought I couldn’t miss a trip to Mapusa Market. Open every day, this large open-air market is a hive of noise, intriguing smells (apart from the fish market side) and sights. If you want to bag spices, fabrics and trinkets, enjoy haggling, and don’t mind the crowds, it’s a great experience.
On my last night in Goa, I got an obligatory henna tattoo then sat in a beach shack with a cold beer and watched the beautiful sunset. It was the perfect end to what had been an eye-opening and memorable experience.
Have you been to Goa? Let me know in the comments below what you loved about it.