Goa is a former Portuguese colony currently a state in India's West region. It is 3700 square kilometres in size and has a human population of approximately 1.4 million. Its east-west mix, beaches and syncretic culture is what attracts an officially-estimated two million visitors each year. Bulk of the visitors are from the rest of India, but the quarter-million from abroad have an influential role to play because of their spending capacity. Among the foreign visitors, and increasingly among a section of young visitors from India, Goa is currently renowned for its electronic music parties and its beaches. From 1510 until 1961 Goa was a Portuguese colony and many aspects of Portuguese culture and architecture can still be found.
Goa is a very small state, with only two districts , North and South Goa, which are further divided into 11 talukas.
see also Beaches in Goa
The Goan population is a mixture of Hindus and Roman Catholics, the distribution being approximately 60% Hindu and 40% Christian. Despite this, there have been no communal clashes in the past and Goa is regarded as one of the most peaceful states in India
The best time of the year to visit Goa is mid-November to mid-February.
There are several bus routes from various cities, but most traffic is from mainly Bombay and Pune, but with increasing demand from the south, there has been an increase in buses and trains from Bangalore and New Delhi.
Some airlines fly directly to Dabolim Airport at Goa, but most international flights arrive via Mumbai.
Goa has daily flights to and from Bangalore, Delhi, Mumbai and Pune (no flights return to Pune) and has flights twice a week to Chennai and Cochin. There are international flights to Kuwait and U.A.E twice a week and charter flights to U.K, Germany and Switzerland.
Catamaran between Mumbai and Goa
An air-conditioned catamaran with places for 400 passengers runs between Mumbai and Goa. It leaves from the New Ferry Wharf / Bhaucha Dhakka in Mumbai.
Passengers are requested to board the ship 2 hours before departure. Economy: Rs. 1400; business: Rs. 1600 adult; special cabin for 5 people Rs.9000/- (all one way). Foreign tourists can pay in rupees on presentation of their currency exchange certificate.
Renting a scooter or motorbike can be a nice experience. However, take care, since Goa's roads can be dangerous to both experienced and inexperienced drivers.
Renting a scooter is way too easy, it will cost you anything between Rs 125 to 250 depending on the season and you may have to leave small amount as a security deposit. Also for a little more you can hire a more preferred "Enfield", which is a favorite for travellers who often buy the bike if they plan to stay for longer periods of time. Also for the novice rider, you can hire a scooterette .
You can also use the local buses to travel to different beachs in Goa. Note that these buses are not owned by Goa municipal authorities and as such the fare can vary. A typical bus ride will cost anywhere from 4-6 rupees. Fares are not collected at the bus doors but rather after you after you entered and the bus has begun to move. It is prudent to ask your fellow passengers about the fare, since as a foreign tourist, the fare collectors will attempt to rip you off by demanding you pay 3-5 times to actual bus fare.
Goa is world famous for its beaches, its ancient temples and churches, and its Goan carnival
If naval aviation interests you, you might want to stop by the Naval Air Museum. This is behind the Dabolim Airport, and you will need to loop around the airport perimeter across the Dabolim Railway station to get there. There are seven outdoor exhibits and other memorabilia and models in a two storeyed building.
Since Goa is still largely Catholic it has many Catholic holidays besides the Indian national holidays.
One of them, the Carnival though often mistaken for a 'Catholic holiday' is largely a Government sponsered affair of Floats and festivities.
There is a lot to do - for those who like their fun a little laid back
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 flavours. Many dishes such as prawn balchao and Kingfish in Garlic have distinct Portuguese flavour.
Dishes such as Vindaloo and Xacuti (pronounced Cha'cuti) will be familiar from Indian restaurant menus, and are originally Goan dishes.
Places to eat
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 dont let him take you to any fancy restaurants as they receive commission. For a taste of the local flavour with clean facilities but low prices go to Caji's Place, Colva.
Club Cubana(Arpora) - A night at the Playboy Mansion! This decadent mansion perched on the top of a hill looks over Anjuna and the sea and sports a huge pool, 4 bars, indoor dance floor, a pizza bar and four poster beds scattered around the place. Pay anywhere from 500 - 1000 Rupee for a couple entry (stag entry is not allowed) and pay no more for the rest of the night. Club Cubana has an open bar happening all night, unlimited beer, wine, sparkling and basic spirits are available to you all night! Enjoy the party!
A lot of great places to stay at but more often then not, you will find that all your searches result in websites that do your travel/accommodation bookings. While this is good, it can leave a holiday maker frustrated. In this section, we will add direct contacts of hotels, resorts etc., so that one can choose to use travel agents and/or call/email directly.
Apart from alcohol, which is very cheap in Goa, Goa is one of the more expensive states in India. Though for a foreign tourist it is still very cheap. In season which is 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 some rates go even higher. All touristic places charge more in the season.
Many ancestral homes are being renovated to include full-facility guest accommodation, with/without authentic Goan meals, located in scenic, quiet and relaxed villages, all within easy reach of Cities and Beaches:
200-250 rs daily for renting a scooter (plus fuel), food at shaks is 125 rs to 150 rs per head
There are plenty world class hotels in Goa. So, depending on the location that you want, take your pick .
Goa is a generally safe state, but as with any tourism dependant economy, it has its fair share of petty crime and touts.
Please remember these important points when you are visiting Goa: