A week long Goa vacation – self planned

Goa vacation – a fancy for everyone in India and so many abroad. And why not. Goa is one place which doesn’t disappoint anyone. It has got something for everyone. Off late, I have been wondering what is it exactly about Goa that one doesn’t get tired of going on vacation here year after year. We have ourselves been here twice and can’t wait to go here again. The second time, we visited here with our little daughter who was just 20 months old at the time of the trip. And we took many trips afterwards. Still the one place she enjoyed the most and the one place she doesn’t forget is Goa.
It’s very easy to self plan a trip to Goa, no matter what kind of trip you are looking for – be it adventure, party, leisurely, honeymoon or family. So, I am going to provide here a week long sample itinerary for a leisurely Goa vacation with your family on a medium budget range. You can self plan it, you can refer to my other posts on Goa (links provided at relevant locations) for further details.
Goa vacation sunset

Step 1 : Choose a location to stay during your Goa vacation

Based on your preference, choose an area in Goa where you want to stay. If it’s a leisurely travel and you have young children or toddlers, you can prefer staying close to the beach. A resort with a private access to the beach will be best. However, If not, then you can still find one quiet close to the beach so that you need not hesitate even if it means heading to the water body multiple times a day on the demands of the young ones.
If you are a couple, staying on a nice resort premise can be quiet romantic. See if you can book one with a private beach so you can enjoy some romantic dinner on the shore. You can as well explore the hilly sides of Goa – the western ghats – wherein you can get to live in tree houses or resorts designed with a touch of ethnic indian villages, yet equipped with all modern facilities.
When heading out with friends, in groups, and looking for lots of activity on beaches or night life, no doubt you got to choose north Goa. It includes the prime area around Baga and Calangute beaches.

Step2: Choose the right time of travel for your Goa vacation

Goa has pleasant climate from November – February. This is also the peak season. You can easily be out in the sun for long hours during this time. March – June becomes pretty hot and the afternoon sun is unbearable so it might not be idle to stay out for long. This is off peak season. You can plan early morning and late night activities if you visit in this season but day long outing or roaming on the streets may be more tiring and uncomfortable. July – September is the monsoons season. If you enjoy the rains and are not worried about getting wet, you can have some nice experience of thunder and clouds formation on the beach. Rain on the beach is a pretty site to behold. But if you feel rain is a spoiler of your game, steer clear of this season.

Step3: Book your accommodation & Flights for your Goa vacation

When it comes to choosing to stay in Goa, you will be spoilt by options. Since there are options ranging across all budget ranges from frugal beach side shacks to luxury hotels with private beach, jacuzzi and sauna – you have got a wide spread of hotels to choose from. Also, the place is equally abundant in homestay and holiday rental options. Most of them are located near to the beaches and some are located on beautiful hill side also, with mesmerizing view of the sea.
You can choose one based on your budget and other preferences. For instance, if traveling with a small baby you might require an equipped kitchen, or at the bare minimum a mini freeze and electric water heater. When traveling alone, or with friends, wherein most of your time is going to be spent on the beach, home stays might be a very pocket friendly and comfortable option.
Beleza by the beach 7

A view of the swimming pool and spa from the room balcony

Step4: Get your documents in place

Pretty much the standard thing here. Keep your hotel booking info, tickets info, any additional printouts or soft copies for information, your identity card and if traveling from outside india, your visa, passport and their copies handy with you all through your travel. Most of the good hotels and home stay will require you to produce an identity proof at the time of check-in. So, don’t forget to keep one with you.

Step 5: Choose your means of commute

Goa, unlike other Indian cities and tourist places, has a plethora of commute options to choose from. So, you can make your pick as per your choice. There are taxis and cabs for hire all through the day. You can rent a four wheeler for your entire stay. You could as well rent a two wheeler. Or, you can use one of the public transport options. So, ponder a bit, decide how best you will like to commute and book your commute options. Your resort can very much help in deciding one. Here’s an account of commute using rickshaw in Goa that might interest you.

Step6: Form your Goa vacation itinerary.

(Sample provided here)

Day1 : Your arrival in Goa

Assuming you are traveling by a flight that reaches by the noon. Check-in into your hotel. Get fresh and have lunch. Post lunch, you can head to the beach and enjoy the sunset and other water activities being provided on the beach that you might be interested in.

Day2 : One day site seeing in Goa

If you are interested, you can head for a one day site seeing in Goa covering most of the major attractions. During the tour, try authentic native food from roadside restaurants and cafes or beach shacks.You can checkout this post for helping you plan a one day site seeing – like I had experienced on my Goa trip.

Day3 : Leisure at your resort

After a full day excursion the previous day, you might want to relax and unwind today. You can spend a relaxing day in the resort swimming pool playing with your friends, family or kids. You can as well go for a vey relaxing spa experience either at your resort premises or outside, make an appointment a day in advance and head for it today. There are many different spa options provided at most of the standard resorts. We stayed in resort terra paraiso and resort Belezza during our last two vacations here and enjoyed our stay at both the places. On this day you could as well choose to take a local cooking class. Or, join a yoga session on one of the famous yoga retreats in Goa.

Day4 : Sunbath & Beach shack

If you have headed to Goa in the right season when the heat is quiet bearable, you can head to the beach one early morning post breakfast at your resort. Pack your sunscreen, water bottle, sunglasses and other standard beach stuff with you and head – off. Your resort might have its own shacks on the beach or you can rent one easily for the whole day. Enjoy sunbathing, water sports, lunch at one of the beach side places. Take a peaceful nap or read a book. Basically, enjoy a relaxing peaceful day at the beach. Here’s a beautiful article about beaches in North Goa that can help you choose one as per your liking.

Day5 : Flea market Experience

A visit to Goa might not be complete without one of the flea market visits – even if not for shopping then just for the experience. So, I would strongly suggest include one in your itinerary. There are different flea markets hosted on different days of the week, so, you can plan for one accordingly. Check this post out for more information. Arpora and baga markets are night markets so they start late in the evening and continue well into the night. If you are visiting one of these, you can have the day at leisure or plan some other activity during the day. In the evening, you can head to the flea market. Spend the evening watching the sunset across the Arabian sea. Then, head to the flea market as it gets dark.

Day6 : Panjim – Spices, Cashews and Wine

Head to the capital city of Panjim for collecting a bit of the famous Goa and taking it off with you as a gift for family and friends or for yourself. Goa is quiet famous for cashews, they have a particular taste and flavor that you won’t find anywhere else. You can ask anyone for directions and head to the market in Panjim that has most of the wholesale cashew dealers. Buy some packets – salted or plane whichever you prefer. You can also buy famous Goan wine and Indian spices from markets in Panjim at quiet good rates. When we went to Goa, we did shop for cashews and some spices.

Day7:  Bye Bye Goa

This day being the last in your week long trip, do your packing today in the morning. Make sure you are not leaving anything important behind. Checkout from your hotel and head back to the airport for your flight – carrying with you a lifelong memory of this trip.
There is so much to do and see in Goa. We recommend you checkout this insider guide to Goa that is full of useful information about the lovely destination, before you plan out your trip. Happy Journey!!
Goa travel itinerary

Shopping in Goa – Markets you shouldn’t miss

Goa is a beach lover’s heaven but did you shopping in Goa is an experience in itself.  After having being there twice in last few years, I realized this about Goa. That it is equally a shopaholic’s heaven and shopping in Goa is quiet a delight. Actually, before being here I truly wondered what speciality this destination can have to offer in terms of shopping. That also, especially for people like me who come from not very far but the neighboring state of Karnataka. And that how can shopping in Goa be different from anywhere else.

The truth is, there was nothing “new” item on offer for me. But there was a whole “new” and fresh shopping experience on offer in Goa that I thoroughly enjoyed. Thus, I recommend for all the shopping lovers, to go try shopping when you next time visit Goa. Even for those, who don’t want to buy anything, just go for the experience of it.

arpora flea market Shopping in Goa

In terms of type of shopping in Goa, it has everything to offer from malls and branded shops to the beach side markets and the weekly flea markets. But I must say the beach side markets and the weekly markets win over the others when it comes to shopping in Goa.

Arpora Flea Market for shopping in Goa

I fell in love with Arpora flea market when I got a chance to visit here this time. There are other flea markets as well as lots of beach side shops flocking the road sides leading to beaches and right on the beaches as well. Where you get good deals in dirt cheap prices with a little bargaining skill. My friend bought some silver jewelry and I bought a backpack cum handbag at half the initial price. In many of these cases, we could easily figure out if we were landing into a good deal post bargain since I had seen the cost of similar items online and also in shops in Bangalore. So shopping in Goa for the same kind of items came as a real delightful deal.

Overall, not just the deals, but rather the whole atmosphere, the small stalls under open sky, music and live performances going on in the vicinity, food stalls lined up with delicious street food to charge you up when you start getting tired of shopping – come together to add to the overall shopping experience that is difficult to find elsewhere. In conclusion, this was one market where you need not go for shopping, but you must visit once for the feel of the energized atmosphere and the bustling night life.

Street stops near Baga & Calangute Beach for shopping in Goa

We bought a pair of slippers for my 2 years old toddler from one of the street side shops and she loved it so much that she is still not letting it go, after having outgrown it! My husband also bought a few pieces of cloth from here. There are food stalls amidst the street shops. On the baga beach, while one side is flaunted by the street market, with small shops selling different kind of good like souvenirs, hats, beach wear, key chains, freeze magnets and so many other items, the other side of the same street flaunts with restaurants providing an amazing view of sunset over the bustling beach in the evening.

Anjuna & Mapusa Market for shopping in Goa

Another flea market to experience in Goa is Anjuna market that comes live near Anjuna beach every saturday from 9 am to 6 pm. These flea markets are worth visiting even if you are not really inclined to buy anything – just for the feel of the atmosphere. While Arpora market is a night market, this one is day affair. During the day, on the beach itself, different stalls are put. These sell different items made by the local. And the primary attractions in this market are the colorful cloth bags and purses, equally colorful skirts, earrings and other fashion jewelry made by the locals, small souvenirs to carry back for your friends and family, beach wear and several others.

Sometimes you might as well spot the fishermen and women selling fresh catch from the sea in portions of the market. So, if you have rented out a property or are staying in a homestay, this is your chance to home cook some delicacies bought right from the fishermen (Gosh, I am a vegetarian, can’t believe I am suggesting this!!)

Friday market at mapusa is yet another market to head for. This market also offers fruits and vegetables in addition to the items found at other flea markets, and the prices of the products are quiet reasonable. Thus when looking for fresh fruits and vegetables in Goa for a nice price along with some free flea market shopping experience, head to the friday mapusa market.

Market of Panjim for shopping in Goa

Panjim is the capital city of Goa. Apparently, it hosts some of the best markets of Goa. And for a genuine quality shopping in Goa, you can head to the markets of Panjim. This is our favorite place for shopping in Goa, particularly for cashews and other dry fruits. Both the times that we have been to Goa, we shopped here for famous Goan cashews that are a little yellowish in color and very tasty. Plus the prices are quiet reasonable compared to the rest of the country for these cashews.

What all you get while shopping in Goa

Items that you can purchase in road side markets and flea markets in Goa include :

  • Tibetean and kashmiri shawls, stoles and woolens
  • Bags – handbags, wallets , backpacks
  • Spices of all sorts
  • Cashews – fried, roasted, salted, plain – in different varieties
  • Handicrafts from different parts of India
  • Home decor items – idols, miniatures, statues – in clay and bronze
  • Fashion jewelry and silver jewelry
  • Beach wear
  • T-shirts, shorts, pyjamas
  • Bed covers and musical instruments
  • Hats
  • CDs with Goan trance
  • Skirts and traditional indian wear
  • Wall hangings made of bamboo, wood, metal, clay, silver
  • Leather goods

………. and the list goes own. By the way, did you know that the flea markets are also flocked by fortune tellers and tattoo artists. When I happened to visit Arpora, i was very much excited to meet one. But alas, there were none there. So, I plan to spot one the next time I happen to be in Goa, maybe at Anjuna or Mapusa market. And I will definitely let you know my experience 😀

General tips on shopping in flea markets of Goa

  1. I will personally prefer the evening and night markets since the weather gets really pleasant by this time. And you need not sweat in the harsh sun while you shop.
  2. The night markets are also better in terms of other offerings like food, music, live performance and night life in general. Which might not be available with the day time markets. So, you can enjoy here whether you shop or not.
  3. If you really have plans to shop here, sharpen your bargaining skills a little. At least you will get things at half the initial price quoted.
  4. If you are totally not for bargaining, then visit the flea markets for a feel of the kind of goods on offer. But buy from a government backed shop where the prices are fixed and the quality guaranteed.
  5. Head to the markets of Panjim, the capital city of Goa, if you are looking for shopping experience beyond the flea markets. We particularly enjoy buying spices and cashews from the shops here.

Shopping in Goa. Markets that you should not miss. Flea Market. Night Market. Arpora. Mapusa. Anjuna. Panjim. What to buy and Where to buy in India. The night life in the flea markets.

Arpora flea market in Goa, India

This time around I happened to be in Goa around a weekend, with an equally enthusiastic (read shopaholic) friend. So, we decided to hit the infamous Arpora flea market. Although, soon after visiting the market, I was forced to wonder why is it even named a market. Because, true that there are lots of shopping options here. But, there is so much of food, music, dance, tattooing and so much more to the place. So that, by all means, it is a fare, more than a market.
arpora flea market

What is Arpora flea Market?

Arpora flea market is one of the many open air flea markets that are setup in Goa on a weekly basis. These markets are infamous for dirt cheap local products, souvenirs, local food stalls, music, opera and amazing night life. The Arpora flea market is setup very near to calangute beach, on the calangute-anjuna road. From calangute beach, it takes 5 minutes drive to reach the market. You can even walk down to it. The whole marketplace is surrounded by make shift tent. And, there is distinct entry and exit gates to the market.

What is on offer at Arpora flea Market?

Shops

It has a very good expanse of numerous stalls selling all different kind of products. In particular, products that would attract tourist attention, particularly foreign tourists wherein they would be looking for souvenirs or famous products from India to take back home.

But you must have a good bargaining skill to get a good deal here. However, what would be the definition of a “good deal” when there’s no end to bargaining. Well, in my opinion, once you form a price of the product in your mind looking at its worth and you are able to get it into that price range – you can happily call it a great deal. So we did. Just to give you an idea, we liked a bag. The price quoted by the shopkeeper was INR 550 , we quoted INR 250 and finally the deal was done at INR 300 🙂
Entertainment
But apart from the buzzing shops, there is so much more to the market. Which means, there is something for even the non-shopaholics . There are artists and musicians, playing live. Which completely charges up the environment. And you will find numerous people applauding to their performance. Actually, when we visited, the environment was so charged up. My toddler (who was just 20 months old at that time) couldn’t help swing to the beats as we stopped by 🙂
Food
Then comes the food stalls . Again a number of them are present, well organized in one section of the flea market offering everything from Goan delicacies , to south indian delights to Italian pizzas, wood-fire pizzas and other subcontinental mouth watering food.

Our experience at Arpora Flea Market

Sunset on calangute beach

This time around, we had stayed in South Goa. One evening, we decided to drive off to Calangute and also experience Arpora Flea Market. We reached Calangute by evening 4:30. We spent some time on the beach and then headed to a beachside restaurant. The view of sunset from here was simply amazing, so, couldn’t contain sharing with our readers.

Arpora flea market

We had some light snacks and soft drinks. While our daughter seemed to be thoroughly enjoying, walking across the deck of the restaurant. There is something about Goa, I have never seen her in such high spirits on any other vacation. From here, we decided to head to Arpora Flea Market. However, we decided to take a slow walk all through the Calangute street before boarding our cab. Then, in our cab, it took us just 5 minutes to reach Arpora Flea Market.

And then night in Arpora flea market
Shopping

We reached the market just when it was starting off. The benefit of being early is that you can be done through a portion of the place before the crowd starts to swarm the place. We did exactly that. As we stepped inside the market from the main gate, we saw rows of shops standing in neat lines. And there were several such rows. We started at one end and just strolled through, mostly window shopping. We didn’t shop much in this market. It was just the feel of the place that kept us glued to it. We crossed shops of silver jewelry, brass antiques, woolens (this one made me wonder, seriously, woolens in Goa! Would people buy that? maybe tourists from cold places would).

Then the next lane consisted of garment shops, utensil shops, shops selling utensils, Goan spices, dry fruits – particularly the famous Goan cashews. Then came shops selling old books, hats, bags and backpacks, beachwear etc. And then there were more shops in the next lane. So on and so forth. We continued weeding through the lanes. The good thing was, we were enjoying the energy of the place and our toddler was enjoying thoroughly.

Food

At last we reached back near the starting point. And then we saw the food stalls. There were a number of stalls put up in a neat line one besides the other. They were serving local cuisines, rolls, pizzas and parathas , Chinese as well. We ordered some food from here. There were chairs and tables arranged in front of the food stall to have the food. But alas, all were occupied by now. Obviously, we had spent quiet some time circling the shops it seems. But, finally, we found a small space besides a stage made for live performance. Then one of us guarded the precious seat while the other one went ahead to bring some delicious pizzas. Food was great. Even if there was no proper place for us to shift, we thoroughly enjoyed the food.

Entertainment

Along with our food, we also enjoyed couple of live songs and dance performances. After this, we decided to head back to our hotel as our little one was tired and sleepy. Overall, we had a wonderful time in this market. We spend close to 5 hours in the market and we didn’t even realize where the time had flown. This, in itself, is a testimony of how much you can enjoy the place. I would say, a must visit at least once.

The market starts from 6:30 in the evening and goes on well into the night. The stalls are up and running till 3 or 4 am in the morning. Overall, I would say the market is a must visit at least once when you are in Goa. The whole street market shopping, including the bargaining, the food, the performances…everything there was an enticing experience.
Here’s a glimpse of the colorful pictures you can see when you search for arpora flea market, to give you an idea of the vibrancy and liveliness of the atmosphere there :

Items on sale in the Arpora flea market

  • Small wooden furnitures
  • Different kind of souvenirs – key chains, show pieces (wooden/shell/marble/metal), wall hangings
  • Jewelry (shell, stones, oxidized silver, wood, metal)
  • Woolen/Silk/Cotton stoles
  • T-shirts, beachwear and other garments suitable to Goan climate
  • Goan spices and dry fruits
  • Bags, purses, backpacks (leather, cotton, jute, synthetic leather)
  • Paintings
  • Flipflops and other foot wear
  • And many other things…please add if I am missing anything major

Useful links to get more information about the flea market

Tips to visit

  1. Head here in the evening. The market starts thriving only after 6pm. And it goes on till late into the night like 2 am.
  2. If you are with toddlers like us, then make sure your toddler gets some sleep during the day so that you can enjoy the night market.
  3. You will get plenty of food and water in this place, so need not worry about this aspect
  4. You should be ready to bargain – there is huge amount of bargaining in place, you should get most of the things at one third of the price mentioned, if at all you are inclined on shopping
  5. There is a lot of culture to soak in. There is local Goan food, music, dance and body art, apart from shopping. So, you can plan to visit here even if you are not interested in shopping
  6. As usual, wear comfortable cotton cloths. It’s pleasant at night. But because of the crowd that the place slowly gathers, you might feel warm.

 

Arpora flea market