During my most recent visit to India, I found a couple of places to see in Goa that you should really visit if you’re visiting this part of the country. From quiet yoga retreats to buzzing markets… there is something for everyone out there.
While I do like a bit of yoga every now and then, I am curious about the use of herbs, spices and natural treatments and I won’t say no to browsing a flea market when I’m travelling, to say I’m a hippie? Definitely not!
I couldn’t picture myself going on a retreat, doing body-cleanses (or any drugs, for that matter) while chanting the night away in a local commune -at all.
But, when you’re in Goa, it would be silly not to be curious about this movement from the 60’s.
Did you know that between 1969 and 1971, hundreds of thousands of hippies took the “Hippie trail” overland to India? They hitch-hiked across Europe to Istanbul, then took a train through central Turkey and onto a bus into Iran. Via the Afghan border they made it all the way into Pakistan and finally to the Indian border. And they planned on staying for a while, too.
Once in India, they went to many different destinations, but somehow many of them gathered on the beaches of Goa and Kovalam in Trivandrum (Kerala).
While the real hippies have long been gone (and somehow the Russian youth have found it’s way to the beaches in return), it’s still possible to get a bit of a sense of what that time must have been like. Here’s how:
7 Places to See in Goa & Must-Have Experiences
Goa is a state in Southern India, known for its beaches, Portuguese heritage and hippie vibe. I was lucky enough to spend almost 10 days in this area, soaking up the atmosphere, tasting the local food and learning about the culture and customs of the people living here.
Here are my favourite 7 places to see in Goa if you’re curious about the hippie heritage of the area:
1. Visit Anjuna Flea Market
This weekly (every Wednesday) flea market is something you don’t want to miss! In a wild mix of colour, sounds and merchandise, you’ll be sure not to be bored one second!
You don’t really know where to start… and the market goes on forever and ever!
You can buy so many different things here, not just from Goa, but all over India, Nepal and even Tibet: bags, blankets, shawls, spices, stamps, jewelry, lamps, and much, much more!
2. Visit Arambol Beach & Markets
If you’re not done with shopping yet, then Arambol is another must-visit. The markets are located right on the beach (the most northerly one of Goa), where you can also eat or even stay overnight in beach-shacks if you fancy. The beach is great for swimming too, but very touristy!
3. Learn About Ayurveda
Done shopping and looking to relax a bit? Then perhaps it’s time to learn a bit more about Ayurveda. For many years, Ayurveda doctors have been looking for natural prevention and treatments of every-day diseases and you can find many retreat options all over India.
Find out more > I’ve already written a whole blog post about my own experience with Ayurveda Lessons & Massage, so I can recommend reading that blog to find out if this might be something for you as well!
Our lesson with Dr. Prashant of the Arth Ayurvedic Health Center, held at the beautiful Ashiyana Yoga Retreat Village in Mandrem
I also visited the Devaaya Ayurveda & Nature Cure Centre, where I had an Ayurvedic Massage. Which was… interesting, to say the least! Watch this video I made to see what I mean!
4. Take a Yoga Lesson
What better place to practice yoga then in India? Whether you’re an Eat, Prey, Love fan or not, I can definitely recommend signing up for a lesson or two and see what you think!
While I usually do yoga as an exercise for my poor lower back, during a couple sessions in Goa I realised that there is much more to it than just the physical aspect. I LOVED the lesson we got by Devi & Sujit Guha Chowdhury, a couple teaching yoga at their school in Porvorim in Goa.
At the swimming pool of the Casa Menezes heritage stay in Panaji, they not only showed us some positions, but also talked a bit about the history of yoga and the benefits it can give you. While I’m probably never able to lift myself off the ground with one arm, or bend in two like a stick, I was happy to find out that you can do yoga at any level and get out of it what you need, no matter how ‘good’ you are in doing the positions.
We also got an impromptu (before our mats arrived, heehee) yoga class by our friend Erin from theworldwanderer.com, she’s a yoga teacher and showed us some positions as well. What I liked was how relaxed she made us feel, especially after a short head massage after the class -sooo good!!
If you’re looking to get more into Yoga while you’re in Goa, then I can recommend you checking out doing a retreat, for example at the Ashiyana Yoga Retreat Village in Mandrem, where we had our Ayurveda lesson.
Here, you can go on a real ‘yoga holiday’ with drop-in and one-to-one yoga classes, as well as teacher training courses and complete retreats. The accommodation ranges from luxury suites to palm groves and beach huts, and while you’re there you almost feel like there exists no other world around you! So amazing!
5. Go Paragliding… If You Dare
To be upfront with you, I was too much of a chicken to try this myself, but a couple of my more adventurous blogger friends did go up with these motorized flying machines that have a 360 degree open flight cockpit… eep! You have a pilot with you will fly at a height of up to 1000 feet / 300 meters.
Amazing shot by the talented Brazilian photographer Brian Baldrati. Check out his website!
6. Go Bird Watching
Goa can roughly be divided into three ecological regions: the coast with its mangroves and marshes, the central dry, rocky plateau and forests. Goa is home to over 450 species of birds, including 13 of the 24 species endemic to the Western Ghats. Besides birds, Goa is also known for its butterflies: over 250 recorded species fly around here!
You don’t really need a tour to go bird watching in Goa, as there are so many species around to spot, although we were given this bird book that might come in handy.
7. Party On!
Are you done being cultural and relaxing? Perhaps you’re in for a party! Well, in Goa, you’re in the right spot. There are many clubs where you can dance until the early morning, casino’s on boats, or -if you’re up for it- you could even step on a beer-bike and go on a pub-crawl!
Turns out a party-bike isn’t fun at all when hungover at 7AM in the morning (even though the photo below might suggest otherwise)… but I can see how this would be fun at night with a couple of drinks and some music!
Anjuna Flea Market – goa-tourism.com/GTDC-holidays/do-shopping
Yoga Lessons Devi & Sujit Guha Chowdhury – 2443440 / 8308149853 / 9552361901 (Location: Jeevottam Mutt, Porvorim)
Ashiyana Yoga – www.ashiyana-yoga-goa.com
Paragliding – goa-tourism.com
Bird Watching – goa-tourism.com/GTDC-holidays/watch-bird-life
Cycle Party – www.cycleparty.in
I hope that I’ve given you some inspiration of great places to see in Goa and things to do to help you find your inner hippie. What would be your #1 favourite activity?
Disclaimer: I was invited to Goa as part of the #Escape2Goa campaign, organised by Leave UR Mark and the Goa Tourism Board. All opinions and photos are 100% my own.