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Goa in South West India is still an extremely popular gap year, career break or alternative destination for young and old alike.

Goa is easily accessible from the UK and there is plenty of accommodation to suit all budgets from budget backpacker hostels through to five-star all inclusive holiday resorts overlooking the sea. Locals are very friendly and relaxed here unlike other areas of India where you may be subject to a lot of staring and touching and constant attention. Tourism is Goa’s biggest industry and the local community is now well used to holidaying Western foreigners. If you are planning a gap year, career break or looking for an alternative holiday we recommend you consider Goa as a destination - here’s our guide.

Beaches to suit all tastes

The main draw for tourists in Goa is the beaches. There are beaches to suit all tastes and types of holidays. Anjuna beach is a bit of party beach drawing hippies and artists to its night long beach parties. Food comes in the form of first class Western seafood and fresh fruit. Baga beach is a little less hectic, with unspoilt beauty framed by the rocky wooded headland. Baga draws in the watersports and fishing enthuasists and also is home to the best food in Goa. Benaulim beach is peaceful. The church of St John the Baptist is worth visiting in the early evening or morning as it sits on top a hill overlooking the sea. Candolim beach is great for the romantic hermits out there who want to get away from the hustle and bustle of India. Facilities are basic, but this just adds to the experience. Get even more horizontal with a yoga lesson on the beach. Finally Palolem is another great spot to enjoy some breathtaking sunsets.

A fish lovers dream

Food wise, Goa is a fish lover’s dream. Fresh every day. Goan’s tend to eat fish, curry and rice and this forms the basic of their traditional dish. Other delights include the traditional idli (steamed rice cake), Goan sweets and chai (tea). Because of the popularity of Goa as a tourism destination there is also every other cuisine under the sun should fish or curry not be quite up your street! A trip to Goa is incomplete without a visit to the Night Bazaar to sample local food and experience markets Goan style.

Culture and History

Architecture is also a draw for visitors. Four centuries of Portuguese rule and of other rulers before them has given Goa a unique architectural blend of Indian and Western influences. The population of Goa is composed of a Hindu majority of around 65% and a Christian minority of around 30%. Muslims and other religions make up the rest. Hindu temples also make up the tapestry of the Goan landscape. There are many intricate and interesting temples to visit in Goa and many local operators run a temple tour to take in the major sites.

Finally, if beaches and culture aren’t enough, Goa also sits in the Western Ghats range which holds a diverse range of flora and fauna including the famous Dr Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary located on the island of Chorao. Other parks to visit include Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary, Molem Wildlife Sanctuary, Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary, Madei Wildlife Sanctuary, Netravali Wildlife Sanctuary Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary.

Fast facts

  • The best time of year to visit Goa is between October to March to avoid the humid sticky season between April and June and the heavy monsoon rains between June to September.

  • The currency to use is the Indian Rupee.

  • As of summer 2010 the exchange rate is £1 to 74 rupees.

  • Flights are direct from London to Goa. Cheap flights start from as little as £400 including tax, so shop around.