India - Goa - cow on the beach - 800x450

This former Portuguese enclave has retained the relaxed feel that has traditionally set it apart from the rest of India.  Arriving in 1498, the Portuguese christened Goa ‘The Pearl of the Orient’ and stayed for almost 500 years.  Their influence is everywhere, from the exquisite crumbling architecture of the Catholic churches to Iberian-style homes with wrought-iron balconies, verandas and gardens.

The hippies who made Goa their home in the 1970s may have gone but the hippy and flea markets remain, along with the easy-going, unhurried air which makes this state so enticing.  Restful days may be spent on palm-fringed beaches with sparkling clear seas overlooked by old Portuguese forts day while nights can be enjoyed at restaurants serving the seafood and fish curry specialities of this coastal cuisine.

Accommodation in Goa ranges from small local hotels to luxury 5 star resorts, each providing a good base for getting into Goa’s interior where you can explore spice plantations, sail down sleepy rivers, watch wandering water buffalo or spy on langur monkeys and kingfishers.