Goa is as amazing as it can be. I have been thrice to Goa in the last two years but my love for it never dies. I always enjoy the cool sea breeze, the culture, the food, the music, the people, the freedom of mobility and the most amazing vibrant atmosphere there.

It was in 2002 when I first visited Goa, which was a college tour and some how it started on a very bad note. We missed our train, travelled through bus and the trip was reduced to one day and night. All tired and some of us were down with fever but still we were able to hold few good memories of laugh, share, love, emotion and entertainment. It was a memorable trip though it had some soar notes. Goa never touched our hearts on this trip. It was in 2011 that I needed a vacation due to the high pressure of work and few suggested for Goa. Since my hubby was with me on last Goa trip (college) last time we thought that it will be good to recall those old days and we backpacked and took the flight to Panjim, the capital of Goa and its lifeline city.

Goa Beach in India

Since we were travelling with the winds (in other words without any reservations) we first though to get ourself a rest and then turn for the beach and the lovely place. We looked for the room and then took a rented bike from the corner shop. I was really very happy driving a vehicle around the roads of Goa. The bike and four wheelers (self-driven) are easily available on rent in Goa and it increases your mobility too. A great reason why I love Goa the most...it provides you freedom to move at your will.

Typical beach in Goa, India
Long and peaceful beach in Goa

The beaches of Goa are great, very long and quiet except for the north Goa beaches like Bagga and Anjuna, which are usually crowded with domestic tourists. We stayed near Candolim Beach and frequently visited it during our stay. There were a fewinternational tourist relaxing and taking a sun bath, but not too many. Several were getting body massages done on the beach by the locals.

Candolim Beach in Goa, India
Long and peaceful beach in Goa

The beaches not only provide relaxing area but also prove to be good playground for kids of all ages -- 0 to 99. There are various adventure and sports activities going at various beaches but you can find them more prominent at Anjuna Beach. There you can go water skiing, parasailing, banana boat rides, speed boat rentals, etc. Lots of fun and adventurous activities in Goa is another reason why it's a favorite of some many travelers.

Building sandcastles on the beach in Goa, India
Building sandcastles...the favorite pastime of every kid!

Locals in Goa are jolly and are willing to help. We almost took various inroads and never found ourself lost, even late at night. Though at night it can look spooky, we got help when we wanted so it became the another reason why Goa touched my heart.

The lush greenery of Goa, India

Even the lush green fields and road side greenery adds to the beautiful atmosphere. The sunset was my another favourite thing I loved to watch sitting on the beach side sipping my drink and cherishing the sounds of sea waves.

Sunset over the beach in Goa, India

Goa is a fabulous place for eateries and wines in India as you not only find good quality seafood but also other eateries serving continental and Indian food. The Goan cuisine is also fascinating and its a blend of Indian and continental cuisine. Plus with so many fine eateries just around the corner in Goa you need not ever worry for food, even around midnight -- Goa has a very active nightlife culture. As far as the drinks are concerned, you can find various brands being served here. Goa is heaven for alcohol lovers as the drinks are cheap here. Fenni, a local alcoholic drink made from cashew nuts, is very popular among the locals and tourists. It is very strong. Yes, Goa is truly a must visit for all the alcoholics out there ;)

Sunset over the beach in Goa, India

The next best part of Goa that helps make it my favourite was its nightlife. You walk down the street at midnight and you see people moving, shop twinkling with their colourful lights, casinos working...it is the only place in India to have legal casinos and people sipping their drinks at various bars.

The beachs in Goa, India

Goa has many facets. It's not just the beaches and bars but beyond that it has a vast diversity to offer. The famous waterfall of Doodhsagar, the calm beaches of south Goa, the elephant village, the backwaters of Goa and tons more. Even with three trips down, I am planning another vacation to Goa soon to explore it further.

Panoramic shot of Goa Beach in India

Published in India

Do you find traditional hotels and resorts uninteresting when out on a vacation? Avid adventurists and nature lovers will say ‘yes’ to this question, and this attitude is the reason why the camping culture around the world is on rise. Camps help you to experience nature at close quarters. Be it on mountains, in deserts or be on beaches, camping is an ideal way of exploring the beauty of nature. India and its diverse geography offer a variety of camping sites where you can spend the night under a moonlit sky, sitting with your friends around a bonfire enjoying the beauty of nature. HoliDaze picks from the top camping sites in India include:

Camping in Rishikesh, one of the top places in India for camping

Rishikesh

  Uttarakhand

Nestled in the foothills of the Himalayas, Rishikesh is a tourist place with deep spiritual connection where tons of adventures await. The place is one of the most sought after camping sites due to its awesome natural beauty and various adventure destinations. Living by the banks of the River Ganga is a great experience for anyone. July to September is the best time for enjoying camping in Rishikesh and perfect for adventure lovers.

Camping in Spiti Valley, one of the top places in India for camping

Spiti Valley

  Himachal Pradesh

Located in the Trans-Himalayan belt of Himachal Pradesh, Spiti Valley is described as “a world within a world” by the famous English poet Rudyard Kipling. Camping here gives you a wonderful opportunity to get close to nature and explore this stunning valley. Spiti Valley is also a well-known adventure destination amongst Indians but has yet to truly catch on with foreign tourists -- all the more reason to visit now, before it does! Camping here in May or June gives you relief from the heat of late summer.

Camping in Mussoorie, one of the top places in India for camping

Mussoorie

  Uttarakhand

Adventure lovers and campers gather in Mussoorie to enjoy the thrills of camping and return home with memorable experiences. You will feel like you are in a different world soaking in the splendid views of the white capped Himalayan peaks from the comfort of your camps. Mussoorie, also known as the gateway to Gangotri and Yamunotri shrines, is the favorite spot of trekkers due to its rugged terrains and scenic beauty. March to June is the ideal time for enjoying camping in Mussoorie.

Camping in Jaisalmer, one of the top places in India for camping

Jaisalmer

  Rajasthan

Camping near to the Sam Sand Dunes in Jaisalmer gives you the opportunity to enjoy local Rajasthani food, cultural dances and more. The camps are lit by Mashaals and campfire to provide a truly royal feel of the bygone era. If you are yet not satisfied, watching stars at night from the deserts of golden city is an experience of a lifetime. You can also enjoy camel safaris in Jaisalmer. Needless to say, winter is the best season to enjoy camping here.

Camping in Ladakh, one of the top places in India for camping

Ladakh

  Jammu and Kashmir

Camping is truly an exciting experience in the land of high passes. Enfolded by the arid mountains, Ladakh offers a variety of camping sites for campers of all types. The banks of Pangong and Tsomoriri lakes are ideal camping sites where you can explore the beauty of Ladakh. Of course some other travelers prefer camping in Markha Valley, another favorite destination among trekkers. July and August are the best months to enjoy camping in Ladakh.

Camping in Chandertal Lake, one of the best places in India for camping

Chandertal Lake

  Himachal Pradesh

Also dubbed as ‘the lake of moon’, Chandertal Lake is an ideal camping site. Located at an elevation of 4300m (14,107 ft) in Lahaul and Spiti Valley, Chandertal Lake offers you a great camping experience right in the lap of nature. A stay in the camps here will surely mesmerize you and bewilder your senses. However, altitude sickness may be an issue.

Camping in Anjuna Beach, one of the best places in India for camping

Goa

  Goa

Known for its beautiful beaches, Goa offers campers a variety of camping sites. Spending a night at a camp on one of the Goa’s most popular camping locations allows you to experience the happening culture and nightlife of Goa. Agonda beach, Ashwem beach, and Anjuna beach are a few of the best camping sites here. You will get to experience something new with a beach party while camping in Goa. And be honest, who doesn't love beach parties?

Arguably the best way to enjoy the serenity of nature, camping is one of the best outdoor activities that anyone can enjoy without intense training or practice. It allows you to escape the city and modern life, and provides an opportunity to explore the unexplored countryside. The next time you are in India, be sure to take some time off the beaten tourist trail to enjoy a little camping.

See More       India Unexplored: 24 Incredible Offbeat Destinations   India HoliDaze Guides

Published in India

India is a wonderful place to visit but is a vast country which cannot be covered in one vacation. The food and the people are so good that you will like to come back to India again and again. The country is incredible....true to its slogan INCREDIBLE INDIA. Now let me present you with 10 important tips that may prove helpful when you visit India.

1   First of all I would like to mention that India as seen by many is not a poor country. You will get all the ameneties provdied that you book in advance and have the capacity to bear the cost. Note: planning trip well in advance will not only provide mental peace but also cut your cost. In India usually everything gets booked compeletely full.
2   Don't rely too much on plastic money, be sure to carry some cash, Indian rupee. Although nowadays most of the reputed outlets accept plastic money, cash is preferred and universally accepted.
3   Carry or purchase drinking water of reputed brands at all times. Check out for the seal of the bottle if you feel the bottle is tempered do get it changed. The brands in India are Kinley, Bisleri, Aquafina, Manikchand, Bagpiper, Neer, Himalaya, etc.
4   Since India is a vast country traveling times vary from place to place. Kindly check on the web for best travelling time and place of interest. Best and true facts are provided with government sites ending in ".gov.in"

Pots for sale in Jaipur, India

5   Beware of the guides, shopkeepers and taxi or tuk-tuk walas. They will pursue you for talking to them. They ususally observe you and follow you. Note: pretending that you are with some Indian or know some local there will always give an edge to you. Best is to book your guide through hotel or government appointed guides directly at the tourist spot.
6   If you are in Rome be a Roman and the saying goes true in India. When in India, do as the Indians do. This is particularly true for single women, who should be dressed modestly in Indian attire if they don't want any unsavory attention. Though the country is liberal, it is best to dress up people admire rather than get stared.
7   In India, kindly take this note that the food served is highly spicy, if you want a moderate taste then you should look for the luxury star property or tell the waiter to arrange for the less spicy food. Even the food giant chains that operate in India served Indianized taste such as paneer burger or paneer wrap at McDonalds.

Pushkar, India

8   If you are a shopaholic, then you must move the market at your own, explore it take notes of economy shops. In India same products are sold at different prices and if you are a foreigner than the tag prices shoot up by more than 50% so its better to try out various shops before starting purchase. This practice will definitely save your pocket.
9   Night life in India can only be found in the metro cities like Delhi, Mumbai, etc or tourist spots like Goa. Elsewhere India doesn't have a strong nightlife culture...yet. If you are partying person hook to these city for parties.
10   Note for giving tips in India. If you want a better and personalized service keep giving tips to room boys, cab drivers, waiters, etc. Tip should be moderate -- a minimal tip from you is still a large tip in their eyes. Enjoy that fact and make the most of it.

  Have any tips to add or questions?

Published in India

The Jungle Book tour in Goa, India, truly is one of a kind. With so many new activities and experiences that the average tourist would never normally encounter this is, for many, a one off opportunity! I will tell you about it now. We were collected from our hotel in the resort in the morning and after picking up all of the other tourists we drove for around 2 hours to the spice plantation.

The spice plantation was just as expected -- an area where they grew lots of spices! They gave us a talk about how each spice grows and we got to smell/taste them. They showed us a particularly small and innocent looking chilli that in reality turned out to be aggressively hot! When offered, a bulshy, over-confident middle aged British man (as much as I hate to admit it these types of tourists always seem to be British!) said he would taste this exotic chilli, and much to my, and others’ amusement was rather taken back from the strong spice! ‘Serves you right’ I thought! We all laughed as he jumped around screaming from the spice!

Climbing a tree to harvest the spices

While at the spice plantation they demonstrated how many of the spices are collected. As some of the are very high up in the trees an Indian local showed us how they would climb to the top, collect what they needed and then encourage the tree to sway from side to side until it reached close enough to the next tree for the man to climb over. It all seemed very skilled, but also very unsafe! This is something you would never see in England!

After all the excitement of seeing the spices we were given some lunch where we were able to sample some of them. Lunch was mushed up combination of soggy rice, salad (which I was a bit dubious about eating in India) and some sort of fish in breadcrumbs, or perhaps it was chicken? I wasn’t quite sure! All of this was served on a banana leaf, and we were expected to eat in the traditional style-with our hands!! Well, with the lack of soap and mushy food-I went on a search for a fork, and was very glad when I found one!

Indian lunch

After a somewhat interesting meal, we continued on our journey towards the jungle. We drove for around another hour before we arrived. We were staying in the thick of the jungle. There were huts made from elephant dung that were arranged in a circle around the outside of the clearing. In the middle was a camp-fire and a bar/eating area (OK so the bar is not very authentic but clearly going to be a money earner with the tourists!).

Elephant dung huts
Elephant dung huts

Wandering around the clearing were elephants. It was incredible to have them freely roaming around you in such a way. And they were beautiful! There was also various other nature as expected in the jungle-HUGE spiders, leeches, cockroaches and a very large amount of mosquitos included!

I expected the accommodation to be basic-but this was actually beyond basic! Inside the hut was a double bed with a mosquito net. There was also a basic wooden open wardrobe. Inside the bathroom was a western toilet, a shower and a bath. The shower was cold and only a dribble of water, with ants and various other small creatures crawling all over the surrounding floor area and walls. The bath was a concrete box that you actually couldn’t have paid me to bathe in. But hey, were not here for luxuries-were here for the experience!

Elephant dung bathroom
Elephant dung bathroom

Soon after checking into our huts we were taken on a walk to an ‘authentic’ local village. We walked through the village to see the traditional houses the jungle people lived in and the people. We got to walk through the chief’s house to see how the most important person in the village lived. We then got to meet the children. We were told to teach the children some nursery rhymes. We tried things such as twinkle twinkle little star, Jack and Jill and many other, but the kids knew them all word for word-not bad for people that don’t speak a word of English!?

I knew then that this was not as authentic as they made out! I guess the children will see tourists coming through their village every day like this. And the flat screen TV I saw through the window of one of the huts gave me the impression they weren’t quite as poor as they made out too! Having been studying sustainability in tourism at the time as well, I was rather sceptical and not fooled-like the rest of the naive tourists! But this is not a discussion of authenticity.

Indian-style BMW
Indian-style BMW

After our walk to the village we were taken for a ride in the local means of transport -- the BMW! This was basically just a cart pulled by a cow/bull type animal. Were taken for a 5 minute ride which was a little bit of a disappointment as it was literally to the end of the road and back, but again it was an interesting and amusing experience!

Elephant trekking in the jungle of India was like a scene from The Jungle Book
Elephant trekking in the jungle

Next we went for a trek on an elephant! This was by far one of the highlights of the tour. We had to climb up some stairs and onto a platform to get onto the elephant because it was so high. Then we sat on the top and were taken for a trek through the thick of the jungle. It was great fun! Our elephant was 40 years old and was the oldest elephant they had there. It seemed so happy and healthy looking which was lovely. And it was great to think they had the freedom to wander around the area most of the time, which is sadly not the reality for many elephants used in tourism in India. The ride was great fun and a great experience!

Nightfall

The evening in the camp was an interesting one. We had some curry dinner and then all sat around the campfire watching the traditional Indian dancing and drum playing. I even treated myself to a well-deserved couple of G & T’s! They also put on a show with the elephants where the dressed them up and we got to feed them-it was very cute!

Traditional dancers around a bonfire in Goa, India
Traditional Goan dance

I retired to bed relatively early as it was quite cold round the campfire and I had had enough traditional dancing for one night! Unfortunately it was not a comfortable nights sleep! Before getting into bed I spotted a huge leech on the floor next to the bed! I was too scared to attempt to move it so left it there-although I was worried about it all night! I was also worried about what ever other bugs there were around me! The mosquito net had bugs on the top of it that freaked me out too! Eventually though I did manage to get to sleep, and was glad to wake up and find that I hadn’t been attacked by giant leeches or any other jungle bugs in the night!

It was nice in the night though to lay there listening to the sounds of the jungle. You could hear the elephants outside and the owls and various other animals making their own noises. It was very calming and peaceful, like one of those CD’s you play to help you to get back to sleep!

So we rose at 5am ready for the trek through the jungle to the waterfall. When we set off it was pitch black. It was adventure to trek through the thick jungle with only a torch light to lead the way, and it was beautiful to watch the sun slowly rise. It was quite a challaging up hill walk-but I was ready for it! The only problem was my lack of sensible footwear- jellies didn’t suffice very well at all!!

The trek took us through thick bush to the top of a hill, it was very steep at times and a I was very tired and out of breath by the time I reached the top. However the view from the top made it all more than worth it. We all sat down to admire the beautiful clearly in the jungle, whereby in the middle was a lovely waterfall. I always have been a bit of a sucker for waterfalls too.

Waterfall in Goa, India

After a few minutes rest we began the decent back down, this was even more tricky than the climb! We had to walk along a very picturesque pebbled stream at the bottom of the waterfall, it was lovely but I wasn’t getting on too well with the jelly shoes keep slipping off! But nevertheless I reached the end and completed the trek.

Trekking in Goa, India

By this time it was about 10am and we greeted with a little clearing housing a small temple. Here we had a go at doing some Indian yoga. It was the perfect setting for yoga; a clearing in the Indian jungle, at the bottom of a waterfall, in the morning when the heat was just right, in front of a temple. It was incredibly tranquil. India is the birthplace of yoga too; making it even more perfect.

Yoga while trekking in Goa, India

The only thing that wasn’t perfect, was actually me! I wasn’t terribly enthused at the time as I hadn’t yet developed my passion for yoga. And me and my friend did giggle quite a lot. However, how many people can say their first attempt at yoga was in such a location? Not many!

The last part of the tour was by far the highlight! We were taken in the bus down to a local waterhole where we spent half an hour or so chilling in the water and sunbathing. Then the fun began! We were met by a stampede of over excited elephants running into the water, playing and splashing around! It was absolutely amazing to watch. The elephants looked like they were having so much fun!

Elephants playing in a river in Goa, India

After watching them play for around half an hour, one cam walking towards me. When it got towards the water’s edge I got up and stepped back cautiously. Then to my surprise, the elephant pointed its trunk straight at me and squirted me with water!! Everybody there was watching and they were all laughing in hysterics at me. It was absolutely hilarious and I didn’t stop laughing for ages! I don’t know what drew that elephant to me that day-but it certainly was funny!

Once the elephants had calmed down and were a bit less playful we had the chance to wash them. We got to get into the water with them and scrub them-and you could see that they clearly loved this! It was an amazing experience that I shouldn’t think I will get the opportunity to do too many times in my life! You also had the opportunity to sit on the elephants back in the water and have the squirt you, which most people did and it looked like so much fun! However I was all ‘squirted out’ so decided just to watch this part.

Elephants washing in a river in Goa, India

So this was then the end of the tour and the begin of the journey back to the coast. What a fantastic couple of days!! We got to see and do so much-its was incredible! But one of the nicest things for me, was to see how healthy and well treated the elephants were. Many wild elephants in Asia are killed as they are a nuisance to farmers etc and many are abused through tourism and badly treated. Knowing this, it was such a pleasure to see how well looked after these elephants clearly were. So although it was a tour, and it was a little inauthentic in places, this trip enabled me to have some incredible experiences- and I would certainly recommend it!

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Published in India

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