Former Portuguese colony in India
The region of Goa is more than just beaches and Trance music. It’s a region full of great Portuguese colonial architecture, amazing food and gorgeous landscapes. It’s also a very small region, in fact, India’s smallest state where the points of interest and sights are located most of them around the old capital city, Velha Goa. You are never far away, and you are always near a beach, though not all of them are what you really expect or want.
You need to remember that since Goa is a key resort in India, locals have around 5 months to make money from tourism. The remaining months is when the monsoon hits the area, with very few people keen to visit the region and as such meaning no business for locals. Therefore, expect to pay higher prices on everything. less quantities or even less quality; although if you know how to move around and where to go, you will do wonders and have one of the greatest experience and fantastic holidays.
To bear in mind before coming here, heat. Yes, it can get very hot and super humid. And considering from our experience when merely days ago we had just 10 degrees centigrade in Delhi and Varanasi, this was a shock to have +35. Not a complaint but the contrary. I love the heat, but prepare to bath in your own sweat non stop, especially when visiting the old capital. Somehow it was even more humid over there.
Our trip to India was planned pivoting around Goa. Not only we did a massive circle trip across the entire India, but having the chance to visit one of the greatest, largest and best preserved former Portuguese colony was one of the highlights. Coming directly from Bangalore, then continuing towards Mumbai yet this place is where time stood still. That many churches, cathedrals and chapels, the fort and the walls amidst the lush tropical vegetation is all very unique, an incredible sight altogether.
At the beaches, you will find a lot of nice bars, cafes and discos. You will enjoy listening to their out loud music from a chair or hamaca. Do not hesitate in renting one, those are pretty cheap! And then, wait for some of the continuous sellers passing by the beach. You can get great deals on drinks from them (instead from the cafes), and also, freshly cut fruits. These colorfully dressed ladies with a big basket on their heads is fascinating to see. They carry all kind of fruits, inexpensive, and will cut it in front of you in matter of seconds. Pineapple, bananas, passion fruit, guava, grapes…
With regards to food, there are plenty of restaurants in every village and of course aligning the beaches. The best ones are to be found along Calangute Beach. If you access the beach through the main access road, then you will find to your left many restaurants one after another. Great seafood grill, fish and vegetable, curries and fresh breads plus beer, cocktails or freshly squeezed juices and smoothies. Anything you want.
For further information about Goa check Wikipedia and Wikitravel sites. India’s currency is the Rupee (INR, Rs.). Please note that any price reference is true as from when this guide was created, therefore check prices in advance as with the time they change. For more information on Goa, check Wikipedia and Wikitravel.
What to see and do in Goa:
- Candolim and Sinquerim beaches Home to the 17th Century Aguada Fort at one edge of the Sinquerim beach.
- Anjuna Beach This is the next up from Candolim. World famous for it’s Trance discos aligning one after another the front; with great lounges, cocktail bars and beautify sand where you can enjoy a fantastic sunset. But beware, there are lava stones inside the water in some areas. Located at one end of the beach, is the world famous Curlie’s disco. The music is great no doubt, however for drinks is one of the most expensive.
- Palolem Beach A very nice and quiet beach to the south.
- Calangute Beach One of the longest in Goa, and also the most populous specially with locals. What is good here is the vast amount of restaurants and bars by the beach.
- Panaji City A small village with some beautiful colonial churches and buildings. This is an important middle point where you can take any bus to anywhere around Goa.
- Old Goa Also known as Velha Goa in Portuguese. The whole of it listed by the UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Located some 9km east of Panaji, easy to reach by bus. There are many impressive churches from the Portuguese colonial era, all perfectly preserved and great landscaping between the sights. You will need to plan a whole day for this.
The international airport is Goa Dabolin, and it’s pretty much located towards the middle of the region by the coast, very near Velha Goa. A prepaid taxi from the outside counter on the airport costs Rs.650 to the major destinations. A pick up can be pre-arranged, however this will come to an extra cost of Rs. 800 one way. Be careful as you come outside the arrivals terminal as all the drivers will balance over you trying to get you inside their car. Be sure you have your prepaid ticket, and make extremely sure he doesn’t ask you to pay anything else. He must not charge you for anything extra.
Rickshaws in Goa are by far the most expensive in the whole of India, but you need to know you can go by bus anywhere you want in Goa. It takes a little bit more of time, but you come to see and join the locals in their commute. Panaji seems to be the main bus station around the whole region. You are likely to be changing buses here and continue on a second bus to your final destination. There are many buses, and can be a bit confusing, but in truth, it’s not. Just be patience, ask someone or anyone working around, and you will end up in the right bus. Frequencies are not really established, buses do simply leave once they get full, but the next will be there already waiting and loading people.
In Goa it can be either expensive or very cheap; it all depends on what sort of stay you would like to have. Either a good resort, with all the facilities you imagine, or something more simple. In any case, I recommend a place with a swimming pool and as nearer the beach as possible. It’s always hot and it’s always nice to be near the water and rest. And even if your stay is not near the beach, I’m sure that if you made it all the way to Goa, it is because you will go to some beaches, who would not! A good and reasonable point to start your search is by checking some of our preferred affiliate hotel search engine such as Hotels.com, Booking.com, Expedia, Otel.com, Agoda, Opodo, LateRooms, Ebookers or TUI.
We stayed at a modest property, the Angels Resort, in Alto De Porvorim. Simple yet nice, very friendly and welcoming staff; great level of comfort in a larger than average bedroom with all the facilities needed, a small pool and a really nice breakfast. The main road just outside was perfect to grab the buses, and so to reach the beaches.