Goa is India’s most popular beach holiday destination, but if you can leave the beach for a few hours, there is a lot to see in Goa from Portuguese colonial architecture to spice plantations and wildlife sanctuaries.
Goa’s Flea Markets
The Anjuna Flea Market is a Goa tradition and although badly overpriced, for many visitors it is a must-see sight in Goa. The weekly all-day market features hundreds of stalls that sell everything imaginable: incense holders, rugs, jewellery, spices, imported bikini, pictures of Hindu gods and party clothes. There are local salesmen and -women here next to sellers from around India and Western ex-pats trying finance their life in the sun. As the market is a big tourist attraction, prices are high, but haggling is part of the game. Don’t ever accept the starting price at the flea market, and even if you’re good at bargaining, be prepared to pay a lot more than you would in less touristy parts of India. The market is held every Wednesday in Anjuna except during the rainy season. Some visitors to Goa prefer the night market in Arpora, held every Saturday.
Old Goa Sightseeing
Near Goa’s modern capital Panaji, the area of Old Goa is what is left of Goa’s 16th-century capital, and makes a good day trip from the beaches. Visitors to Old Goa can explore Portuguese colonial architecture, museums and churches, including the 16th-century Convent and Church of St. Francis of Assisi. Old Goa’s museums offer an insight into Goa’s history as a Portuguese colony.
River Trip In Goa
Boat trips along the Mandovi River are a growing tourist attraction in Goa. The Goa Tourist Development Corporation organizes a variety of boat trips including daytime cruises, sunset cruises, dinner cruises and special full moon cruises. The boats move slowly down the Mandovi River, through lush green Goa landscape, coconut groves and rice fields. Drinks, and sometimes entertainment, are provided.
Spice Plantations in Goa
The spice plantations around Ponda in Central Goa welcome visitors to explore how spices such as cardamon, vanilla, ginger, nutmeg and coriander are grown and produced. The plantations also grow fruit from pineapples to papaya, and some grow medicinal herbs. Guided plantation tours are offered to visitors. The Sahakari Spice Farm, the Abyss Spice Farm and the Savoi Spice Plantation are all located around Ponda.
Goa’s Wildlife Sanctuaries
Goa has several wildlife sanctuaries on the foothills of the Western Ghats mountain range. The Bhagwan Mahavir Sanctuary in Molem, the Cotiago Wildlife Sanctuary near Chaudi and the Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary are home to elephants, deer, gaur, wild dogs, abundant birdlife, a variety of monkeys and snakes, and the more elusive tigers. Accommodation is available inside the sanctuaries that offer a unique Goa experience away from the beaches.