If you like your markets huge, with live music and drinks, then your trip to Goa isn’t going to be complete without a visit to Arpora Saturday Night Market.
This was our only trip to the north of Goa, and it was interesting to see the contrast. It seemed to have a lot more tourist infrastructure (and actually normal infrastructure – I think I saw multiple pavements!). 8pm on a Saturday night is rarely the time to see anywhere at its best, so I will withhold judgement, but first impressions suggest that I prefer South Goa.
As we pulled up at the market, I felt a bit overwhelmed by the size of the place. There are multiple gates, and you need to pass through metal detectors to be allowed in. My phone had been failing to find a signal for half the trip and I was tired, so I got a bit worried about finding everyone again if we got lost. I’d also been put on edge by about three people telling me to watch my bag – I constantly watch my bag wherever I am, so being told to do so ratchets my paranoia up to disturbing levels. What can I say; I’m a worrier.
Once I’d got inside and got my bag wrapped around myself in a way I was happy with, I cheered up a lot. If you want to fix a rendezvous point in case you lose some members of your group, then the big pole near the stage is a good one as you can see it from most places. While it seems huge, there is order to the market, which can be divided into three sections:
Cheaper goods from Indian merchants, pashminas, spices, homewares, cheap clothes. Some more expensive designer stalls.
Concert stage, bars, loads of food stalls.
More international designers, with a few cheaper stalls thrown in. The upper field felt a bit Ibiza-esque.
The market was buzzing with both tourists and people who looked like they had made a more permanent home in Goa. With the possibility to shop, eat tasty international food, drink and watch live music, it’s no wonder it’s so popular. The concert area was really busy, but with plenty of seating, so if you wanted, you could spend the evening relaxing there. There are western style toilets to the edge of the food area, and they’re alright – I couldn’t work out if I was meant to pay to use them, but since nobody did anything particularly helpful, like give me some loo roll, I didn’t.
There were a lot of signs up saying that the night market is a drug-free zone, but judging by some of the people we saw (including one who was talking to the back of my step-mum’s head for about five minutes), it doesn’t seem very strictly enforced. At any rate, the atmosphere is nice, there weren’t any dealers that I noticed, and it didn’t feel druggy.
While a lot of the goods on sale were the same as we’d seen in other markets, there was a lot more variety here, and there were some really nice things for the home which I now regret not buying- Nepali blankets being top of the list.
Where to Stay
I can see why the night market is such a popular part of most people’s time in Goa, and I’d definitely go back. We travelled up for the night from Colva, and it was a long trip. Next time, I’d stay somewhere locally for a day or two, so I could really appreciate the market and see some more of the area.
This budget hotel won a 2016 TripAdvisor Traveller’s Choice award award. It sounds like a good option if you don’t want to spend too much.
Nilaya Hermitage is my new obsession – go and check out the pictures on TripAdvisor. It looks absolutely stunning.