Goa is India’s one of the most famous backpacking destinations, for it’s laid back lifestyle and numerous tropical beaches for every kind of travelers.
From its colorful beach huts, heritage sites to parties and hang-outs, Goa remains to be a backpackers’ hub in India. It’s a place where travelers can easily meet other travelers, enjoy the beaches, party all night or just learn yoga. Backpacking in Goa would be the perfect place to start your India travel adventure.
Nowadays you can get it all in Goa, from exotic beach shacks, backpacker hostels to luxury hotels, trance parties to exquisite cuisines. Goa is definitely more than just beaches, providing its culture is far more intrigue and interesting. The charm is Goa is something else, charming you away with it, be your first or repeat visits to Goa.
Best Time To Visit Goa
The main tourist season in Goa is mostly in the winter months of November – March when Goa is dry and cool, perfect for swimming, sunbathing and yoga retreats. The tropical summer months are just literally hot like all of India.
You will get the rains in June – Late September period when Goa is at its pinnacle of beauty. The lush greenery with great accommodation deals makes a perfect time for backpacking in Goa.
How To Reach Goa
You can fly to Goa (Dabolim) from most major Indian cities. Located just 26 kilometers south of Panjim, you can hire a cab and drive off to your first destination in Goa. The best way to kickstart your backpacking trail in Goa is to avail the railways in Goa, with prime stations like Margao and Vasco Da Gama, just 2 kilometers from the airport.
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Night trains are much more comfortable when getting in Goa, with trains running overnight from Mumbai, Bangalore, and Kochi. If you’re in the peak seasons, it would be troublesome to secure tickets, however, you can still go by bus. With Redbus, you can secure your ticket online, which can get you to Goa overnight.
The Best Beaches in Goa for Backpackers
This is always the tricky question when it comes to backpacking in Goa. Each beach in Goa has a different atmosphere which attracts various kinds of travellers. You just have to choose your pick.
From all the beaches in Goa, backpackers prefer Arambol and Vagator beaches in the North, and Palolem and Agonda beaches in the South.
If you are looking for peaceful beach retreats, Mandrem, Ashwen, and Morjim are worth the mention for it’s chilled out vibe and wide, flat beaches. You can also get a glimpse of the rare ridley turtles, as these beaches serve as a nesting ground for the turtles.
Arambol Beach, North Goa
Arambol has been famous for a long time among the backpackers and hippies, with its cheap beach huts and its laid-back, friendly vibe. The long wide beach is clean and is not that crowded compared to its sibling beaches.
If you wish to visit a beach which truly makes you live the sea moment, then Arambol beach is the most beautiful beach for you. You can also climb over its rocky terrain and go paragliding over the Kalacha beach and go for a peaceful swim in the lake.
Vagator Beach, North Goa
Vagator has three beaches, mostly rocky. They are not very crowded like the usual beaches in Goa. Vagator is very popular with many music and other festivals being held here. The dynamic cliffs and secluded nature attract many travellers, besides the soft white sand and the splendid parties in the night.
You will find many open air clubs and nightclubs, shacks, and restaurants that sell cheap drinks, Indian and International cuisines. It’s ideal for honeymoon couples, those who have time in their hands and wants to relax, and backpackers who want to party in Goa.
Palolem Beach, South Goa
Palolem is undoubtedly one of Goa’s most scenic beaches: a gentle curve of palm-fringed sand facing a calm bay. In the peak tourist seasons, the calm beach is transformed into a toy town of colorful timber and bamboo huts and palm-thatch shacks. Though it can be quite crowded, Palolem is still one of the best for backpacking in Goa.
With lesser party atmosphere and more like a calm paradise, Palolem attracts plenty of backpackers and tourists alike. IF you are travelling in the peak seasons and like more privacy, you can try Patnem next door, which is beautiful and much quieter.
Agonda Beach, South Goa
Agonda is a haven for travellers who prefer a relaxed and laid back trip in Goa. The picturesque wide beach and the opportunity for discovering precious Olive Ridley eggs, Agonda can be the perfect romantic getaway while backpacking in Goa.
It’s lined with shacks and huts, some simple and some fancy. Hawkers are not allowed on the beach, making your stay more private and refreshingly undisturbed.
Where To Eat & Drink in Goa
Goa has a variety of beach shacks that serve multi-cuisine menu, with Chinese, noodles and rice, pizza, western breakfasts and sandwiches for around 250 and 400 rupees. Despite the cheap pricing, you wouldn’t find a dip in quality, rather delectable.
From Poi, Fish thali at Starlight, Crab at Laxmi to having french at La Plage and Burmese at Bomra’s, you will feel like you’re part of a food festival with so much variety. Some of them the must-visit restaurants like the Greek place – Thalassa where you can dine with some amazing view of the Vagator beach, and Shamba in Anjuna, where you can taste the fusion of local and international cuisine, aren’t to be missed.
The Germany Bakery is also a great place to hang-out for backpackers, with the Tibetan vibe and healthy food. Guru Bar is also worth the mention which has also a hippy atmosphere, live music nights and extensive menu.
Where To stay in Goa
Most backpackers arrive in Goa and get a guesthouse. With more hostels and hotels supporting the hippy vibe, coming up in Goa, You’ll get plenty of options where you can get a sociable atmosphere and meeting new traveller friends.
The Prison Hostel in Anjuna is quite famous among those and offers a quiet retreat conveniently off the beach. The name of this property is surprisingly correct, as it looks like a prison inside out. The Noname Guesthouse is also a brilliant stay in Arambol, where you can have a private balcony, a nice garden, and a relaxed atmosphere. It provides very clean, quiet rooms and a gorgeous restaurant having situated just a few minutes away from the beach.
Renting a house in Goa is also becoming a trend among backpackers. If you plan to stay in Goa for some time, having rent a house in Goa is the ultimate option if you want to live with the Goa vibe. However, if you don’t want to commit a long-term stay, you can still get the perks of a rented house if you book via Flipkey or Airbnb.
Nightlife in Goa
Goa is known for its trance theme, and most of the parties are revolved around techno or psytrance music. Anjuna, Vagator, Calangute and Baga, all are equipped with splendid nightlife spots and beach parties that go on till late in the night. Goa is a perfect infusion of varieties, literally having something for every traveller in the night.
Something off the path, Palolem has a unique silent (headphone) disco happening in the peak seasons. Whereas, Leopard Valley holds the biggest parties in Goa.
Getting Around Goa
Backpackers nowadays prefer local buses than the train network, for its convenience. However, if you’re travelling from Palolem to Anjuna or from the airport to Arambol, hiring a car will be a safe bet as it can take a while to acclimatize with the buses and how they operate.
Whereas, if you want to get the best of Goa, you’d definitely want to do that with two-wheelers. It is now easier to hire a motorbike and explore. It is a cost-effective and a free way to explore through the veins of Goa. However, you would need to watch out for police, as they have a tendency to stop tourists and try to get money from them.
Attractions in Goa
- Panaji/Panjim – The capital of historical Latin & Portuguese culture.
- Bom Jesus Basilica – St. Francis Xavier’s final resting place.
- Old Goa
- Wildlife sanctuaries – Bhagwan Mahavir and Cotigao Lamgau Caves
- Spice Plantations
- Casino Cruise
If you want to find hidden gems in around Goa, this guide of offbeat places in Goa will make you discover secret havens to get the most out of your backpacking trip.
Things To Consider Before You Go Backpacking in Goa
- A tourist visa is required for most nationalities but there is an e-visa scheme to apply online.
- 4 languages are spoken – Konkani, English, Marathi, Hindi
- Seasons: July to October for rainy Goa, November to March for your party mood.
- Beware of scams in the beaches.
- Ensure your travel for any mishaps with World Nomads.
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This article is geared towards first-time backpackers in Goa. However, if you want to dig deeper into Goa, you can grab a copy of the Goa Travel Guide by Lonely Planet or this offbeat places in Goa guide. You can also get to know Mumbai and a little bit of Hampi with this guide. Even though some information can be outdated, it will be an invaluable asset while backpacking in Goa.
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