For those looking to explore the exotic on their holidays, a trip to India undoubtedly provides an attack on the senses and an insight into a culture entirely different from that in Western Europe or the US.
Depending on what you’re looking for from your holiday, India can provide it all. The bustling cities of Mumbai and Delhi provide a full-on cultural experience which will challenge and enthral even the most well travelled of visitors, whilst the Himalayas provide a doorway into a whole new world.
But if you’re looking for beautiful beaches and paradise scenes from your visit, then the compact Indian state of Goa – similar in size to Cornwall – is a fantastic place which perfectly fits the bill. Whether you’re looking for a luxurious, tailor-made holiday to India or you’re a backpacker stopping off there to rest your legs and soak up some sun, Goa is the ideal stop.
Goa used to be the hippy stop-off for travellers in search of the relaxed life, lazing by the sea and watching life drift by. Whilst there are still areas where this spirit lives on (most notably in the south of the state), the area is succumbing to tourism and developing fast. However, this means that there is a nice mix of visitors, from those on a tight backpacker budget to those at the luxury end of the scale, resulting in a wide variety of accommodation options. Budget hotels in Goa are easiest to come by, whilst the larger resorts which come with all the trimmings are popping up fast to cater for those who wish a little luxury.
Settled by the Portuguese in the 16th century, many of Goa’s buildings and churches reflect the colonial Portuguese influence, particularly in the old port which sits on the Panaji peninsula. It can also be seen in the region’s cuisine, with coconut milk and chillis being mixed with the flavours of Portugal.
For those who like a bit of activity or adventure on their break, fear not. There is plenty to do beyond lying on a beach or in a hammock! Wander along the beautiful rivers, venture over to a vanilla plantation or visit the area’s stunning waterfalls, such as the famous Dudhsagar Falls or ‘Sea of Milk’ – you won’t get bored! And when you’ve worn yourself out, you can return to the idyllic surroundings and sip on a fruity cocktail whilst taking in a view of paradise.
The development of Goa is rapid, though, and it’s not clear how long it will maintain its character and relatively untouched beauty. If you want to see it whilst it’s still in its prime then now’s the time to head over. And when you do, you’re sure to succumb to its irresistible charms…
Photo credit: Mandy Julian
Want to know more? Go to the official Goa Tourism site