Length of Trip: 2 months.
There is no place on earth like India! Its hustle and bustle cities, beautiful beaches, strong aromas of herbs and spices and their big gentle cows walking the streets, make it a unique place to discover. You can’t talk about India and not mention the best part of India, the people. They love to talk, will help you out in whichever way they can and have amazing, generous and passionate personalities. We ran around the central west coast of India for six weeks, discovering Mangalore, Gokarna, Goa, and Bangalore.
Here is our journey:
Click on the tabs below to read about each destination:
Mangalore is an up and coming tech city, but with huge potential and great views on creating a “clean” city. We flew into Mangalore and decided to stay a couple of days to help us get our bearings and see what this city had to offer. We aren‘t big city people, so a couple of days is usually enough for us.
Mangalore has malls, its own ice cream chain and some great food options, so walking around the city and just taking everything in seems to be the best thing to do. While we were there, we only saw two other tourist couples, so this area is pretty fresh when it comes to visitors.
The mistake that we made was thinking that this was going to be our only westernized food location on this trip. We ate a mix of McDonald’s, Pizza Hut and KFC so that we could get our western food buzz before venturing into areas that we thought we were only going to be able to get Indian food. But WE WERE SO WRONG! Not only are Indians incredible at making western food, but we found a pretty good collection of it everywhere we went. So we were pleasantly surprised but also a little disappointed we only ate at fast-food places while there. (Note: We do love Indian food. It’s just hard for travellers to eat those flavours every day.)
We visited the Central Mall multiple times because we were staying close by. We spent the day looking for a bunch of temples but the only one that really stood out to us was the Gokarnanatheshwara Temple. We also went to a college in town that has a church on campus called the St. Aloysius Chapel.
- Metered rickshaws are very common in Mangalore and are much cheaper than asking for a price. It seemed that Mangalore was one of the only places that still used meters, so if you need to get a far distance, hail down a rickshaw and ask if they use the meter, if not, move onto the next one.
Hotel Hanuman: Indian breakfast included. Not super nice but okay. Don’t drink “drinking water” water.
St. Aloysius Chapel and of course Ideal ice cream
McDonald’s: was actually pretty great. While the rest of the world tries to shove McDonald’s into the vegetarian/vegan era, Indian McDonald’s is already there. They have great potato and soy patty options.
Juice Junction: A MUST! It’s right next door to the Central Mall and has awesome juice choices. Their snickers shake was my absolute favourite, but they had any juice you could think of.
Ideal Ice cream: Mangalore’s very own ice cream brand, so make sure you get there and give a few different flavours a try. The local favourite is the “gadbad”. A mix of vanilla and strawberry ice cream with fruit and nuts.
Heading to Gokarna
Our first train ride! The train ride itself was very simple and spacious, but the ticket process was a little confusing. Before heading to the train station to book your ticket, make sure you have your passport and a pen with you (this process seemed to just be in Mangalore). While standing in line, you will need to fill out a little form with your details of where you want to go and which service you would like to take. It’s always good to do some research before you take trains, i.e. pricing and class. We took the cabin, and it was spacious and quiet. At this point, we were feeling a little food sick (could have been our bodies adapting to the different food and water), so a spacious and quiet area was perfect. It took us about 5 hours to reach Gokarna.
*Note: 100% read up on trains or watch some Youtube videos before you venture into India. It’s important to be prepared for whatever train rides will throw at you!
Gokarna was a unique place we visited on this trip and it also ended up being our favourite spot in India. Particularly, Kudle Beach.
The town centre of Gokarna is much busier compared to the beach area. The town is known as a temple town and is home to many holy temples which bring in people from all over India. It is “one of the seven important Hindu pilgrimage centres.” This makes the town very busy, particularly in the mornings, where locals come and worship in a temple with what is believed to have the original image of Lord Shiva inside. For me, it felt like we were just in the way, so we tried to be there for the least amount of time that we could. We generally only went into town for an ATM and some fresh fruit. However, when we did venture in, we always ate at the Shree Shakti Cold. The food was always great, it was cheaper than on the beach and with the restaurant always being busy we were able to trust that what we were getting was always fresh. They also have natural peanut butter that was amazing and great for snacks when you’re on the beach.
Before I talk about this amazing beach, you need to know that it is quite a hike to get to the beach from your drop off point on the road. It’s worth it and more likely than not, you’ll be staying on the beach, so you won’t have to do it often. Its a mix of stairs, a downward path, and some rocky parts near the end. There is no hotel staff that is going to help you with bags (at least not when we were there), so just be ready. Once you get down and enjoy the beautiful beach, you’ll forget all about the journey to get there.
It is easily understandable why people get lost in time here. I can easily say that we nearly did too. Each day we were asking our accommodation if we could stay more nights because we just couldn’t decide when to leave. Most of the beach is lined with restaurants, and most of those restaurants have accommodation in the back. We walked up and down the whole beach to find our best options and we found the Shri Umamaheshwar Cottages. There are other great ones too, but this one worked out the best for us.
Other then an ATM, everything you need is at the beach, hence the whole never wanting to leave. Unfortunately, on the beach, there are no umbrellas or chairs to sit on. Normally this wouldn’t be a problem, but the sun during the day is very strong and there aren’t really any shaded areas. Many people use the mornings and evenings to venture out onto the beach. During that hot time of the day, you can sit in the restaurants, overlooking the water and enjoy really great food and drinks.
In the evenings, vendors and musicians make their way to the middle of the beach. Vendors sit and sell everything from jewellery, clothing, food, and crystals. Musicians get their drums, or whatever instrument they have and start to create amazing music together. At night, the drum circle begins, and people either sit, listen and enjoy, or get up and dance. It’s a very enjoyable part of the beach scene, so make sure to check it out.
Weekends get incredibly busy with people from all over (including locals) wanting to enjoy this beautiful beach. The best part about this, it seems that the locals are ALWAYS having such a great time. It’s really fantastic to see!
If you want to see more of Gokarna you can check out @gokarnavibes on Instagram!
About a 30-minute walk is the next beach called Om Beach. Some people may say the beaches are similar, but I personally found them to be pretty different. The beach is named “Om Beach” because it is shaped as two semi crescents joined together forming the Om symbol (Hindu symbol). The beach is lined with a lot more forestry than Kudle Beach and rocks line some of the waterfront. It is a beautiful beach to visit and relax on. This beach too does not have umbrellas and chairs either. Make sure to walk over in the morning and back in the afternoon, or you can catch a rickshaw at the top of the hill. You‘ll understand when you get there.
Paradise beach is another 45-minute walk past Om Beach and a beach we didn’t venture too. Through videos and pictures, it looks like an incredible beach and if you’re up for the adventure, I’d definitely recommend doing it.
Shri Umamaheshwar Cottages: we stayed in the new buildings in the back. One thing to note is that sleeping on or close to the beach without A/C will make your room very damp. If we would go back, we would probably get A/C. (though in peak season A/C rooms can cost double the price). Not that you necessarily need it but it will help a lot with the dampness of everything in your room.
Cows walking around and sleeping all over the beach and drum circle gathering every night! We actually were there when a musician with a saxophone was playing, it was amazing!
La Pizzeria Kudle View: This was the first place we ate at and we grabbed a margherita pizza and veggie noodles. Next time we just ended up getting a pizza each. They are really, really good! A good crust, good amount of cheese and the great service.
German Bakery: Our go-to place when we wanted that really big breakfast. We would get the spinach breakfast which included a spinach and veggie hash, scrambled eggs, toast, jam, butter and fresh OJ for about 200 rupees.
Om Shanti Cafe: We ate here once, and it was easily our biggest meal. We were both blown away by the portion sizes. We got the fried rice and veggie stir-fry with cashew sauce and it wasn’t only delicious but enough to feed four.
Sizzler Restaurant: I could not find the actual name of this restaurant anywhere but we ate here so often! What I do remember is a line of restaurants and this one was in the middle. We got the mushroom and eggplant sizzler and it was one of our favourite meals throughout the whole trip! The mushroom and eggplant were lightly battered and fried, then doused in gravy. It came with rice or fries and buttered vegetables. A bonus of eating a sizzler on the beach, the food stays hotter for longer!
Gokarna to Goa: We took the train from Gokarna train station to Patnem train station. The journey took us about an hour and a half and was very very cheap (maybe 200 rupees/$3 for both of us). There aren’t really classes on this train, but be ready for the possibility of standing up on this journey.
Researching the “top 10 beaches in Goa” will unfortunately not help you in knowing which one is particularly great for you. Beaches we thought we‘d never love, we adored, and beaches we thought we loved we didn’t really like at all. Goa is made up of 17 main beaches (a lot of little ones too), some to party on and some for families. It is going to be hard to pin point which beach you will like the most. Each beach is not only different, but it seemed that every single person who goes to a beach will have a totally different experience there, as we found out. So instead, I decided to break down the beaches we visited for you.
Originally we wanted to come and experience Palolem Beach, but once we ventured into it and saw what it was like, we ended up moving south to the much more quieter beach of Patnem. However, for weekend getaways or partiers, Palolem is a picturesque version of your beach party vibes. It not only has colourful restaurants and accommodation that line the beach but also has the most amazing palm tree forest lining the beach front. What feels like hundreds of palm trees stretch all up and down this beach, making it one of the more unique beaches we saw on our trip. This beach and many of Goa’s beaches are lined with chairs and umbrellas to relax on.
We opted for Patnem Beach purely for relaxation purposes. We aren’t really into trance music and preferred to stay as far away from it as we could (ends up being really hard to do in Goa). We often sat at whatever restaurant we could find comfortable loungers at and enjoyed food and drinks. At night, a lot of the restaurants move their day beds back and place table settings out on the beach to watch the sunset (which I assume they do at Palolem too), which was so beautiful and romantic. I think one of the most convenient parts of Patnem beach was its little shopping street that ran directly to the beach. Little food, clothing and jewellery stores, restaurants, fruit stalls and a bakery were all on this street.
Our accommodation was actually really amazing. It felt like we were staying in a Canadian cottage.
Silent Noise Club (restaurant): We found this spot when we were first making our way to Palolem. You sit on the water and look over all of Palolem beach. Gianni, my boyfriend, loved the food, but for me, it seemed like I always got the short end of the stick. If you like really spicy food and don’t like sandwiches, this is your spot!
Bakehouse: The one bakery at Patnem beach was really delicious. This was also the beginning of our bakery run as they seemed to have one similar to this at every beach we went to (they were often called German bakeries). They serve everything from cheesecake, to apple tarts, to cookies and these amazing little chocolate balls that I fell in love with.
Patnem to Arambol: We took a train to Punaji (Goa’s capital) and found a car service to take us to Arambol Beach (I don’t remember the prices.)
This beach is a little tricky for me to explain, being one of our “we thought we would love it and didn’t end up really liking it at all” beaches. To us, Arambol had the worst beach out of all the beaches we had been at so far. The beach had a lot more rubbish and the sand left a blackish tinge on your feet (could be totally normal). It is a really big beach though, with lots of places to eat, relax and party. I don’t think this should stop you from going, as many, many people adore Arambol beach and we found that this was the place that a lot of people actually ended up either stopping and spending a lot of time in or living in.
Off the beach is a street market that starts right at the beach and winds its way right out of town. Although busy, the street is lined with stalls, restaurants, accommodation and is a great road to walk up and down to just look at things. We ended up staying in three separate hotels while here. In the first, the mattress was so hard we both woke up in a lot of pain (Taj Palace), the second was a lot more comfortable but right on the road making it very noisy (Sunny Guesthouse) and the third, was still on the road, but our room was towards the back, being a little quieter for us (Grandparents style right?!).
Om Ganesh Saavi Guest House
Banyan Tree: Next to Arambol, between two mountains, on the left of Sweet Water Lake, is a very special Banyan Tree that you can go to. Sit for a while and enjoy the company of other adventurers and Baba. Best to google instructions as we did.
Revolution – We found this place by chance. Tucked in the back underneath a huge mango tree. This restaurant was easily the highlight of our Arambol stay and the reason we stayed for so long. The food here was so incredibly amazing, we were blown away every time! Although they do have Indian food, they serve up some amazing Turkish options. Our favourite menu options were the mezze platter and the cheese explosion. Together.
Arambol to Anjuna: Our accommodation was able to get us a driver to take us to Anjuna Beach. We don’t usually book this through our accommodation as there is often more people involved, meaning people need their payouts, but after shopping around, this was the cheapest option.
This area was a place we never thought we would enjoy as much as we did. Even leaving Arambol, everyone told us we would hate it, then we stayed for 2 weeks. Anjuna is known for its all-night trance parties. So if you’re not into those, staying off the beach and in town is a must. We ended up staying at Albert’s Place in town and we couldn’t have picked a better spot. Our days were spent either hanging out at the Flea Market Bar & Restaurant on the beach or relaxing at our accommodation. Either way, this area can be your party destination or your downtime. It’s easy to have a pretty good mix of both here.
Albert’s Place: Found accommodation by foot.
We found a dirt path that headed along the coastline. We took it on our morning walk and at the end, we found ourselves across the river from the very busy Calangute Beach. Its a gorgeous walk along the mountainside and on the beach.
Domino’s Pizza: Sounds a little crazy, but many restaurants in our area were only open for breakfast and lunch, making it a little difficult to find dinner. We were also happy with our little accommodation and some nights just didn’t want to leave. So pizza delivery it is! Service was excellent, prompt and the pizzas were awesome. (Cheese pizzas were the cheapest). There was just one dud delivery driver who never brought change. On our last night, I even called the restaurant to make sure they brought change, dude pretended he didn’t have it then told me I should give it to him as a tip. No tip unless ya brought change my man! So don’t be fooled, be careful with these types of people.
Moon Star Beer Bar & Restaurant: The curries here were SO amazing and really beautifully displayed too. They had a huge selection which was great because we could enjoy some dishes we hadn’t tried before. They were even patient with us while we googled all the different types of curries.
Cafe Diogo: A cute little family-run restaurant (their house was in the back). This was our go-to easy and cheap place to eat. We would order the veggie curry thali and a porridge. An easy spot if you need it.
Goa to Bangalore: We flew because we didn’t want to take a really really long train ride.
To start our trip and end our trip in cities was quite a treat. A dose of modern and clean was definitely welcomed. Once again, we only need a few days in a city and walking is the best way to see and experience everything you need. We stayed at the OYO 577 Hotel The Splendour Park and our room had a view of a cricket field and a little section of the city, which was really cool. From there, we were able to get rickshaws and Uber to take us long distances and just walked ourselves around. Something to take note of is the times of temple openings and closings. Unfortunately, we missed out on seeing a lot of them because our timing was way off.
There a lot of things you can do in Bangalore, so depending on the time you have, it’s probably better to research what you specifically want to see before you go. Our list is a mix of places we planned on going and places we stumbled across:
Cubbon Park: A beautiful scenic walk through the park. It was a really hot day when we were visiting so we took some time to sit and relax. Very peaceful, calm and beautiful.
Commercial Street: A popular shopping street where you can pretty much buy anything you want or need.
Brigade Road: Another busy shopping street like Commercial Street.
St. Mary’s Basilica: A large gothic church. We weren’t able to go inside at the time but from what we could see from the outside it looked really nice.
Vidhana Soudha: Described as a “temple dedicated to the nation”. This government building is huge and just a quick stop on your adventures.
Bangalore Fort: A little confusing for us as we entered a square area with nothing really inside. We believe there may have been more parts of this fort but at the time we were too exhausted to try and figure it out.
Bull Temple: We were having such bad luck with temples opening and closing times so when we showed up to this temple 30 minutes before it was about to close we were pretty pumped. Two temples were here, one was a walk up a little hill with a big Bull inside.
KR Market: The craziest place we went on our time in Bangalore. It was the weekend and it was extremely busy. It was amazing to see locals buying and selling fruit and vegetables, flowers or what whatever the stores are selling on the streets. Just be ready for smells and sensory overload. This was the first place in all my time in India that the smell was so bad I start dry heaving. (and I’m not a sensitive person)
VV Puram Food Street: Best to visit this eat street at night as only some good options were open during the day. We had a paratha, sugarcane juice and some fresh baked goods from the bakery. There should be way more options at night I would believe.
UB City: Super fancy mall and a good A/C break if you need it. Very beautiful inside with stores like Chanel, Louis Vuitton and all the other expensive stores I wouldn’t buy anything from.
Orion Mall: This was our first stop when we got to Bangalore and its a really nice mall. We wanted food, so we pretty much went straight up to the food court and had Subway and donuts. We just wanted some familiar food.
FoodHall @ 1 MG Road: This supermarket is so freaking cool! We stumbled upon it by accident and spent way to much time in it. (We love grocery stores). They have incredible amazing and delicious NUTELLA CRONUTS here. They also have a little cafe and tons of samples.
If you are here for a little while or want to just spend evenings relaxed in your room, a great app to download is Swiggy. It’s the Bangalore version of Uber Eats and has tons of great food options. After our long hot days walking around the city, we spent most nights staying in our comfortable room and ordering in. You can get all the classics plus some delicious local eats.
OYO 577 Hotel The Splendour Park
Bangalore in itself was a huge highlight. Everyday was a big adventure and we saw new things everywhere.
Bowring Kulfi: We totally stumbled on to this place and it was one of the best ice creams I have ever had. Although similar, Kulfi doesn’t have the same process or ingredients like ice cream. Kulfi is more dense and creamy making it really unique but oh so good.
Foodhall @ 1 MG Road: We love grocery stores but the highlight of this place was its Nutella cronut. They also had a really nice cafe and tons of samples inside the store. It was like a little food adventure.
Our India adventure was much more tamed then what it could have been. We decided to stay away from the really busy cities like Dehli and Mumbai and stuck to more relaxing style areas. Sticking to the coastline is something you will definitely be able to do, but finding the spot you’ll like the most seems to be a trial and error process. We loved India and will be back there for sure. Its people, food, scenery and even animals all make for a wonderful place to visit.
Goodluck on your travels