Goa has a unique mix of native and Portuguese cultures and architecture that attracts an estimated 2.5 million visitors each year (including about 400,000 foreign tourists).
Panaji, Goa's state capital is also known as Panjim, Ponnje or Pangim. It is one of the most charming cities in India.
Goa is a hub of tourism in India. From the 1960s, Goa has been attracting a steady flow of visitors - first the hippies and returning expat Goans, then the charter tourists visiting (starting with the Germans in 1987), pilgrims visiting Catholic and Hindu shrines, those opting to settle in Goa as their home, visitors coming here for medical treatment, and a growing number of those who attend seminars and conferences in Goa.
Goa is visibly different from the rest of India, owing to Portuguese rule which isolated it from the rest of India for 451 years.
Goa's heart is in its villages. Prominent Goan architect Gerard Da Cunha has argued elsewhere that, unlike others, Goans don't live in the cities. They mostly live in the villages and they travel to work.
Unlike urban areas, the villages tend to be neat and clean, friendly and even good value-for-money. Except maybe in those areas where there are a lot of tourists already.
Goa has many different faces. The coast varies from the "hinterland". Below is a list of some villages where you could find something unusual. But don't restrict yourself to this list alone. You never being surprised what you run into, in Goa without even knowing it exists.
Goa is home to a number of other villages worth visiting : Assolna, Benaulim, Britona, Cortalim, Curtorim, Goa Velha, Mollem, Usgao, Reis Magos, Savoi Verem, Shiroda... a list like this would be far from complete. Please note that you wouldn't necessarily be looking around for accommodation (though you can find it in some places) here, because these villages are often close to the places where most tourists stay (the coastal belt, or the towns).
The Goan population is a mixture of Hindus and Roman Catholics, the distribution being approximately 65% Hindu and 24% Christian. There is also a smaller Muslim population. Despite this, there have been no communal clashes (except for violence in 2005 in the twin towns of Curchorem-Sanvordem, involving the Muslim and Hindu communities, over a dispute believed to have been politically stoked-up) in the past and Goa is regarded as one of the most peaceful states in India.
Goan Catholics generally acknowledge their Hindu roots, and carry traces of a caste-system within their social beliefs sometimes. It is recorded that in many instances the Hindus left one son behind to convert and thus continue to own and manage the common properties while the rest of the family preferred to emigrate to neighboring areas along with the idols representing their Hindu deities.
Over the years large numbers of Catholics have emigrated to the major commercial cities of Bombay and Pune and from there onward to East Africa, the Portuguese colonies of Angola and Mozambique, to Portugal itself and towards the end of the 20th century to Canada and Australia. Many old Goan ancestral properties therefor lie either abandoned or mired in legal tangles brought about by disagreements within the widely dispersed inheritors of the property. In recent years, expat Goans have been returning to their home state, often purchasing holiday homes along the coast (which are then converted into 'rent back' apartments, hired out to short-staying tourists by realtors).
The best time of the year to visit Goa is mid-November to mid-February when the weather is comfortable, dry and pleasant.
Goa's links with Portugal
Apart from the consulates there are cultural organisations active in Goa, with the Portuguese again being most active.
Fundacao Oriente has a large presence in Fontainhas, the latin quarter of Panjim. It does organise an occasional interesting programme, Fundacao Oriente, which sponsors cultural events and adds variety to Goa's cultural scene. This faced some major problems when it was first set up. Goa's uneasy parting of ways with its former Portuguese rulers, and lingering ultra-nationalism amidst a section of freedom fighters could be seen as the reasons. The Fundacao also has been subsidising a book-publishing plan which has helped put out more Goa-related titles in what is otherwise a small but colorful market for books dealing with a tiny region of South Asia.
For a state which has a lot of people passing through, Goa has nearly two weeks of holidays each year. Government offices have a five-day-week (Saturday-Sunday closed). Panjim closes early (around 08:00pm) each evening, and shops here could have a fairly longish siesta break (from around 01:30pm till up to 03:30pm). Goan shop owners take this siesta break seriously, and no business is conducted during this time. Bars, restaurants and other shopping centers are more buyer-friendly.
Major public or special holidays are around Christmas, Republic Day, Id-ul-zuha, Gudi Padva, Good Friday, Independence Day, Ganesh Chaturthi (both days), Gandhi Jayanthi, Dussehra, Diwali, Id-ul-fitr, Feast of St Francis Xavier, Goa Liberation Day, Mahashivratri, Holi and Id-e-milad. Banks may remain open during local religious celebrations. Weekend : Saturday and Sunday.
Expect a huge influx of tourists and locals residing in other states during festivals like Ganesh Jayanthi, and Carnival (celebrated at the begining of Lent in the Christian calendar. It is advised to make bookings for trains, buses and flights well in advance if you intend on visiting the state during these days.
By Indian standards and size, Goa is a very small state with only two districts. These districts are together further divided into 11 talukas (sub-districts). While for administrative purposes Goa is divided on a North and South Goa basis, for touristic purposes (other than understanding the geography), this distinction doesn't make much sense to the traveler. Both North Goa and South Goa are similar, and each has their own "coastal" and "interior" areas. Likewise, the central coastal part of both the district have similar histories, and underwent Portuguese rule for longer than did the hinterland, making them more Westernized in appearance.
Goa's different regions, if these are to be pointed out, are actually its central coastal areas (where the beaches are located, and these area were under colonial rule for longer, reflecting more of Portugal's influence, including having a relatively larger Christian population), and the interior hinterland areas (more of the nature sanctuaries, mining zones and rural areas are located here).
It must be however noted that despite popular perception, Goa has a minority Catholic population (a little over 25%) while the Hindus (in varying caste groupings) form the majority. Likewise, contrary to popular perception, Goa is not an island, though parts of what was considered "Goa" in the past were cut-off from the mainland by the many rivers this region is known for.
Goan culture has been shaped by the mainly Hindu and Catholic population. People are mostly easy going ( "socegad" in Portuguese). With better connectivity by Air and Rail, there has been an influx of people from neighbouring states, that has led to different cultures. Many Indians from other states have now come and settled here.
For a state which claims to be "half urban", Goa has a surprisingly large number of villages. Even its "cities" are more like small, crowded towns. Currently, not one city has a population significantly more than 100,000, though some are close to it. The villages can be charming, and in a world of their own, though sadly, tourism and the real estate boom it engineered is seen by locals as destroying the very place the visitors come for.
* Panaji (Panjim, also referred to a Ponn'je in Konkani, and earlier called Pangim and Nova Goa during Portuguese rule) - the state capital
* Margao (Madgaon)
* Vasco Da Gama
* Old Goa
Goa also has a number of other smaller, sometimes charming and sometimes crowded towns such as along the beach belt (Calangute, Candolim), and in the interior (Chaudi in Canacona, Sanvordem-Quepem, Bicholim, Pernem town, etc). Some of these are gateways to the nearby touristic areas. In addition, Goa has some nearly 350 villages, often scenic and each having a character of its own.
* Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary
* Dona Paula - a popular beach.
* Fort Aguada
* Agonda - also known as Turtle Beach
* Old Goa, home of famed sixteenth century churches, convents and monuments
* Ponda taluka, the temple heartland of Goa
* Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary
* Dr. Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary
* Dudh Sagar Waterfall
* Cap de Rama / Capo de Rama near to Agonda, an old portugese fort.
Goa's state language is Konkani. Most Goans speak Konkani, English, Hindi, and Marathi. Portuguese is also known by a small segment, especially the elite and earlier privileged class or the older generation which studied in pre-1961 Portuguese-ruled Goa.
However, different languages tend to be used for different purposes in Goa. Konkani is the most widely spoken. English and Marathi tend to be most widely read. (Most newspapers are read in these two languages too.) For primary schooling, education has to be imparted in "local regional languages" to be entitled to receive government grants, on the argument that elementary education is best imparted in the "language of the child". At middle and high-school, and college too, education is almost wholly imparted in English.
Catholics largely use Konkani for their prayer services, while the language for religion is largely Marathi for Hindus. The administration is largely conducted in English, which is also the language of publication of the official gazette, and the main used tongue in the courts.
It can be rather difficult currently to be able to learn Konkani, with options for learning rather restricted. The language is written in four to five scripts, in and beyond Goa -- Devanagari (the official script), Roman or Romi (widely used in Goa), Kannada-script, Malayalam-script and Perso-Arabic reportedly used by some Muslim communities further south along the Indian west coast. Recently, books to learn Konkani in the Roman script have also been published, making it easier for those not knowing the Devanagari script (used to write Hindi, Marathi and other languages too) that is the officially-recognized script for Konkani in Goa.
Goa can be reached by its lone airport (Dabolim), by train, and by the many buses connecting the state with cities in India (primarily Mumbai Mangalore and Bangalore). If you are traveling from Mumbai or Pune, car travel would provide you a journey through he breathtaking scenery of Konkan area.
Distance from Goa to various cities:
* Mangalore (305 km)
* Bangalore (592 km)
* Delhi (1912 km)
* Hyderabad (747 km)
* Mumbai (593 km)
* Mysore (643 km)
* Pune (450 km)
There are several bus routes from various cities, but most traffic is from mainly Mumbai and Pune, but with increasing demand from the south, there has been an increase in buses and trains from Mangalore,Bangalore and New Delhi. Overnight buses from Mumbai to Goa are one alternative to trains and flying. Note that while many of the coaches are newer Volvo models, you will share your sleeper bunk with one other person.
Indian Railways connects Goa with direct train services from Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Mangalore, Kochi, Kolkata, Thiruvanantapuram, Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad. The destination station is usually Madgaon in South Goa. Traveling to Goa by train is a real pleasure as the route passes through greenery and many tunnels.
A railway station which most tourists tend to miss is Thivim, which is served by most trains and is just 20 minutes away from Calangute beach by taxi.
For budget travelers, this is the cheapest option, apart from being faster and much more comfortable than traveling by road. It is advisable for tourists to make reservations well in advance as the major trains (Konkan Kanya, Nethravati express etc.) are usually heavily booked. Also note that trains from Mumbai and most other places have a quota of seats set aside for tourists. Quota tickets must be purchased in person at the rail station by the tourist and cannot be booked via a travel agent. Note that quota tickets are only sold at the station of origin. Tickets can also be booked online (but only if you hold an Indian credit card or bank account).
As of Jan. 2010, you can book online with a foreign credit card, but when you are asked to choose your payment option, you must use the payment option "AXIS."
Unless traveling on a shoe string budget, it is advisable to travel in air conditioned sleeper coaches, that are relatively quieter, and much more comfortable. Each bunk is provided with two freshly laundered sheets, a blanket, and a pillow. You can also have a hand towel on request.
Most Travel Agents will book tickets for a small fee, Rs.200, but be aware that trains do get busy and you need to book in advance, do not leave booking your ticket to the last moment as you may be disappointed.
traveling by train can be quite an experience as you are more likely to be able to interact with fellow Indian travelers visiting Goa from different parts of the country, under more relaxed conditions.
Goa has one airport at Dabolim in Vasco.
Some airlines fly directly to Goa, but most international flights arrive via Mumbai.
Many domestic airlines have daily flights to and from Bangalore, Delhi, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Pune, Chennai, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Kozhikode (Calicut).
Domestic Airlines flying into Goa include Kingfisher Airlines, Spicejet, Jet Airways, Indian Airlines, Air Deccan, Indigo, GoAir, Paramount Airways and MDLR Airways.
Air India has international flights to Kuwait and UAE twice a week. Air arabia has discount flights to Sharjah , UAE Qatar airlines has flights to Doha , and has convenient connections to western Europe, Africa and USA
Flights are chartered to the United Kingdom, Germany, Russia and Switzerland.
On arrival, pre-paid taxis from Dabolim Airport are preferred. Find yellow pre-paid taxi booth 30 meters on the left when you exit the main building. There is also a pre-paid taxi stand in the international arrival area .The rates are slightly cheaper than the yellow cabs .
Normally most resorts pick up from the airport for free so please make sure you ask your resort for free pickup.
Occasional cruise services ply from Mumbai to Goa. This was run in past years, but currently it is discontinued.
High resolution maps are not available for Goa - for instance, some popular isles are not shown in many maps.
Parts of Goa lack sign-boards, so finding your way around will be a challenge. When in doubt just ask - usually people are friendly and helpful- don't expect precise answers though (a so-called "five minute drive" could take a good twenty).
While driving, expect surprises like domestic animals and little children darting across the road and unmarked speed breakers / speed bumps.
Choice of geared and un-geared motorbikes and scooters can be borrowed on rent (typically without helmets). Those planning to stay long can consider buying them too. Rentals are around Rs.450 (+ about Rs.100 for fuel) a day on a scooter and a little more if one is looking for a geared motorcycle. Always ask for a discount if renting long-term (one month or more). Ensure that you have all the ownership documents of the bike. Also, avoid taking motorbikes with yellow plates out of Goa, it is a punishable offense. Hiring a bike with white plates is ok for local travel in your immediate vicinity but if you want to travel further afield then always rent with yellow plates. Wearing a crash helmet is compulsory when you go on any major roads, ask for local advice. Rs.100 fine for not wearing, or a large hospital bill.
Fares : Rs.4 - Rs.6 and buses a great way to travel and see the country and are inexpensive. Rs.10 - Rs.15 often get you a 30 - 40km ride.
Mahindra, Willys or Maruti Gypy makes are similar to the long wheel base version of the Suzuki Jimmy. Some of these jeeps are open roof. Expect to pay around Rs. 1,000 - Rs. 1,200 a day. There are many car rental companies available.
Art & culture
Goa has a number of museums. There's the Goa State Museum and then there's Architect Gerard da Cunha's relatively - new architectural museum called Houses of Goa. The Xavier Centre of Historical Research, at Porvorim, has its Gallery on Christian Art, named the Xavier Xandev Museum. the archaeological museum and portrait gallery is at Old Goa, the Christian Art Museum at the same location (a little further away at the Santa Monica Convent annexe), and the Pilar Seminary Museum. Big Foot at Loutolim (aka Ancestral Goa) is an attempt to illustrate and recreate Goa's traditional past. There's even a vintage - cars collection of sorts - Ashvek Vintage World "dedicated to restore and preserve motoring and motorcycling gems of historical interest in Goa". You can find cars ranging from ye old Mercedes Benz, to the Peugeot, Morris, Chevrolet and the Volkswagen. Check it out at Nuvem, on permanent display. Entry Rs.50.
* There's the religious Museum of Blessed Joseph Vaz .
* The Naval Aviation Museum behind the airport is a great place to see and touch vintage aircraft like the Sealands, Doves, Alizes, Seahawks, Vampires and Hughes Helicopters besides the relatively newer Sea Harriers and a Super Constellation.
* The Goa - government run Kala Academy and the Portuguese - run Fundacao Oriente in India, the Central Library (even tourists can become temporary members) are also other options.
* The Sound and Light Gallery Museum is at Old Goa, where one can get a Christian religious tour, artistically done. The Goa Science Centre, at a scenic location along Miramar Beach, is a great fun - place for kids specially, but not only. Entrance is Rs.10 (and less for students). There's also a movie theatre showing 3D science - related films.
Art galleries in Goa include Gallery Gitanjali (run by Ajit Sukhija in a building that once was the People's High School at Panjim's latin quarter of Fontainhas), Galeria Cidade at the Cidade de Goa luxury resort, Peace Cottage Fine Art Gallery perched between two luxury hotels at Betalbatim, Gallery Boa Arte opposite the Municipal Garden in Panjim, Picturesque opposite the Goa Urban Cooperative Bank also in Panjim, and Gallery Yemania in Verem. Other art centers are also open in Goa. Art Chamber at Calangute, the Kerkar Art Complex and more. Dr Subodh Kerkar has two galleries, one for his permanent collection, and the other housing the works of Indian and foreign artists. The open air auditorium puts up performances in Indian classical music and dance.
Goa is world famous for its beaches, its ancient temples and churches, and its Goan carnival.
* Anjuna Beach - Close to the Chapora Fort, its key attraction is a magnificent Albuquerque Mansion built in 1920, flanked by octagonal towers and an attractive Mangalore tile - roof. Anjuna was the second - home (and main location) of the hippies in Goa, in the 1960s and 1970s, after other destinations like Calangute got more "crowded" for them. It is still venue of a (vastly - changed, more mainstreamised) flea market held each Wednesday. In the nearby village of Arpora, two colourful Saturday night bazaars are held in the non - monsoon seasons. This is still part of "alternative" Goa, though charter and other tourists also visit the place in increasing numbers to "get a feel of the hippy years".
* Arambol Beach - A quiet beach in North Goa near Pernem. Not too many facilities in terms of hotels or eating joints. The water is shallow and good for swimming.
* Palolem Beach A scenic beach in extreme south Goa. Getting a bit crowded. Good eating options. Turning pricey though (by local standards). The rocks and islands off its schore are definitely scenic.
* Patnem Beach - a small and quiet beach in Canacona taluka.
* Vagator Beach - a beach in Bardez, neighbouring Anjuna
* Morjim Beach - beautiful beach, inhabited by Russian tourists. Prices are high, many restaurants with Russian cousine. Nightlife is vibrant here. This place is popular among kitesurfers due shallow depth of the sea and very wide beach.
* Asvem Beach - quieter beach in extreme north Goa's Pernem taluka
* Mandrem Beach - another beach in extreme north Goa's Pernem taluka
* Candolim and Sinquerim Beaches in North Goa's Bardez taluka. Once humble fishing villages. Now the crowded concretised coast of North Goa. Goa's Benidorm. Or quickly getting to be as crowded.
* Colva Beach - This beach's spectacle of sea, sand and sky blend in a enchanting natural harmony, weaving their magic spell on the visitors. Known for its scenic beauty. This is part of Salcete, Goa's only Catholic majority sub - district. Once a very hospitable area, now relations are getting monetized thanks to tourism.
* Calangute Beach - aka Queen of all Beaches in Goa. Once highly rated. Now crowded. Expect traffic jams along the main crowded street. Beach is full of Indian tourists, a lot of noise, a lot of souvenirs and water sports beggar. You won't get peace here. Many famous clubs are located here. Nice eating options.
* Baga Beach A family - beach and charter tourist destination just outside Calangute.
* Chapora Home of the Chapora fort. Close to Vagator and Anjuna beaches. Also site for a fishing jetty where travelers (introduced into Goa in the 1960s and 1970s, amidst protests from traditional fishermen, who were affected by them) bring in their catch.
* Relax at the beaches. Goa has an almost unbroken 70 km coastline of beaches
* Visit historic Hindu temples and the cathedrals of a bygone era at Old Goa
* Enjoy the variety of Indian, Chinese and Western cuisine
* Chill out at the discos and pubs
* Checkout Anjuna flea market
* Visit libraries : Central Library in Institute Menezes Braganza (Panjim) and Mapusa's Athaide Library. Other research institutions with good collections include the Xavier Centre of Historical Research at Alto Porvorim, the also - Jesuit run Thomas Stevens Konknni Kendra nextdoor at Porvorim, the Goa University, and a quaint Konkani - focussed library called Amchem Diaz (Our Traditions) that functions out of the first floor of a commercial establishment not far from the Margao bus stand and the local court.
* Diving : The season is between mid October to mid May. Diving is not possible during the monsoons in India (June till mid October) The water temperature is between 27 to 30 degrees. The local diving here consists of dive sites around Grande Island, just off the coast near Vasco Da Gama. The dive sites are mostly 12 to 16 meters deep, and the visibility varies through the season, with an average of around 5 - 6 meters. Marine life is abundant, with many species of reef fish, and hard and soft coral,and several shipwrecks to dive. Several dive centers conduct PADI courses, and organize dive trips to Pigeon Island (also known locally as Netrani Island) in the neighbouring state of Karnataka.
* Kitesurfing : Goa is certainly not the best place in the world to try kite surfing, but it still has something to offer. Check Morjim, Arambol and Aswem beaches in North Goa.
* Paragliding : Check Arambol Beach in North Goa for tandem paragliders.
The Goan staple diet consists of rice and fish curry along with pickles and fried fish. This can be found on many of the beach shacks. The Goan cuisine is a blend of Portuguese and local flavors. Many dishes such as prawn balchao and Kingfish in Garlic have distinct Portuguese flavor.
Dishes such as Vindaloo and Xacuti (pronounced Cha'cuti) will be familiar from Indian restaurant menus, and are originally Goan dishes.
Most beaches have shacks that serve surprisingly delicious meals, specially sea-food and they'll usually consult you to see how you like your food. Don't miss the shack eating experience. You'll want to go back and do it again. Most fancy hotels and restaurants serve terrible foods, it is best to eat at local places, ask a taxi driver where these would be and don't let him take you to any fancy restaurants as they receive commission.
Here, you can find so many restaurants with sea food is available.
For a destination which tends to be costlier - in almost everything - than the rest of India, Goa has liquors and wines that are priced noticeably low. Products available range from wine (red and white), to the oddly - named Indian - made foreign liquors (IMFLs, which include whisky, brandy, rum, gin, vodka and more), and local liquors (basically cashew and coconut feni). Prices of domestic products range from Rs.40 to Rs.350 per bottle, depending on product and brand.
There are two local brews long made and drunk in Goa - cashew feni and coconut feni. One comes from the cashew apple, and the other from the sap of the coconut tree. Goa's feni - making has been much focused on.
Feni - brewing skills have been honed by Goa's former Portuguese rulers. Strange but true : the cashew was brought in by the Portuguese themselves, and today it seems like a closely integrated part of Goa. Cashew - apples go to waste in neighbouring states, and in the fruiting season, one could get a strong smell of semi - fermenting apples being transported specially from Maharashtra into Goa, at locales close to the border.
Feni has come to become synonymous with Goa. "Indigenous alcoholic drinks include coconut palm toddy from south and eastern India and the Goan liquor 'feni' based on coconut palm juice or cashew nut," explains the website of the Indian Embassy in Russia.
Needless to say, feni has its own strong taste. Some like it, some don't. At one of the liquor outlets in Panjim, you can run into bus - loads of tourists picking up their 'souvenir' of feni.
Of course, there are a range of other options too. Local wines are priced at between Rs.40 to Rs.150 per bottle (of 750 ml).
In recent years, Goa has been hosting what it calls the "Grape Escape", a festival of wines, around the start of each year.
Alcoholic Beverages The popular alcoholic beverages in Goa are Beer and Wine. There is also the local liquor, Fenny, which is quite potent and strong. It comes in 2 flavors, Cashewnut and Coconut.
* Feni can have up to 42% alcohol.
* Goa has an estimated 4000 and 2200 traditional stills manufacturing cashew and coconut feni, respectively.
* North Goa dominates cashew production, while the South dominates coconut.
* Feni can be used in cocktails too. A 2001 republished book by Francisco Gracias is titled "Goan Fenny Cocktails".
* "Business India" in 2001 argued that feni could fill the gap created by the growing demand and rising prices for drinks like the Mexican Tequila, abroad.
* "Drinks International" classified feni under the "exotic spirits" category, comparing it with the Mexican Tequila.
* Feni is labelled as a "country liquor" in modern India, causing handicaps to its growth.
* Clear, triple - distilled feni cannot be considered just any cheap brew. It has a unique distinctive taste.
* In India, traditional drinks like feni are "debarred" from entering a market reserved for the "ridiculously branded" Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL), says "Business India".
* Says Madam Rosa Distillery's Valentino Vaz : "In India... country liquor a most abused term - a state monopoly. The output is reserved for the poor and the market is not allowed to supply arrack".
* Leading Goan feni manufacturing companies like Madame Rosa, Real, Cajulana, Dona Maria, Lobos Distilleries are reported to be doing a roaring business.
* Local producers say unfortunately, the state and Central governments are "studiously" not lifting the country liquor labels from such a "fantastic product".
* The Portuguese brought the cashew - crop from tropical America to Goa sometime between 1563 and 1578.
* The name "feni" is believed to have been derived from the Sanskrit - Konkani word "fen", meaning froth.
* Feni has a distinctive smell. Some non - drinkers or drinkers of other spirits find it unpleasant. "But feni lovers simply can't do without it," as its supporters back home say.
* Attempts to remove the aroma of feni have brought back cautionary signals, with some fearing a feni without its smell would kill the drink.
* Expat Goans earlier, and tourist visitors now, have taken the drink to new markets - Middle East, Europe, Australia and Canada.
* Liquor baron - turned - politician Vijay Mallaya has said : "Being a frequent visitor to Goa, I am familiar with feni. I know it has a potential to hit the international market".
Goa is one of the more expensive states in India to stay in. During the peak season, which lasts from November to late March, the prices are very high. Especially in December, 5 star hotel rates rates range from around Rs.20,000 - Rs.35,000 per night. A room / hut at peak times will cost you around Rs.600 - Rs.800 All tourist spots charge more in the peak season.
Goa really has a lot of places to stay at, except during the last week of the year, between Christmas and New Year, when the place is usually completely packed. Try to avoid that overhyped week and you will get a better deal without the added pressures.
Apart from alcohol, which is very cheap here, Goa is one of the more expensive states in India. Though for a foreign tourist, the range of options available still could be relatively inexpensive.
In season which is from November to late March prices tend to be high, peaking between Christmas and New Year. Many options are available from plush super - deluxe exclusive beachfront properties, to simple and basic paying - guest accommodation near a rustic beach.
Goa has a large network of banks, some of which will change currency. In the tourist pockets and urban areas, one comes across such services easily. Reserve Bank of India's Foreign Exchange Department is at 3A/B Sesa Ghor, Patto in Panjim though one need not go specifically here.
Leading hotels, shops and travel agents will also offer foreign currency exchanges.
Mobile services have grown fast in Goa.
It is very easy to get a Prepaid mobile SIM card. It will cost around Rs.100Rs, just take a copy of your passport to a phone shop and away you go. It is worth thinking about cost and coverage if you are traveling around India as once you leave Goa and travel to anoher state you then pay roaming charges for all calls. It is still cheap though. A single text to the UK from Goa costs Rs.10 and calls cost about Rs.12 a minute.
Internet cafes can be found in Goa's urban areas, tourist spots and hotels. It is not difficult to find a internet center in a state known for its large expat and tourist populations.
Consulates and High Commissions
Goa is home to the Consulate General of Portugal. Obviously so, as this distant country has had close and long historic and colonial ties. Getting a Portuguese passport - or, rather, "regaining" Portuguese nationality, going by what it actually implies - is no longer as easy as it once was for people of Goan origin. This continues to be available, even if difficult and time - consuming to obtain now, and also for those born after 1961. There are still many queueing up at the lavishly done - up consulate. Portugal's consulate has itself changed home thrice in a few years. It has now settled along the route to Panjim's one - time - and still, in some ways - elite area of Altinho.
Britain, which has a significant number of tourists visiting the region, also has its Tourist Assistance Office (earlier designated as a consular officer) based here. Germany, Austria (in the port town of Vasco da Gama) and Italy have their honorary consuls.
* Portuguese Consulate General, 38 - 39 Father Angelo Road - Altinho, ☎ 242 15 25 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
* British Tourist Assistance Office, S13/14, Dempo Towers, Patto Plaza, ☎ 243 87 34 (email@example.com),
* German consulate, Cosme Matias Menezes Pvt. Ltd., Rua de Ourem, Panaji - (firstname.lastname@example.org). Mon - Fri 10:00am - 05:00pm.
* Austrian Consulate, Salgaocar House, Vasco, ☎ 251 38 11.
* Italian Vice Consulate, D1 Sesa Ghor, Patto Plaza, ☎ 243 89 44
Goa is an ideal holiday destination for travelers, but tourists should bear in mind that like any country with all its heritage and culture comes its own set of safety issues. Readers, please don't be alarmed with the advice you may get here, but it's just the guidelines to the dos and don'ts in Goa.
* Western women should not walk on the beaches at night alone. If you have to, take along a companion.
* Do not accept un - bottled drinks from strangers under any circumstances.
* Do not accept rides from strangers, locals or foreigners, especially at night.
* Do not indulge with drugs.
* Be careful when wading at the beach as undertow riptide currents can be strong in certain beaches. Avoid the mouths of all rivers (such as the Mandovi River at Miramar), especially at low tide when the flow of the water current out to sea is the strongest. And just don't get into the water at all in the off season. The safe swimming period in Goa is November to early May.
* Avoid contact with unprocessed cashew nuts as they contain an irritant ("urusiol") also present in poison ivy. The cashew apple is edible when ripe.
* Goans are very friendly and helpful; should you have any problems, talk immediately to the nearest Goan shop, restaurant or bystander and ask for help.
* Travel guides can be expensive and have been known to dupe foreign visitors. Try your hand at traveling alone, buy a map and hire a taxi or rent a bike. Befriend a decent taxi driver and agree on regular business.
* Temperatures in winter and summer can be extreme, so do not forget sunscreen.
* Beware of hawkers who always mark up their goods up to 300%.
* Beware of any scam that offers a free ride in return for a "prize". The prize will suck guaranteed.
* Beware of guides offering to take you to a disco with lots of attractive girls, who will dance with you. This is a sucker scam to cheat you of your money.
* Also, beware the "ear doctors", who are more likely to accost men than women and "produce" some tiny revolting creature, supposedly from your ear, for which they then offer a "cure" (It is, however, humorous to read the cards they print up promoting themselves).
* While traveling by train, beware of pickpockets, strangers who offer you snacks or tea, and other such people who make trains in India a regular hunting ground.
* Don't trust travel agents who say that a train is fully booked! They want you to hire a car that costs more and provides them a kick back. A better thing to do is to check out the details yourself on the Indian Railways website. Also, you can book your railway ticket online on www.irctc.co.in.
Goa now has a common number for police/fire/ambulance services. Just dial 108 in case of any emergency. This service is run by the GVK EMRI (Emergency Management and Research Institute) and is based out of Goa Medical College (Bambolim) and has ambulances posted at various parts of Goa. These ambulances are fully equipped and have trained paramedics.
* Goa Medical College (Bambolim) 102 or 245 87 25
* Goa Air Ambulance 211 50 889
* Indian Red Cross (Panjim) 222 46 01
* Esperance Clinic (Panjim) 246 31 85
* Margao Ambulance Trust (Margao) 271 44 64
* Ravi Naik Trust (Ponda) 231 26 08
* Ambulance And Welfare Trust (Panjim) 222 79 97
Fire service The number to Fire Service is 191.
Police Police Head Quarters, near Azad Maidan, Panjim email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org
* Police Control Room 100
* Police Control Room Panjim 242 84 00
* Police Control Room Porvorim 241 62 51
* Police Station - Agaçaim 221 80 00
* Police Station - Anjuna 227 32 33
* Police Station - Calangute 227 82 84
* Police Station - Canacona 264 33 57
* Police Station - Collem 260 02 33
* Police Station - Colva 278 83 96
* Police Station - Curchorem 265 05 68
* Police Station - Cuncolim 276 32 34
* Police Station - Bicholim 236 22 33
* Police Station - Harbour 252 07 40
* Police Station - Mapusa 226 22 31
* Police Station - Maina Curtorim 271 47 87
* Police Station - Margao 270 50 95
* Police Station - Old Goa 228 53 01
* Police Station - Panjim 242 84 82
* Police Station - Pernem 220 12 33
* Police Station - Ponda 231 31 01
* Police Station - Porvorim 241 77 04
* Police Station - Quepem 266 22 53
* Police Station - Sanguem 260 42 33
* Police Station - Vasco 251 23 04
* Police Station - Valpoi 237 42 55
* Police Station - Verna 278 23 25
* Police Station - Women's PS 242 89 92
Most tourists travel to and from Goa by bus. Book in advance during the crowded seasons (particularly during the Christmas - New Year rush, for Carnival, or when other Indian regions have school holidays when families travel). Trains connecting Goa offer an inexpensive and fairly pleasant ride, provided you get confirmed reserved seats. Unconfirmed travel can be pretty harrowing.
Goa is fairly well connected to other nearby Indian cities (Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Pune, etc) via bus. One problem is that most buses ply in the night, and reach their destination the next morning. If you have a connecting bus, train or flight, this means that the timing you reach there might be inconvenient.
Kadamba Transport Corporation is the Goa state - run transport service. Its buses have seen better days, and more efficient times. There are also other state - run buses run by the governments of Karnataka (some services are efficient, specially the Volvo buses), Maharashtra, and Andhra Pradesh. Many private players also offer bus connections to other cities, with varying levels of discounts and efficiency, with the two usually being inversely related.
The main center for booking train and bus tickets, in Panjim, is around the Kadamba inter - state bus terminus. Tickets for the Konkan Railway can also be booked here, though expect long queues during the holiday season (which in India, can also coincide with the timings when children have a school break).
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