Today’s post is a fun interview with Rachel who blogs over at Hippie in Heels. Rachel has been enjoying expat life in Goa, India and she wanted to share her tips and insights about life in the hippie beach state. She’s recently also written an Insider’s Guide to Goa so you can find even more ideas for your own trip to Goa. Take it away, Rachel!
You’re currently living in India. How did you end up there and why did you choose Goa?
I came to India about a year and a half ago on a solo “I want to find myself” backpacking trip. I never in a million years thought I’d be living in India at any point! Just two weeks before my trip was set to end, I met Ben (my boyfriend now) in Goa. So the clichéd life-changing trip occurred and I’m now living in Goa with him after leaving my career as a travel nurse. I couldn’t be happier with my decision.
What’s expat life like there? What does a regular day look like?
Living in Goa is about as easy as it comes. Days pass slowly. Costs are low so the quality of life is very high. Food and drink options are phenomenal due to how many western hippies moved here in the 70’s-80’s, stayed, and opened restaurants. It’s a hippie beach-goers dream where it seems absolutely no one you meet has a “real job” and everyone is doing exactly what they love, making just enough to get by. Because people are doing what they love, it’s hard to find someone who is unhappy in Goa.
I am a Thai Yoga Masseuse on the side of blogging. Many expats here own bars or cafes, teach yoga, Reiki, massage, sell handicrafts, or are digital nomads. Most days are spent working in front of my computer at the pool/beach/café with my boyfriend (who also works from a computer), then going out to dinner and drinks with friends, shopping, and playing with my dog. Nothing too stressful.
For those of us who only have a few days there, what would you recommend seeing and doing?
I do hope that no one comes to Goa with only a few days because it is so spread out along the coast, and there’s so much lush jungle inland, you need weeks! If it has to be a few days, the best of Goa would include waking up in a beach hut near Vagator or Anjuna Beach then heading into Chapora for a fresh juice at the local hangouts Jai Ganesh Juice where you’re bound to meet a combination of laid-back locals, sneaky dealers, rambunctious cows, and friendly shop owners.
You can waste a little time shopping, but best to get down to the beach and pamper yourself with hair threading, massage, and women coming to you selling jewelry and bright sarongs while you soak up the sun.
For lunches and dinner you should include: Any beach shacks for seafood, Gunpowder in Assagao for Indian, Baba Au Raum in Arpora for pizza and burgers, Villa Blanche in Assagao for fresh salads and breads, Italian Basilico in Anjuna, and for sunset you MUST see it from the best Greek restaurant in India, Thalassa, in Vagator.
If you are here during “season time” which is October through March and peaks in December, then you’ll most likely make it to a Saturday night market. This is one of my favorite places in Arpora: filled with live music, great food, Indian handicrafts, and westerners clothing and jewelry it’s a ‘don’t miss’ in Goa. On Wednesday, there is a flea market in Anjuna, which is beachside/cliffside. It is just a fun with a few restaurants playing live music. The flea market is during the day and will have more Indian than western treasures.
Last but not least, spend your nights partying until sunrise!
Any favourite beaches in Goa you’d like to tell us about? Shh, we’ll keep them secret!
Boringly enough, I usually go to Vagator for convenience. The Vagator beach dogs are now used to my dog, causing less fights. I love Ashwem, which is very popular for young hotties day-drinking. I have written about a private secret beach resort in Goathat at the owner’s request, I don’t say the name. If people are truly curious they can e-mail and ask! His whole branding is keeping it secret! Just shoot me a message.
What are some of your favorite local dishes that you’d recommend trying?
Before I start listing items that you may have had throughout India or even in other countries, know that Goa has a special spin on everything… so you need to try it all again here! I like a breakfast samosa, fish curry rice, grilled seafood, sugar cane juice, fresh poi bread delivered to homes by bicycle daily, and an Indian shawarma.
Goa has it’s own curries, the most popular being: xacuti, cafreal, vindaloo, sorpotel eaten with fermented rice cakes called sannas, and chouris eaten with poi.
The local drink cashew feni can only be found in Goa and will knock your socks off. It’s an Indian moonshine. I like to drink mine at Monkey Bar, behind the police station in Anjuna.
What’s the best place for a fun night out?
For partying it is very much so “what’s on” and that will be the place everyone goes. You can check FB pages, but even easier look at WUG for information.
Goa is famous for psychedelic trance parties so even if you don’t like the music it’s worth checking out. Think twice before you take a sip of water from someone… it might be magic. You’ll like Shiva Valley, Disco Valley, and Hilltop, which was been around 30 years.
For techno/mix clubs, Teso, Chronicle, Katzensuppe, and Bardo in Ashwem/Morjim.
Then there’s Club Paradise, LPK, Sync, and Club Cubana for a packed mainstream place.
This is just a small outline of the party scene. Goa is a party so it’s very difficult to just name-drop a few!
Do you have any other insider tips you’d like to share with us?
If you have a short amount of time avoid Baga, Calangute, and Candolim. They are crowded with huge groups of tourists, prices are double anywhere else, and it’s really not a cool place. The beaches are sleazy. Instead stay on the Vagator, Anjuna, Arpora side.
Rent a bike or car! I have a car here, which makes all the difference because taxis will add up to be much more than a rental. Parties change every hour and you’ll hop around. Also with a car you can drive to see attractions like Old Goa, Fort Aguada, and Spice Plantation. Inland there are waterfalls, hiking, rafting, canyoning and other activities. Driving to Ashwem/Morjim for a day is really nice. There, eat at La Plage and break your budget to stay at the luxurious Amarya Shamiyana.
Ashwem Beach has great boutiques and the markets have great shopping. Tia & Tan sells from Goa, rock royalty Jade Jagger, as well as Doe Designs. I bet a lot of the gorgeous jewels you’ve found on Etsy shockingly come straight from the markets in Goa. Almost all jewelers I buy from sell on Etsy, but I assure you prices are much better in person.
Have fun shopping and getting henna, tattoos, or piercings in Goa (on the street only a dollar… risk was worth it!). Best prices will be at beginning or end of season before a lot of shop keepers move it all up to Manali during monsoon.
Beach huts are great but if you have a large group, look into renting a villa. You can get a FABULOUS 3 BR for 1-2,000 bucks per month, which can be better than beach huts for longer term.
This would be the ideal place for couchsurfing in India. It is one of those places that will be better tenfold if you know someone there. Unlike a small town where you can walk around and guess what’s popular, most of Goa’s special places are hidden and very spread out. Just make sure to be safe and I suggest women stay with either women or expat hosts only because I personally have had issues with male Indian hosts.
How about some tips for solo female travellers considering India?
I have actually written a couple posts about female safety in India as well as solo travel throughout the country. Overall, if you’re smart, there is nothing to worry about. I do sometimes take unnecessary risks, like hitchhiking, so if I made it through anyone can!
If traveling lowest class train take a bike chain for your bag, if traveling in Delhi/Mumbai at night use a taxi not local bus at night if you’re alone, and do not yell at men even when they cut you in line or disrespect you- just leave. If you are “eve-teased” (stared at, bothered, followed) do tell the police. They are now taking it very seriously and it might just be the scare that gets that man to stop his behavior.
When it comes to scams, rudeness, and theft, I actually find that the Thai islands were worse! Rural Indians and young Indian men are curious and may stare, take videos or photos, but instead of being frustrated the most important thing is to decide from day one not to let it bother you.
If you are patient and kind, India will accept you with open arms. You’ll encounter scams like anywhere- in Delhi the police almost scammed me, which left me in angry tears- but the next day you’ll cry happy tears.
India is a rollercoaster of love and hate and it will test you in every way. It’s unlike anywhere I went previously.
For more info on Goa and to keep up with Rachel’s travels, you can keep connected via Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
Great interview, I’ve been to Goa and yes, it’s a friendly and safe place to go, even as a solo female traveler.
I stay very safe and sound 🙂
I love reading Rachel’s posts about Goa – it seems like such a laid-back place. I’m jealous! (And this is coming from me, living on a Caribbean island…haha). Great interview!
Haha, the grass is always greener on the other side!
I just started following you on twitter (literally 2 minutes ago) and this was the first post that popped up. I regularly read Rachel’s fab blog already and I definitely need to get myself to Goa sometime. I love the idea that everyone is happy because they are all doing jobs they love!
That’s my favorite part about Goa too. You won’t see drunken bar fights or road rage because people are all so at peace!
Fun interview and I love the local dish tips.
Thanks Maria, the food here is so good. Gunpowder has a yummy keralan lamb curry.
We plan to hot Goa later this year so I will definitely have to email to find out about that secret beach!
Please do, Emily! It’s somewhere you shouldn’t miss.
Goa is truly amazing. I really hope me and Cez can make it there next year! It’s also so cheap!
I’m also hoping to make it to Goa next year. It looks like the kind of place I would fall head over heels in love with!
The photos are stunning even for someone like me who is not a beach-goer….The food sounds wonderful, though!
I usually choose mountain over beach, but Goa has a little charm to it, and strangely for being a “beach town” a lot of locals never go to the beach! haha
Interesting interview! I know a couple people who have lived in Goa, and like you said, it sounds like the laid-back paradise of India. Someday I’ll make it there! Indian food in India has got to be rockin’!
It is good food, but I have to admit because during season time there are so many expats making pop up restaurants I eat a lot of greek and italian!
..aaaaaaaand Goa’s now on my bucket list. I’d heard good things about it but this post has convinced me I must spend time there!
I’m glad to have convinced you! I should work for Goa Tourism lol i’m convincing a lot of people.
Goa sounds magical. I had a chance to visit the area when I was staying in Mumbai, and totally regret not taking the opportunity! Will definitely be returning to India one day though and Goa is top of my list for places to visit when I’m there. Will be checking out all these places when the time comes around!
I hope you find time to come to Goa the second time around 🙂 it’s such a fun town.
Goa sounds like my type of place to visit / live – where everyone is doing what they love and it doesn’t seem too stressful! I would love to travel here someday! Adding to bucket list 🙂
It’s a very peaceful place and sometimes seems surreal when it seems almost no one has to “go to work” !
This makes me want to go to India even more and Goa looks incredibly interesting, shall I book a flight?
Oh, I wish I had time while I’m here to come visit you…
And for anyone who reads this comment and is a girl thinking to go to India on her own – read Rachel’s stuff on India. It REALLY helped me get ready to come here!
ps Happy Holi!
You’re coming to Goa (hopefully!) yay! Happy Holi Colleen 🙂
Its really worth going thru your blogs, I and my Girl Firiend are coming to goa this weekend and would like to know more about your secret beach and resort. Please mail us the details. Also let us know which are the recent best food joints open as monsoon is starting and nice place to party too.
Hope to listen from you soon.
Hey girl, since this is Audrey’s page I can’t see the e-mail you’ve entered. Mine is email@example.com, so just shoot me an e-mail!
HI ! I’ m currently in kenya but heading to india in a month! I’ll arrive in Mumbai but would like to go as soon as possible to Goa buy train! I read somewhere that we need to reserve a train ticket a month in advance online… But a friend told me I could just buy it to a tourist agency one day in advance. Since the train station is close from the airport I was even thinking at buying it dirently there… What should I do!?!? thank you!!
Hey Romy ,
It depends on you. its always good to book a ticket online. as you get a confirmed reserved seat. if you go there directly, you wont get reserved seats and would have to adjust . not very comfortable, but possible as its just a 8 hr journey
My Husband and I are planning to come to Goa next month (October). It would seem we will be there for Diwali!! Do you have any tips on the best areas of Goa to stay and what things will be going on! We love to mingle and would love to know what not to miss!
Any tips would be helpful.
Me and one of my girlfriends are going to goa next month. So I was just wondering what would bebe fun for 2 girls to do there. Heard about a 3 day hippie festival which is happening in club west end (17 – 19 Oct) and would be safe to go there both of us alone? And we are really looking forward to have a great time in goa. Would be great if you could recommend some safe places to have a fun night out.
Just read your blog which convinced me I have to visit Goa, but I would like to stay for a year at least. So as far as visas go is it easier to leave and re enter India every 6 months or apply for a long term visa..If they have one..Also I heard Miramar is a good location..What would you suggest.?? I wand to rent an apartment somewhere with all the facilities close by..Thanks Charlie
Very informative and i like your style of writing your personality really seems to come out.
My boyfriend and i are coming over for a rekki to see whether we would like to move there or to Thailand.i can’t seem to find much info online for long term house rental and costsmaybe you could advise how expats go about this? If you can help i would be super appreciative:-)
Very helpful blogpost. Me and my 2 friends are going to Goa for 1 month in December. Could you please recommend the best way how we could find a good place to stay in Goa?
#Goa #flat #house #villa #hotel #holiday #rent
I really liked ur views and submissions abt india. I am a lawyer bt always wanted to b a traveller. Hope sm day i ll fullfill my dreams
hi there.. I really liked your point of view about awesome goa..as you are living there..i need your help 🙂 i am coming on my anniversary ( next whole week feb)and i want to make it unforgettable experience for my wife..Please guide us.. we both love to try new food/clubs/hidden places…please help..
This is the perfect Goa summary! Thank you so much for making it super easy to plan my trip 🙂
Hey thanks for the tips! I was recommended to visit North Goa and reminds me way to much of the Kenyan coast where I visit/live! Heading to some of yours spots this week. Let me know if you’re around and are up for a drink to trade travel stories 🙂
I would really love to know the secret beach you mentioned in your post 🙂
Wow, Amazing Read ! Great Interview. Actually, it is the first time that I have read a whole interview. It’s amazing that you are living a life you love. Not many people can do that.
I have been to Goa 2-3 times and I too loved this beach paradise. It’s true that life in India is surely a roller coaster but this is the thing which makes us explore more and return to visit it even more.
And about Thalassa you are absolutely correct, it is one of the best restaurants you can dine in Goa and the best spot in Goa where you can enjoy a great sunset.
Nice to hear from you about India, it’s really a roller coaster, a diversified place were one day you might cry and the other day you might be having fun which you never had before. The culture varies here a lot even in the same city with different people and that’s what it makes India to be a place to play.
I’m planning to visit Goa, can you please suggest me some places for real night life in goa
Kindly send me the secret beach name and location.