The basics
Sneak peek
It’s big
Count about 3 hours to drive North to South Goa, so choose where you stay carefully. For first timers, I suggest visiting both. The south (Palolem, Patnem) is calm. You will find accessible empty beaches and many yoga centers. The north (Morjhim, Anshvem, Anjuna) is hippie land with more restaurants, bars, shops, and parties. It can get crowded.
 
Avoid the “middle”
The middle (Baga, Calangute) is “interesting”, it could be defined as an Indian Ibiza. Now that I saw it, I can affirm that I will never go back. If you are traveling alone, don’t stay there or avoid the beach at night.
 
Don't book all your hotels
I like to know where I go and when I go, so I made sure to pre-book ALL my hotels before departure. I regretted it. On the beaches, you will find so many nice bungalows that you can’t find online. You just have to pick the one you like the most! To conclude, only book 1 or 2 nights to have an arrival base. Trust the Inspector.
 
Hippies everywhere
I never witnessed such a high concentration of real hippies in my whole life, especially North. Pack a few peace and love accessories in your luggage to blend in the mass. Hippies never lose their cool, so be ready to put on your best “I am not going to lose it in the middle of India” face.
 
Scooters are for losers
Don't you know how to drive a bike? Start practicing. No-one drives scooters, even girls. Ask around, you can rent a Harley, Royal Enfield…You will have many options to drive in style.
 
You will get sick
If you are a couple, get ready for some serious romance. Always have some tissues and wipes in case of emergency.

Empty beaches are rare
You will find them at the borders of Goa. Must see are Querim north and Turtle Beach south. The beaches are huge and empty as requested. It can be hard to find a water or a shadow. Make sure you are equipped. 
 
You will find yourself
Seriously, lots happened in Goa. First of all, I realized that I was not a hippie anymore, or never was to be fair. Since then, I shamelessly assume the fact that I like to travel in style. Most importantly, it’s where it all started. There, surrounded by Russian hippies, I created [email protected]
Must do
Check your visa requirements
It’s not an easy story. They are very strict and the lady at the counter will meticulously check your file. If you don't want to fail the inspection, follow the instructions carefully. From Hong Kong count a good week, once your file has been accepted.


Shop at Wednesday Flea market in Anjuna
The market is huge and has everything your inner hippie wants to bring home. Spices, hammocks, dishes, jewelry, clothes…Get some serious cash ready, no atm around.


Eat a palak paneer
It’s my favorite Indian dish. It’s vegetarian, made with spinach and cottage cheese.
Once you tried it, you will spend the rest of your life hunting for good palak paneers.
  
Treat yourself with an Ayurvedic massage
This is the Indian traditional massage. They use a special oil that is meant to detox your body. I did it and loved it. I don't have a specific place to recommend, you will have plenty of options to choose from!

The south
For: silence, yoga, empty beaches

The hotels
Sneak peek
Grand Hyatt
I simply loved it. If you have the budget, it’s a good arrival point to start transitioning. It’s not really representative of Goa but it’s the perfect place to relax. There is not much to do around apart from that beautiful, empty beach. Foodwise, the breakfast was delicious and I loved the outdoor terrace. Otherwise, the a la carte food was super expensive and not that great. It’s better to eat from the beach restaurants. They are much cheaper, much better and people are very kind. My favorite was the one just left of the hotel. I can’t recall the name but you can’t miss it. You must try their crab.

Goa University Road, Bambolim, Goa 403206
 
The Lalit, Golf & Spa Resort
The hotel is beautiful with a Baroque-Portuguese style architecture. The gardens and the decors are quit impressive. I felt like an Indian princess just by walking around the hotel. The property is 85 acres if you like to golf this is the place to be. The rooms are very big and nice. It has a private beach as well. The pool is beautiful, but I must warn you that the music is special. The DJ seems to be a big fan of Russian nightclubs. The breakfast was the best part of my day! As usual, the a la carte food was very expensive and simply ok. To find life (and food), you will have to walk to the next beach, Patnem. It’s very close, about a 10mn walk on low tide. I would suggest staying at the Lalit 1 night for the experience and to have an arrival base south. Afterward, find a bungalow on Patnem. How? Just go for a long walk on the beach and pick one.

Raj Baga, Canacona, Goa 403702

Beach Bungalows
You can't miss them! You have MANY options on Palolem and Patnem beaches. Don't forget the sunscreen, the walk will take 1-2 hours, depending on how fast you are.
The food
Sneak peek
April 20, Patnem Beach
You can’t go on Patnem and not eat there, and you can’t eat there and not try the naans! Those naans are the best I ever had. Not to be disappointed, book in advance for dinner during the high season, it can be hard to get a table. Alternatively, it’s also a nice place to be during sunset time for a cocktail with a mountain of naans. Did I mention you should try their naans?
 
Surya Beach Cafe, Turtle Beach
This restaurant knows how to market itself. The first thing you will notice when arriving at Turtle Beach is the restaurant’s sign displaying Gordon Ramsey’s recommendation. Go big or go home I went for it. I was not disappointed. I think the Goan crab was the best I had the whole trip. Sadly, I can’t confirm if Gordon actually tried it as he has still not answered my e-mails. Gordon, can you hear me?
 
Magic Italy, Palolem Beach
If you are a fan of Italian food or overdosing on curries this is the place to go. When you arrive, don't let the appearances stop you from entering, it’s not the most welcoming place in town. The food makes up for it, especially the pizzas. They took me back to life on a homesick day. As a result, I ate there three times and I feel no shame!

The north
For: Life, parties, empty beaches

The hotels
Sneak peek
Beach Bungalows
The best option in this area is to rent a bungalow. As tourism is developing they are building some brand new ones that are really nice, but you can’t find them online. If you are hippie cool, have a long walk along Morhjim and Ashvrem beaches. The walk will take 1-2 hours. If you don't see anything you like, check the back streets, sometimes there are some little affordable gems. If you fancy hippie parties, go in Vagator or Anjuna. I saw many stunning bungalows. Just be aware that the area is a giant nightclub, you won't get much sleep.  

Fort Tiracol, Heritage Hotel
This is a gem that I discovered driving up north in search of empty beaches. At first, it’s hard to tell that it’s a hotel, I thought it was a viewpoint. When you pass the gate, you discover a hidden heaven. The original architecture has been well maintained and the sea view is priceless! I make it my mission to stay there at least 1-night next time I visit Goa.

Pernem Taluka, Tiracol, Goa 403524
http://www.forttiracol.in/

To avoid: Montego Bay Beach Villa
It was too expensive for what it was. The bungalows are very old, bathrooms are awful, I hated it. I felt dirty just sleeping there. It looks good on pictures because it’s on the beach and they have a nice garden, but you can find much better and cheaper. If you happen to stay there and are looking to escape, just walk around. You will find some affordable brand new bungalows within a 10mn walk radius. I successfully escaped.

Vithaldas Waddo, Morjim, Pernem, Goa 403512
The food
Sneak peek
Cafe Dolphin
A cute a little Indian & Italian restaurant. Nothing fancy, but it feels good to be there. The food is great and served with love. If you have a sweet tooth, I suggest the deep fried banana with Nutella. The portion is massive, it’s better to share. This was actually my first picture of food and where I decided to create Inspector Gourmand.

Morjim Road, Pernem, Mardi Vaddo, Morjim, Goa 403512
 
La plage
I will cherish this place forever. Everything was real French, from the food to the staff. I keep such a nice souvenir of my lunch there. The beetroot and mango carpaccio was the highlight of my orders. Nicely refreshing after a long walk on the beach, it’s a must order. To be honest, nothing was disappointing. Again, during the high season book in advance, chances are low you will get a table otherwise.

Ashvem Beach, Mandrem, Goa 403512
 
Bora Bora Life
This is the place to be to “chill” and it’s open 24/7. No big parties going on there, mostly hippies in pajama relaxing and drinking tea (if you know what I mean). I only tried the desserts and must admit they were pretty good! My favorite was the chocolate & walnut cake. If you are in the neighborhood at night, it's a place to go check out.

Morjim Beach, Vithaldas Vaddo, Morjim, Goa 403512
 
Moonlight Tibetan Restaurant
It was soooo good! I took the spinach and cottage cheese momos. If I didn’t have plans after I would have ordered a second plate. Go go go go! Plus the decor is cool. They have a superhero theme going on.

Ozran Beach Rd, Vagator, Goa 403509
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