Best Hostel in North Goa – Asterix

To Travel is to Live” – Seen on the wall of Asterix Hostel

After getting my trusty red Avenger at Panjim, I headed over to north Goa, to Vagator. My destination was Asterix, a hostel with rave reviews on Tripadvisor. I’d heard a lot about it and was curious to experience it for myself. Why miss out on visiting one of the best hostels in North Goa?

Asterix hostel entrance

Asterix hostel entrance

A couple of wrong turns, going back and forth on the main road looking like a lost tourist and I was there. A kind lady called Mary Ann sitting behind the desk took the registration details and then showed me around. I was pretty impressed by the relaxed ambiance, how clean and organised everything was.

My dorm on the ground floor

My dorm on the ground floor

Asterix hostel has two wings. The main one has a dirt track leading up to the hostel. You go down the path, past the gate, and reach a building with leafy trees all around. There’s a fun common area with books and board games, 2 hammock like seats/swings you can sit on and chill out with other guests.

Mary Ann showed me the dorm room which I’d selected. It was an AC dorm room at Rs. 500 (US$10) a night, to be shared with 5 others.  Quite a good deal. Mary also showed me the pantry, which has filtered water to drink, as well as a fridge with beer and snacks. The beer is cheap, just Rs. 40 (less than US$1)! The beer and snacks are charged, but on an honor system. Have what you want, just write your name on the notebook along with the quantity you had and you’ll be charged on check out. Mary Ann also explained the laundry system. They’ve got numbered laundry bags, 1-5. All you have to do is drop your clothes in one of the bags, and then they’ll be washed and returned. Then you have to hang them up to dry. It was pretty reasonable, I think around Rs. 50/100 (US$ 1-2) per laundry bag and lots of guests use it. Also their wifi password is really cute :P. Can you guess what it might be?

I took a lot of pictures of the kitchen and hostel, noting the messages various travelers had scribbled on the wall. Some of them were really creative; all of them had a whiff of adventure.

To Travel is to Live

To Travel is to Live

Kingkisser: Definitely not Beer

Kingkisser: Definitely not Beer

I ran and I'm still running away

I ran and I’m still running away

The most fun part of the day was in the evening, when I headed to the main hostel. A couple of German guys, David, Alex, Benji, a Swiss guy and an English girl, Charlotte were sitting and playing a beer game. It looked fun and I joined them. The game’s basically everyone taking turns to ask a question. The question consists of giving two options and asking everyone what their choice is, for example; God or Nature. After everyone gives their choice, the person who asked the options tells the correct choice, e.g. God. So everyone who was said Nature, has to take a swig.

It’s quite a fun game to play in hostels, especially with new people and travelers. And you get to know a lot about other people, from the way they answer their questions. We moved from God or Nature to much more adult options, which I won’t discuss here. Go to Asterix and find out for yourself.

Asterix has a fun code of conduct which I found pretty interesting.

Code of Conduct

Code of Conduct

If you feel hungry, just walk out to Mango tree. It’s 2min away from Asterix, and has a bar. You can sit order Indian, Continental or Goan; lots of options. I stayed at Asterix for one day, and had breakfast at Mango tree on the next.

Mango tree restaurant with bar

Mango tree restaurant with bar

How to get to Asterix: Hire a bike at Panjim, and it’s a 25-30 min ride away. 10min from Anjuna. Ask anyone for Asterix hostel near the Mango Tree restaurant. It’s on the main road, you’ll see a sign with Asterix’s helmet on it. Be alert, the sign’s kind of small, but you won’t miss it.

Anjuna to Asterix

Anjuna to Asterix

Budget: Low – Medium

  1. Rs. 300-400 (US$ 6-8) per night for non-AC dorm room
  2. Rs. 500 (US$10) per night for AC dorm room
  3. Rs. 1300 (US$26) for a single room which can be shared by 2 people

Keep in mind that these prices are in the low season of June-August. Prices will be higher during the peak tourist season of Oct-March. Call ahead and check to be sure.

Asterix Contact Info

Asterix Contact Info

Goan Flavour Rating: Bombastic 10/10!

All in all, I would rate Asterix a 10 on 10 for the stay, experience and ambiance. Compared to other places to stay, this is definitely one of the best options in north Goa. I met a fun group of people, talked to this dude who’s a sailor from Turkey; it’s a great place to hang out if you are travelling alone, or with 1-2 friends.

My Turkish friend and I

My Turkish friend and I

Goan Getaway Uno – Bangalore to Goa, April 2013

This April, I had two awesome guys come over from busy Bangalore to relaxed Goa.

Neel and Ayush

For best effects, click below and listen to song while you read this post :P!

Boyz in town

Da Boyz in town. Mission: Relax, Party and Freak OUT.

Ayush was my roommate in college and Neel is our batchmate. They’re both working for very nice companies in Bangalore and were in Goa to chill for the weekend. And chill, we did. From Morjim to Ashvem, from the Vagator beach to the Saturday Night Bazaar and finally from Baga to home, we had a blast. 

The two days were packed! We found a new way to Vagator beach after following the wrong signboards, had awesome food at Sublime (post here), Britto’s and more.  Both Sublime and Britto’s have great reviews on Tripadvisor (click on the names and check them out).

Relaxed and recharged from their weekend break, they were kind enough to answer the following questions, really helpful to all the folks coming from Bangalore to Goa for the perfect Goan holiday.

1. What was the budget for the trip?

Neel: The trip being a last minute, unplanned vacation overshot the estimated budget of Rs. 10k by around Rs. 2-3k (Rs. 12k or US$ 225 approx). For a weekend spent in Goa, Rs. 10k (US$ 185 approx.) per person should suffice if planned well in advance without factoring in the cost of air travel which is highly recommended.  

Ayush: Our budget was around 10k but it got shot up to 12k per person 🙂

2. How many days did you plan to spend in Goa?

Neel: 3 days, Friday to Sunday . My suggestion would be to extend your trip by another day, give some leeway to take in the sights and sounds of Goa.

 Ayush: We had a set itinerary- 3 days and 2 nights in all (2 nights in the bus as well)

Vagator beach

Vagator beach: an ad was being shot there

3. What was the mode of travel and how was the experience?

Neel:  We took a Volvo seater bus from bangalore to Goa. It is not a very comfortable journey but more importantly the bus travel eats up on your vacation time. The 12-14 hour ride along with the time taken to recover cuts down on significantly on your time spent in Goa. 

Ayush: We traveled by bus and it took 12 hours on each side. The journey was alright but I would advice taking a flight if one can plan out one’s trip well in advance.

4. How was the hotel/guesthouse you stayed at and would you stay there again? Especially in terms of cleanliness, safety, etc.

Neel: We spent the first day at Montego Bay Resort which is right on Morjim beach. Highly recommended to those seeking to be Far from the Madding crowd. Proximity to good eateries (Sublime) and pubs (Cabana) made it an ideal stay. The second day was spent at a resort near Vagator beach. What it lacked in ambience it made up in comfort and facilities. 

For fellow vacationers , it is highly recommended to plan your place of stay in advance. 

Ayush: Both our guest houses were comfy. Our first guest house was along the beach and that was a plus point. They were priced slightly on the higher end but I guess you more or less get what you pay for :p

5. Overall, how would you rate your Goa holiday – Horrible/Ok/Good/Great/Awesome??

Neel: Great 

 Ayush: I would rate our trip as good. Unfortunately we did not have chances to make new friends 😦

Band playing at Saturday Night Bazaar, Anjuna

Band playing at Saturday Night Bazaar, Anjuna

6. Was there any bad experience (e.g. taxi/bike overcharging), and if yes how did you overcome it?

Neel: Searching for a resort the second day. Good old Google helped us overcome it. 

Ayush: Nope, no bad experience

7. What would you recommend for other working guys to do/not do if they were travelling to Goa?

Neel: Plan it out guys and don’t forget the sunscreen. 

Ayush: Definitely go to the Saturday flea market. Hire a vehicle for most of your stay since you’ll be travelling around a lot.

Strawberry Daiquiri at Britto's

Strawberry Daiquiri at Britto’s

8. What was the best part of your Goa trip?

Neel: Time spent on Morjim beach, Saturday Night Flea market .

Ayush: I think the vast variety of food available was a treat in itself!

Here’s a breakup of the expenses of around Rs. 12K (US$ 225 approx.): 

Ze Goan Getaway Uno Budget

Hardly any was spent on shopping. Room, food and travel were major expenses. Renting transport is pretty cheap unless you go for a huge open air jeep (which would be awesome and I plan to do so, soon).  If you are travelling with ladies with a propensity to dip into your pockets, you might want to consider additional budget for picking up various souvenirs and knick-knacks that all the cute little beach side markets have.

For all you readers, here’s a special sneak preview of a fun GGC (Goan Getaway Calculator) that I am preparing to make budgeting a Goa holiday fun :):

Bombastic Holiday Rating from GGC

Bombastic Holiday Rating from GGC

Bombastic Holiday Rating: 5

Goan Flavour verdict: Neel and Ayush had a great trip, planned the stay in advance and really enjoyed the food :)! They’ll be back for more. 

So forget your excuses, and plan that Goa trip!

What are you waiting for :)?

Kingfish and Passion Fruit Chocolate Tart @ Sakana_Chapora, near Vagator Beach

The endless sea_Vagator Beach

The endless sea_Vagator Beach

There’s something special about being on the road on your own. Watching the road whiz away beneath your wheels with the beautiful Goan landscape of green hills and tall coconut trees in the backdrop.

On the last such weekend getaway, I visited one of my most favourite places in Goa; Sakana, the Japanese restaurant at Chapora, very close to Vagator Beach. The first time I went there, I could hardly believe such a place existed, just on the main road of Goa. Well lit with warm yellow lights, tastefully and simply decorated with myriad Japanese memorabilia, you have to see it to believe it. There is a Sakura tree, with pink flowers and lights adorning its upper branches. It hardly seems possible that it has been made out of plywood and painted over. There are pictures of sake, Asahi beer and Japanese ladies in kimonos on the wall. You literally step into another world.

Sakana and the Sakura tree

Sakana and the Sakura tree

I sat down and waited. A blonde girl came to take my order. From her accented English, I knew she  was French. I asked her which place in France she was from. I always enjoy the look of surprise on people’s faces when they wonder how I know which country they are from (usually accurate 90% of the time, of course French is easy, some other European languages are much harder), hearing their stories about how they ended up working in Goa while backpacking or on vacation.

She gave me the menu, but I already knew my order. Kingfish with rice and miso soup. I tried a different kind of salad with shitake mushrooms and noodles.

Kingfish, Miso Soup, Rice and Salad

Kingfish, Miso Soup, Rice and Salad

And of course, the dessert, which is one of the best I have ever had, anywhere in the world. Passion fruit chocolate tart. Eat it to believe it and know that there is a God (it sends you to heaven). You will find religion after eating this sumptuous, scrumptious dish.

There is a God.

There is a God.

I had a Japanese green tea while waiting for the food to come. I looked around while sipping on the hot drink.  There were many people, busily chatting away with friends and family. There was a Russian family, with small kids (around 5-6 years old) running around. The Russian kids were playing some kind of hide and seek game, and their worried parents would shout (“Idzisuda!” – Come here!) whenever they ran out of sight or towards the road.

Sakana (which means fish in Japanese) is owned by a sweet Japanese lady and her Israeli (to be confirmed) husband, Niko. Both are

"Welcome"

“Welcome”

very nice and warm people. I make it a point to talk to the Japanese lady on each visit. She is always happy to converse in Japanese, and I am happy for the opportunity to catch up. Though she was busy in the kitchen, the Japanese lady came out for a smoke, and I said hello. We talked for a bit about how the restaurant was doing and then she rushed back to the kitchen to attend orders. I caught up with Niko later at the bar, before leaving.

The food was fantastic, as always. The bill came in a cute little wooden box.

I also took a picture of the menu, which had a picture of a fish and Irashaimase (“Welcome”) written on it.

The restaurant is on the main road, and open from 12.30 pm to around 11pm. Definitely visit when you are in Goa. Keep in mind that the dishes are slightly expensive (around Rs. 200-500 for main course) but the ambiance and experience are totally worth it.