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If the full-on hustle and bustle of India proves too much, there's one corner of the subcontinent that's forever chilled. Goa is India lite, an exotic tropical enclave on the Arabian Sea that's a manageable size, has laid-back locals and a fascinating culture influenced by the former Portuguese colonial rulers. In place of Hindu temples and Muslim mosques are the magnificent cathedrals of Old Goa, a ruined city that once rivaled Lisbon in its architectural splendor. The state capital of Panaji (also known as Panjim) is a lovely place where the old Portuguese flavor is best experienced in leisurely strolls through the Sao Tome, Fontainhas ...

If the full-on hustle and bustle of India proves too much, there's one corner of the subcontinent that's forever chilled. Goa is India lite, an exotic tropical enclave on the Arabian Sea that's a manageable size, has laid-back locals and a fascinating culture influenced by the former Portuguese colonial rulers. In place of Hindu temples and Muslim mosques are the magnificent cathedrals of Old Goa, a ruined city that once rivaled Lisbon in its architectural splendor. The state capital of Panaji (also known as Panjim) is a lovely place where the old Portuguese flavor is best experienced in leisurely strolls through the Sao Tome, Fontainhas and Altino areas or along the Mandovi River.

The grand family mansions of the serene inland village of Chandor are worth a look, as is the architecture museum at Torda, in a striking new building designed by one of India's top architects. Most of all, though, Goa is about beaches, from the rocky headlands of Arambol in the north to idyllic Palolem in the south. The backpackers' nirvana of Anjuna may no longer be the top choice for the party crowd, but its Wednesday market remains the best in the state, an opportunity to stock up on colorful souvenirs from all over India.

Simon Richmond
About the Expert

Simon Richmond has written Rough Guides to Malaysia and Japan; Lonely Planet guides to India and Russia; and adventure travel guides for Frommer's on Australia, India, South America, and Southeast Asia.

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Simon Richmond for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Located on the west coast of India in the region known as the Konkan, the Arabian Sea forms its western coast.
  • Language: Hindi, Bengali, Telugu, Marathi, Tamil, Urdu, Gujarati, Malayala
  • Currency: Indian Rupee
  • Research: Wikitravel | Wikipedia
  • Weather: Daylight | Rainfall
  • Current Time:

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    October to March; December to February for the beach scene